The Boyne Valley & Newgrange
The Boyne Valley was home to some of the earliest settlements in Ireland due to its fertile land and access to the sea. As a result there are some fantastic historical and archaeological sites of interest to be seen on your private tour of Newgrange. Some of the finest examples of early Megalithic passage tombs in Europe are to be found here.
The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones.
The 19 metre long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn from the 19th to the 23rd of December.
At the entrance to Newgrange stands a highly-decorated stone.The carvings on the stone include a triple 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. Newgrange is one of three passage tombs in The Boyne Valley, the others being Knowth and Dowth. In 1962, restoration work on the tomb began under the supervision of Professor Michael J O'Kelly. The structure was taken apart piece by piece and then reconstructed. This work continued until 1975. Newgrange has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts 200,000 visitors per year.
Monastic Ruins, Round Towers, Celtic Stone Crosses
The Boyne Valley and Newgrange tour also visits a very important monastic site.
Monasterboice is one of Ireland's best-known and oldest religious sites, with the ruins of two churches, a Round Tower, a pre-gothic sundial and three High Crosses all packed into a small area. Founded in the 6th century by St. Buite, the monastery became a great seat of learning. It is most famous for its three High Crosses, the best of which, the Cross of Muiredach, is almost 18ft tall (and still not the tallest). They portray biblical scenes in panels carved onto the cross faces. They were used to educate a mostly illiterate flock. There is also a fabulous medieval Round Tower, an iconic and uniquely Irish construction.
Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland of which we have many. Winner of a Europa Nostra restoration award. These great stone castles are potent symbols of the Norman occupation of Ireland. Trim was built during the late 12th and 13th centuries. Built by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter it overlooks the Boyne(diverted to fill a moat) in a strategic position. Walk around the walls and tour the keep. Hear about treachery, wife-stealing and invasion. The movie Braveheart was shot here.