on 18 November 2010
This book provides an excellent and up to date overview of Newgrange. With nice color illustrations, the book is not limited to the neolithic Newgrange site in itself, but puts its in a broader context. The context includes not only the modern history of the site and the recent excavations and restorations, but also what we could learn about the life of the neolithic builders and the use of the site during the later bronze age (stone circle) and the roman epoch. It also puts Newgrange in a geographical context with a very interesting comparison with other similar passage tombs in UK, Brittany, Portugal and Spain.
While defending the traditional idea of Newgrange as primarily a burial place, the authors are open minded and do mention other interpretations that have been suggested in the last decades. I can therefore only recommend this book to everybody who visited Newgrange and wants to learn more on this exceptional site.
on 31 March 2016
Built about 1000 years before Stonehenge, out of black and grey granite, bright white quartz, and huge menhir-ish stones, with an extraordinary corbelled roof that kept the interior perfectly dry, and a passage aligned so that the interior chamber is illuminated at dawn on the winter solstice (if it’s sunny): Newgrange is really amazing. There were lots of books on all aspects of it in the Visitor Centre shop, but this one looked the most up-to-date, readable and feet-on-ground of them. It covers in the same order that you see them, the outside wall, the entrance, the ‘art’, the passage and the chamber. And then goes on to discuss neolithic life and the possible rituals that would’ve taken place there, neither dismissing nor overly indulging the more far-out theories. Finally it deals with other aspects of the site (the great stone circe, the woodhenge, the hut posts and Bronze Age and later findings), and compares Newgrange with similar sites in Brittany and Iberia. It critiques O’Kelly’s restoration (the controversial ‘quartz revetment’ wall and the hidden concrete), provides a good bibliography and gives some travel tips. There are lots of useful diagrams and illustrations. I felt by the end I wanted to go back to Newgrange to see all the things I’d missed or not understood the first time: which is probably as good a recommendation as any.