Fue construido aproximadamente entre 3300-2900 a. C., de acuerdo con fechas del carbono 14 (Grogan 1991), esto le hace 500 años más antiguo que la Gran Pirámide de Guiza de Egipto, y 1000 más que Stonehenge (aunque las primeras etapas de Stonehenge son aproximadamente de la misma época que Newgrange). Permaneció perdido durante más de 4000 años debido a una disminución del montículo hasta que en el siglo XVII fue descubierto por gente que buscaba piedras para la construcción, y lo describieron como una cueva.
Piedra de la entrada con arte megalítico.
Newgrange fue excavada y restaurada en su mayoría entre 1962 y 1975 bajo la supervisión del profesor Michael J O'Kelly, del Departamento de Arqueología de la University College Cork (O'Kelly 1986). Consiste en enorme montículo hecho de piedra tallada por el hombre y turba en el interior de un círculo de 97 grandes guardacantones coronado por un muro inclinado hacia adentro de cuarzo blanco y granito. La mayoría de las piedras proceden de las inmediaciones de la construcción, aunque las piedras de granito y cuarzo de la fachada fueron transportadas desde lugares más lejanos, seguramente desde Wicklow y la bahía de Dundalk, respectivamente.
Por el interior del montículo transcurre un pasaje de 18 metros que se adentra hasta un tercio del diámetro y lleva a una cámara cruciforme. La cámara funeraria tiene un techo en voladizo que se eleva abruptamente hasta una altura de unos 6 metros. El tejado ha permanecido casi intacto durante más de 5.000 años.
Detalle de la bóveda de la sala interior del túmulo de Newgrange.
Parece que Newgrange se usó como una tumba. Los huecos en la cámara cruciforme aguantan grandes cuencas de piedra dentro de las cuales estaban situados los restos incinerados de aquellos colocados para descansar. Durante la excavación, sólo se encontraron los restos de cinco individuos.
Newgrange está orientado astronómicamente: cada año, en la mañana del solsticio de invierno, la luz del sol penetra en el pasaje e ilumina el suelo de la cámara durante 17 minutos. Algunos han especulado por ello que el Sol habría tenido una gran importancia en las creencias religiosas del pueblo que lo construyó, y otros han tomado el hallazgo como referencia para estudios arqueoastronómicos en otros monumentos similares (aunque la alineación de Newgrange es la única fehacientemente demostrada y podría ser fruto de la casualidad).
Antiguamente el montículo estaba rodeado por un anillo exterior de inmensas piedras derechas, de las cuales hay doce de unas treinta y siete posibles que permanecen. Sin embargo, parece que el círculo de piedra que rodeaba Newgrange no es contemporáneo con el monumento en sí sino que fue situado allí unos 1.000 años después en la Edad del Bronce.
Along the Boyne River north of Dublin stands the Brugh na Boinne or the ‘Palace of the Boyne’, containing 26 extraordinary structures of which Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are the most significant. Newgrange is named after the local townland of Newgrange, so-called when the area was part of the Cistercian abbey of Mellifont in the 12th century. Newgrange has been dated to approximately 3700 BC, was in decay by 2500 BC, and seems to have been empty since 861 AD when it was last plundered by the Vikings. Legends recount that the area of these mounds were thought to be the home of Oengus, the son of Dagda, and became known as Brug Oengus (the Mansion of Oengus). The whole area was called Bru na Boinne or the Mansions of the Boyne. According to another Celtic legend, the Dagda and his son Oengus were two of the principal members of the Tuatha de Danann, which placed the mounds under the protection of fairies. In 1699, the owner of the land, Charles Campbell discovered the decorated stone at the entrance of Newgrange and became probably the first person to enter the cairn in a thousand years. Recognizing the importance of the structure, he stopped quarrying its stones and the massive cairn remained open until archaeological excavations began in 1962.
The Newgrange passage cairn covers an acre of land and consists of a mound, sometimes called a tumulus, rising from the meadow and surrounded by a stone curbing. The cairn is 280 feet across and 50 feet high, and of the original 38 pillar stones surrounding the cairn, only 12 remain. The bulk of the cairn is constructed of approximately 280,000 tons of river rolled granite stones brought 75 miles from Dundalk Bay, and covered with a layer of soil which is several yards deep. The facing around the perimeter of the cairn is several yards high and is made of sparkling white quartz quarried 50 miles away in the Wicklow Mountains. The entrance to the cairn is marked by a threshold stone which is elaborately carved with spirals and diamond shapes. Inside the cairn, a 62-foot (24 meter) passage way leads to a domed chamber that is 20 feet high. This chamber has a corbelled roof and three recesses, one straight ahead and one on either side, giving it a cruciform shape. Many of the stones within these chambers are carved with beautiful spirals, geometric figures and wavy lines.
