Newgrange Dog and Pony Show

Newgrange Dog and Pony Show

The well practised Magicians of Irish Archaeology have successfully drawn their audience’s attention away from the spectacular Round Towers of Ireland by turning the Newgrange monument into an eye-catching Dog and Pony Show that they breathlessly assert is “older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids”.

Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located about one kilometre north of the River Boyne.

It was built during the Neolithic period around 3000 BC to 2500 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

Newgrange 2007

The site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers.

The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by engraved kerbstones.

There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice.

Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.

Dog and pony show” is a colloquial term which has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends.

There is a certain amount of irony associated with this claim made by Magicians of Irish Archaeology because back in 1905 Newgrange was called the Pyramid at Newgrange and dated circa 2,000 BC.

Newgrange 1905

The civilization of the De Dananns.
Numerous monuments have been accredited by tradition to the De Dananns, but the greatest and most worthy of notice are the three wonderful pyramids at Brugh on the Boyne, now called the mounds of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth.

Here, in a fertile plain, once wooded, in a bend of the river Boyne, ten miles from the sea, stand three great stone pyramids a mile apart, the ancient shrines and sacred places of the De Dananns.

The middle pyramid is the largest of the three.

It is a mass of two hundred thousand tons of stone, surrounded by a wall of large boulders, with an outer circle of huge stones guarding it like so many giant sentinels.

In the heart of this monument is a chamber formed like a cross, with a high roof, and mysterious tracings on the walls.

This is the innermost shrine.

In these tombs and sanctuaries we still find traces of the civilization of the De Dananns, and relics of their handicraft and skill, such as granite basins, which have been called baptismal fonts, ornaments, beads, combs, and amber trinkets.

The shrines and what they contain enable us to identify the golden-haired invaders of ancient Ireland with the people of the Baltic lands.

Chapter I – The Legendary Races – Traditional Date : b. c. 2000
Ireland’s Story; A Short History of Ireland For Schools, Reading Circles, and General Readers – Charles Johnston – 1905

The irony doesn’t stop there because a cross section of the Pyramid at Newgrange reveals the monument contains [at the end of a long passage] an internal chamber that distinctly echoes the design of the King’s Chamber in Great Pyramid of Giza.

Newgrange 1903 Plan

Newgrange 1903 Cross Section

Newgrange 1903 Entrance

The strangeness continues when Wikipedia states “there is no agreement about what the site was used for” because it seems the absent-minded Magicians of Irish Archaeology have forgotten that [by 1906] “in every instance” [of tumuli and mounds] “in Ireland the traces of urn-burial have been found” and that [by 1906] Newgrange was identified as a sepulchral barrow and dated at “approximately at 100-101 B.C.”

In the Tumuli, or mounds, a later and more advanced stage was reached.

Their use is pretty evident, for in every instance in Ireland the traces of urn-burial have been found.

Many of the urns exhibit a state of art which is not of the earliest grade ; and the decoration of the walls is a peculiar feature.

Examples :- Rathhill (Drogheda), Loughanmore, Tully Druid, Dysart (Westmeath), the “Royal Cemeteries” of New Grange, Dowth, Teltown, and Rathkenny.

The Boyne Tumuli
From Slane the Boyne bends away to the south round a short range of low hills ; skirting their southern slopes it curves back again to the north, and after the great loop at the battle-field makes for Drogheda.

On the hills of the D-shaped bit of country within the bend, between the battle-field and Slane, and bearing the ancient name of the Brugh, or Palace of the Boyne, are, says Wilde, “the remains of no less than 17 sepulchral barrows.

The most important are those at Dowth, New Grange, and Knowth.

At Dowth is a prehistoric tumulus, about ½ mile west from Dowth House.

Several explorations have been made, including the important one of 1885 ; and Mr. Coffey considers it to be of the same date as New Grange.

The general plan consists of a long passage between large stones ending on a central chamber, and on three sides of the latter are smaller chambers.

When opened it contained the burnt bones of man and animals, glass and beads ; and the carvings include the spiral, and the encircled, or “wheel” cross.

