Ancient Newgrange for Midwinter Solstice

Happy Yuletide.  We celebrate Midwinter solstice as Yule, and if you aren’t burning a Yule log this year, don’t feel left out.  Very few are doing Yule logs although the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, VA, is one exception.

In Ireland, a temple celebrates the upcoming solstice, Midwinter.   The inner chamber is naturally illuminated on that day.

??Archaeologists classified Newgrange as a passage tomb, however Newgrange is now recognised to be much more than a passage tomb. Ancient Temple is a more fitting classification, a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, much as present day cathedrals are places of prestige and worship where dignitaries may be laid to rest.


Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. This baffling orifice held a great surprise for those who unearthed it. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the shortest days of the year, around December 21, the winter solstice.

At dawn, from December 19th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. This event lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am.

Maybe this year, we won’t quite make it for the amazing event.   Another year, I’ll see you there, if we’re lucky.

The ancients who made the amazing monuments we can still visit today have left an incredible gift for us to enjoy.

Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.