The mound of Newgrange is surrounded by a huge stone circle, one of the biggest
in Ireland with a diameter of 104 meters. There are twelve standing stones
remaining today, the same number reported when the mound was first recorded
in 1699. There is an average of 9 meters between the surviving stones,
which means that if the circle were ever complete it could have contained
up to 36 stones.
Professor O'Kelly suggested that the stones were left-overs from the megalithic phase which had been too large to use, possibly in an attempt to draw attention away from 'bronze age squatters' who left hearths, postholes and a huge timber 'Woodhenge' close to Newgrange.
Due to the composition of the layers uncovered during the excavations we know
that the circle was built long after the main mound was completed but before
the cairn collapsed. Several of the standing stones were snapped at their
base, but had no cairn-slip under them.
The excavations undertaken by David Sweetman in the 1980 were able to demonstrate that the stone circle was built after the great bronze age Woodhenge to the east of Newgrange. It seems likely that the circle is a bronze age addition and is several hundreds of years younger than the passage grave and probably the last monumental construction on the site. The Circle tells us that Newgrange and its environs were still held in great esteem a thousand years after the mound was constructed.
the Great Circle has the same diameter as the two inner circles within the massive ring at Avebury
in England. Of the twelve remaining Circle stones at Newgrange, the four largest and most imposing
are on the south east side before the entrance. These stones are 2.5 to
3 meters tall and weigh many tons. Perhaps they were erected at the same
time as the Avebury circles.
Excavations have revealed that GC9, the strange conglomorate stone illustrated at the top of the page, was surrounded by some kind of timber structure during the bronze age. Two parallel rows of post holes, which held huge timber posts, burned down or was set on fire; the heat was so intense that the stone was cracked and damaged.
The stone above, GC-10 had fallen when the mound collapsed and was found lying flat. Macalistar and Praeger examined
this stone and had a pit dug under it to view the lower surface in June
1928. The pit was covered with planks and left that way until O'Riordain
looked at it in 1954. He noted that there was no cairn slip beneath the
stone and uncovered the socket and packing stones 7 meters from the kerbstones.
During O'Kelly's excavations
in 1973 GC-10 was examined and restored to upright.