Newgrange is possibly the finest example of a passage grave in Western Europe and is Ireland's most famous pre-historic site. The passgae grave dates to 3000 B.C. according to the most reliable Carbon 14 dates available meaning it predates both Stonghenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
The tomb covers an area of one acre and consists of a man-made stone and turf mound within a circle consisting of 97 large kerbstones. The face around the perimiter of the tomb is faced with sparkling white quartz possibly sourced from the Wicklow ountains, a whole 80km away. The granite on the permiter wall was most probably sourced from Dundalk Bay.
The interior of the mound consists of a long passage leading to a cross-shaped chamber. This burial chamber has a corballed roof which rises steeply to a high-point of close to 20 feet. The recesses in chamber contain large stone basins which would have held the cremated remains of those being laid to rest. During excavation of the tomb, the remains of five people were found.
Over the entrance to the tomb is a roofbox. On the winter solstice each year, the sun shines through the roofbox and along the internal passage lighting the burial chamber fotr about 17 minutes as it rises illuminating the carvings within the chamber. At all other times of the year the tomb is shrouded in darkness. While solar alignments are not uncommon in other passage graves, Newgrange is essentially the only one to incorporate a roofbox.
At the entrance to Newgrange stands a highly-decorated stone. The carvings on the stone include a tripal spiral motif which is found only at Newgrange and is repeated along the passage and again inside the chamber. It is unknown what the meaning of these carvings are.