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29 December 2009
Midwinter's sunrise at Newgrange

Winter solstice sunrise at the famous Neolithic monument at Newgrange, Co Meath (Ireland), is, as always, welcome and rich in symbolism. An attempt to recreate the Solstice phenomenon at Newgrange has been made by student archaeologists as the annual 'dawn watch' began at the east Meath national monument. They built a replica of the megalithic tomb creating a lightbox that allowed light into the chamber at dawn and the entire experiment has been broadcast on RTE television.
     The first part of the study was undertaken in the summer where students tried to establish the position of the winter solstice and plan the engineering and design of the passage, using only instruments that would have been available at the time the tomb was built. During the summer and autumn, the model-makers were at work recreation the tomb and lightbox and they have been assembling the model at Newgrange this week.
     Meanwhile, 52 people who won a place in the tomb at Newgrange in a raffle earlier this year joined the 2009 'dawn watch'. Groups of people gathered in the tomb for 5 mornings to wait for the light to enter the tomb at dawn. Among those who won the opportunity were people who haveed travel to Meath from Los Angeles and other parts of the US, France, Sweden, Portugal, Austria, the UK and all over Ireland. The names of the winners were drawn from 32,995 entries by children from Slane, Knockcommon and Donore National Schools in September.
     On the actual winter solstice, invited guests included De Ed Krupp of Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, a renowned arhaeological astronomer, and other dignitaries. Also on the same morning, hundreds of visitors waited outside the tomb to watch the sunrise.

Source: The Meath Chronicle (16 December 2009), The Irish Times (21 December 2009)

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