Above the main entrance to the cairn are two lintel stones and between them an opening, called a ‘light box’. It is through this light box that a beam of sunlight, on a particular sequence of days, is able to enter the long chamber. A fascinating fact is that the 62-foot passage way rises 6.5 feet along its length resulting in the chamber floor being level with the roof box. One of the primary aims of those forms of megalithic architecture which functioned as celestial observatories was to reduce the light in the interior of the passage chamber. The darker the chamber, the more brilliant the narrow shaft of light would appear to be. Furthermore, the accuracy of such devices to precisely observe the sun increases in proportion to their size. Unless the construct is of an extremely large size, such as is found at Newgrange, the varying positions of the light beam will be almost undetectable during the twenty-two day period of the solstice.
Just before 9 AM on the morning of the winter solstice, December 21, the Newgrange passage is pierced by a shaft of sunlight which illuminates a stone basin at the end of the passage and lights up a series of intricate spiral carvings in the rock. The chamber is brilliantly lit for around 17 minutes and this solar display lasts for five days around the time of the solstice. Archaeoastronomers studying the various cairns at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth have determined that the sunbeam on the solstice is accurately observed throughout the day by the different cairns. Furthermore, standing stones and cairns in close proximity to the Newgrange tumulus create sight-lines which clearly indicate that the ancient builders were also precisely aware of other astronomically significant periods such as the equinoxes, the cross-quarter days, and both major and minor lunar standstills. Even more fascinating, the scholars Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas have conclusively demonstrated that the precise alignment and engineering of the light box also indicated one day –occurring only every eight years – when the light of Venus enters the passage exactly 24 minutes before the light of the solstice sun.
The passage cairn of Newgrange (and others such as Knowth, Dowth and Loughcrew) has often been compared to a womb, as a womb inside a great mound of earth may be likened to that of an earth goddess. This notion is given support by the fact that very few burial remains have been found within any of the large cairns of Ireland. Instead, the objects that have been found all seem to have a fertility function, for example oval shaped stones and rock phalluses. Some carved bone pins and pendants have been recovered from the cairns and scholars suggest that these may been left by young women in hopes of impregnation by the gods. The few bones found with the cairns, always without rich burial remains, may be an indication that the ancient people hoped the sun’s rays would touch the bones and somehow allow the spirit to reincarnate.
Readers with have noticed from the above notes that I specifically do NOT label the passage cairns of Newgrange, Knowth or Dowth as burial tombs. There is an archaeologically sound reason for this. During the period of some 40 generations which the Megalithic people (also called the Grooved Ware People because of the distinctive style of their pottery) constructed these massive mounds, there would have been many deaths from natural causes. Scholars, such as Professor Kelly, one of the main excavators of the mounds, have calculated that as many as 48,000 people would have died during this period of 40 generations. If this is so, then the question remains: where were they all buried and why are there so very few burial remains within the passage cairns? Did the Grooved Ware People venerate only a small percentage of their dead (some 0.4%) or were the tremendous passage cairns constructed for a purpose other than the simple burial of the dead?
Perhaps we are given some further insight into the meaning and power of this magnificent place by this ancient tale from the Tuatha da Danann:
Aengus was an externally youthful exponent of love and beauty. Like his father, he had a harp, but it was of gold not oak, as the Dagda’s was and so sweet was its music that no one could hear and not follow it. His kisses became birds which hovered invisibly over young men and maidens of Erin, whispering thoughts of love into their ears. He is chiefly connected with the banks of the Boyne, where he had a Bru or shinning fairy palace.
Calendars for the Sun, Moon and stars - by Gillies MacBain
An abridged version of a talk given to the Sr. Aine Historical Society Templemore, Co. Tipperary.
Newgrange (right) and Knowth (far left, behind trees) and the Boyne in flood.
