Newgrange has some of the finest megalithic art in Europe. Three of the kerbstones
are fully decorated - the Entrance stone, Kerbstone 52 which is positioned at the exact opposite side of the cairn to the entrance, and K 67 which lies to the
north of the chamber.
In addition there are many lesser carvings on other kerbstones. During the excavation it
was discovered that several stones were decorated on their inner hidden
sides, which prompted much speculation about the nature and meaning of the art.
The lintel of the Roofbox is engraved with a series of eight lozanges
which may reflect the division of the year into eight parts as can be seen in the equinox engravings within Cairn T at Loughcrew.
and chamber stones are also richly engraved with spiral, lozange and zig-zag
motifs. The signiture of the Newgrange builders is the famous triple spiral
which appears in a large version on the entrance stone and a finer version in the end recess of the chamber.
The artwork was catalogued by Claire O'Kelly, wife of Michael O'Kelly, while the excavations were taking place.
Claire took rubbings of the stones, most of which are reproduced in Michael
O'Kelly's Newgrange book.
Another researcher who made an intensive study of the megalithic art of
the Boyne Valley and Loughcrew was Martin Brennan. His work was published
in two books, The Boyne Valley Vision and The Stars and the Stones.
was trained as an artist, and he made several ground-breaking discoveries
about the relationship between the art and the astronomical alignments
of the mounds. He was the first person to draw attention to the important alignments at Loughcrew, and the shadow-casting properties of the standing stones at Newgrange.
Sadly, his work was much maligned at the
time—there seems to have been plenty of animosity towards the field of archaeoastronomy in general. However, now almost 30 years since his books were published, many of his theories have become
accepted, though often uncredited.
RTE's Richard Dowling speaks to Muiris O'Suilleabhain, Professor of Archeology at UCD about Neolithic Art at Newgrange ahead of this year's Winter Solstice on December 21st 2011.
Kerbstone 1 stands at the entrance to Newgrange. In years gone by people had to climb over the stone. The
modern arrangement of cut limestone wings were installed during the rebuilding of Newgrange in the 1970's to save wear and tear on the stones. An enormous
number of people pass through this portal every year.