Local men make further standing stone discoveries
Independent, July 14, 2000:
Drogheda researchers studying the ancient monuments of the the area
have made two further astronomical discoveries which, they claim,
bridge a 4,000-year gap in helping to understand one of the reasons
for the construction of these sites.
latest discoveries involve alignments on the rising and setting
sun of the Summer Solstice sun, which occurred recently.
Murphy, journalist, and Richard Moore, artist, who are amateur astronomers,
revealed how a standing stone at Barnaveddoge, near Ardee, contains
a unique alignment of its flat surfaces which allow it to point
at sunrise and sunset on both summer and winter solstices – two
of these alignments have already been confirmed during site visits
by the pair during the summer solstice week.
another intriguing revelation was made by the two at a huge embanked
enclosure, or henge, near Dowth, known to archaeologists as ‘Site
Q’. This site, according to the men, has entrances or gaps aligned
on the solstices.
April, during field work at this enclosure, we came to the conclusion
that the orientation of the entrances was quite close to the position
of the rising sun on summer solstice – what we had to do was wait
until the solstice to make actual observations of the event,’ said
involved getting out of bed at 4am, and we were apprehensive about
being wrong, but the moment the sun appeared was a truly glorious
one for us,’ he continued. The henge site is not unique in having
a calendrical alignment – they have received congratulations from
researchers in England who have informed them about similar alignments,
such as that at Mayburgh henge, which is aligned on the equinox
sunrise and sunset.
astronomers, along with another local man, Michael Byrne, discovered
last December that a standing stone in Baltray was aligned on winter
sunrise. Last week they took the opportunity of visiting Baltray
to observe the rising of the full moon at Rockabill, to which the
stone points directly.
field of research is known officially as ‘archaeoastronomy’ but
Mr. Murphy insists that he and Mr. Moore are ‘just amateurs with
a great interest in these monuments’. ‘We are not qualified surveyors,
archaeologists or astronomers, and we are very conscious of this
fact, but nevertheless our discoveries so far are very interesting
and warrant much further research, work which we hope to be involved
in ourselves,’ he said.
points to some greater astronomical knowledge which the ancient
people of this area possessed, and they seem to have systematically
constructed structures like Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, along with
standing stones and even a henge, in such a way as to demonstrate
that they were very familiar with the movement of the sun, moon
and stars across the heavens.’
own research in this field has been ongoing, but there is much astronomical
observation to be done at these sites, especially the Dowth henge,
where our finding is not completely consistent with archaeological
surveying which has been done there. Certainly this revelation raises
some questions as to the function of this site.’
of the things we will be looking at is whether the extremes of these
embankments are aligned on the standstills of the moon, something
that will require patient observation over a period of time,’ Mr.
Murphy explained. And the research will continue in other areas:
‘We have been examining 5,000-year-old carvings at Dowth and Knowth
and are looking at the relationship between these symbols and the
celestial movements, and also some interesting astronomical references
which we believe were encoded into ancient mythology concerning
astronomers have a website, called “Mythical Ireland”, detailing
their discoveries and containing a wealth of information about the
ancient sites, mythology and astronomy of the area. It can be visited
on http://go.to/mythicalireland/ and the email address is email@example.com.
They wished to thank the respective landowners at Barnaveddoge and
Dowth for their permission to examine the sites.
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