Newgrange, part of the Bru Na Boinne complex in County Meath, Scotland, is an ancient Druid construction that marks today as the Winter Solstice. On only this day out of the entire year, sunlight enters a shaft in Newgrange, illuminating an underground passageway. It is believed that the construction of the Bru Na Boinne predates that of the Egyptian pyramids. The complex served as a burial ground, as well as a holy site, with dozens of underground tombs, or passage graves, connected by an extensive tunnel network.
Since its discovery in 1967 by Professor MJ O’Kelly, thousands of people have witnessed the once a year phenomenon. Currently, the Bru Na Boinne visitor center selects one hundred visitors by lottery each year to view the event.
The Winter Solstice (also known as the first day of Winter or the shortest day of the year) was often marked with significance by civilizations with sufficient knowledge of astronomical events to note its existence. It occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis brings the northern hemisphere the furthest away from the sun that it is during the year. In modern times, it marks the beginning of winter. The other three seasons are marked by the Vernal Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and the Autumnal Equinox.