‘Archaeostronomy’ was the title of the presentation delivered by Mr Derek Barker at the March monthly meeting of Keighley Astronomical society. Mr Barker is a member of the Bradford U3A organisation and is a fully qualified archaeologist. His specialises is the study of the very early known history of mankind. The sub title to his lecture was ‘Skyscape Archaeology, or Pseudoarchaeology?’
Mr Barker presented his lecture in a question and answer fashion. He started by pointing out that Archaeologists can only study their present. Everything else is inference.
Questions he hope to answer would be – Did ancient people have any concept of the past, or to them was it just landscape? and What do astronomers mean if they say that they can look into the past?
You can say: “Here is one stone placed upon another.” And what you say will be adequate to the material world.
‘But to say what was going on in the minds of the people who placed those stones, what they mean, what symbolism they have—well, that can be a different story for every person, and can never be fully articulated in language’. Rudolf Steiner
Question – Do ancient structures encode ritual knowledge?
Question – What do the pyramids prove ? – we see the world not as it is, but as we are.
Ancient Egyptians were every bit as clever as we are, and they could also devote huge human resources over many years to a construction project.
The pyramids are so amazing that they must have been built by ‘alien architects’ from outer space ?
There must have been a now lost Mediterranean civilisation which preceded dynastic Egypt, and which had a forgotten, but superior, technology ?
Afro-centricity – Black Africans were perfectly capable of constructing huge monuments like the Pyramids ?
Why are the digits in the speed of light (299792458 m/s) exactly the same as the latitude of the Great Pyramid of Giza (29.9792458° N)? Is it a mere coincidence? Is it aliens?
Tectonic movement has moved the pyramid around 100 meters from its original position since it was built, placing the position of its summit at that time barely within its current footprint.
Position and speed are expressed in units that are not universal – they are defined by humans using units that humans can relate to.
If you chose, say, radians for latitude and miles per second for light speed you will end up with a totally different set of figures.
Archaeology, or Pseudoarchaeology?
Hancock and Bauval (1989) looked at Orion
Intentional correlation with the pyramids
Orion symbolises Osiris
As the stars appeared in 10,000 BCE
‘Inversion matching’ (stars deviate south and pyramids north)
‘Great progenitor civilisation’
Pseudo-archaeology, or at best a definite ‘maybe’.
The Orion correlation theory was put forward by Robert Bauval, and mentioned that Mintaka, the dimmest and most westerly of the stars making up Orion’s belt, was offset slightly from the others. Bauval then made a connection between the layout of the three main stars in Orion’s belt and the layout of the three main pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex. He published this idea in 1989 in the journal Discussions in Egyptology, volume 13. The idea has been further expounded by Bauval in collaboration with Adrian Gilbert (The Orion Mystery, 1994) and Graham Hancock (Keeper of Genesis, 1996), as well as in their separate publications. The basis of this theory concerns the proposition that the relative positions of three main Ancient Egyptian pyramids on the Giza plateau was by design correlated with the relative positions of the three stars in the constellation of Orion which make up Orion’s Belt, as these stars appeared in 10,000 BC.
Their initial ideas regarding the alignment of the Giza pyramids with Orion: “…the three pyramids were a terrestrial map of the three stars of Orion’s belt”[ are later joined with speculation about the age of the Great Sphinx. According to these works, the Great Sphinx was constructed c. 10,500 BC (Upper Paleolithic), and its lion-shape is maintained to be a definitive reference to the constellation of Leo. Furthermore, the orientation and dispositions of the Sphinx, the Giza pyramids and the Nile River relative to one another on the ground is put forward as an accurate reflection or “map” of the constellations of Leo, Orion (specifically, Orion’s Belt) and the Milky Way respectively. As Hancock puts it in 1998’s The Mars Mystery (co-authored with Bauval):
…we have demonstrated with a substantial body of evidence that the pattern of stars that is “frozen” on the ground at Giza in the form of the three pyramids and the Sphinx represents the disposition of the constellations of Orion and Leo as they looked at the moment of sunrise on the spring equinox during the astronomical “Age of Leo” (i.e., the epoch in which the Sun was “housed” by Leo on the spring equinox.) Like all precessional ages this was a 2,160-year period. It is generally calculated to have fallen between the Gregorian calendar dates of 10,970 and 8810 BC.
