Newgrange is a Neolithic-period/Stone Age monument situated 8km west of Drogheda. Built in 3200 BC it is more than 5000 years old, and is an incredibly well preserved structure from the prehistoric period. It serves as a very literal relic of the past, as well as providing us a glimpse into our species’s evolutionary and cultural past.
I was coming to the end of my time in Ireland and was looking for places I had not yet visited on the island. Newgrange was somewhat out of the way, but I knew that I might not get much opportunity in the future to properly see Ireland again, so a day-trip it was.
Apart from Newgrange, the area itself is host to 2 other similarly large monuments: Knowth and Dowth, as well as a large number of satellite tombs surrounding these 3 major ones. Yes, that’s right. These monuments are in fact passage graves: They housed the cremated remains of the community that built them. But these monuments also contain another quirky feature: Newgrange and Dowth feature Winter Solstice solar alignment while Knowth is orientated towards the Summer and Autumn Equinox. Not much is known about the religious beliefs of these people, but evidently the seasons’ solar alignments were of huge importance to them. This intentional orientation has some very physical effects at Newgrange, but you’ll have to read the entries to find out 😀
Newgrange and Knowth are open to visitors via the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre, while Dowth does not seem to be accessible to the general public. There are a variety of ways to get to the visitor centre and the most popular is by car or tour bus. The sites are accessible only via guided tour from the visitor centre, and due to the popularity you are allocated the next available tour timeslots. The amount of time you have to wait before your timeslot depends on the size of the crowd, so getting there early is highly desirable. This means driving yourself there or taking a tour bus is the most convenient method, as you are more likely to get favourable timeslots, or in the case of tour buses, cover other historical sites nearby as well.
A third option is to get there via Public Transit. Bus Éireann runs route 163 from the Drogheda bus station daily. It does not, however, run on Sundays except during the months of July and August. My trip fell in July so that meant I could visit on a Sunday. Keep in mind that the Boyne Valley is a somewhat remote place, and so while route 163 runs daily, it only runs twice per day.
Yes I’m serious. Have a look at the timetable here.
The effect of this is that it limited the amount of time I could spend at the site. I ended up having only enough time for Newgrange and not the combined Newgrange-Knowth tour. Not only was the limited amount of services a hindrance, but as your arrival at the visitor centre is set to 11:40 am if you take the bus, you might be allocated a later tour timeslot due to the crowd.
Nonetheless, Newgrange itself is worth a visit. It was highly educational and fully worth the effort to get there, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Enough talking on my part. Here are the posts in chronological order:
- Newgrange Day-Trip (Part 1): Goldline X1 to Dublin
- Newgrange Day-Trip (Part 2): Bus Éireann 100X to Drogheda
- Newgrange Day-Trip (Part 3): Bus Éireann 163 to Newgrange
- Newgrange Day-Trip (Part 4): Newgrange site visit
- Newgrange Day-Trip (Part 5): Newgrange site to Dublin via Bus and Rail
- Newgrange Day-Trip (Part 6): Dublin to Belfast via Portadown