The Boyne Valley passage mounds attract worldwide attention and undoubtedly deserve World Heritage Site status. Until now, the archaeologist's viewpoint has been dominant - that they are primarily burial mounds. Gillies Macbain argues that a wider perspective is needed, to include astronomy and other sciences. His astronomical and mathematical arguments presented here offer compelling evidence that these mounds were built to act as calanders based on the movements of the sun, moon and the star Venus.
When I first wrote down my conclusions on the passage mounds – I sent a copy to Professor Eogan, an archaeologist, and another to Professor Wayman, an astronomer. The distinguished archaeologist wrote back saying " I can't comment on your theories because I am not an astronomer". The distinguished astronomer wrote back saying that the numbers looked right but he couldn't comment on them because he was not an archaeologist!
I have to acknowledge my debt to the expert authors and authorities – but I don't believe that archaeology itself is enough: To get the full picture you need archaeology but also anthropology, astronomy, agriculture, architecture, ancient history, mythology and the history of religion – and a dash of common sense.
Surely Newgrange has to be more than a grave? There are a number of ways of burying a body easier than under 200,000 tonnes of stones. Let the archaeologists call it a passage grave. I prefer to call it a passage mound. It is permissible to see this complex of mounds as the longest and greatest engineering project ever undertaken on this island of Ireland.
If you want a better word to describe the three great mounds in the Boyne Valley, then I suggest the word "cathedrals" would be the most appropriate.*
Regarding the sun, the moon, and the calendar. From my own house in Tipperary the sun sets behind the Devil's Bit mountain: The Gap of Barnane. On the 15th August each year, if the weather is clear, the sun is seen to set exactly in the Bit. That is the Feast of the Assumption and the cathedral in Thurles is the Cathedral of the Assumption. The 15th of August is also the date of Nenagh show and the meaning of "Nenagh" is "annual" or "annual fair".
Now here is another curious thing: If the sun goes down exactly in the Devil's Bit on the 15th August, just eight weeks after midsummer, it must do the same trick on its way north along the horizon eight weeks before midsummer. It will also rise, on the 14th February, just eight weeks after midwinter on the exactly opposite point of the horizon.
And what is opposite the rising sun? As the sun rises, the full moon sets, and once every 19 years this full moon will coincide with the 14th February and also set directly in the Devil's Bit.
The moon's behaviour has complications which would take too long to explain, but you can take it that a front door accidently lined up with the sun, can equally certainly be said to be lined up with a regular setting or rising of the moon.
Would anyone build a passage mound with a deliberate alignment on a phase of the moon which occurred only once in 19 years? The answer is that neolithic man, yes, would. It is only us in our headlong age with our illusion of constant progress, who think in the short-term.
THE 19-YEAR CYCLE
Let me explain this 19-year thing: The problem of the calendar makers is to reconcile the apparent motion of the sun and moon. Seen from the earth, the sun goes around every 24 hours. The seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth in its orbit, and this orbit takes 365.25 days. We know this fact so well that we tend to forget that the length of the year is completely unrelated to the length of the day. As for month, the word comes from the word "moon". The moon in fact goes around anti-clockwise – only the spin of the earth makes it look clockwise. The month lasts 29.5 days from new moon to new moon. The year is twelve moon months and 10.9 days left over. So some years have thirteen new moons.
By a pure coincidence of the solar system, 19 sun years are almost exactly equal to 235 moon months. So if the moon and the sun are in a particular configuration on a particular day of the year, they will be in the same configuration with the moon at the same phase, on the same day, 19 years later. This 19 year cycle is an astronomical one, but it is used in the Christian calendar to determine the day on which Easter occurs.
None of this information is original or new. What is new is that we are bringing together information from one field to throw light on another.
DOWTH AND KNOWTH
Let us now deal with Dowth and Knowth – the other two major passage mounds on the Boyne. Dowth was traditionally held to have been built by the druid Bres and means "darkness" in Irish. The story is that darkness fell upon the earth before the mound was completed. I take this to mean an eclipse. Dowth has 115 kerb stones. If you go around twice that makes 115 x 2, or 230 stones. 230 is the number of moons (new moon to new moon) in the 18.6 year cycle, after which the pattern of eclipses repeats itself. Dowth faces in a westerly direction. The west is where you see the new moon, and the new moon, OR dark moon, is the time when eclipses of the sun occur: It all fits.
