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Guest Briton

Significance Of Stone Circles

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Guest Briton

Hey, I'm wondering if anyone is aware of how the various stone circles on this lovely archipelago line up, if at all, to astrological events. A large number of them have 19 stones, which is the number of years that it roughly takes for a phase of the moon to occur on the same day of the year. However there are others with twice as many and some with seemingly random numbers. Does anyone know if it has been studied how many of these stone circles line up with anything? Considering that, since the dawn of the Bronze Age, the Earth and the Sun have separated by merely ~600m, I believe that whatever they used to line up with, they probably still do (correct me if I'm wrong, by all means).

 

The reason I put this in pagan paths is because I am trying to seek influence from pre-Celtic Bronze Age and Neolithic practices. It bugs me a little that Neo-druids have basically hijacked Stonehenge on the solstices but that's a story for another time. I believe the alignment of the stones (of all circles that are aligned) to be a fundamental part of my path.

Edited by Briton

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Ellinas

Do you mean individual alignments or are you thinking some sort of overall group alignment?

 

I know little of this either way, but just occurred to me that I wasn't certain quite what you meant.

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Guest Briton

Well I think as a group they might cover a cycle and the individual stones line up for each occasion, ie a circle of 19 stones might indicate where the first new moon of the year rises over the 19 year cycle, know what I mean? Or where a certain star is found over a cycle of 20-something solstices. I don't know how astronomical things work though :P

Edited by Briton

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Moonhunter

There are hundreds - possibly thousands - of Bronze Age and Neolithic circles, standing stones and chambers in the UK. I am not aware of any one source that brings together all the sites in terms of astronomical alignments. where sites have been astronomically aligned, many of the potential alignments are speculative. I've been visiting sites, or considering them, for years, but I'm no expert. I suspect that, if a book exists, it's more likely to be in the New Age Earth Mysteries camp (at the moment) than the archaeology camp. But if you come across one, I'd be interested. :)

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Veggie dancer

There was a really interesting BBC documentary series about recent archeology and research at stone henge and surrounding area. (It's on YouTube somewhere now I think)

I can't remember if it talked about astronomical alignment or not but it was fascinating (I need to find it again and complete watching the series.. Think I only saw half of it and forgotten too much!)

 

We know people used to navigate using the stars. I don't think it would be surprising if the stones were aligned with various astronomical events, or used to measure or indicate the passing of time.

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Moonhunter

Callanish is on the Metonic (19 year lunar) cycle, attuned to one of the solstices, IIRC.

Maes howe is a chamber with a lightbox to let light in at Winter solstice (there's a webcam)

Loughcrewe (?K ?L) is aligned to the equinoctial sunrise/set

Newgrange is another midwinter solstice lightbox chamber

IIRC Trelleck (what's left of it - three standing stones) is aligned, but I can't recall in what way.

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Guest Briton

There are hundreds - possibly thousands - of Bronze Age and Neolithic circles, standing stones and chambers in the UK. I am not aware of any one source that brings together all the sites in terms of astronomical alignments. where sites have been astronomically aligned, many of the potential alignments are speculative. I've been visiting sites, or considering them, for years, but I'm no expert. I suspect that, if a book exists, it's more likely to be in the New Age Earth Mysteries camp (at the moment) than the archaeology camp. But if you come across one, I'd be interested. :)

 

I'll contact some people who might know. I'm bold enough to ask strangers that sort of stuff. If not, well, as a frequenter of stone circles I may well have found myself a quest!

 

There was a really interesting BBC documentary series about recent archeology and research at stone henge and surrounding area. (It's on YouTube somewhere now I think)

I can't remember if it talked about astronomical alignment or not but it was fascinating (I need to find it again and complete watching the series.. Think I only saw half of it and forgotten too much!)

 

We know people used to navigate using the stars. I don't think it would be surprising if the stones were aligned with various astronomical events, or used to measure or indicate the passing of time.

 

Are you talking about the one with Mike Parker Pearson? About people coming from the Scottish north coast?

 

Callanish is on the Metonic (19 year lunar) cycle, attuned to one of the solstices, IIRC.

Maes howe is a chamber with a lightbox to let light in at Winter solstice (there's a webcam)

Loughcrewe (?K ?L) is aligned to the equinoctial sunrise/set

Newgrange is another midwinter solstice lightbox chamber

IIRC Trelleck (what's left of it - three standing stones) is aligned, but I can't recall in what way.

 

I believe the ring of Brodgar is on the Metonic too, at 19 stones.

Edited by Briton

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Hephaestus

There was a really interesting BBC documentary series about recent archeology and research at stone henge and surrounding area. (It's on YouTube somewhere now I think)

 

I believe the documentary being referred to is 'Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath'? It basically featured the results of new ground-penetrating radar experiments at the site. Not bad, although some it was a little oversimplified, and the section on human sacrifice was highly sensationalist.

