Stonehenge and other stone monuments were probably used for special moonlit ceremonies.

10 07 2017

In a new study, archeologists have proposed the claim that Stonehenge and other ancient stone monuments were probably used for special moonlit ceremonies which would have taken place deep in the night. These Neolithic structures have always been thought to have been used primarily in the daytime, as the rocks at various stone monuments are meant to align with the sun, one example of which would be Stonehenge lining up in perfect fashion for the yearly Summer Solstice. (Inquisitr)

 

  • An analysis of Hendraburnick Quoit in Cornwall revealed multiple carvings visible in moonlight or low sunlight – suggesting the stone was viewed at night
  • Archaeologists Dr Andy Jones of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit and Thomas Goskar found a total of 105 engravings on the axe-shaped stone
  • Dr Jones believes many more markings would be found at sites across the country if the monuments were looked at in a different light

 

However, fresh evidence now shows that Stonehenge and other ancient stone

Full Moon Stonehenge

Druids celebrating the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge.

monuments were also very likely to have been used at night for moonlit ceremonies. Dr. Andy Jones, who has been studying the Hendraburnick Quoit in Cornwall, has found that at this particular site, you can see at least 10 times as many markings on the engraved panel when viewed directly under the moonlight.

Archaeologists have also discovered that at some point, people smashed up many pieces of quartz around the area which would have glowed in the dark and created a very unique effect at night. Dr. Andy Jones has been working in conjunction with the Cornwall Archaeological Unit and believes that this phenomenon is probably not limited to the Hendraburnick Quoit, but can also be found at other ancient stone monuments such as Stonehenge, as The Telegraph reported.

“I think the new marks show that this site was used at night and it is likely that other megalithic sites were as well.”

After noticing some very specific markings on the stones that had never been seen before, Dr. Jones explained that the archaeological team then went out at night to photograph the ancient stone monument and discovered even more art which was only truly visible at night and beneath the moon.

“We were aware there were some cup and ring marks on the rocks but we were there on a sunny afternoon and noticed it was casting shadows on others which nobody had seen before. When we went out to some imaging at night, when the camera flashed we suddenly saw more and more art, which suggested that it was meant to be seen at night and in the moonlight.”

With the ancient quartz that is smashed all around the site, this would have created an eerily surreal atmosphere at night next to these ancient Neolithic stone monuments and would have lent magic to whatever nighttime ceremonies were performed at these locations. It is known that Stonehenge also has unusual markings which can only be seen at night, and archaeologists believe that many other stone monuments do as well.

“Then when you think about the quartz smashed around, which would have caused flashes and luminescence, suddenly you see that these images would have emerged out of the dark. Stonehenge does have markings, and I think that many more would be found at sites across the country if people were to look at them in different light.”

At the Hendraburnick Quoit in Cornwall, there had originally been 13 markings detected on the stone, but Dr. Andy Jones and his colleague Thomas Goskar discovered that there were actually 105 markings here when viewed under different light. Archaeologists now believe that it is extremely likely that nighttime ceremonies were conducted at ancient stone sites like this as the night was associated with the supernatural. Individuals involved in these ceremonies may have smashed the stones to release very special luminescent properties from them, which would explain the many pieces of quartz that have been found at ancient stone monuments like this.

“After the ritual, the broken pieces, once they had fallen on the ground, could have effectively formed a wider platform or arc which would have continued to glisten around it in the moonlight, and thereby added to the aura of the site.”

While Stonehenge and other ancient stone monuments are usually only studied by day, archaeologists will now be trying to discover what may have taken place during these special ceremonies that would have been conducted at night by way of moonlight.

Source: Inquistir

Related Stonehenge Links:

Cornish stone monuments have carvings that are only visible in moonlight, investigation reveals Daily Mail
Astro Moon Calendar shows phases of the Moon each day, astronomical events and astrological forecast for the year.
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours.  Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer.

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily Stonehenge sunset / sunrise / moonrise / moonset times.





Vernal (Spring) Equinox at Stonehenge.

25 02 2017

The Spring Equinox in 2017 falls on March 20th and occurs at 10:28am GMT. The time is for the instant when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northwards and has a celestial longitude of 0°. Everywhere on Earth has a day and night of almost equal length and it marks the beginning of the northern spring season.

Druids and Pagans enjoying the Equinox sunrise celebrations at Stonehenge.

Druids and Pagans enjoying the Equinox sunrise celebrations at Stonehenge. Copyright

There is considerable debate in the archaeoastronomy community as to whether the Equinox had any special meaning for the builders of Stonehenge. They had no accurate clocks by which they could determine when the day and night were almost exactly equal and discovering the mid-point between the Winter and Summer solstice can be done in a couple of obvious ways.

You can count the days and divide by two. Or you can mark the summer and winter sunrise positions along the horizon and divide that line into two equal parts. These two methods give different results.

