STUNNING discovery linking the mid-winter solstice sunrise, Rockabill
(an island off North County Dublin) and standing stones at Baltray,
has been made by three local men.
|This photo was taken from a video of the event by Michael Byrne. Rockabill can be made out to the right of the Sun.|
The revelation came during an ongoing astronomical, anthropological and archaeological investigation being carried out by the three men into the prehistoric sites around the Drogheda area. There are two standing stones at the site in Baltray. The larger, and southernmost of the stones is 2.9 metres high. It is a large, thin stone with flat sides.
During a visit to the stones in early July, Michael Byrne discovered
that when he placed his binoculars against the flat side of the larger
monolith, Rockabill was visible in the field of view.
Working from an Ordinance Survey map, Mr. Murphy worked out that if
he drew a line between the standing stones and Rockabill, the angle
was approximately 129-130 degrees.
I consulted my computer software a program called SkyGlobe, which incidentally was used to investigate alignment between one of the Giza pyramids and the star Sirius by author Robert Bauval to work out the rising position of the mid-Winter Sun as viewed from this area, and the figure I came up with was approximately 130 degrees.
So naturally we were anxious to see the actual Solstice sunrise at the stones to confirm our theory. On the morning of the Solstice, it was decided that I would go and see the sunrise at Newgrange, while Michael and Richard were dispatched to Baltray to test my theory, Anthony explained.
At around 8.30 that morning, Richard Moore and Michael Byrne watched
as the sun crept up over the Irish sea and to their delight the
globe of the Sun rose just slightly to the left of Rockabill
between one and a half to two sun diameters to the left, or East, of
This is caused by a slight shift in the Earths axis, and means that the same situation applies to Baltray. Assuming that the stones are of megalithic origin, the alignment would have been perfect! It is a very unusual alignment in that although two stones are used to mark the line of sunrise, one of these stones is an island way out in the Irish sea! We will of course be carrying out further research into this phenomenon, which comes after further recent revelations about solar alignments at prehistoric sites.
Local woman Anne Marie Moroney has recently published a book which shows how the setting sun at Winter solstice illuminates the southern passage at the Dowth mound in Brugh na Boinne.
Furthermore, the Winter issue of Archaeology Ireland magazine carries
an article about a team of researchers in the West of Ireland who have
found that a row of standing stones at Killadangan in County Mayo are
aligned with the setting Sun on midwinters day.
The men are planning to release a book some time next year detailing
the results of their research in this area. We are basically looking
at the broad picture, said Richard Moore, and have established
firm links between the ancient sites, legend and folklore, and astronomy.
We would like to say a word of thanks to the landowners who gave us kind permission to examine the stones, he concluded.