The reference to a 19-year cycle would be very appropriate for Knowth, which has passages facing east and west. At the equinox the sun comes up due east in any part of the world, and sets due west. Once every nineteen years the moon will be full on the same day as the equinox. Likewise half way around the cycle, after 9.5 years,the new moon will do the same at the autumn equinox, but with, not opposite, the sun. The eastern passage may also be slanted slightly south of east, towards the old moon preceding the equinox.
Let me explain: To see the old moon, you look east – it rises before the sun, a little closer every day until it disappears in the glow of dawn. Similarly, to see the new moon you look west. It sets a little later than the sun, every day. So the old moon at Knowth would give about 3 days warning of the new. Knowth has 127 stones and 127 is half of 254 – the number of sidereal moons in 19 years. Sidereal means coming back to the same point in the stars. That takes the moon 27.3 days. Meanwhile the sun has moved on in the annual circuit and not until 29.5 days does the moon catch up.
So the number of kerb stones at Knowth is either one of the greatest coincidences of all time or it indicates beyond doubt a detailed knowledge of the moon, and an understanding of the circling of the stars.
Our most difficult task is to get inside the mind of a people who can neither read nor write, but are skilled at designing and building in stone, and so advanced in their observations of the heavens that we find it hard to keep up with them, even now in an age of television and universal education!
Dowth and Knowth yielded their secret fairly easily, now what about Newgrange?
If Dowth is the first mound, watching the 18.6 year cycle of the eclipses – and Knowth is the second, watching the 19 years coincidence of sun and moon, what else is there to track? There is the 8 year cycle of the planet Venus. The planet Venus goes around the sun – as seen from the earth which is also moving – in 584 days. During this cycle it appears once as the morning star, and once as the evening star. By another astronomical coincidence, five of these Venus cycles make nearly the same number of days as there are in eight years, – in fact after eight years Venus comes back ahead of the sun, just 2.5 days early.
Now I want you to imagine a coming together of the winter sun, the new moon, and the planet Venus. The calendar maker has to decide what day to chose for day one. We chose January 1st and anno domini 1 (1 A.D.) as our starting points. But the winter solstice is a natural starting point for the sun; for the moon the new or darkened moon; and for Venus the inferior conjunction when it passes across the face of the sun and can be visible as a black dot under certain conditions.
I am saying that Newgrange may be designed to look out for a day which is day one of the suns year, day one of the moon's nineteen year cycle and day one of the planet Venus' eight year cycle. The lowest common denominator of the one year sun cycle, nineteen year moon coincidence and eight year Venus coincidence is 1 x 19 x 8 = 152. 152 fits Newgrange in the following way: Newgrange has 97 kerb stones. Make the entrance stone K1 and the highly decorated stone K52 represent the days of triple conjunction. There are 95 kerb stones remaining. Each kerb stone = one 584 day cycle of Venus. Thus each five stones = 8 years. Thus the stones make 19 x 8 years or 152 years. This represents a "great year" of sun, moon, and Venus.
To me this is the meaning of the regular phrase in mythology 'three fifties plus two'. It is the sun/ moon/ Venus cycle. The theory that I am putting forward assumes a knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon, and Venus, on the part of the passage mound builders.
So the most conservative archaeologists now accept the alignment of Newgrange with the midwinter sun. All of the circumstantial evidence points to an association of the Boyne valley with the moon after which it is named (Boyne = cow. The moon was known as the white cow). And the third person of this neolithic trinity is the planet Venus.
At Newgrange the folk tradition of county Meath was that the morning star (Venus) shone into Newgrange once in every eight years. It takes Venus five cycles, as we saw, to come back into line with the solar year. That is why Venus is represented as a five pointed star. Of course, what we are celebrating is not just any old star, but the morning star which announces the dawn.
A fundamental problem of religion is to reconcile the natural, unconscious, night-time mind, with the rational, conscious, daylight mind. The morning star which brings the dawn is the messenger of love, reconciliation, and the coming of the light. It is a parable of nature. The star of Bethlehem is a lot more than a children's story. It stands for the meeting point of day and night, of reason and feeling, the reconciliation of man with creation and the reconciliation of heaven and earth.
What I am calling for is the rescue of the passage mounds from the archaeologists' operating table, and their restoration as sites of spiritual significance. Here in Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is abandoned to tourism, and it is part of the OPW lease that it is not to be used for religious purposes. The Derrynaflan chalice is locked in a glass case in the museum. For a thousand years it lay hidden for fear of the Vikings. Now the Viking city of Dublin holds it and no one asks for it back. The only grail chalice that we care about is the Sam Maguire football trophy.
