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Saturday, August 6, 2011


New Grange Megalithic Burial Mound in Ireland
Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, New Grange in Ireland was built around 3250 BC. That’s 500 years before the Egyptian pyramids and 1,000 years before Stonehenge. Brú na Bóinne, means mansion on the Boyne, and the passage tomb lies in the Boyne River Valley. The site receives over 200,000 visitors a year. New Grange access is by guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre located close to the village of Donore, County Meath.

Entrance stone
The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 62-foot long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb at New Grange would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years. At winter solstice, rays of the morning sun fall through a small opening in the mound’s roof box to illuminate the burial chamber for 17 minutes. Can you imagine waiting a year for 17 minutes of light? Can you imagine the precision required to accomplish that feat?

Pre-Celtic Design
The 12-inch diameter tri-spiral design from inside the chamber is probably the most famous Irish Megalithic symbol, and is one third the size of the same design on the entrance stone. It is often referred to as a Celtic design, but it was carved at least 2500 years before the Celts reached Ireland. At 12 inches in diameter the tri-spiral design is quite small in size, less than one-third the size of the tri-spiral design on the entrance stone.

Megalithic mounds such as Newgrange entered Irish mythology as sídhe or fairy mounds. New Grange was said to be the home of Oenghus, the god of love. Oenghus mac ind Og ("He Alone Who is Powerful") was the God of love and youth, patron god of children. The alternate spelling is Angus.

Oenghus is the son of the Dagda, ruler of an other-dimensional realm of beings known as the Tuatha de Danaan, a race of beings who were worshipped as gods by the Ancient Celts and Gaels of Western Europe, and Boann, the goddess of the Boyne River of County Meath in Eire (modern Ireland). Boann was the wife of the water-god, Nechtan, who settled Brú na Bóinne after the defeat of the Fomore, the eternal enemies of the Danaans. As Chieftain of the Tuatha de Danaan, the Dagda sent Nechtan on a day long errand, and in his absence, seduced Boann. Using his mystical powers, the Dagda extended the day to last nine months so that Boann conceived and gave birth to Oenghus in a single day. Oenghus was given to his brother, Mider, to be raised to adulthood, but when Oenghus became an adult, Nechtan gave Brú na Bóinne to Oenghus, possibly seeing him as his only worthy heir.

The Tuatha de Dannan were worshipped as gods throughout Ireland, Britain and Western Europe with the Dagda as King of Eire and Oenghus taking his throne in his absence. However, when the Dagda retired from Earthly rule, he split Eire up among four counties among his sons with Oenghus acquiring Leinster, Mider receiving Connacht, Oghma receiving Ulster and his brother Bodb Derg receiving Munster. Bodb as the eldest son also acquired the title as King of Eire at Meath, kept separate from the other four counties. During the Milesian invasion, the Danaans departed Earth for the realm of Otherworld connected to the Earth's dimension by way of countless sidhs or faerie mounds throughout Eire. Oenghus's sidh was located at Brú na Bóinne.

Oenghus took Derbrenn, the daughter of King Eochaidh Airem of Eire as his wife, but he eventually fell in love with Caer, the daughter of Ethal Anubal and grand-daughter of King Ailill and Medhbha of Connacht. Caer had appeared to him in a vision, and Oenghus turned to his older brother, Bodb, in order to identify and find the mystery woman in the vision. Using his spells, Bodb finally found Caer a year after the dream alongside the bank of a lake in Connacht with her numerous sisters. Oenghus approached Ethal Anubal for the right to court Caer. He learned that Caer was actually a mortal shapeshifter with her sisters, only able to live half a year on Earth in human form and the other half of the year as a swan. The reason for this spell is unrevealed, but Oenghus learned from King Ailill that the best way to court Caer was to take her as a swan and convince her to remain human. Following his instructions, Oenghus confronted Caer on the Feast of Samhain and followed her into the sky as she turned to a swan, becoming a swan himself. Enchanting a mystical spell to her in song, he finally encouraged her to fly away with him to Brú na Bóinne to live as his wife. After he out-lived her, he took a third wife, Nuamaisi.

In the First Century BC, Oenghus was sent in his capacity as a god of love to woo the Princess Edain of Ulster on Mider's behalf. In the Third Century AD, he adopted Diarmaid ua Duibhne, the son of a fallen Celtic lord. Oenghus placed a spell around Diarmaid to encourage women to fall in love with him. While he attended the wedding of Igraine, a princess of Eire to the aged warrior, Finn mac Cumhaill, Oenghus was noticed by Igraine, who fell in love with him and drugged her husband and guests to escape with Diarmaid and a otherwise potentially unhappy future. Igraine's father, King Cormac of Eire sent the Fianna to retrieve her, but Oenghus protected and sheltered the lovers for several years. (Igraine should not be confused with Igraine, the mother of King Arthur.)

In the Fifth Century AD, Christianity was introduced to Eire and the Celtic Gods retreated from Earth for the last time for the dimension of Otherworld which included the realms of Avalon and Tir Na Bhog. Oenghus left Brú na Bóinne to his mortal descendants. His modern day activities are unrevealed.

Now back to New Grange. The Passage Tomb at New Grange was re-discovered in 1699 by the removal of material for road building. A major excavation of New Grange began in 1962; the original facade of sparkling white quartz was rebuilt using stone found at the site.
Check your bookseller for a list of the numerous books that focus on New Grange, on other megalithic monuments in Ireland, and on Irish mythology.

Aerial view
Thanks to www.Knowth.com for part of this information and photos. To celebrate the Irish part of my heritage, I’ll give away a PDF copy of either my historical, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, or the contemporary time travel romantic suspense, OUT OF THE BLUE, to one commenter.

Thanks for stopping by.
Caroline Clemmons


Ellen Lindseth said...

My son wrote two epic poems for his High School literary magazine on the great mythical Irish hero, Cuchulain. He reminded me that Newgrange is said to have been the place where Cúchulainn was conceived by his mother Dechtine and the god, Lugh.

Unknown said...

For whatever reason, I just saw this and I LOVED it (as you might suspect). Thank you for posting this really informative piece. You can be sure that I'll be back for more!

McKenna Darby said...

Caroline, this is fascinating. I've been dreaming of a trip to Ireland for years. When I finally get to go, New Grange will definitely be high on my list of must-visit sites. Thank you so much for sharing this!

bjvitamin said...

Caroline, Time for me to return to Ireland. I must see this up close.
Thank you. bjvitamin@yahoo.com.

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