Window on the Past

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There’s a place in Ireland that hits the headlines every year: five thousand years old and it’s still making news.

Newgrange is an ancient temple in the Boyne Valley, about fifty kilometres north of Dublin. Aligned to the midwinter sun, on a good day, the sunlight will shine through a special window, down a long passageway and illuminate a magnificent chamber deep within the earth.

2013 was a good year. Have a look for yourself: Clip of Solstice Sunlight

It’s a magical experience. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy it from the inside and the light pours in like molten gold, as warm and comforting as a turf fire. It’s sunlight but somehow more concentrated; channelled into a broad beam akin to the shafts of sunlight that spill out of cumulus cloud.

It’s uncanny to be watching an event that people planned for back when stone was the only available technology. We never seem to credit our ancestors with being as smart as we are. It’s unequivocal, however, experienced first hand.

These days there’s a lottery to witness it – but Irish weather always makes it a lottery. Alternatively, you can see a simulation on every tour. Here’s the official site. The Irish are very generous: you can share their heritage for less than the price of a cappuccino.

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