I humbly suggest that the time has come to reclaim the roots of our religion – and reclaim for the pilgrim the sacred and ancient landscape that is being lost to the mere tourist.
Newgrange and the Boyne Valley monuments – advanced lunar calculations and observation of the effects of precession of equinoxes in Neolithic Ireland - Part 1
Near the east coast of Drogheda, about 30 miles north of the Irish capital city, Dublin, lie the remains of a vast prehistoric monumental landscape. Newgrange and its sister sites at the Brú na Bóinne complex were built more than 5,000 years ago. These giant stone edifices survive today, along with a smattering of other smaller archaeological monuments.
Archaeologists say Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth were tombs, built in ancient times to provide somewhere to bury the dead. And yet, the passage and chamber of Newgrange are aligned so that the beams of the winter solstice sun enter into the deepest part of the chamber at dawn on the shortest days of the year. This is accepted as a key aspect of the design of Newgrange, and is not something that happens by chance.
In addition, the number of bone fragments found inside Newgrange hardly constitutes evidence of a communal burial chamber. In total, the bones of only five individuals were found inside the monument during excavations in the 1960s. Admittedly, some bones could have been taken away after the rediscovery of the entrance to the passage and chamber in 1699. But at over 85 metres in diameter, and containing over a quarter of a million tonnes of stone and earth, this monument would seem such a lavish and grandiose tomb for a few mere mortals, if that were indeed its sole purpose.
In addition to the fact that the chamber of Newgrange accepts sunlight at dawn on winter solstice, there are several other aspects of its design, its alignments, its cosmology and its mythology that command the attention of those exploring its true functions. And there are several aspects of Newgrange that remain a puzzle to archaeologists.
Up until 1967, after archaeological excavation, conservation and restoration work, it was not possible for the light of the sun to illuminate the interior. This was due to slow subsidence of the roofing stones of the passage, which had slowly sunk as the supporting orthostats leaned inwards over the long centuries. Before 1967, when archaeologist Professor Michael O’Kelly became the first person to witness the solstice event in modern times, nobody could have witnessed this phenomenon. And yet, local folklore held that the sun shone into Newgrange on the shortest day of the year. O’Kelly points to this as being one of the reasons for his visit to the chamber in December 1967 when he became the first person to witness the alignment in the modern era.
In addition to the local folklore describing the solstice alignment, several authors had previously suggested its passage was aligned towards winter solstice sunrise. General Charles Vallancey had hinted at it in the eighteenth century. In 1909, astronomer and Solar Physics Observatory director, Sir Norman Lockyer, stated that Newgrange was orientated towards winter solstice sunrise. In 1911, W.Y. Evans-Wentz implied the same thing.
But the astronomical mysteries of Newgrange run much deeper than all this. In 1958, in his book about primitive mythology, Joseph Campbell recounted a folk tale from the Boyne Valley in which a local had told him the light of the Morning Star, Venus, shone into the chamber of Newgrange at dawn on one day every eight years and cast a beam upon a stone on the floor of the chamber containing two worn sockets. This might seem like an incredible suggestion, except for the fact that it is astronomically accurate. Venus follows an eight-year cycle and on one year out of every eight, it rises in the pre-dawn sky of winter solstice and its light would be able to be seen from within the chamber.
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, authors of Uriel’s Machine, suggest that a series of eight x-shaped markings on the lintel stone of the aperture above the entrance of Newgrange – the so-called ‘roof box’ which allows light into the chamber – represent the eight-year cycle of Venus. However, they were not aware when writing their wonderful book of the story that had been told to Joseph Campbell about the Morning Star shining into the chamber.
How did local people living in the Boyne Valley in the 1950s come into the possession of knowledge describing an astronomical phenomenon that was likely to have taken place at Newgrange in the ancient past? This is a question not easily answered by archaeologists. No-one could have witnessed Venus in the chamber of Newgrange in the middle of the twentieth century because not only had the passage roof subsided, but the whole roof box aperture was completely blocked up with soil and grass, as is evidenced from photographs of the time. Indeed, it is unlikely that anybody had seen light from either the sun or Venus shining into the chamber of Newgrange since entrance was rediscovered in 1699. It would have been impossible, given the structural condition of the monument, to view such an occurrence.
