Some years ago I learned that someone had
put forth the notion that Stonehenge, the famous archeological site in
England, could have been
used to predict eclipse events. As an eclipse chaser, I was
naturally intrigued by this concept and wanted to learn more.
During a visit to Stonehenge in 2001 the tour guide said that
Stonehenge might have been used as an
astronomical calculator. He mentioned that it was said to
predict eclipses however he did not know the specifics when I questioned him.
This led me to begin researching the subject deeper in order to learn
Stonehenge and how it could have been used as
an observatory. The gift shop at the
Stonehenge monument site contained several
small booklets that assisted greatly in this quest. I've
supplied a list of good references at the end of the article.
The following article is a
summary of what I've learned along with an analysis of a simple numeric method
for eclipse prediction. References are provided at the end
for those wanting to learn more about this fascinating subject.
The fact that many of
the large stones line up to mark the solstice and equinox as well as other
astronomical timings related to the seasons is well known.
However, this knowledge alone cannot help in eclipse prediction unless it is
done to a much higher degree of precision than can be accomplished with large
rocks and wooden posts. And the degree of sophistication
needed to conduct a long term experiment into the repeating cycles of the Sun,
Moon, and Earth would have resulted in more than just a ring a well placed
stones. Archeological studies have found evidence of holes
that once held wood posts that mark the positions of the moonrise relative to
other stones. This leads one to wonder just how much the
ancients who built
Stonehenge were researching the cycles of the
Several clever explanations
for the stone configurations related to solar system objects have been proposed
along with the sun and moon tracking. Other stone circles
from the same archeological time period do not have the same configurations thus
Stonehenge somewhat unique in that regard. A
lack of written records from the time period in question means that we can only
guess. Some of the guesses have been interesting while
others can only be considered preposterous given what is known these days about
the civilization and times through archeological study. But
then, archeology is a science of based on the scientific method with little
opportunity for definitive proof. This means that sometimes
there are breakthroughs that prove previous conceptions incorrect.
Perhaps the builders of
Stonehenge were astronomical geniuses and their
work is only preserved in our spirit to understand.....
Stonehenge is one of the most famous megalithic
monuments in the world and may once have been an observatory for predicting
important astronomical events. But what is not clear is who
built it, when, why and how? What was the extent of the
architect's knowledge and was it designed as a center for religious ritual?
These are just some of the questions raised about Stonehenge and here I
shall attempt to find some answers.
Stonehenge is a strange and powerful magnet, attracting people of all kinds,
from all across the world to view and sense the mystical and magical aura of its
huge and ancient stones. Many people of all faiths and
religious denomination now make it an annual pilgrimage, particularly during the
summer solstice. Yet the original purpose of Stonehenge is
still an enigma, one that even the best brains in the world have failed to
unravel. Lord Byron in his poem 'Don Juan' echoed one of the
questions many have sought to answer: ?The Druid's groves are gone - so much the
better. Stonehenge is not, but what the devil is it??
Saxons called the group of stones 'Stonehenge' or the 'Hanging Stones', while
medieval writers refer to it as the 'Giant's Dance'. Inigo
Jones the renowned 17th-century architect and the first to make a serious study
of it, considered Stonehenge to be a Roman temple. Then
William Stukeley an 18th-century antiquary and freemason convinced many that
Stonehenge was once a ?Temple of the British Druids?. Only
in the 20th century have archaeologists established the true age of the monument
and arrived at a more realistic conclusion as to its purpose.
open Wiltshire countryside surrounding Stonehenge lies in the heart of southern
England and is rich in prehistoric remains, these include:
Woodhenge (a henge or enclosure once consisting of great wooden posts),
Durrington Walls (once a structure similar to that in Avebury) and the Cursus (a
pair of banked ditches 100 m (300 ft) apart and running straight for about 3 km
(2 miles), they are believed to be dated around the 4th millennium BC).
Then there are some 400 barrows, a lying testament to the intense
communal activity of our ancient ancestors, those who grazed animals and cattle,
grew wheat and other crops while at the same time worshiping their gods in and
around Salisbury Plain. The purposes of some of these sites
are still unknown, but many believe them to have been religious.