For example, counting the days between Winter Solstice 2016 (December 21st) and Summer Solstice 2017 (June 21st) gives 182 days. Half of that is 91, meaning the midpoint would fall on March 22nd 2017 – two days after the actual Equinox.

north_season

The time is for the instant when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northwards and has a celestial longitude of 0°

 

Using the “divide the horizon” approach causes an additional problem – at the Solstices do you mark the first gleam of the Sun appearing, the point when half of it is above the horizon or when it has fully risen and the full orb is standing exactly on the horizon?

The difference in position between using “first gleam” and “full orb” is about 1.5° because the Sun rises at an angle. As a result the halfway position could be 0.75° different depending on your choice and that is one and a half times the width of the Sun’s disc, potentially putting your Equinox out by a day or so.

In any event, there is no alignment through Stonehenge for the Equinox and what’s more there isn’t even a clear sightline directly through the monument that runs true East-West towards the Equinox sunrise position, in the way that there are clear sightlines for the Solstice sunrises and sunsets.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice photo of an equinox sunrise when it’s clear, because you can.

equinox-sunrise

English Heritage Charitable Trust allows everyone in to the centre of the monument for the Spring Equinox sunrise, in the same way that they do for the Autumn Equinox and the two Solstices, through their “Managed Open Access” events. It’s one of only four occasions in the year when open access is allowed.

It’s worth checking with their customer services department (0370 333 1181) a week or so ahead because sometimes they set the actual day of the open access to be different to the day when the Equinox occurs.

Equinox open accesses attract fewer people than the Solstices – in the several hundreds rather than tens of thousands – and there are modern Druid ceremonies which are held in the circle around dawn, so if you prefer a quieter experience then attending an Equinox is a good choice.

If you do visit Stonehenge on the Equinox please respect the special terms of entry and read this blog: ‘Respecting the Stones’

If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Solstice or Equinox celebrations you can join a specialist organised small group tour.  Use a only a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions of entry.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company offering award winning discreet tours from London. Solstice Events offer small group sunrise tours using only local expert guides.

Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

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Lunar eclipse, comet and snow moon to fall on the same day.

8 02 2017

Now might be a good time to invest in a telescope because come Friday you’re going to want one. 

On February 10th, we are not going to be treated to not just one celestial event on the same day but three.

stonehengemoon

The lunar eclipse will take place in the early hours of Saturday morning

A lunar eclipse, snow moon and New Year comet should all be visible this Friday night into Saturday morning.

But unless you’re clued up on your astronomical happenings, it’s unlikely you’ll be familiar with them all, so here is a brief guide on how to spot them.

LUNAR ECLIPSE
The rare penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon almost align behind one another.

The earth blocks the sun’s light from reaching the surface of the moon

It will first be visible at 10.30pm on February 10 as a subtle shadow and will be most visible at 12.43am and will end at 2.52pm.

It will be visible from Europe, most of Asia and North America, and Africa.

SNOW MOON
February’s full moon is traditionally known as a Snow Moon because this month usually sees the heaviest snowfall.

You might have also heard it referred to as the Hunger Moon – due to the struggle of some tribes to find food this month.

As it’s the moon it should be very easy to see and you’ll have a decent amount of time to see it too.

The moon rises at 4.44 pm on Friday and then sets at 7.30 am.

NEW YEAR COMET
So we are not that near New Year –  or Chinese New Year for that matter – but the New Year comet gets its name as it began its journey across the northern hemisphere at the end of last year.

comet45p_hemmerich_960

The New Year comet returns once every five and a quarter years (Picture: Fritz Helmut Hemmerich)

It will be visible to the naked eye on February 11 so you might have to stay up late to catch it.

First spotted in 1948, it’s a periodic comet and visible from earth every five and a quarter years.

It is likely to appear as a faint object moving across the sky.
Article source: 

Moving on from Stonehenge: Researchers make the case for archaeoastronomy
The field of archaeoastronomy is evolving say researchers seeking a closer relationship between astronomy and merging of astronomical techniques and archaeology. Full story

Learn about the connection between the stones and the sky and see the night sky from Stonehenge with a leading archaeologists and astronomer on a guided walking tour. Stonehenge and Guided Tours and Stonehenge Walks organise these exclusive  tours.

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Stonehenge and the Moon #LunarPhase

13 12 2016

Ancient peoples had the benefit of dark skies and experienced the full spectacle of the starry heavens. The Moon gave light at night and would have been particularly useful in the two weeks centred on full Moon. The regular monthly cycle of lunar phases provided a convenient measure of time, upon which many ancient calendars were based.

Was it a Neolithic calendar? A solar temple? A lunar observatory? A calculating device for predicting eclipses? Or perhaps a combination of more than one of these? In recent years
Stonehenge has become the very icon of ancient astronomy, featuring in nearly every discussion on the subject.
A more informed picture has been obtained in recent years by combining evidence from archaeology and astronomy within the new interdiscipline of archaeoastronomy – the
study of beliefs and practices concerning the sky in the past and the uses to which people’s knowledge of the skies were put.

