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Great Unsolved Mysteries: The Mysterious Newgrange, Ireland

Updated on December 30, 2013

by Christine B.

In County Meath, Ireland near the River Boyne there is a strange domed structure that was built approximately 3200 B.C. This prehistoric edifice is older than the Egyptian pyramids at Giza and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.

In all those years, scientist and archaeologists have not been able to determine why the structure was built or who built it.

The opening of the huge domed mound is aligned with the rising sun, but its light floods the interior chamber only on the Winter Solstice. This phenomenon was discovered by Professor Michael J. O'Kelly in 1967.

The retaining wall that surrounds the mound is made up of kerb stones that are engraved with unusual artwork. Other large stones near the structure are also carved with spiral markings.

One of the things that is so amazing about the rock carvings of Newgrange is the fact that considering their age, they can still be seen. There is evidence that several large stones were removed from the site to pave local roads so there were even more stones there originally. In 1699 Charles Campbell, the then owner of the property, used some of the stones for his own building projects. It was then that the opening to the main tunnel was discovered.

Newgrange is considered Ireland’s greatest national monument and one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe. Since Newgrange has been opened to the public there have been as many as 200,000 visitors per year at the historic site. This means it the most visited archeological attraction in Ireland.

No trace of metal has been found in the excavations of Newgrange, which is another indication of its antiquity. It has been estimated that there is over 200,000 tons of stone used for its construction and that it would have taken approximately 300 men 30 years to build. There are over 550 large stones used in the interior of the mound. There are indications that the mammoth stones used inside the dome had been weathered and were not quarried, so they must have been lying round the countryside. Using only stone tools, how were they retrieved and hauled up the rise to their present locations?

There has been much speculation as to why Newgrange was built and who might have been buried under its grassy dome, but no scientific evidence has been found to prove or disprove any of the legends that surround it.

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