Introduction

In the previous article (Stonehenge the Calendar) I explained how neither the summer or winter solstice, for which Stonehenge is famous cannot be used to work out the date and how instead a date toward or at the spring or autumn equinox (equal day and night) would be used. I then suggested that some barrows to the east of Stonehenge might be a way to calibrate a calendar to the equinox. (These are recorded as being bronze age, but that could be a possible reuse of earlier features.) Next I suggested that another way to calibrate a date calendar was to use a pyramid like those in Egypt or a suitable mound like Glastonbury.

Tony Marsh beat me to the third possible way of calibrating a calendar date with an excellent article.

However, he left some questions dangling so, this is an attempt to answer them.

But first to explain the idea.

Lintel ring looking SE

Most people are familiar with the view of stonehenge. The site  consists of a series of upright stones with stones laid on the tops like the lintels of a door. It is believed this ring formed a continuous circle and although the site is built on a slight slope it is reasonable to believe it was horizontal.

What is being proposed is that the shadow of this ring fits to a irregular indent on stone T54 shown below.

Location: 51.178844N, 1.826189W

 

Plan of site
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Introduction

In the previous article (Stonehenge the Calendar) I explained how neither the summer or winter solstice, for which Stonehenge is famous cannot be used to work out the date and how instead a date toward or at the spring or autumn equinox (equal day and night) would be used. I then suggested that some barrows to the east of Stonehenge might be a way to calibrate a calendar to the equinox. These are recorded as being bronze age, but that could be a possible reuse of earlier features.

Now I want to explore another way to calibrate a "calendar".

Theory

 

Because the earth rotates at an angle compared to its orbit around the sun, from the point of view of an observer on the earth, the sun appears to move up toward the north pole by 23.5 degree in the northern summer and down toward the southern pole by 23.5 degree in the northern winter.

This is shown on the diagram to the left.

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http://web.archive.org/web/20070310085715/http://www.orionbeadling.net/barrier.html

This article is dedicated to the memory of Professor Gerald S. Hawkins who freely provided help in the form of information, suggestions, advice and encouragement, over the years, in the development of this hypothesis.

The authors of "Stonehenge in its Landscape" English Heritage, 1995 express the hope that their publication may:

"… provide the necessary firm foundation on which to build future theories and to construct new research designs, for as with any archaeological site, the project has raised questions which will require an answer in the future.”
("Stonehenge in its Landscape", English Heritage, 1995, p.492)

Below is such a theory:


Plate coloured to show proposed line of feed trench and moat.

The Surrounding Moat
of Stonehenge I

This hypothesis differs from others in that it views Stonehenge as being surrounded by a water-filled moat rather than by a dry quarry-ditch as is commonly believed to be the case. The realization that the Ditch of Stonehenge I may have been a reservoir grew out of research into a larger hypothesis concerning the transport of the stones, one requirement of which is that a large supply of water needed to be available at the level of Stonehenge. It is one of many conditions required by the hypothesis that are confirmed by the records of various archaeological excavations in and around Stonehenge. However, a model of Stonehenge surrounded by a water filled moat (as opposed to a dry quarry/ditch) is noteworthy for its own sake, since it contrasts substantially with any view of the monument previously proposed.

If, as claimed by many writers, the surrounding ditch of Stonehenge I were nothing more than a dry quarry ditch, many of its features have gone without reasonable and coordinated explanation. There has not been a single unified theory that has explained many of the conditions known to exist in the ditch. Only when viewed as a major and important part of the original monument of Stonehenge I do the various pieces of the puzzle fit together to form a single and coordinated view of the surrounding ditch/moat.

Until now, it has been supposed that the ditch surrounding Stonehenge I was nothing more than a dry, ugly, quarry/ditch whose sole purpose was to supply material for the building of the surrounding bank. Writers too numerous to mention have claimed that it is only the bank that was important and that the ditch was merely the inevitable by-product of the building of the bank.

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Like almost anyone who has read about Stonehenge I am familiar with the idea that Stonehenge was aligned to the summer solstice sunrise. Like a smaller group I am aware that the actual orientation of the monument is toward the winter solstice sunset and that the evidence from surrounding sites points towards its use at the mid-winter festival.

Unlike modern man, the people in the neolithic did not know when these events should occur unless they had solar instruments to measure when they should occur. So, unlike the modern pagans who leave their City of London banking jobs to don their white coats on the day the modern high priests in the BBC tell them is "mid-summer solstice", the neolithic farmers had to work it out for themselves.

Typical Sunrise/set at Stonehenge. Cloud blankets horizon
and the only blue sky is a patch and well above horizon.
Thus the sun is obscured by clouds and the edge of solar
disc not at all visible

And whether mid-summer of mid-winter, there is are two huge problems with these in terms of a "calendar":

  1. The "Solstice" or as we might call it in English the "Sun [setting position] stays the same [for about a week]", is just that. The sun sets in almost the same position for about a week. it would be necessary to carry out very precise measurements, at the limit of human observation, to determine the exact day of the solstice
  2. It is very rare to see the sun at the point it rises or sets on the horizon. This is because whilst we often see the sun, we usually see it through a gap in the clouds during the day. However, as the sun gets lower, the larger these gaps need to be until when it is at the horizon, the breadth of the cloud layer we are looking through is around 100miles across.

These two make it impossible to use the solstice in determining the calendar. To illustrate this, the following table shows how the sun's position (angle from East-West line) moves in the two weeks around mid summer:

 

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