2017 Lunar / Moon phases.

First quarter 5 January 2017 19:47:41
Full moon 12 January 2017 11:35:12
Last quarter 19 January 2017 22:14:21
New moon 28 January 2017 00:08:19
First quarter 4 February 2017 04:19:47
Full moon 11 February 2017 00:33:58
Last quarter 18 February 2017 19:35:13
New moon 26 February 2017 15:00:15
First quarter 5 March 2017 11:33:38
Full moon 12 March 2017 14:54:49
Last quarter 20 March 2017 16:01:29
New moon 28 March 2017 03:59:26
First quarter 3 April 2017 19:40:54
Full moon 11 April 2017 07:09:17
Last quarter 19 April 2017 11:00:05
New moon 26 April 2017 13:18:11
First quarter 3 May 2017 03:48:10
Full moon 10 May 2017 22:43:56
Last quarter 19 May 2017 01:35:36
New moon 25 May 2017 20:46:22
First quarter 1 June 2017 13:43:00
Full moon 9 June 2017 14:11:15
Last quarter 17 June 2017 12:35:01
New moon 24 June 2017 03:32:43
First quarter 1 July 2017 01:51:47
Full moon 9 July 2017 05:08:31
Last quarter 16 July 2017 20:27:38
New moon 23 July 2017 10:47:26
First quarter 30 July 2017 16:23:57
Full moon 7 August 2017 19:12:47
Last quarter 15 August 2017 02:16:51
New moon 21 August 2017 19:31:34
First quarter 29 August 2017 09:14:19
Full moon 6 September 2017 08:04:55
Last quarter 13 September 2017 07:26:44
New moon 20 September 2017 06:30:46
First quarter 28 September 2017 03:55:09
Full moon 5 October 2017 19:41:56
Last quarter 12 October 2017 13:27:15
New moon 19 October 2017 20:12:38
First quarter 27 October 2017 23:23:17
Full moon 4 November 2017 05:24:29
Last quarter 10 November 2017 20:38:22
New moon 18 November 2017 11:42:52
First quarter 26 November 2017 17:03:28
Full moon 3 December 2017 15:48:30
Last quarter 10 December 2017 07:53:02
New moon 18 December 2017 06:31:29
First quarter 26 December 2017 09:20:24

Stonehenge Links:
Astro Moon Calendar shows phases of the Moon each day, astronomical events and astrological forecast for the year.
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours.  Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer.

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily Stonehenge sunset / sunrise / moonrise / moonset times.

 

 

 

 





Moving on from Stonehenge: Researchers make the case for archaeoastronomy

16 08 2014

The field of archaeoastronomy is evolving say researchers seeking a closer relationship between astronomy and merging of astronomical techniques and archaeology.

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The merging of astronomical techniques with the archaeological study of ancient man-made features in the landscape could prove Neolithic and Bronze Age people were acute astronomical observers, according to researchers. 

Dubbed archaeoastronomy, the developing and sometimes maligned field takes a multi-disciplinary approach to exploring a range of theories about the astronomical alignment of standing stones and megalithic structures.

Some of these theories were highlighted recently at the 2014 National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth.

Archaeoastronomy expert Dr Fabio Silva of University College London has been studying 6000-year-old winter occupation sites and megalithic structures in the Mondego valley in central Portugal.

He said recent research shows that all the entrance corridors of passage graves in a necropolis in the valley aligned “with the seasonal rising over nearby mountains of the star Aldebaran, the brightest star of Taurus”.

Dr Silva believes this link between the appearance of the star in springtime and the mountains where the dolmen builders would have spent their summers “has echoes in local folklore” which recounts how the Serra da Estrela or ‘Mountain Range of the Star’ received its name from a shepherd and his dog following a star.

Some of the most debated claims about archeological alignment continue to be those relating to Stonehenge, which remains subject to a range of theories about solar and lunar alignments. Some archaeoastronomers are however keen to move the debate beyond the famous standing stones of Salisbury Plain.

Dr Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University, who presented updates on his work on the 4000-year-old Gardom’s Edge in the UK’s Peak District, which he believes to be astronomically aligned, said: “there’s more to archaeoastronomy than Stonehenge.

“Modern archaeoastronomy encompasses many other research areas such as anthropology, ethnoastronomy and even educational research.”

“It has stepped away from its speculative beginnings and placed itself solidly onto the foundation of statistical methods,” he added.

“However, this pure scientific approach has its own challenges that need to be overcome by embracing humanistic influences and putting the research into context with local cultures and landscape.”

Dr Silva, who is co-editor of the Journal for Skyscape Archaeology, which promotes the role and importance of the sky in archaeological interpretation, added: “We have much to gain if the fields of astronomy and archaeology come together to a fuller and more balanced understanding of European megaliths and the societies that built them.”

Article source: http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/archaeology/art495449 (By Richard Moss)

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 








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