Newgrange, Co Meath Photo by: Newgrange.com

Archaeologists discover new tomb and passage at Newgrange


Newgrange, Co Meath Photo by: Newgrange.com

Archaeologists have discovered a new passage tomb near Newgrange and want it declared a national monument.

The archaeologists led by Kevin Barton discovered the new passage tomb through LiDar imagery, which uses light detection and other “ground probing techniques.”

Their find is the first discovery without any archaeological digging. The LiDar images showed a mound with a circular enclosure. New technologies including radiometry and resistivity illuminated the passage which leads northwest out of the tomb.

The newly discovered passage tomb is located on private property and without government designation, they may not explore the tomb more. Their initial work was done at the Bru na Boinne Heritage Site. The archaeologists are calling on Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Heritage to confer status, so they may do excavations.

The archaeologists have the support of activist group ‘Save Newgrange’ and additionally ask that the Meath County Council include the new findings in the Management Plan for the World Heritage Site. The Evening Herald quoted Save Newgrange spokesperson Vincent Salafia, “The state is under a duty to fully investigate the entire World Heritage Site, and to give monuments the highest legal protection possible, which is national monument designation under the National Monuments Act.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Office (UNESCO) aims to encourage the identification and preservation of cultural and natural heritage that holds outstanding value to humanity. The Bru na Boinne complex, which includes Newgrange is one of 981 properties worldwide.

A full scale excavation of the newly discovered tomb could lead to an expansion of the Newgrange heritage site and impede future motorway plans for the N2 bypass. An application for the bypass was refused in 2012 because of its proximity to Newgrange, but local politicians are still hopeful.

Passage tombs are Neolithic tombs containing a passage leading to a circular chamber. Scholars have debated the purpose of these tombs and argue they may have been used for religious ceremonies or burial sites. Newgrange was built 5,000 years ago, which makes it older than Stonehenge in England and the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It is famous for the illumination of its center chamber by the winter solstice. Those who wish to see this event may enter a free lottery by filling out an application either in person at the Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre or send an email to brunaboinne@opw.ie.


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