The Winter Solstice

at Newgrange

Of the many notable features at Newgrange, the most famous is the small opening or ‘roof box’ situated above the passage entrance. At dawn on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (21 December) and for a number of days before and after, a shaft of sunlight enters the chamber through an opening in the roof box.

To the Neolithic culture of the Boyne Valley, the winter solstice marked the start of the New Year– a sign of nature’s rebirth and promising renewed life to crops, animals and humans. It may also have served as a powerful symbol of the inevitable victory of life over death, perhaps promising new life to the spirits of the dead.