Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Archaeology, Architectural design

Publication Details

Prendergast, Frank, Clare Tuffy, John Lalor, Claire Breen, and Sinéad Gargan. 2021. "Mapping the light fantastic at Newgrange." Archaeology Ireland 35 (Winter):30–35.


THE WORLD HERITAGE PROPERTY of Brú na Bóinne attracts thousands of visitors from Ireland and around the globe, many drawn by the remarkable winter solstice phenomenon, when the rising sun’s rays illuminate the burial chamber. During 2020 it became clear that public health measures to combat the global pandemic were going to preclude visitor access to the chamber of the Great Mound of Newgrange, including during the annual winter solstice celebrations. When the government agencies OPW and NMS discussed how to manage Newgrange and the solstice during the restrictions, Clare Tuffy, Manager of Visitor Services at Brú na Bóinne, suggested that the absence of visitors from the Newgrange chamber would present an opportunity to advance aspects of the Research Framework, established for the World Heritage Property. This identified areas for further study and analysis, specifically to explore, document and better understand aspects of the solar illumination during the solstice. Guided by Dr Frank Prendergast, a multi-disciplinary team devised a research project to record direct sunlight on the floor of the Newgrange chamber over a period of 41 days centred around winter solstice 2020. A summary of the first results of this research to date is reported here, along with some background information on the solar illumination at Newgrange passage tomb.



National Monuments Service, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage