The lesser-known and hidden megalithic art of Newgrange

The lesser-known and hidden megalithic art of Newgrange

The main image shows just SOME of the megalithic art on the kerb stones of the great monument of Síd in Broga (Sí an Bhrú/Newgrange), the most famous of the three great monuments of Brú na Bóinne. Newgrange differs substantially from Knowth in terms of its kerb art. There are three heavily decorated stones (Kerb 1, Kerb 52 and Kerb 67 - pictured) but other art is sparse - whereas at Knowth, 90 out of 124 kerb stones (there were 127 originally but three are missing) are decorated, and there are many with very large designs and arrangements covering huge areas of the kerb face.

Kerb stone 1 - the entrance kerb at Newgrange

Kerb 1 - the famous entrance kerb stone of Newgrange.

Kerb stone 52 (K52) at Newgrange

Kerb stone 52 (K52) at the rear of Newgrange.

Kerb stone 67 (K67) at Newgrange

Kerb stone 67 (K67) at Newgrange with its beautiful conjoined twin spirals. 

At Newgrange, you really have to go and search for the megalithic art. For instance, anyone who has been to Newgrange or seen photos of the monument is probably familiar with the entrance kerb stone, K1, with its grand triskele and swirling, sweeping spirals and lozenges. The entire front face of the stone is carved with these large symbols in relief.

However, if you walk westwards or clockwise around the kerb, you will find that Kerb 2 just has a few sparse chevron (zigzag) motifs, Kerb 3 has three small circles on its lower left, Kerb 4 has a few ornaments, but again small and few and far between, and Kerb 5 has just one composite emblem but again it's relatively small and nothing like those huge designs on many of the stones at Knowth.

It is fascinating, and indeed a source of much mystery and intrigue, that some of the most elaborate megalithic art on the Newgrange kerb stones is on the INSIDE of the stones – in other words, this art is hidden from view. For example, Kerb 4 has some intricate designs on its rear face; Kerb 13 and Kerb 18 (pictured - drawings by the late Claire O'Kelly) have a most extraordinary hodgepodge of motifs and designs.

Megalithic art on the rear of kerb 13 at Newgrange

Megalithic art on the rear of kerb stone 13 (K13) at Newgrange. © Claire O'Kelly

Megalithic art on the rear of kerb stone 18 (K18) at Newgrange

Megalithic art on the rear of kerb stone 18 (K18) at Newgrange.

Why did the builders of Newgrange choose to HIDE some of the most extraordinary megalithic art? And why do many of the kerb stones of Newgrange NOT have the large motifs that are found in abundance at Knowth?

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