The allusions to dates circa 12,500 years ago are significant to Hancock since this is the era he seeks to assign to the advanced progenitor civilization, now vanished, but which he contends through most of his works had existed and whose advanced technology influenced and shaped the development of the world’s known civilizations of antiquity. Egyptology and archaeological science maintain that available evidence indicates that the Giza pyramids were constructed during the Fourth dynasty period (3rd millennium BC), while the exact date of the Great Sphinx is still unclear.
Question – Could it be true Orion in the British Landscape ?
The Thornborough Henges are an unusual ancient monument complex that includes the three aligned henges that give the site its name. They are located on a raised plateau above the River Ure near the village of Thornborough in North Yorkshire, England. The site includes many large ancient structures including a cursus, henges, burial grounds and settlements.
They are thought to have been part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age ‘ritual landscape’ comparable to Salisbury Plain and date from between 3500 and 2500 BC. This monument complex has been called ‘The Stonehenge of the North’.Historic England considers its landscape comparable in ceremonial importance to better known sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury, and Orkney
The cursus is the oldest and largest ancient monument at Thornborough.It is almost a mile in extent and runs from Thornborough village, under the (later) central henge and terminates close to the River Ure in a broadly east/west alignment, 8 kilometres (5 mi) north-west of Ripon.
Cursuses are perhaps the most enigmatic of ancient monuments. They typically comprise two parallel ditches, the larger of which can be a mile or more in extent, cut to create a “cigar-shaped” enclosure. Typically, burial mounds and mortuary enclosures are found alongside cursus monuments, indicating that they probably had a ceremonial function. Its age and status, alongside other ancient monuments of its kind, has led to the site being labelled as “the Stonehenge of the North”.
The three henges are almost identical in size and composition, each having a diameter of approximately 240 metres (790 ft) and two large entrances situated directly opposite each other.The henges are located around 550 metres (1,800 ft) apart on an approximate northwest-southeast alignment, although there is a curious ‘dogleg’ in the layout. Altogether, the monument extends for more than a mile.
Archaeological excavation of the central henge has taken place. It has been suggested that its banks were covered with locally mined gypsum, with the resulting white sheen being striking and visible for miles around. A double alignment of pits, possibly evidence of a timber processional avenue, extends from the southern henge.
The ‘dogleg’ in the layout appears to cause the layout of the henges to mirror the three stars of Orion’s Belt. The exact purpose of the henges is unclear though archaeological finds suggest that they served economic and social purposes as well as astronomical ones. It also reflects the different perpendicular alignments of midwinter sunset and midsummer sunrise. One of the legs also aligns, via another henge site at Nunwick with the Devil’s Arrows 17.7km away at Boroughbridge.
The Northern henge is currently overgrown with trees but is one of the best preserved henges in Britain. The Central and Southern henges are in poorer condition although the banks of the henges are still quite prominent, especially in the case of the Central henge. To gain a full appreciation of the scale of the monument it is best viewed from the air.
Question – So what is the truth?
Owen Gingerich of the Harvard-Smithsonian centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusett states that the Pyramids are aligned north-south with an accuracy of up to 0.05 degrees.
In the third millennium BC, no star sat at the north pole. The architects were measuring the alignment using not one star, but two: Mizar in Ursa Major and Kochab in Ursa Minor.
However, due to precession, the line joining Mizar and Kochab only drifted into precise alignment with the north pole in 2467 BCE, then wandered away. The orientation of successive pyramids faithfully tracks this drift, explaining the rise and fall of north-south alignment precision.
Question – Heliacal rising ?
The sky as a calendar….
