Crowds gather in Newgrange to watch the winter solstice despite the overcast weather

Updated 2 hours ago

Crowds of people gathered in Newgrange at Co Meath today to witness the winter solstice at the Neolithic Monument.

However, the cloudy conditions meant that the view was not as bright as hoped for in the 5,200-year-old pass tomb.

For the second year in a row, members of the public were not accepted into the same room due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The sunrise event of the solstice was broadcast live from inside the room, and the operation video can be viewed here. Another live stream from the site will happen tomorrow morning.

The winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that determines the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22.

At sunrise on the shortest day of the year, for a duration of 17 minutes, direct sunlight can enter the Newgrange Memorial through a specially designed small opening above the entrance known as the «roof box» to illuminate the room.

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«I understand the public’s disappointment with the room’s closure, especially at this important time of the year, but we have to keep in mind the government’s guidance regarding Covid-19 and the health and safety of our visitors at all times,» said Patrick O’Donovan, the Secretary of State in charge of the Office of Public Works, prior to the event. today.

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The Department of Housing had asked members of the public not to travel directly to the site, as there are closed roads around Newgrange itself.

While the cemetery chamber remained closed during the pandemic, the National Antiquities Department and the Oman Water Office were able to expand the archaeological research program and gather more information about the winter solstice phenomenon during the month of December.

The research project measures and monitors the movement of winter sunlight coming through the roof box into the corridor and chamber in great detail to determine how the dawn ray of light interferes with the room as we move toward and beyond the solstice.

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With Arla Ryan reporting

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