Between this and Dowth House are the Rath or “Castle of the Geese,” St. Bernard’s Well, and the old Church.

A tree-topped hill, 1½ mile to the south-west of Dowth, covers the remarkable tumulus of New Grange.

It lies to the right of the road, about ¼ mile short of New Grange House, and is not at all easy of access.

In shape the interior plan resembles that of Dowth, and is like an Irish cross without the head circle, the long entrance passage corresponding to the stem.

Mr. Coffey fixes the date approximately at 100-101 B.C.

The passage is built of large stones, and the large central chamber is roofed by flat stones overlapped to form a dome.

Basins and a few trinkets have been found, but it is supposed that the plundering Danes carried off all valuables.

The carvings, however, are many and elaborate.

These include concentric circles, spirals, and a kind of undeveloped (?) “trumpet” pattern, though the latter in true form does not exist in tumuli carvings.

Note also the lozenge, hatched-work and chevrons, all of which were so common in the Norman work of a later age.

“Among the various designs … of these tumuli, such as New Grange, are many which . . . seem but repetitions of similar decorations in the cave tombs of Malta and other islands in the Mediterranean “ (M. Stokes).

Black’s Guide to Ireland – Adam and Charles Black – 1906

Newgrange 1897

However, it appears that George Coffey was inducted into the Magicians of Irish Archaeology because in 1913 he pushed back the dating of Newgrange to between “1280 to 900 B.C” and [somehow] managed to transmogrify “urn-burial” into “food-vessels found with cremated burials”.

George Coffey (1857–1916) was a scholar of Irish history and cultural revivalist.

Coffey was a bookbinder, archaeologist, and the first keeper of antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland.

The Hon. John Abercromby gives a list of food-vessels found with cremated burials in Ireland, and to these must be added a food-vessel of early type found in 1912 in a quarry at Crumlin, County Dublin.

It must, however, be left for future excavations to decide many questions to which at present no answer, or only a doubtful one, can be given.
The fourth period, which was long, and during which a considerable development takes place, might be placed at from 1280 to 900 B.C.

This period includes the later type of celts with increased stop-ridge and flanges (palstaves), and some of the earlier forms of socketed celts, long rapiers, the earlier type of leaf-shaped swords, and the looped and leaf-shaped spear-heads, gold torcs, and possibly some of the bronze fibulae, and sickles without sockets ; the disk-headed pins and bronze razors may be placed either at the end of this time or the beginning of the next period.

In this period must also be placed the building of the great tumuli of the New Grange group.

The most remarkable feature about the ornamentation at New Grange is the occurrence of the spiral motive ; and it is the presence of this distinctive motive which has led to so much speculation.

It may be stated at once that the general view at present held by those who have studied the question is that the spiral was introduced, and that in the case of Ireland it was derived from Scandinavia.

The similarity between New Grange and the tholos tombs of the mainland of Greece is so striking that it is at least likely that the former may have been derived from the latter.

In examining the monument of New Grange, the author had been led by long study, and the comparison with motives common in the Aegean at about the same period, to explain the ornamentation, notably in the cases of the large stones illustrated in the book, p. 75, as derived from combinations of ornaments commonly found on Aegean pottery, these motives being themselves connected with the symbolism of sun-worship.

The Bronze Age in Ireland – George Coffey – 1913

The perennial problem associated with Newgrange is the dating because the Magicians of Irish Archaeology continually refine and change their magic tricks.

Wikipedia, by invoking archaeoastronomy, pushes the envelop back to “c. 3200 and 3100 BC”.

Newgrange… was built during the Neolithic period around 3000 BC to 2500 BC

The complex of Newgrange was originally built between c. 3200 and 3100 BC,[15]

[15] “PlanetQuest: The History of Astronomy – Newgrange”.

PlanetQuest: The History of Astronomy – Newgrange

The tenuous radiocarbon dating of “deposits but no artefacts” [that are subject to leaching in the wet Irish climate] unsurprisingly give dates ranging from 2,585 BC through to 300 AD.

Dating in general is addressed here referring to specialist reports in the appendix and appears to be firmly fixed to 2500BC.

This is supported by numerous C14 deposits but no artefacts (O’Kelly, 1982, 145, 230-231).

Newgrange Excavation Report Critique by Alan Marshall

Newgrange 1971 C14

Radiocarbon – Volume 13 – Number 2 – 1971

Newgrange 1983

Shows that the samples that were used for radiocarbon dating of Newgrange were taken from the very wettest parts of the cairn, which is precisely why the material was needed in those particular locations as ‘putty’ for caulking (water-proofing) and demonstrates that they would have been constantly soaking-wet and subject to leaching-out of the radiocarbon material contained in them, making the readings appear much older than they really were, as explained above by Velikovsky and Sweeney.

The samples taken from the front and rear of Roofstone 3 (R 3) were in locations that received so much water that, as well as using caulking material (‘putty’), special grooves had to be cut into the roof stones (R 3 and R 4) to help drain-away the water so it did not pour into the passage (p. 94) because the caulking alone did not stop the flow of water from soaking and running through the caulking ‘putty’ (leaching-out the radiocarbon material in the process) and into the passage.

Welcome to Newgrange – JAH – 1998

The Roman coins recovered at Newgrange are dated between 81-89 A.D. and 385 A.D.

A number of artifacts found at Newgrange are contemporary with the Roman occupation of Britain.

The site has yielded five gold ornaments, found in 1842, and many other objects including rings and brooches from the recent excavations, but one of the more intriguing features is the harvest of coins.

Earlier finds, together with those from the excavations, total twenty-five coins, ranging over the period from Domitian (A.D. 81-96) to Arcadius (c. A.D: 385).

A Catalogue of the Roman Coins from Newgrange, Co. Meath and Notes on the Coins and Related Finds – R. A. G. Carson and Claire O’Kelly
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy
Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature Vol. 77 (1977)

Newgrange Coins


Architecturally, the Knowth site [which has not been completely desecrated by Magicians of Irish Archaeology] echo [as noted by several commentators] archaeological sites in the Mediterranean and there are, for example, similarities in style with the Etruscan tombs in Populonia.


Knowth is a Neolithic passage grave and an ancient monument of Brú na Bóinne in Ireland’s valley of the River Boyne.

Etruscan tomb

The Etruscan civilization is the modern name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio.

As distinguished by its unique language, this civilization endured from before the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions (c. 700 BC) until its assimilation into the Roman Republic in the late 4th century BC.

However, as noted by George Coffey [in 1913] Ireland would have been a perennially popular destination because Ireland was “a kind of western El Dorado, owing to her great richness in gold”.

This, however, is certain – Ireland during the Bronze Age was not isolated, but stood in direct communication with the Continent, Aegean and Scandinavian influences can be detected in the great tumuli of the New Grange group ; and Iberian influence is discernible in some of the later types of bronze implements.

Ireland, as will be shown in the chapters dealing directly with the gold objects, was, during the Bronze Age, a kind of western El Dorado, owing to her great richness in gold ; Irish gold ornaments have been found both on the Continent and in Scandinavia ; while Scandinavian amber has been found in Ireland.

As will be seen on p. 81, the Bronze-Age people were acquainted with the art of weaving ; and fine ornaments of horse-hair were sometimes used.

The art of making pottery by hand was carried to a high degree of excellence.

Shaving must have been fairly common, judging by the number of bronze razors found.

We shall find evidence further on in this work to show that corn was probably grown and agriculture fairly advanced.

The great tumuli at New Grange and the lesser ones at Carrowkeel show that the art of building was well developed, and that the religious ideals of the people had attained a certain fixed form.

The Bronze Age in Ireland – George Coffey – 1913

Therefore, when it comes to dating Newgrange you pays your money [preferably in gold] and you takes your choice from anywhere between 3200 BC and the Heinsohn Horizon in the first millennium AD.

Gallery | This entry was posted in Heinsohn Horizon, History, Radiocarbon Dating. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Newgrange Dog and Pony Show

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘Mr. Coffey fixes the date approximately at 100-101 B.C.’

    Mr Coffey was too modest if he nailed it to within one year 😉

  2. Pingback: William Betham – Round Towers Resolved: Origins | MalagaBay

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