A star or planet first becomes visible above the eastern horizon at dawn just before sunrise.
The same star will reappear in the eastern sky at dawn approximately one year after its previous heliacal rising.
Could this be easier to observe than motions of the sun?
When the Pleiades rise it is time to use the sickle, but the plough when they are setting’ (Hesiod)
Question – Don’t forget the dog star
Sirius A is brightest star visible – Greek: Σείριος, or Seirios, ‘glowing’ or ‘scorching’
heliacal Rising: Sirius (Sothis) associated with Nile flood in ancient Egypt
The Dogon are a tribe from Mali, West Africa.
In The Sirius Mystery Robert Temple claimed the Dogon revered sigu toto, which he believed was Sirius, and were aware of the companion stars Sirius B and Sirius C
Contact with BA Egypt?
Contact with extraterrestrials?
Statement – Let’s have a more detailed look with a sceptical allowance.
Where? Britain & Ireland
When? 1. Neolithic
2. Early Bronze Age
Who? WHG > EEF > Beaker (Steppe) > EEF (France)
Why? Includes the first farmers:
The seasons must have been important to them.
Enough artefacts survive to provide a faint hope of thinking some of their thoughts after them.
Did Neolithic people think of farming as technology, or ‘magic’?
What were their concepts of time and space?
They must have noted the regularities in the skies and the seasons.
What did they think of where they came from, and where they were to go after death?
Did they think they were reborn after bodily death, like wheat?
Did monuments help to preserve community integrity?
Probably not used for navigation (unlike the Polynesians)
technology in the Neolithic-Early bronze age –
Cereal crop introduction
Domestication of animals
Brewing and bread-making
Usage of native gold and copper > alloying
Polished stone axes, arrow heads, mace heads etc
A time of extraordinary achievement, which is why I don’t believe in ancient aliens
Question Neolithic-Early bronze age: What are the chances?
That the stars were visible (100%)
The stars were more easily visible to the naked eye than today (100%)
The stars and sky were more important to Neolithic society than they are to us today (95%)
That contemporary people knew what stars and planets really were (0%)
That we shall learn the Neolithic names of the stars, assuming that they were named at all (0%)
Question -What made sites special or sacred?
Lightning or meteorite strikes (75%)
Original location of a tribal ancestor’s life or burial (50%)
A boundary position (50%)
The dreams of a shaman (50%)
The location of a sacred tree (25%)
The viewing of an eclipse (25%)
The shortest day and longest day were important (90%)
Question – What are the chances?
The arrangements of the heavens were not the same as today (1005)
Crux was visible from Britain up to 4000 BCE
Alpha Draconis (Thuban) was the Pole Star 4000-3000 BCE [at the end of the last Ice Age it was Vega]
Between two to four thousand years ago, an observer would have seen the sunrise on the spring equinox aligned with the constellation Aries
Why? Precession of the equinoxes: 26,000 year rotation of the earth’s axis
Question – How can we be sure that an alignment is genuine?
Backsight – distinctive landscape feature
Foresight – should be artificial
But don’t expect absolute accuracy!
The extreme positions of the sun and moon haven’t altered for thousands of years
Question – Not everything that we are ‘told’ is true!
Reconstructed circles – the accuracy of modern reconstruction?
Were locations open or wooded at the time of construction?
Were any alignments seen of practical use, or were they simply symbolic?
The east/west alignment of medieval churches tells you little about Christianity.
Not everything that we are ‘told’ is true
Peer reviewed articles, or popular books?
Margaret Curtis Euan Mackie
Alexander Thom Graham Hancock
Do the professionals form a conspiracy against the amateurs?
Professor of engineering science at oxford university where he became interested in megalithic monuments. Suggested the ‘megalithic yard and the megalithic solar year.
The Equinox and the Solstice –
They are vital parts of the astronomical calendar which determine the transitions between the seasons
There is a ‘Celestial Sphere’, a fictitious sphere which places the stars according to their position as seen from Earth, regardless of their actual distance.
So, a Neolithic observer on a high place would see a very impressive celestial hemisphere.
As mentioned the rotation axis of the Earth describes, over a period of 25,700 years, a small circle among the stars centred on the ecliptic north pole and with an angular radius of about 23.4°
Around June 21 and December 21.
The sun reaches its most northerly and most southerly excursion, recognised by the longest day and the shortest day respectively.
The solstice is not easy to determine. An earthbound observer would be looking for the maximum or minimum elevation (declination) of the sun in the sky. So, the longest or shortest shadow cast by a rod.
Getting within 3-5 days of the actual event would be difficult.
Vernal (20 March) and autumnal (23 September)
On the day of the equinox day-time and night-time are approximately equal all over the planet.
It is the moment in time when the sun crosses the earth’s equator, or in modern terms the plane of the earth’s equator passes through the geometric centre of the sun’s disc.
On the earth’s surface the sun appears to rise due east and set due west.
Stars ‘rise’ at the eastern horizon and ‘set’ in the west around dawn and there is a 4 minute difference each night.
From the same position an observer would see that summer and winter are ‘dominated’ by different groups of stars or constellations.
Stars appear to move by 90 degrees across the sky every three months. Only circumpolar stars are seen throughout the seasons eg Cassiopeia and Ursa major.
In the Northern Hemisphere:
Winter constellations and stars are – Orion and its belt: Sirius: the Pleiades
Summer constellations are – Sagittarius, Scorpius, Cygnus, Lyra, Hercules
Question – Types of Possible Archaeological Evidence ?
1) Stone Circles & Alignments
2) Petroglyphs (Cup and Ring Marks)
4) Unique artefacts: eg Nebra Sky Disc
Petroglyphs (Cup and Ring Marks) –
Question – Are the Pleiades star cluster and other astronomical objects featured in these ancient stone markings?
Drumtroddan, Wigtown – standing stones
Two large stones stand in alignment here, with a third in-between now fallen. The pasture field can be muddy after wet weather. The middle stone of a three stone prehistoric alignment was often deliberately pushed down in medieval times or even later, in an attempt to ‘Christianise’ the pagan monument by creating a cross shape. This may have been done here. The uprights are quite close to each other and are set on a north-east to south- west line.
This site is interesting because the alignment of stones appears to indicate significant solar events in both directions. We may speculate whether this was done deliberately, or simply a coincidence of the suitable bearing and horizon height at this latitude. It appears to be aligned to the rising sun at mid summer and the declination of the Sun at mid winter.
Stone Circles & Alignments –
Avebury may be the largest stone circle in Europe, but in the late nineteenth century one could barely see the stones for the houses, barns, cattle pens and trees. When marmalade magnate-turned-archaeologist Alexander Keiller bought the site in 1938, his main ambition was to restore the site to its original condition, by finding stones long since buried and demolishing homes as they became vacant.
One of the unusual things Keiller noticed during excavations was a 98-feet long rectangular enclosure in an area near the centre of the site, once marked by an 18-foot tall obelisk, long since destroyed. Today, the position of the obelisk is marked by a concrete plinth and a few sarcens marking the original rectangular structure, which Keiller believed to have once been a lean-to cattle shed.
Recent ground-penetrating radar by the University of Leicester reveals more of the rectangle’s missing stones and their sockets, along with a smaller rectangle within. They speculate that the latter structure was erected a thousand years before the entire site was completed around 2650 BC. These archaeologists believe what they have uncovered is the remains of a Neolithic house, but if one examines the function of Avebury, this new, small rectangle may yet prove to be the original site from where all the astronomical observations were made that eventually led to the construction of the site proper.
Question – Lunula – Moon or Sun?
