Subterraneous Temple in the County of Meath

Artist(s) : Richard Colt Hoare, Sir (Draughtsman), W.P. Newton (Engraver)

Interior of artificial cave located under Newgrange.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – Sir Rich.d Hoare del.t. W.P. Newton sculp.
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – SUBTERRANEOUS TEMPLE IN THE COUNTY OF MEATH. Published May 1st. 1807 by W[illia]m Miller, Albemarle Street.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Engravings
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites, Architecture
Geographical Location
  • Newgrange - Named locality
  • Meath - County
  • Leinster - Province
Keywords(s) Archaeological sites, Caves, Interiors, Temples
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 10.8 cm x 15.5 cm
Published / created 1807

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Journal of a Tour in Ireland A.D. 1806.
Note Sir Richard Colt Hoare
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy Opp. title page
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 9141 h5
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

FRIDAY 29 AUGUST. My reason for taking the road by SLANE, was to view a singular curiosity in its neighbourhood, at NEW GRANGE, in the County of MEATH, and at a short distance from the River BOYNE. This monument has for many years excited the attention of the learned; much has been written, and many // conjectures formed concerning its original destination. Governor POWNAL wrote a long dissertation upon it, (which was read before the Society of Antiquaries in June 1770), and illustrated his description by views, and ground-plans. A later account, with plans, has been laid before the public, by an ingenious native of the country, DR. LEDWICH, in his Antiquities of Ireland. Mr WRIGHT and Dr. MOLYNEUX, also mention it in their respective writings. Its outward appearance is that of a large earthen tumulus, similar to those we see so frequently on the chalky hills of WILTSHIRE and DORSETSHIRE, but not so neat and uniform in its outline; it differs, however, from them, in having been surrounded by huge unshapen stones, erected in the same state as they were taken from their native quarry; some of which still remain in their original positions. It differs also from the generality of them in the West of England, by containing under its verdant surface, a subterraneous temple, constructed of the rudest materials, and certainly of the highest antiquity. DR LEDWICH informs us, “that it was discovered in the year 1699 by a Mr CAMPBELL who resided in the village of // NEW GRANGE; who, observing stones under the green sod, carried much of them away, and at length arrived at a broad flat stone that covered the mouth of the gallery.” Through this entrance, we ventured into the artificial cavern, having previously sent in a labouring man with candles. For a short space, the entrance is so low, that we could only gain admittance by crawling along on our bellies; but after passing under one of the side stones, that has fallen across the passage, the avenue becomes sufficiently high to admit a person at his full height. The area of this building resembles the upper part of a cross, as the avenue does the stem †; there are three recesses, one // facing the avenue or gallery, and one on each side; in the one to the right is a large stone vase, which antiquaries have denominated a rock bason: it is mentioned, as having its sides fluted, but I could not distinguish any workmanship of the kind; I observed however a singularity in it, which is so evident, that I am surprised it did not arrest the attention of former travellers and writers. Within the excavated part of this large bason, are two circular cavities, along-side of each other, about the size of a child's head: several also of the rude stones composing this recess, are decorated with a variety of devices, circular, zigzag, and diamond-shaped: some of this latter pattern seem to bear the marks of superior workmanship; the squares being indented. Many of the stones on each side of the adit have similar rude marks upon them, and one of them has spiral zigzags. Some antiquaries have carried their // zeal so far, as to discover (in idea) letters on the stones, which they have attributed to the Phoenicians; whilst others have denominated them OGHAM characters: those marks which I observed on many of the stones, bore very little resemblance to letters, and a great similarity to the ornaments I have found on the ancient British urns discovered under our tumuli in WILTSHIRE. I am inclined therefore to attribute this singular temple to some of the Celtic, or Belgic tribes, who poured in upon us from the Continent of GAUL, and peopled England, together with WALES, SCOTLAND, and IRELAND. In the opposite recess, there are the fragments of another rock bason; and some authors assert, (though, I believe, without much foundation), that the centre recess contained a third vase. The construction of the dome demands notice. The avenue, or gallery, leading to the area, is formed by large upright stones, pitched perpendicularly in a row on each side, and supporting the flat stones that form the roof; this covering rises gradually till it reaches the dome, which is not (like our modern cupolas) formed by key stones converging to a centre, but after // the manner of our staircases, each long stone projecting a little beyond the end of that immediately beneath it; and a large flat stone making the cove of the centre. The tallest of the stones forming the adit to the sacellum, as represented in the plate, which serves as a frontispiece to my work, is seven feet six inches in height: its companion on the opposite side, is about seven feet: the outward surface of the rock bason, is about three feet six long, and three feet two inches deep. [pp. 252-257]
Subterraneous Temple in the County of Meath