So how far back did this folklore go, if the penetration of light from the sun or Venus was not observable in the three centuries after the 1699 rediscovery? When Newgrange was excavated in the twentieth century, it was found that a great amount of the cairn had “slipped” over the retaining kerbstones at some remote epoch. All of the great kerbstones – there are 97 in total, each weighing an average of three tonnes, or the weight of an Asian elephant – had been covered when this collapse occurred, as indeed had been the entrance and the roofbox. Astonishingly, archaeologists tell us the cairn slip happened around 500 years after the monument was built. Given the estimated construction date of approximately 3,150BC, this means the cairn had slipped around 2,650BC, at that period in time marking the end of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age. According to the archaeologists, Newgrange lay hidden for four thousand years. Its appearance was that of a miniature tree-covered hill, with just a few of the outer Great Circle of stones visible.
In his 1911 book about Fairy-Faith in the Celtic countries, W.Y. Evans-Wentz said: “But when we hear legendary tales which have never been recorded save in the minds of unnumbered generations of men, we ought not on that account to undervalue them; for often they are better authorities and more trustworthy than many an ancient and carefully inscribed manuscript in the British Museum; and they are probably far older than the oldest book in the world.”
We might agree. In the twentieth century, folk memory had preserved knowledge of astronomical occurrences at Newgrange that could not have been witnessed at the time. Given the archaeological evidence – firstly that the passage stones had subsided, and secondly that the cairn slippage had concealed the passage and chamber since the late Neolithic – it seemed that this knowledge might go right back towards the time when Newgrange had been built.
En todos los países hay atracciones turísticas que vale la pena evitar. Determinarlas depende de los intereses de cada cual. Durante mucho tiempo, estuve tratando de no ir a uno de los centros del turismo irlandés. Me refiero a Newgrange. Finalmente, por diferentes compromisos, acabé yendo dos veces, en 2007 y 2008. Newgrange es uno de los puntos destacados en los itinerarios turísticos por Irlanda. Me he propuesto escribir esta entrada para explicar en qué consiste y por qué creo que es mejor no ir a verlo. Esto es como todo, de gustibus no est disputandum y espero que haya mucha gente que no esté de acuerdo. Amigos del sílex y lo rupestre, dejen de leer aquí.
Vista de Newgrange desde el sitio donde uno paga la entrada, toma el café y compra las postales y las camisetas.
Primero conviene deshacer un posible equívoco. Newgrange es el más famoso de tres lugares que se encuentran en un parque llamado Brú na Bóinne, en la ribera del río Boyne, que es famoso tanto prehistórica como históricamente, ya que en tiempos más recientes, en 1690 se disputó una batalla entre tropas de Jacobo II (católico) y Guillermo de Orange (protestante) que resultaría determinante para el futuro de Irlanda. El caso es que siendo Newgrange sólo uno de los tres, es habitual utilizarlo metonímicamente y los pobres Knowth (que sólo abre en verano) y Dowth (que no está abierto al público) quedan un poco en el olvido. En mi primera visita vi también Knowth y quizá la comente en un futuro. De momento voy a intentar que os ahorréis el ir a Newgrange. ¿que por qué he ido dos veces? os aseguro que la segunda me resistí todo lo que pude, aun a riesgo de deteriorar mis relaciones familiares. ¿quién no se ha visto en una de esas?
El ovni de Newgrange. En primer plano los restos del woodhenge. Tirado en el suelo mi amigo el ínclito Javier Garrido, un poco más lejos la marabunta dándo una dimensión humana al tema megalítico.
Una vez que se llega al sitio donde está el aparcamiento y paga la entrada y tal, se sube a los autobuses que en cinco minutos le llevan al lugar en cuestión. Allí, se encuentra uno con ‘el ovni’, que es el nombre con el que Emilio acertó al bautizarlo. El problema del ovni es que es más falso que Judas. Aquí había un montículo, al excavarlo se dieron cuenta de que había un montón de piedras exógenas -blancas y negras- y luego se preguntaron cómo estarían dispuestas en la antiguedad. Como es un puzle imposible de resolver, un profesor de la Universidad de Cork, las colocó como le dio la gana, montó un muro enorme que quedaba bonito y ahí empezó la industria del turismo en Newgrange.