The Gold lunula (plural: lunulae) is a distinctive type of late Neolithic, Chalcolithic or (most often) early Bronze Age necklace or collar shaped like a crescent moon; most are from Prehistoric Ireland. They are normally flat and thin, with roundish spatulate terminals that are often twisted to 45 to 90 degrees from the plane of the body. Gold lunulae fall into three distinct groups, termed Classical, Unaccomplished and Provincial by archaeologists. Most have been found in Ireland, but there are moderate numbers in other parts of Europe as well, from Great Britain to areas of the continent fairly near the Atlantic coasts. Although no lunula has been directly dated, from associations with other artefacts it is thought they were being made sometime in the period between 2400–2000 BC; a wooden box associated with one Irish find has recently given a radiocarbon dating range of 2460–2040 BC.
Question – The Nebra Sky Disc?
The Nebra sky disc (German: Himmelsscheibe von Nebra) is a bronze disc of around 30 cm (12 in) diameter and a weight of 2.2 kg (4.9 lb), having a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These symbols are interpreted generally as the Sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster of seven stars interpreted as the Pleiades). Two golden arcs along the sides, interpreted to mark the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom with internal parallel lines, which is usually interpreted as a solar boat with numerous oars, though some authors have also suggested that it may represent a rainbow, or the Aurora Borealis.
The disc was found buried on the Mittelberg hill near Nebra in Germany. It is dated by archaeologists to c. 1800–1600 BCE and attributed to the Early Bronze Age Unetice culture. Various scientific analyses of the disc, the items found with the disc, and the find spot have confirmed the Early Bronze Age dating.
The Nebra sky disc features the oldest concrete depiction of astronomical phenomena known from anywhere in the world. In June 2013, it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and termed “one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century.
The disc, together with two bronze swords, two sets of remains of axes, a chisel, and fragments of spiral armbands were discovered in 1999 by Henry Westphal and Mario Renner while they were treasure-hunting with a metal detector. The detectorists were operating without a license, and knew their activity constituted looting and was illegal. Archaeological artefacts are the property of the state in Saxony-Anhalt. They damaged the disc with their spade and destroyed parts of the site. The next day, Westphal and Renner sold the entire hoard for 31,000 DM to a dealer in Cologne. The hoard changed hands, probably several times, within Germany during the next two years, being sold for up to a million DM. By 2001 knowledge of its existence had become public. In February 2002 the state archaeologist, Harald Meller, acquired the disc in a police-led sting operation in Basel from a couple who had put it on the black market for 700,000 DM. The original finders were eventually traced. In a plea bargain, they led police and archaeologists to the discovery site. Archaeologists opened a dig at the site and uncovered evidence that supported the looters’ claims. There were traces of bronze artefacts in the ground, and the soil at the site matched soil samples found clinging to the artefacts. The disc and its accompanying finds are held by the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
The two looters received sentences of four months and ten months, respectively, from a Naumburg court in September 2003. They appealed, but the Appeals Court raised their sentences to six and twelve months, respectively.
The discovery site is a prehistoric enclosure encircling the top of a 252 metres (827 ft) elevation in the Ziegelroda Forest, known as Mittelberg (“central hill”), some 60 km west of Leipzig. The surrounding area is known to have been settled in the Neolithic era, and Ziegelroda Forest contains approximately 1,000 barrows.
At the enclosure’s location, the sun seems to set every summer solstice behind the Brocken, the highest peak of the Harz mountains, some 80 km to the north-west. The treasure-hunters claimed the artefacts were discovered within a pit inside the bank-and-ditch enclosure.
Axes and swords found buried with the disc can be dated typologically to c.1700-1500 BCE. Remains of birch bark found in the sword hilts have been Radiocarbon dated to between 1600 and 1560 BCE, confirming this estimate. This corresponds to the date of burial, at which time the disc had likely been in existence for several generations. Analyses of metal radioactivity and the corrosion layer on the disc further support the early Bronze Age dating.
Origin of the metals –
According to an initial analysis of trace elements by x-ray fluorescence by E. Pernicka, then at the University of Freiberg, the copper originated at Bischofshofen in Austria, whilst the gold was thought to be from the Carpathian Mountains. A more recent analysis found that the gold used in the first development phase (see below) was from the River Carnon in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The tin present in the bronze was also of Cornish origin.
As preserved, the disc was developed in four stages:
Initially the disc had thirty-two small round gold circles, a large circular plate, and a large crescent-shaped plate attached. The circular plate is interpreted as either the Sun or the full Moon, the crescent shape as the crescent Moon (or either the Sun or the Moon undergoing eclipse), and the dots as stars, with the cluster of seven dots likely representing the Pleiades.
At some later date, two arcs (constructed from gold of a different origin, as shown by its chemical impurities) were added at opposite edges of the disc. To make space for these arcs, one small circle was moved from the left side toward the centre of the disc and two of the circles on the right were covered over, so that thirty remain visible. The two arcs span an angle of 82°, correctly indicating the angle between the positions of sunset at summer and winter solstice at the latitude of the Mittelberg (51°N). Given that the arcs relate to solar phenomena, it is likely the circular plate represents the Sun not the Moon.
The final addition was another arc at the bottom, identified as a solar boat, again made of gold, but originating from a different source.
By the time the disc was buried it also had thirty-nine holes punched out around its perimeter, each approximately 3 mm in diameter.
The find is regarded as reconfirming that the astronomical knowledge and abilities of the people of the European Bronze Age included close observation of the yearly course of the Sun, and the angle between its rising and setting points at the summer and winter solstices. While much older earthworks and megalithic astronomical complexes, such as the Goseck circle and Stonehenge, had already been used to mark the solstices, the disc presents this knowledge in the form of a portable object. The disc may have had both a practical astronomical purpose as well as a religious significance.
The depiction of the Pleiades on the disc in conjunction with a crescent moon has been interpreted as representing a calendar rule for harmonising the solar and lunar calendars. This rule is known from an ancient Babylonian text with the transcribed title of MUL.APIN. According to this rule, a leap month should be added when the Pleiades appear next to a crescent moon a few days old in the spring, as depicted on the disc. This conjunction occurs approximately every three years. Harald Meller suggests that knowledge of this rule may have come from Babylonia to Central Europe through long distance trade and contacts, despite it being attested earlier on the Nebra disc than in Babylonia.
The number of stars depicted on the disc (32) is also thought to be significant, possibly encoding the calendar rule numerically, in two different ways. Firstly, the conjunction of lunar crescent and Pleiades depicted on the disc occurs 32 days after the last ‘new light’ (the first visible crescent moon of the month), and not before. Secondly, 32 stars plus 1 sun (or full moon) equals 33, which is the number of lunar years in 32 solar years. That is, after 32 solar years, the time difference between lunar and solar years adds up to one whole lunar year, with an error of only two days. This is because a solar year has 365 days whereas a lunar year has approximately 354 days. So 365 x 32 = 11680 days, and 354 x 33 = 11682 days.
The Nebra disc has also been compared to a passage from the Greek poet Hesiod in Works and Days, written around 700 BC:-
“When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising, begin your harvest, and your ploughing when they are going to set. Forty nights and days they are hidden and appear again as the year moves round, when first you sharpen your sickle. This is the law of the plains, and of those who live near the sea, and who inhabit rich country, the glens and hollows far from the tossing sea,—strip to sow and strip to plough and strip to reap, if you wish to get in all Demeter’s fruits in due season, and that each kind may grow in its season.”
A depiction of a sun and crescent moon similar to the Nebra disc appears on a gold signet ring from Mycenae in Greece, dating from the 15th century BC. Beneath the sun and moon is a seated female figure holding three opium poppies in her hand, identified as a goddess of nature and fertility, possibly the Minoan poppy goddess, or an early form of the goddess Demeter. Opium poppy has also been found in settlements of the Unetice culture. According to Kristiansen and Larsson (2005), imagery similar to that found on Mycenaean signet rings also appears in Nordic Bronze Age petroglyphs from the Kivik King’s Grave in Sweden, dating from the 16th to 15th centuries BC.
