The Winter Solstice brings some Neolithic magic to the 5200-year-old mound of Newgrange in Ireland.
On the three days surrounding the Winter Solstice, light from the rising sun enters the roof box over the entrance, moves down the passageway, and illuminates the carvings on the stones on the rear of the tomb – along with anything placed in the basin stone in front of the carvings. After a few minutes the sun rises further and the light begins to retreat down the passageway. Seventeen minutes after it all began, the tomb is once again plunged into darkness.
Each year, about 30,000 people enter a drawing to be inside Newgrange on one of the three days of the Winter Solstice. 50 are chosen, and many years clouds obscure the sunrise.
On the days around the Winter Solstice when the skies are clear the rising sun illuminates the passage and chamber of the 5000 year old megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley. Conditions were good on Sunday 18th December.
The rising sun soon cleared the cloud to bath Newgrange in golden light.
5200 year old solar alignment:
Above the entrance to Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated.