Nothing about Newgrange is relevant to Baker’s Flat or my research. But it is one of my favourite places in Ireland, and I’ve been going there since I was a child. Dating from about 3,200 BC, it’s Ireland’s best known passage tomb.
When I announced that I was bringing all the children in the house to Newgrange to see their cultural heritage, my niece went ‘Great! I’d love to come. That’s the tomb with the fairy teeth’. Apparently, many children are told that when they lose their baby teeth and the tooth fairy takes them away, they end up at Newgrange as part of the quartz wall.
We all made a good inspection of the wall on our arrival, and whilst large (those baby teeth must be given some magic growth hormone on arrival), they do fit the myth. Between 1962 and 1975, the site was excavated by Michael O’Kelly, and the dental finds included 32 teeth (O’Kelly 1982:205). Maybe that tooth fairy has been busy for thousands of years building walls at Newgrange.
The kerbstone at the entrance to the tomb is highly decorated with spirals and lozenges, and sits in front of the doorway and roof-box. You can see the roof-box in the photo below above the ceiling flagstone. This is where a beam of sunlight shines through for five days each year at the winter solstice. At 8.58am on each of those mornings, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box, hits the floor, and gradually extends to the rear of the chamber, illuminating the entire room. It lasts for 17 minutes each time.
O’Kelly, M. 1982 Newgrange: Archaeology, Art and Heritage. London: Thames and Hudson.