The Mystery of the Stone Monuments in Northern Scotland: Domains of Ancient Lunar Astronomers?
Erected 7,000-years-ago, 20 unique standing stone monuments in the remote north of Scotland mystify archaeologists, because they are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. By conducting a research project, analyzing the location properties of these unique stone monuments, historian Ashley Cowie unearthed a hidden geodetic clue, which offers a valid answer as to why these ancient sites are only found at their exact location. The answer lies in the cycles and shadows of the moon.
Beginning around 5000 BC, when wandering hunter gatherers began adopting an agriculturally fueled lifestyle, the horizons of Neolithic Britain became studded with vast stone monuments, most famously the standing stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury, located in the heart of a territory known today as England. While the fertile fields surrounding these magical devices fed the people of southern Britain, unique to the far-flung counties of Caithness and Sutherland in the north-east coast of Scotland, are a group of mysterious ancient monuments which have been described by archaeologists as: “multiple rows of small standing stones and standing stone fans.”
Post-World War I aerial photograph of Stonehenge by Edwin Newman derivative work (CC0)
These stone rows and fan arrangements are unique to Caithness and Sutherland and the question to why these stone monuments - which sometimes consist of over 400 individual stones - are only found in this slim latitudinal band in Scotland, has remained unanswered. An understanding of the dynamics of the specific types of ancient monuments is necessary to unravel this mystery.
Lunar Observatories versus Ritual Landscapes?
When discussing these 20 unique monuments specialists gravitate into one of two camps. On one hand, they are thought of as astronomical observatories, while on the other hand they are held as back drops or stages for the performance of agrarian rituals.
The champion of the astronomical interpretation was professor Alexander Thom, the Scottish engineer most famous for his 1960s studies of Neolithic sites and his highly controversial theory of the European wide use of a ‘Megalithic yard measurement’ in pre-history, which he believed he could have measured as far north as Orkney and at the Carnac stones in Brittany. Although many modern authors refer to Thom’s ‘Megalithic yard’ as if it is an archaeological fact, other historians and archaeologists regard the measurement to be a figment of his imagination.
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Ashley Cowie is a Scottish historian, author and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems, in accessible and exciting ways. His books, articles and television shows explore lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and artifacts, symbols and architecture, myths and legends telling thought-provoking stories which together offer insights into our shared social history. www.ashleycowie.com.
By Ashley Cowie