November 26, 2011

0052 IRELAND (Leinster) - Brú na Bóinne, Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne (UNESCO WHS)

The celts whom the Romans found in the Great Britain 2000 years ago knew almost nothing about the numerous henges, meghalits and other constructions scattered about everywhere through their lands, just that they were built long before the arrival of their ancestors from the continent. In Ireland, the romans didn't reached, but if they had done it, would be heard the same thing, the constructions being, in the irish mythology, the abode of the Tuatha De Danann, the fifth group settled in this realm, after conquering the island from the Fir Bolg. What do I mean? Only that these mysterious constructions, the purpose of which was not yet fully understood, are older than the history.

In 1699, the people who discovered Newgrange (Sí an Bhrú in irish), placed at 8 km east of the village of Slane, and at about 1 km north of the River Boyne, were convinced that it was a cave. Later was considered the burial mound of the ancient kings of Tara, from the beginning of Christianity, or even existed the theory that would be a copy of the beehive tombs of Mycenae. In fact, Newgrange dates long before Mycenae, it's even older than Stonehenge or than Egyptian pyramids.

Built around 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period, it was sealed and remained closed for several millennia. As can be seen in the images, the monument comprises a large kidney shaped mound, made of successive layers of earth and stones, and a facade of white stones covering part of the circumference. Into the centre of the mound are four chambers, three small and a larger one (placed in cross), which is reached through a passage long of 19 m, built of large stone slabs, which begins with a entrance on the south-eastern side of the structure. Curvilinear and rectilinear decorations are carved in stone, the most representative being the ones on the huge stone at the entrance, described as "one of the most famous stones in the entire repertory of megalithic art". 

The most important question that arises seems to be the one related the goal and role of the Newgrange. The structure had probably a religious significance, and the opening made above the entrance so at the winter solstice, in the shortest day of the year, the rising sun shines directly along the passage into the chamber for about 17 minutes and illuminates the chamber floor can’t be random. So great is nowadays the demand to be one of the few inside the chamber during the solstice that there is a free annual lottery for that. How do you feel when you won the lottery but the sun is hidden behind the clouds on the day in question? I don't want to know.

About the stamp
The stamp is also an interesting one. It belongs to a set of 8 (issued by Irish post on the 21st of July 2011), the second one of the definitive series about Irish animals and marine life (the first set was issued on the 8th of September 2010). The 8 stamps are:
• the green huntsman spider (Micrommata virescens) - it’s on the postcard
• the beadlet anemone (Actinia equina)
• the elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)
• the squat lobster (Munida rugosa)
• the European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
• the cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus)
• the red deer (Cervus elaphus)
• the European common frog (Rana temporaria)

Sender: Claudia (postcrossing)
Sent from ??? (Ireland), on 15.11.2011

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