On Tuesday 8th and Friday 11th of November, the Form V and Form VI Art sets visited the fascinating ancient burial site at Newgrange Co. Meath. In the afternoon they went to the NMI where they carried out an in depth examination of the pre-Christian artefacts they have studied as part of their Visual Studies Leaving Certificate course. Felicitas Ratibor and Joy Orogun report on the Form V trip.
Newgrange, Co. Meath.
Our tour of Newgrange began in the visitor centre where we were able to explore the Neolithic culture, landscape and monuments of Brú na Bóinne. It was a very interactive centre with beautiful light reflections on the floor representing the flowing water of the River Boyne and simulated forests with shadows of terrifying dogs creeping around. There was also a game in which you had to grow crops and harvest them which the whole class had fun trying out. It was all amazing and helped us to submerge into the experience.
After this we took a little shuttle bus to Newgrange, and I think that it’s worth mentioning that all of the staff were so friendly and we were also welcomed so kindly by our tour guide at Newgrange.
On arrival at Newgrange we split into two groups: one could take a walk around the passage tomb, examine the highly decorated entrance stone, Kerbstone 52 and take photographs whilst the other group went inside. Our tour guide talked about the unknown purpose of Newgrange, as well as the many theories. Since remains of the dead were found in the mound, the most definite theory is that it was used as a burial tomb. He also explained to us that as we enter and walk into the passage the ground level grows higher. This is an important feature of the construction at Newgrange as it allows the sunlight on the shortest day of the year to shine through the light box. Some of the theories to explain this phenomenon include sun worship or perhaps a celebration of the new agricultural year. When he talked about this he turned the light off and stimulated the sunlight coming through the lightbox shining directly into the chamber on the Winter solstice, which was a magical experience.
The thing that stuck to my mind the most is that the corbelled vault made everything much smaller than we expected and also that the chambers seemed more like one room with three protrusions rather than three different chambers. This trip to Newgrange was so very impressive. Standing in this tomb which has remained intact since its construction, without one single drop of water coming in, made us realise how amazing, innovative and inventive the Neolithic people were 5000 years ago!
National Museum of Ireland.
The trip to the National Museum of Ireland was a truly enlightening and clarifying experience for all pupils that went. The exterior of the beautiful building had intriguing information about some artifacts- one that was even formerly owned by the College- The Míosach! Once we got inside we began examining the different Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age artifacts we have studied. Some of the standout artefacts we examined included; a model of one of the passage tombs (though we had already seen the real thing at Newgrange). The Lunula from the Early Bronze Age, which was made by hammering gold into a thin sheet, cutting out the shape and incising the designs. Ribbon torcs from the Middle Bronze Age, made by hammering gold into thin sheets, cutting and twisting them to fashion neck ornaments. The beautiful Gleninsheen Gorget from the Late Bronze Age was made by hammering gold into a thin sheet and using the technique of repousée to make the designs stand out; another very ornate necklace. We also saw the stunning golden Broighter collar from the Iron Age. We even had a look at some of the bog bodies which was almost surreal, to say the least.
Later we all took a picture beside the book Shrine of Míosach. Had we had more time, we would have gone upstairs to view the Ancient Egyptian Gallery. It just means we have a reason to go back! However, the experience we had was very fulfilling as it solidified what we had already covered in class while giving us a new perspective as we see them in person.