Then in around 3500 BC they started to build Stonehenge...
The discovery of an ancient astrological observatory in Brazil lends support to the theory that the Amazon rainforest was once home to advanced cultures and large sedentary populations of people. Besides the well-known empires of the Inca and their predecessors, millions of people once lived in the forests and shaped the environment to suit their own needs.Archaeologists with the Amapa Institute of Scientific and Technological Research said they uncovered the ruins near Calcoene, 390 kilometers (240 miles) from Macapa, the capital of Amapa state, near Brazil's border with French Guyana."Only a society with a complex culture could have built such a monument,"archaeologist Mariana Petry Cabral, of the Amapa Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IEPA), told O Globo newspaper in Brazil.
pre-colonial observatory was built of 127 blocks of granite each three
meters (10 feet) high, arranged upright and evenly spaced in circles in
an open field.
The archaeologists do not know yet when the structure
was built, but ceramic fragments found nearby suggest that it is
between between 500 and 2,000 years old.
Researchers are comparing
the discovery to Stonehenge, a mysterious stone circle in southern
England that was built between 3000 and 1600 BC.
According to a report from AFP, "Cabral said the site
resembles a temple which could have been used as an observatory,
because the blocks are positioned to mark the winter solstice. In
December, thepath of the sun allows rays to pass through a hole in one
of the blocks, possibly to calculate agricultural activity and
The finding suggests that
ancient Amazonians has knowledge of astronomy and lends support to the
idea that the once Amazon supported advanced civilizations.
Pre-Columbian Amazon supported millions of people. The Virgin Forest? Amazon Myths and New Revalations
The Amazon has a long
history of human settlement. Contrary to popular belief, sizeable and
sedentary societies of great complexity existed in the rainforests of
this region. These societies produced pottery, cleared sections of
rainforest for agriculture and managed forests to optimize the
distribution of useful species. The notion of a virgin Amazon is
largely the result of the population crashfollowi......
Although Stonehenge is surrounded by mystery and clouded in the mists of time, there is one practical use of the ancient monument: it is an astronomical observatory that measures the movements of the sun, the moon, and perhaps, the stars.The findings of astronomy may not lead us to the exactitudes of Neolithic life and the construction of the monument and its origins, but what is clear is that Stonehenge is still a viable and useful calendar of extreme accuracy. With the use of computers, Stonehenge, an absolute peak of astronomical genius, might be used as such today.Moreover, an ancient bronze calendar tablet discovered near Coligny, France in 1897 believed to be the calendar of the tribe ofCelts called the Sequani, sheds amazing light on the use of stone circles and in particular, Stonehenge.
astronomy of the ancients is easily understood and made applicable to
today's night sky by understanding the basic principles upon which the
text of the bronze calendar, called The Sequani Calendar, and
Stonehenge is based.
Keeping in mind the diversity of the stone circles
of the ancient world and the diversity of the belief systems of Celts,
especially in the myths of each tribe, certain basics of Druidic belief
are a simple and clear beginning to understanding the calendar systems
of these ancient astronomer-priests.
In 1988, Alban Wall
published a paper in the Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications
(Vol.17) that summarizes the similarities of Stonehenge and The Sequani
Calendar. According to Wall, both Stonehenge and The SequaniCalendar
are luni-solar, both are based on a 19 year cycle or the Metonic cycle
of the moon, and both have months that basically alternate between 30
and 29 nights.Both can be expanded to 235 months that are divided into
light and dark halves which begin at the first quarter moon. The
months, or as the ancients called them, "moonths" have the full moon
marked on the eighth night of the light half of each lunar cycle and
the new moon as the eighth night of each dark cycle. On The Sequani
Calendar, the full moon is designated as the Oenach or people's holiday
and the new moon is the Druid's Holy Night.
Each marks the solar year
holidays at the solstices and the equinoxes as well as the
cross-quarter days the same as they are celebrated in Neo-Pagan circles
today: Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Solstice, May Day, Summer
Solstice, Lugnasad, Fall Equinox, andSamh......