Newgrange: A Home for Magicians, Fairies, Gods, and Kings

Newgrange: A Home for Magicians, Fairies, Gods, and Kings

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The Newgrange (New Grange) tumulus is found in County Meath, Ireland. This ancient site is connected to stories about magic, fairies, and incredible excavations. Newgrange is a part of the impressive Neolithic Bru na Bóine complex – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Traditionally, it was a burial site for Celtic Kings. But Irish myths and legends say it was also a place where magicians met and fairies united. Even today, stories say that when visitors are at the tumulus very early in the morning or late at night they may see the Queen of the Fairies and her subjects. Many researchers suggest that Newgrange has an astronomical importance as well. Although there have been many excavations over the years, this mysterious place still holds many secrets.

A Legendary Site Hidden Under the Green Grass

The earliest known writings about the tumulus come from a letter written by Edward Lhwyd dated December 15, 1699. But the site is obviously much older; does this mean that it was forgotten for centuries? That is a hard question to answer, but old books bring one more piece of precious information. In the Annals of the Four Masters , it is written that Danes plundered Newgrange in 861, however, there is no information about opening the tumulus.

When archaeologists first began work on the site, they found a large amount of precious treasures including ornaments and fictilia (earthenware objects) amongst other prehistoric artifacts. Some of the more interesting of their discoveries are a gold chain, two rings, a gold trocks, a bronze pin, and a small iron weapon. Many of the artifacts are exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland. However, several of the precious goods were also sold to private collections before a law was created protecting the site and its treasures.

Gold jewelry from Roman times deposited in the mound (British Museum).

Gold jewelry from Roman times deposited in the mound (British Museum). ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Apart from the excavated items and the tumulus itself, the site has some of the most spectacular rock art in western Europe. The triskele symbol is one of the most popular designs. This links the site to many myths and legends related to Celtic deities. The most popular belief is that it was a house for the most powerful of the Tuatha (an Irish race of gods founded by the goddess Danu).

In the 11th century Book of Lecan it is written that the Dagda lived there with his wife Boann and three sons. The Book of Leinster also contains the story of one of their sons, Oengus, who supposedly owned the Bru.

The Tuatha Dé Danann as depicted in John Duncan's "Riders of the Sidhe" (1911).

The Tuatha Dé Danann as depicted in John Duncan's "Riders of the Sidhe" (1911). ( Public Domain )

Sacred Symbols

The site is unique for many reasons. For example, the tumulus is dated back to 3200 BC but it was sealed for a few thousand years. Some researchers suggest that the Newgrange tumulus is very similar to the bee-hive shaped Mycenaean tomb known as the Treasury of Atreus. However, others don’t see any similarities between the two sites. Scholars are still looking for connections between prehistoric tombs, but this notion is full of more questions than answers.

View of Newgrange's elevation.

View of Newgrange's elevation. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The tumulus has a remarkable appearance, and is one of the best-preserved constructions of its type. The gallery has an entrance to the south, but in front of it one can see one of the site’s greatest treasures– an impressive stone covered with amazing lozenges and spirals. Archaeologists have suggested that the symbols are more than just a decoration. However, there are few detailed theories about what the markings were made for. There are also two other stones carved with symbols that were discovered in the boundary circle to the north-west.

Entrance stone with rock art.

Entrance stone with rock art. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Numerous markings of rings, spirals, cups, and surprising figures like cartouches from ancient Egypt were discovered during the many seasons of excavations. Their appearance sheds new light on Celtic art and the relationship the Celts had with Egypt.

Resurrecting the Ancient Site

The only people who visited the tumulus when it was closed were people who practiced magic and those who searched for help from the old gods. Local folklore says that it was a popular place for witches. But most people were afraid of visiting this area because they feared the spirits who supposedly lived there.

Comments

Noelo, so agree with your article, so interesting, thank you. You may not agree with who I think they were. I think, benign visitors to the planet. The locals would have a horrified reaction and contribute it all to magicians and fairies. Same all over the world. Attributed to magical gods who descend and arise in bright lights and do marvelous things. Sorry if that offends you Noela, but it makes complete sense to me and makes the whole world look extremely mad and ugly now. I am upset to put it midly that I belong to a race that cannot see the wood for the trees. Still, lets put me down to someone with a point of view. With respect D

I feel I must note that the continuous use of the term "Celtic" to describe anything of historical or archaeological importance in Ireland is both exceedingly inaccurate and entirely misleading. The rise of Celtic culture in mainland Europe at the end of the Bronze age and beginning of the Iron age centered around the modern area of Switzerland and Austria. Insofar as any proto-Celtic culture reached Ireland, we can see it in both Hallstadt and La Tene influenced artistic motifs such as the Lotus leaf pattern - this also being the only connection back to ancient Egypt we can find in the Irish archaeological record. There is no evidence of a single "Celt" ever arriving in Ireland at all.

The Neolithic monument at Newgrange predates the great Pyramid at Giza by at least 1000 years. Not only does it "seem" to be astronomically aligned, it most definitely is. It is aligned to the rising sun on the morning of the winter solstice. Scientifc studies ahve also shown that the tomb builders understood how to minimise the effect of precession every 25000 years.

We know next to nothing about who these people were. One thing we do know, for certain, is that they were not Celtic, a grouping of people which did not come about for nearly 2500 years after the tombs were built, who never came to Ireland and whose name has been misused and bandied around for the last 100 years as if they were the founders of every cvilisation that ever existed in Western Europe. Hardly.

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