Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This majestical roof fretted with golden fire – seeing the light at Newgrange

If you’ve been paying attention to Irish archaeology over the last week or so, you can’t but be aware of the controversy stoked up by Michael and Myles Gibbons in a recent paper regarding the age and authenticity of the Newgrange ‘roof box’. I haven’t the least intent of weighing in on this topic, and I direct the interested reader to Ken William’s excellent post ‘Raising the Roof: Comments on the recent Newgrange ‘roof-box’ controversy’ on his ShadowsandStone blog. He neatly sums up the arguments, the available rebuttals and adds his own detailed analysis.

Although it hasn’t stopped me in the past, I’m not about to comment on a situation where I’ve no in depth knowledge or expertise. Instead, I would like to point out that the original Gibbons & Gibbons paper is published in the 2016 issue of Emania, the Bulletin of the Navan Research Group. The publisher is, of course, Berlin’s wonderful curach bhán. I recommend that, to get the fullest picture, you should read the original paper. You can buy the volume for €20 directly from the publisher here.

The full list of papers is as follows:

William O’Brien
Clashanimud and the Bronze Age Hillforts of Munster

Philip Macdonald
Excavations at Knock Dhu Promontory Fort, Ballyhackett, Co. Antrim 2008

Roseanne Schot, John Waddell & Joe Fenwick
Geophysical Survey at Rathcroghan 2010–2012

R.B. Warner
The Linear Earthwork known as "the Danes Cast": Early descriptions, general observations and a newly recognised extension at Newtown, Co. Armagh

Michael Gibbons & Myles Gibbons
The Brú: A Hiberno-Roman Cult Site at Newgrange?

Thomas R. Kerr
A Comparative Overview of Warfare in Early Medieval Ireland – AD 600–800

Go on! Buy a copy – you know you need it!


The title is, of course, taken from a line spoken by Hamlet (Act II, Sc 2). However, once I had Shakespeare lodged in my head, I did play around with titles such as ‘The roof o' the chamber with golden cherubins is fretted’ from Cymbeline and ‘The singing masons building roofs of gold’ from Henry V. Just though I’d mention it …

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