Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Archaeology Ireland magazine gives book a positive review

Archaeology Ireland magazine has published a very positive review of 'Newgrange: Monument to Immortality'. The publication features regular book reviews, which in general are carried out by the magazine's editor, archaeologist Tom Condit. The following is the text of the review, which was carried in their summer 2013 issue:

Newgrange at sunset by Anthony Murphy
Newgrange – Monument to Immortality (The Liffey Press, pb, €24.95) is the title of a new book by journalist, writer, photographer and amateur astronomer Anthony Murphy. Inspired by the scale and symbolism of Newgrange, Murphy expresses his Newgrange story in an engaging text throughout the boo. He states, ‘As long as we have questions about Newgrange, we will continue to explore it, and we will carry on trying to quench our thirst for knowledge’.

Readable and interesting, this publication on Newgrange takes us beyond archaeology into some of the more interesting characteristics of the mound that provoke a whole range of reactions from those who get caught in its web of mystique.

Murphy examines the background to the construction of the great mound and passage tomb, with particular emphasis on the community effort and technical skills that would have been required in its construction.

The importance of the celestial movements and the annual cycle of the sun are of particular significance, and several chapters are devoted to this aspect of the tomb’s construction. In subsequent chapters the author explores the ‘womb or tomb?’ theme, drawing attention to the questions concerning the function of such tombs that go beyond burial and disposal of the dead.

Newgrange is still a meaningful place for modern people, who are attracted to its sense of spirituality. Murphy develops this theme further in discussing the accounts of people who have described their own ‘near death experiences’, where lights at the end of tunnels are commonly reported (the metaphor for death is a strong one when seen in this context!).

Subsequent chapters on cave myths and the author’s own experience in the tomb at solstice provide an intriguing juxtaposition of ancient accounts from the past and the modern-day reality of visiting the interior of Newgrange. The book itself is beautifully produced and illustrated throughout with high-quality colour images.

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