Newgrange is a 5,200 year old passage tomb located in the Boyne Valley in Ireland's Ancient East. Newgrange was built by Stone Age farmers, the mound is 85 meters (93 yards) in diameter and 13.5 meters (15 yards) high, an area of about 1 acre.
A passage grave or passage tomb consists of a narrow passage made of large stones and one or multiple burial chambers covered in earth or stone. The building of passage tombs was normally carried out with megaliths and smaller stones; they usually date from the Neolithic Age. Those with more than one chamber may have multiple sub-chambers leading off from the main burial chamber. One common layout, the cruciform passage grave, is cross-shaped. Sometimes passage tombs are covered with a cairn, especially those dating from later times. Not all passage graves have been found to contain evidence of human remains.
History has always been a passion for James from early on, most notably Egyptology, Assyrian, and Akkadian civilisations of the middle-east. The megalithic civilisation that dominates most of Western Europe also played a major role when James was growing up. James was born to Irish and Danish parents, whereby both countries host large numbers of well preserved passage graves and megaliths. It was on one of these journeys to Brittany that he stopped off in Carnac. He realised for the first time the scale of the megalithic civilisation, that was lost, and that in the modern world we knew absolutely nothing of it.
James Swagger joins Bernard to discuss and share some of his research on some of the most perplexing and intriguing topics on this broadcast, such as:
Passage Graves Typically dated between 3500BC-3000BC, these are complex megalithic buildings accurately aligned to stellar phenomenon where burials have been found. Some are aligned to the rising sun on key dates and some to constellations.
Passage Grave Cosmology Archaeoastronomy is the study of how people in the past have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena in the sky, and what role the sky played in their cultures existence. Effectively it is a mix of archaeology and astronomy applied to figure out ancient aligned structures.
Astromegalithic Rock Art This is a study of megalithic rock art which is thought to have a theme of astronomical calculations or astronomical depictions in mind.