Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

3 posts from October 2017


Step Back 5000 Years in Time Part 2

This week in the CIEE Blog we’re catching up on the second half of Erik Finley’s trip to Newgrange…


Newgrange Tomb

Our second stop was the Newgrange tomb.  Newgrange is different in the respect that it doesn’t appear to have been inhabited since the time of its construction around 3000 B.C.  However, Newgrange was discovered in 1699, compared to Knowth’s discovery in 1962, and was not protected by the federal government until 1882.  

This means that inside of the tomb there is some interesting 18th and 19th century graffiti.  Unfortunately this also means that the stone basin in the heart of the central chamber was shattered.  Luckily, that is the only human interference inside the tomb.  The boulders used as walls and the rock plates holding up the ceiling remain exactly the way they were placed by the Neolithics 5000 years ago.  

The central chamber and tunnel leading to it were absolutely awe-inspiring, as visitors were allowed to walk all the way into the tomb, seeing ancient architecture firsthand.  Unfortunately, photography was prohibited inside the tomb, so I was unable to get any pictures within the tomb.  There are plenty of pictures taken by professional photographers online, and I would encourage anyone interested in the tomb to just search “Newgrange tomb” on Google.  

Newgrange 1 Newgrange 2

The most astonishing part of Newgrange is that every December, during the winter solstice, the sun is lined up perfectly with the entrance to the tomb, creating a single beam of light penetrating the chamber and leading directly to the stone basin of ashes.

 Newgrange 3

As breathtaking as the inside of the tomb is, the outside is pretty amazing too.  The outer decoration of the mound was restored by archeologist, Michael J. O'Kelly in the 1960s and 1970s.  Kelly believed that the quartz rock found around the entrance of the tomb was of great importance in the process of moving on to the afterworld.  

The quartz found at the tomb was thought to have been carried over fifty kilometers to the construction site.  Below are some pictures of the Entrance to the tomb and the quartz layer surrounding it. Lastly, I just want to share a couple more images of decorative stones surrounding the base of Newgrange.

Newgrange 4 Newgrange 5

It seems amazing to me that a civilization of people that are often, in the modern light, looked upon as savage and unintelligent could achieve such a feat.  Five millennia after its creation, Newgrange continues to guide that beam of light to the heart of its central tomb, shining on that pedestal every single year, without fail.




Step Back 5000 Years in Time

Step Back 5000 Years in Time

Fall 2017 Student, Erik Finley explores the tombs

 of Newgrange and Knowth – and the anciety history buried there. 

First Picture

Over the past weekend some friends and I had the amazing opportunity to visit Brú na Bóinne, a historical site in Meath, Ireland which is home to many different Neolithic structures and ruins.  Among these henges, mounds, ruins, and temples are the Knowth and Newgrange tombs.  These tombs were of particular priority to me based on the simple fact that they are estimated to have been created 5000 years ago.  That is 1000 years older than Stonehenge and 500 years older than The Pyramids of Giza.

Knowth Tomb Our first stop in Brú na Bóinne was the Stone Age passage tomb, Knowth, but before we made it even that far, there was some stunning countryside that we discovered.  

Second Picture Long On Left Side Third Picture Top Right of Second Picture Fourth Picture Below Third Picture

When did arrive at the tomb, what we found seemed surreal, but not quite what I would expect a temple to look like.  In the center of the clearing was one, giant mound of earth covered by grass.  Surrounding it were several smaller mounds of dirt covered in grass.  

These mounds were called “satellite tombs” because of how they were laid out in orbit around the central tomb.  Our tour guide informed us that the central tomb is thought to have been used as a passage tomb.  That is to say, the ashes of civilizations were placed in the tomb first thing after death but only temporarily.  After a certain amount of time, ashes would be gathered from the central tomb and deposited in the surrounding satellite tombs to remain permanently.

Fifth Picture Left Side Sixth Picture Right Side

Getting closer, artwork on the side of rocks at the base of the largest tomb became visible.  We were later told that two-thirds of all known Neolithic (Stone Age) artwork in the entire world resides in Brú na Bóinne! The other really interesting thing about these goliath masterpieces is that the particular type of stone used by artisans so many years ago cannot be found in the surrounding area for hundreds of kilometers.  Historians believe that the stones were shipped down the coastline and up rivers leading to Brú na Bóinne on large rafts and from there, rolled over the land and up the hills using logs.

Seventh Picture Top Left Eighth Picture Below Seventh Ninth Picture Top Right Next to Seventh Tenth Picture Below Ninth

Inside the tomb are many small tunnels.  The original tunnels lead to the two main chambers, used as portals to the afterlife.  However, more tunnels were dug throughout the millennia by inhabitants of the mound in the Iron Age, the Early Christian Era, and the Norman Era.

Eleventh Picture Left Side 12th Picture Middle 13th Picture Right

The first two pictures of tunnels located above are tunnels built by the Neolithics leading to and from the central chamber.  The picture on the far right is an escape tunnel, dug in the Early Christian Era for monks to hide in during Viking raids.  There were many other clues that the Neolithics were not the only inhabitants of Knowth.  Pictured below on the left is a Iron Age cooler, which can be assumed was used for keeping food fresh.  In the center is the remains of a Early Christian Era keyhole oven used to make bread.  On the right is the foundation of a Norman house.

14th Picture Left 15th Picture Middle 16th Picture Right

Our tour of Knowth ended with the opportunity to walk up the stairs on the backside of the tomb and look out across the beautiful Irish horizon.

Erik’s trip to Newgrange and Knowth will be continued in our next blog post, stay tuned!


Failté Aráis go Dublin


Welcome back to Dublin! We are reviving our blog, with some fresh stories of new arrivals  and adventure! We hope you’ll join us in staying up-to-date on what’s on in Dublin, and what students are up to.

Week one brought in twelve CIEE Dublin students, who hit Dublin running - exploring the city, learning to navigate Irish culture and accents on their own, and finding some new favourite spots in the city.

To wrap up our orientation week, we visited the National Gallery of Ireland, founded in 1854. Re-opened in June after 7 years of renovation, students were able to experience a one-time premier exhibit, Vermeer and the Masters. (More can be read about the exhibit here.)  With the Dargan Wing open to the public again, students took time to explore artwork from all over the world, celebrating the likes of Carvaggio, Picasso, Monet, and Titian.

Art Gallery Trip 2017

The following weekend we hit the tracks (literally!) and grabbed the DART out to Howth, a seaside village north of Dublin. Students took on Howth head, hiking the coastal path from the village to lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. Students had the chance to wrap up their adventure with some tradition fish and chips or fresh seafood from the local harbor!

Howth Trip 2017

Keep joining us for future adventures, and stories directly from our students of their own travels, both in Ireland and abroad! We’ll be posting to our Instagram & Twitter as well, with fun facts, cool shots, and tips for studying abroad – come travel with us!