Near Drogheda, 45 kilometres north of Dublin on the east coast of Ireland, exists a concentration of standing stones, earthworks and passage graves. One of these, Newgrange, is the largest pre-historic structure in Ireland and one of the oldest in the world. It dates back to 3250 BC.
It appears that we have drifted a long way from what might be defined as a pyramid. This egg-shaped mound of pebbles was once 14 metres in height with a diameter of 76 metres hardly a massive monument compared to the largest pyramids, but still more than a days work. Like Silbury Hill it has no straight sides, and appears not to point to any cardinal directions, astronomical events or other structures. But if you venture inside, on the right day of the year, something magical happens.
Like the Egyptian pyramids, Newgrange contains a passage and chambers. These were constructed using giant slabs of stone, and then buried under a mound of pebbles. At the end of an 18 metre long, one metre wide passage are three chambers. The roof above them, although not required to withstand as much weight, uses the same corbelled design as the pyramids in Egypt. At dawn on the midwinter solstice, the suns rays shine through a special window above the passage entrance, down the passage and illuminated the centre of the chambers. Precisely and deliberately.
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