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Monday 22 January 2018

Archaeologist questions validity of monument's ancient 'roof box'

Newgrange Monument Photo: Tourism Ireland
Newgrange Monument Photo: Tourism Ireland

Chai Brady

Newgrange's famous 'roof box' designed to trap the winter solstice sun may not have been designed about 5,000 years ago.

Michael Gibbons, a former State archaeologist, has co-written a paper which disagrees that it was largely unaltered since the Neolithic period.

The architecture of the 'roof-box' allows a beam of sunlight inside for 17 minutes from December 19-23 at sunrise.

Mr Gibbons disagreed with the original reconstruction, which was done by Prof Michael O'Kelly. However, the OPW has hit back saying: "Following excavations at Newgrange in the 1960s, the monument's entrance, including the roof box, passageway was fully reinstated. The suggestion made that the roof box is a '50-year-old construct' is entirely untrue."

Dr Robert Hensey, an archaeologist who researched the excavation and reinstatement works carried out by Prof O'Kelly said: "The roof box is attested in antiquarian accounts and drawings, in early 20th century photography, and then extensively in the substantial O'Kelly excavation archive. There is no question that the roof box is a modern construct or invention…"

Irish Independent

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