The Oldest Calendar in Scotland that Rewrote the History Books
Research carried out last year on an ancient site that was excavated by the National Trust for Scotland in 2004 revealed that it contained a sophisticated calendar system that is approximately 10,000 years old, making it the oldest calendar ever discovered in the world.
The site – at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire – contains a 50 metre long row of twelve pits which were created by Stone Age Britons and which were in use from around 8000 BC (the early Mesolithic period) to around 4,000 BC (the early Neolithic).
The analysis on the site, which was carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Birmingham, used specially designed software to explore the relationship between the pits, the topography and the movements of the moon and sun.
Surprisingly, the results revealed that the pits appear to represent the months of the year as well as the lunar phases of the moon making this remarkable ancient site 5,000 years older that the oldest known calendar from Bronze Age Mesopotamia.
But this is no primitive or simplistic calendar. The pits were formed in a complex arc design in which each lunar month was divided into three roughly ten day weeks – representing the waxing moon, the full moon and the waning moon. It also allowed the observation of the mid-winter sunrise so that the lunar calendar could be recalibrated each year to bring it back in line with the solar year. The entire arc represents a whole year and may also reflect the movements of the moon across the sky.
The incredible discovery shows us once again that our ancient ancestors were not as primitive as our history books tell us. Professor Gaffney, who headed the research term said: “The research demonstrates that Stone Age society 10,000 years ago was much more sophisticated than we had previously suspected. The site has implications for the way we understand how Mesolithic society developed in economic, social and cosmological terms”.