Thursday, December 22, 2022

Winter Solstice and Newgrange - Images from the Etienne Rynne Archive


Entrance of Newgrange passage tomb - Rynne Archive

The Winter solstice took place this week and included an annual gathering of people at the historic site of Newgrange in Co. Meath, to witness the sunrise and illumination of the inner chamber on the shortest day of the year, 21st December.

Within the archive of archaeologist Etienne Rynne at University of Galway Library Archives are a number of records including photographs, postcard images, some dating from the 1950s, and later research files by Rynne into the history, archaeology, and culture of the site at Newgrange. Etienne Rynne (1932–2012) took up work as a lecturer in Archaeology at then University College Galway in 1967, having previously worked at the National Museum of Ireland. Rynne retired as Professor of Celtic Archaeology at UCG in 1998 after thirty-one years. 

Rynne's archive holds a wealth of material about many of Ireland's greatest archaeological sites and objects, including Newgrange. His research files include studies and analysis of the carved symbols and artworks on numerous stones around the entranceway of the passage tomb on the site. The images show the layout and condition of the site at the mid-point of the 20th century but also interestingly show the appeal and interest, nationally and internationally, about the site and its symbolism, as its image, such as the famous carved stones at the entranceway to the tomb, were used and reproduced on postcards which were available for purchase at the time of the 1950s.

Material relating to Newgrange Passage Tomb - Rynne Archive

An internationally renowned UNESCO world heritage site, the Brú na Bóinne complex, including Newgrange, and the solstice lighting of the inner chamber of the passage grave, is a spectacle to behold and the Rynne archive provides new insights into archaeological record of Newgrange.

The wider Etienne Rynne archive (and Rynne family archive, comprising of records of other members and branches of the Rynne family) is a hugely detailed archive of Irish archaeological sites and objects, and a record of a life’s research into Ireland’s early history and the discovery, recovery, and care of its archaeological heritage through the twentieth century.

Postcard with image taken at Newgrange - Rynne Archive

The full Rynne Archive catalogue is available to searchonline here.

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