 

As for stone circles, I remember Ron Hutton saying (perhaps in Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles) that such alignments were almost impossible to either verify or disprove. After all, there are so many possible alignments, it would be surprising if at least one didn't fit for each circle. It's just part of the general problem with studying pre-history- pre-literate cultures simply don't leave enough evidence behind for us to interpret. As such, interpretations of stone circles tend to change with each passing generation, and shift with each new academic theory. Of course, there is also the fact that different circles would have meant different things to different people, and even those meanings would have changed over time.

 

On a more optimistic note however, I would personally say that the evidence for solstice/equinox alignments is stronger than some of the others. After all, alignment with the changing sun is found in so many ancient cultures that it would seem to rule out coincidence. Of course, the lack of evidence also frees up more room for personal interpretation.

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Veggie dancer

Yep operation Stonehenge was the one

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Moonhunter

I believe the ring of Brodgar is on the Metonic too, at 19 stones.

 

'fraid not. You must be thinking of a different circle. :) From Wiki:

 

The stone circle is 104 metres (341 ft) in diameter, and the third largest in the British Isles.[4] The ring originally comprised up to 60 stones, of which only 27 remained standing at the end of the 20th century.

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Guest Briton

I believe the ring of Brodgar is on the Metonic too, at 19 stones.

 

'fraid not. You must be thinking of a different circle. :) From Wiki:

 

The stone circle is 104 metres (341 ft) in diameter, and the third largest in the British Isles.[4] The ring originally comprised up to 60 stones, of which only 27 remained standing at the end of the 20th century.

 

Quite right. Merry Maidens then! I also believe there is a stone in the middle, which faces the solstice Sun rise, but again that might be a different circle.

 

Thanks all. I'm currently reading Pagan Britain (personality I love Hutton). I'm on the early Neolithic chapter so I'll get there eventually.

 

I would love to build a new circle, free of fair weather crusties and designed for modern pagans.

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fizzyclare1

Oh that would be good

 

Have you a design in mind

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ShadowWalker

If you did that I would be there straightaway, with my gear and a tent to stay for a few days. Or forever! The idea of a stone circle is one I can really, really, get behind.

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Guest Briton

I did have a concept marking the set preceding the solstice/equinox sunrise, and another marking the sunrise that morning following, so the Sun would set and rise in a 'corner' created by the flat of the horizon and vertical of the stone. Then a ring of smaller stones, 19, marking the Metonic cycle. The inner circle would be three on one side, three on the other. I used a program to work out where the Sun would rise and set and the equinoxes happen in the same place hence six major stones, not eight.

 

Of course, many of not all circles underwent evolution, new stones could be added to mark a new date of importance.

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Guest Briton

I also thought it would be good to plant a tree, maybe an ash, for tying clooties to nearby.

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Dragonborne

MY favourite has to be Avebury (so far) not keen on the Henge since English Heretics seem set on despoiling it, you can't get anywhere near the stones now unless you're there for the mass commercial gatherings twice a year :angry:

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Ellinas

Avebury certainly has a certain intriguing property, not least because of its' size.

Somewhere - and I think it's generally over in the direction of Ystalyfera as I recall passing it again by accident whilst out for a drive with the family some years ago - there's single standing stone in a hillside field, next to which my parents photographed me when I was a smallish child.  For no reason beyond the purely sentimental, I suspect I'll always have the fondest thoughts for that one.  And , being a single stone, it aligns with anything you care to imagine.

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andy9xyz
Quote

you can't get anywhere near the stones now unless you're there for the mass commercial gatherings twice a year

Ah.I remember the good old days when you could clamber over the stones and carve your initials in them.

The little hut at the car park had a sign saying "No Mod vehicles" and I thought it referred to Lambrettas and mini-Mokes.

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Freydis
5 hours ago, andy9xyz said:

Ah.I remember the good old days when you could clamber over the stones and carve your initials in them.

The little hut at the car park had a sign saying "No Mod vehicles" and I thought it referred to Lambrettas and mini-Mokes.

I don't think that English Heritage do such a bad job actually.  They're dammed if they do and dammed if they don't.  I remeber when you could get up to the stones and there was a fair bit of vandalism.  It's a shame, but I do understand why they had to fence them off. 

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Earthdragon
On 11/10/2015 at 6:08 PM, Guest Briton said:

I would love to build a new circle, free of fair weather crusties and designed for modern pagans

I have started this as a project - possible because of the space, the unobstructed view of the horizon that we have and availability of raw materials. I have stick markers for the solsticial sunrises and sunsets. Tomorrow more markers are going in. 

The stones shall be rather deminitive compared to what the ancients worked with. More a Nine ladies than a Castlerigg or Callanish. It hopefully won't qualify as a microlithic stone circle however 😆

Edited by Earthdragon
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Freydis

Great!  That's something that I'd love to do in our garden, but I'm not sure that it's the right place.  With an unobstructed view of the horizon that could be spectacular, we'll want pictures!   

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Stonehugger

Some of the Cumbrian ones are very small - more like venues for small meetings of, say, a dozen people. One's even called the cockpit (I haven't seen that one). I assume that stone circle ologists are satisfied they're not just random collections of field boulders.

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