Incredible hidden structures near Newgrange revealed in amazing detail

1 Feb 2019

The Newgrange UNESCO World Heritage site. Image: © MNStudio/

Following last year’s incredible discovery of structures hidden near Newgrange, Co Meath, new digital models reveal the sites in even greater detail.

From an archaeological standpoint, 2018 was a major high point in new discoveries, with the oppressive heatwave that swept the country last summer unexpectedly revealing many hidden structures beneath the surface of fields in the world-famous Brú na Bóinne region in Co Meath.

With June and July being unusually dry, resulting in lengthy drought conditions, the soil eventually left a ghostly shadow of the structures beneath. Above ground when originally built, the likelihood is that they would have been left in disrepair over a period of centuries until eventually returning to the soil.

Aerial photo of buried circular structures represented by digitally enhanced yellow and white colours.

Aerial image of the buried sites are digitally enhanced using yellow and white. Image: National Monuments Service/Bluesky/Discovery programme/Meath County Council

‘Unparalleled in the archaeological record’

Aerial photography specialist Bluesky was then brought in to create the most up-to-date and detailed view of the landscape and discoveries as well as create 3D height measurements of the buried structures at a resolution of one metre.

Speaking of the new findings, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan, TD, said: “This new information is a graphic illustration of the extent and density of the ritual and ceremonial sites associated with the Newgrange passage tomb.

“This stunning new archaeological data provides fresh, spectacular and unique insights into the origins and development of the Neolithic landscape and society.”

Birdseye shot of a fields with buried structures of various shapes shown as yellow and white outlines.

LiDAR imagery showing more sites on a Brú na Bóinne floodplain. Image: National Monuments Service/Bluesky/Discovery programme/Meath County Council

The latest detailed findings on the burial site have been published in an interim report, with the authors saying it is a watershed moment in Irish historical discoveries.

“The clarity of detail of previously unseen cropmarks is truly remarkable, providing us with much information on the architecture of new sites and of sites which had been previously identified,” they said. “They show that some of the sites have features that are unparalleled in the archaeological record, while others are on a scale not previously thought to exist in Ireland.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic