Astronomy shown to be set in standing stone

Posted: August 20, 2016 by oldbrew in Astronomy, Celestial Mechanics, History
Brodgar standing stones, Orkney [image credit: BBC]

Brodgar standing stones, Orkney [image credit: BBC]

University of Adelaide research has for the first time statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain, the great circles, were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago. H/T ScienceDaily

The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, details the use of innovative 2D and 3D technology to construct quantitative tests of the patterns of alignment of the standing stones.

“Nobody before this has ever statistically determined that a single stone circle was constructed with astronomical phenomena in mind — it was all supposition,” says project leader and University of Adelaide Visiting Research Fellow Dr Gail Higginbottom, who is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University.

Examining the oldest great stone circles built in Scotland (Callanish, on the Isle of Lewis, and Stenness, Isle of Orkney — both predating Stonehenge’s standing stones by about 500 years), the researchers found a great concentration of alignments towards the Sun and Moon at different times of their cycles. And 2000 years later in Scotland, much simpler monuments were still being built that had at least one of the same astronomical alignments found at the great circles.

The stones, however, are not just connected with the Sun and the Moon. The researchers discovered a complex relationship between the alignment of the stones, the surrounding landscape and horizon, and the movements of the Sun and the Moon across that landscape. “This research is finally proof that the ancient Britons connected the Earth to the sky with their earliest standing stones, and that this practice continued in the same way for 2000 years,” says Dr Higginbottom.

Examining sites in detail, it was found that about half the sites were surrounded by one landscape pattern and the other half by the complete reverse.

“These chosen surroundings would have influenced the way the Sun and Moon were seen, particularly in the timing of their rising and setting at special times, like when the Moon appears at its most northerly position on the horizon, which only happens every 18.6 years,” Dr Higginbottom says.

“For example, at 50% of the sites, the northern horizon is relatively higher and closer than the southern and the summer solstice Sun rises out of the highest peak in the north. At the other 50% of sites, the southern horizon is higher and closer than the northern, with the winter solstice Sun rising out of these highest horizons.

“These people chose to erect these great stones very precisely within the landscape and in relation to the astronomy they knew. They invested a tremendous amount of effort and work to do so. It tells us about their strong connection with their environment, and how important it must have been to them, for their culture and for their culture’s survival.”

Source: Astronomy shown to be set in standing stone — ScienceDaily

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    How did they set the alignment for those (majority) of missing stones at Stenness?

  2. oldbrew says:

    Link to abstract: ‘Origins of Standing Stone Astronomy in Britain: New quantitative techniques for the study of archaeoastronomy’

  3. […] via Astronomy shown to be set in standing stone — Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  4. “Nobody before this has ever statistically determined that a single stone circle was constructed with astronomical phenomena in mind — it was all supposition”

    That is a stupid lie. It has been common knowledge–not “supposition”–among those who study the subject, especially since the work of Sir Norman Lockyer (“The Dawn of Astronomy”, 1894). This is just the most recent hyped “discovery”.

    And I am the only scientist in the world who can tell you with utter assurance WHY such astronomical alignments were memorialized. It originated with the Great Design of the “gods”, in which the surface of the Earth, and the entire solar system, were deliberately re-formed and re-oriented, with those (then new) astronomical alignments established by the design.

  5. tallbloke says:

    Some previous posts here show that paleoastronomy has been partially understood for a long time
    Also, OldmanK has done some good work on the Maltese stone calendars.
    Great that this new study adds some stats rigour though.

  6. oldmanK says:

    Was going to post elsewhere but this fits here just the same.

    Have a look at this link:

    It is Skara Brae, but look closely at the dates. 3195bce and 2345bce, both were critical eras. Although the 2500 date is not quite near the famous 2200 (most likely 2345) that really depends on the C14 of whatever material was found. Older if it was already dead such as bottom sediment material.

    Skara Brae was buried in sand. So was Ring of Brodgar – 2300 with ocean sediment; Gobleki Tepe -????; Tarxien temple -23xx with sea sand, and several more for sure.

    Yes astronomy was used to follow the changes that were occurring over the previous two millennia, closely followed with a technology we never understood.

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    5,000 years ago more or less, humanity had been subjected to 2 to 3 thousand years of rapidly rising sea levels that had drowned nearly all of the rich plains and valleys of the continental shelves that humans had enjoyed for 10s of thousands of years. What a disaster! Why had the Gods turned on them? would it Ever End? and then GOD ran out of water and the worlds first Climate Change Religion collapsed! 😉 …pg

  8. oldmanK says:

    Hi PG, nice attempt, but that raises more questions (and anomalies) than it answers.

    But for a change took a look at this:

    (sorry- but its the only way I can link, and you won’t find these anywhere else). Follow the yellow line as on the solstice day. What is that structure for? (forget about temple virgins, not even good for a dog). But the increased distance to the back amplifies and reduces errors in measuring obliquity -or year to year changes. 18deg was original design, same as others before, 28 as modified -today’s obliquity. Note also the labyrinthine passage to seal out all light but leaving access – there are more ingenious features . (Today some visit for seances — no problem, they’re welcome).

    Back to the subject of this thread, what appears crude, if properly understood, may turn out to be superior than today’s. We won’t know until we solve it.

  9. oldbrew says:

    SIS briefly reviews the sad state of archaeo-astronomy in Britain.

    ‘Archaeo-astronomy in Britain has been a place where most archaeologists have been fearful to tread since the campaign to marginalise Alexander Thom took place many years ago. One of the tools they used was to deny long range alignments, especially those involving standing stones to points on the far horizon, using such things as the movement of those stones from their original positions, stones leaning over, imaginary niches on the horizon, dismissing the shape of stones as being relevant and a general ambivalence that seemed more to do with the fact New Agers were at the forefront of pushing the idea our ancient forebears being interested in plotting the movements of the sun and the moon and by implication anything transitory and moving across the background of the stars (planets and comets for example). Certain people sold their souls and were rewarded with a life long endowment – or that has been one of the accusations.’

    ‘In Britain the subject is neutered solely because of the witch hunt conducted by academics and the archaeological establishment and therefore it is no surprise that it is a team from the University of Adelaide in Australia that are currently bringing the subject up again’

  10. oldmanK says:

    oldbrew thank you for the above post and link. That coming on the same day of my posting material that I’m sure many would shoot up eyebrows, well—its a relief. But yes, maverick thinking and voicing it, unfortunately, is a career wrecker and I blame no one for staying away. I come from a different field (though reverse engineering is in my field not that of the historian), am retired and have no career to risk; yes I did consider. Dodwell suffered from that, and then with his own astronomer colleagues.

    Quoting from the link “yet they go back over 8000 years ago, deep into the Mesolithic period (pre-farming)”, I do not consider the term ‘pre-farming’ correct. The development and hybridisation of cereals is more ancient than that. An ancient myth developed from that and even that is older. The fig tree is another enigma in its development and also that goes further back than 9000 years. Meaning that farming was not only developed but also with specialist sectors.

    The problem is that humanity is prone to lapse back into ignorance, and we have enough examples from the last millennium itself.

  11. I found a pdf of the original work here

    When new kit comes along, its time to see that what Clive Ruggles said was wrong:

    (a) that 20th century evidence of alignments of monuments to the landscape, and associated horizon events was flawed and selective and

    (b) that Alexander Thom’s highly original and comprehensive work should be excluded from 21st century thinking.

    On the first count, it is now obvious that alignments were primary components of standing stone and ring monuments and, on the second, since Thom is not referenced by this work, Clive Ruggles has effectively eliminated Thom’s contribution to this subject from archaeology; and that was also obviously wrong.

    The ability to make data sets from mapping and laser data has enabled the 21st Century archaeologist to “leap frog” Thom, yet to say the same things he said, though easily to their own apparent credit or out of nowhere, with no sense of historical development. What was already quite obvious has now been upgraded to the blinking obvious but, it seems, by the right sort of people. Yet no thinking is required, no mysteries solved. All we have lost is fifty years and possibly our window of opportunity.

  12. oldbrew says:

    It seems that any evidence that relates science to planets is viewed as some sort of astrology, and as such must be dismissed or suppressed.

    We see this approach in both archaeology and climate science, for example.

  13. It grieves me that the archaeological establishment seems to ignore the alignments but gives time for interesting, though some would say, crackpot ideas.

    They rubbished Professor Hawkins book on the astronomical alignments at Stonehenge and ignored the significance of the car park post holes by C. A. Newham – see overview at my word press blog – the archaeological establishment rarely mentions the alignments in any programme about Stonehenge. They tend to be repeating the debate on the bluestones and how to move the stones and suddenly ‘discovering’ that Stonehenge was built as an acoustic performance stage, a centre of healing, a cemetery for the elite, and an ancient team-building exercise. It may have become all of these over time, but surely it is obvious that it’s primary purpose was an astronomical observatory. Now if it could predict eclipses that would give the predicters a tremendous power over the population as documented by Captain Cook when the natives wouldn’t give him supplies.

    I would love to see a decent science programme that explored the astronomical alignments at stone monuments and their implications, with arguments for and against. With stunning computer graphics it would be a wow but I’ve contacted a number of TV companies and no one seems interested.