La entrada que se curró el profesor Frankenstein, de la Universidad de Cork
Las dos veces que he estado, han dividido a la tropa en dos grupos. Mientras unos hacen el gañán y otean los alrededores del ovni, los otros entran a la cosa en sí. Está muy oscuro dentro. Primero explican un poco la entrada y el muro reconstruido o inventado, que en mi opinión es cartón piedra de Disneilandia. Una de las teorías es que una piedra que hay justo delante de la entrada podría ser un mapa. Es un poco rizar el rizo, pero váya usté a saber.
Luego se procede al interior. Puede dar algo de claustrofobia, pero creo que no mucha. Tras unos pocos metros se llega a una especie de cámara. En realidad nadie sabe lo que es. Lo llaman tumba porque se han encontrado restos humanos, pero quién sabe si esa gente no vivía en el mismo sitio en el que enterraba a la parentela, o qué otros usos podían dar a la construcción. Lo bonito de haber estado dos veces, es que he ido con dos guías distintos. La parte estrella del acceso al interior del ovni es el final, cuando apagan las luces y se recrea el momento del año, cinco días alrededor del solsticio de invierno, en el que la luz solar llega al interior de la cámara. Aquí el primer guía fue mucho más flipao y dijo que eso representaba el semen del dios-sol inundando el útero de la madre-tierra. La segunda fue bastante más sensata y vino a decir que como aquella gente no dejó forma alguna de escritura, es imposible saber qué pensaban de la vida ni por qué hicieron nada de lo que hicieron. Cuando descubrieron la Venus de Willendorf, la moral puritana de la época obligaba a describir a la tetona como “diosa de la fertilidad” y algunos más cínicos pero también más inteligentes, han apuntado que no hay forma de saber si no se trataba de pornografía neolítica.
Mapa de Brú na Bóinne
A mí, lo que me pareció más interesante de Newgrange fueron unos paneles infográficos que hay afuera, lo cual ya es decir bastante de una atracción turística. El mapa de la zona está bastante bien. Es curioso que aunque sea un patrimonio (pre)histórico y cultural importante, se encuentra en medio de una zona habitada. Los lugareños conviven con los autobuses de los turistas y hay gente que vive dentro del parque. Las casas estarían ahí antes de que se descubriera que había algo de cierto interés en los montículos.
Gráfico que explica cómo llega la luz solar al interior durante el solsticio de invierno. El del reflejo soy yo.
Otra de las cosas que llaman la atención es el hecho de que la luz alumbra la cámara interior durante el solsticio de invierno. Hay quien dice que esto ocurre sólo el día más corto del año, pero no es cierto: son cinco los días en los que la luz llega a lo más profundo de la galería. En esto también hay muchas teorías, de cómo lo hicieron y si eran una civilización muy avanzada y tal y cual. Creo que ver el gráfico que explica el mecanismo ayuda mucho a entender cómo se hace y aunque tenga cierto mérito, sobre todo para gentes sin arquitectos y tecnología, me parece que es algo que se puede alcanzar por ensayo y error sin necesidad de alienígenas que lo expliquen. Además, si el sol llegara siete días en lugar de cinco, también lo daríamos por bueno. Otro de los tinglados que tienen montados allí son unas rifas para poder ver cómo es eso, en diciembre. Antes había una lista de espera, pero la cancelaron. Si alguien no sigue mi consejo y acaba yendo, creo que con la simulación de la lamparita tendrá suficiente.
El ovni de Newgrange y el woodhenge
Otra de las cosas que descubrieron excavando y que nadie tiene ni idea de lo que representa o para qué sirve son los restos de un woodhenge. Mucha gente conoce el Stonehenge de Inglaterra, que es un henge de piedra, pero woodhenge (de madera) es mucho menos conocido. Al final nos queda henge, que es una palabra que no tiene traducción a otras lenguas, ya que son estos círculos, posiblemente rituales, que sólo se encuentran en las Islas Británicas. El woodhenge estaba formado por unos troncos de árboles. Hoy en día no hay ninguno, sólo los agujeros. Ni siquiera se podría reproducir la circunferencia original, porque parte del círculo entraría en la finca de al lado.
Y esto es todo lo que hay que ver. No hace falta que me den las gracias. Con el dinero de la entrada pueden invitar a un capuccino a una muchacha sencilla.