As part of the Solstice at Slane Festival 2012, the Inaugural Solstice at Slane Lecture will take place on Thursday 20th December. This will be delivered by Dr Frank Prendergast, Ireland’s leading authority on archaeoastronomy. Frank will be providing joint commentary for RTÉ’s coverage of the Newgrange Solstice the next day. Admission is €5 and tickets will be available at the door but we are asking people to register in advance by emailing email@example.com. Please visit Solstice At Slane Lecture for details.
TITLE: SOLSTICE – a ritual and cyclical marker?
It is a profound and magical experience to witness the winter solstice sunrise from the darkness of the burial chamber at Newgrange. At that time of year, the apparent standstill of the sun on the horizon endures for several days. This would suggest that, in the prehistoric past, the architecture of the tomb was never intended to function as a kind of astronomical observatory or precise calendrical marker as is sometimes suggested. Rather, the solar spectacle observed within the tomb at dawn may be one of a number of intended experiential design elements that reflect the wider role, meaning and hierarchy evident in Neolithic passage tombs. This inaugural lecture will examine the phenomenon and significance of the winter and summer solstices and its seemingly deliberate incorporation into the alignment of a restricted number of monuments – in Ireland and at a wider European level.