Archaeoastronomist Emília Pásztor has argued against a practical astronomical function for the disc. According to Pásztor “the close agreement of the length of the peripheral arcs with the movement of the sun’s risings or settings might be a pure coincidence”. This claim is undermined by the finding of a similar feature on the roughly contemporary gold lozenge from Bush Barrow at Stonehenge, where the acute angles of the overall design (81°) are equal to the angle between the solstices at the latitude of Stonehenge. According to Euan MacKie (2009) “The Nebra disc and the Bush Barrow lozenge both seem to be designed to reflect the annual solar cycle at about latitude 51° north.” MacKie further suggests that both the Nebra disc and Bush Barrow lozenge may be linked to the solar calendar reconstructed by Alexander Thom from his analysis of standing stone alignments in Britain. Both the Nebra sky disc and Bush Barrow lozenge were made with gold from Cornwall, providing a direct link between them. According to the archaeologist Sabine Gerloff the gold plating technique used on the Nebra sky disc also originated in Britain, and was introduced from there to the continent.
Question – How sure is sure when we are looking at stone alignments?
1) Stonehenge & Woodhenge
3) Bryn Celli Dhu
5) Newgrange (Ireland)
2) Sea Henge, Norfolk
3) Ring of Brodgar
Ley Lines (Alfred Watkins)
Maeshowe Orkney :-
Maeshowe Neolithic chambered cairn: c.2800 BCE
This entrance passage is 36 feet (11 m) long and leads to the central almost square chamber measuring about 15 feet (4.6 m) on each side
It is so aligned that the rear wall of its central chamber is illuminated at the winter solstice
Actually, a few days either side of the solstice
Newgrange, Ireland, has the same alignment
The most famous of UK stone circles
Three main phases of development and many sub-phases
Part of ‘sacred landscape’ connected with death and life
Orientated on the Summer solstice
Is this symbolic (eg E-W church) or practical?
Timothy Darvill suggests that each of the 30 upright sarson stones represents a solar day in a repeating 30 day month. A year would consist of 360 days.
Mr Barker stated “I find that difficult to understand”.
The concept that Stonehenge was aligned on celestial bodies dates from it’s description by William Stukely in the 18th century.
Question – Which was the more important?
Note that the sun doesn’t rise directly over the Heel Stone and never has, but it will in 3260 (PM).
Alpha Draconis was the Pole Star of the builders.
Avebury Whiltshire :-
The geometry of the Avebury henge contains a number of interesting features and is multi-layered. What is shown here represents but a small part of what might originally have been intended.
As can be seen the henge is not an exact circle with only the south-eastern part conforming to the circumference of a circle which also touches the stone circle in the south-west and the north. That nearly a quadrant conforms to the circle shows that the Neolithic builders were quite capable of creating true circles when they wanted which is also demonstrated by the two inner circles (northern and southern). That larger parts of this monument were not circular must therefore have been deliberate with some greater plan in mind.
About ten stones in the southern-western segment form an alignment to a point which is set just outside of the southern entrance.
There was at one time a huge stone called the Obelisk which has sadly now disappeared. This stone estimated to be over twenty feet tall would have cast a shadow on the sunrise of the equinoxes towards the western entrance of the henge. This is one way in which the henge also represented an astronomical calculator. Further solsticial alignments can be seen with the obelisk in that the setting sun of mid-winter would have cast a shadow towards the eastern entrance of the henge. Additional seasonal alignments can be found between western entrance and the eastern entrance which picks up the May day sunrise. This give further evidence that the Celtic calendar had its origins in the Neolithic period or, at least, a similar calendar was used then.
Mr Barker concluded his presentation with this quote :-
Marxism – Groucho Marx’s path to wisdom
Be open minded, but not so open minded that your brains fall out.
They said Galileo was mad, they said Einstein was mad, they said my uncle Louis was mad….now uncle Louis was mad.
I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.
Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.