Winter solstice illumination of Newgrange chamber by sun livestreamed around the world

For the first time in decades, humans were absent from the chamber of Newgrange for the annual winter solstice sunrise illumination of the famous monument.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the chamber has been off bounds to visitors since March 2020 when the pandemic arrived in Ireland. However, the Office of Public Works and the National Monuments Service teamed up to bring the marvellous event to a worldwide audience with a special internet livestream.

A view of the moment of sunrise from the special roof box aperture above the entrance.

 

The first of three scheduled livestreams from the 5,200-year-old megalithic monument in the Boyne Valley was a tremendous success, helped enormously by compliant weather. A beautiful golden sunrise heralded a rare opportunity for large audiences to see the phenomenon.

Winter solstice sunlight forms a blade of light on the floor of the chamber, viewed from a specially-installed camera in the corbelled ceiling.

 

Usually, 20 lottery winners are allowed to enter the chamber to see the sunrise. But this year, because of coronavirus, OPW/NMS organised a livestream, which was a wonderful idea because it allowed a much greater audience to witness the event in safety.

Sunlight in the passage of Newgrange, viewed from a camera positioned in the inside of the roof box.

 

Shortly after the golden orb of the sun began to appear above the hill of Redmountain opposite the great cairn, the sunlight began to stream into the chamber. Clare Tuffy, OPW manager of the monument, and archaeoastronomer Frank Prendergast provided a commentary for the event. 

Winter solstice sunlight in Newgrange chamber
Viewers around the world watched the sunlight entering the 5,200-year-old stone chamber.

 

There was a terrific reaction to the livestream online, with many commenting about how it had given them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the phenomenon, which is the result of human ingenuity from the Neolithic, before metallurgy had come to Ireland.

We were able to witness the initial piercing of the chamber by light, but also the slow retreat afterwards as the sun slowly rose in the sky and the light beam narrowed before exiting the chamber again.

If you missed the livestream, you can catch up by watching a video of the entire event on YouTube on the Office of Public Works channel:

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This page was last updated on 20th December 2020 @ 2:52 PM