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View Full Version : Archaeoastronomy/solstice sunset/Maeshowe



Lianachan
2005-Dec-21, 11:19 AM
I've mentioned Maeshowe a couple of times on these boards, but I thought I'd raise it again today especially.

For those who don't know what Maeshowe is, check here (http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/maeshowe/index.html).

From around 14:00 until 16:00 (UK time) you'll be able to see things unfolding on these webcams (http://www.maeshowe.co.uk/) (and images from only the external camera beforehand).

Candy
2005-Dec-22, 02:25 AM
I think I missed the good stuff. It keeps updating on 1600 GMT.
I've been at work today from 0600-1900 CT.

Wow, some of those Vikings (http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/maeshowe/maeshrunes.htm) were pretty naughty with their graffiti. :razz:

eburacum45
2005-Dec-22, 03:10 AM
Been inside Maeshowe long ago; impressive. Skara Brae is even more remarkable.

Presumably someone has made allowance for the precession of the solstices when they say that the mound entrance is aligned with the midwinter sunset.

After all the Box railway tunnel is nearly aligned with the sunrise on the builder's birthday (just a few days out; the builder being Brunel, of course); but that is a complete coincidence.

LurchGS
2005-Dec-22, 03:15 AM
suuuuure it is

teri tait
2005-Dec-22, 06:12 AM
Coincidentally speaking: Of Course

(By natural course of Divine design)

Lianachan
2005-Dec-22, 08:13 AM
I think I missed the good stuff. It keeps updating on 1600 GMT.
I've been at work today from 0600-1900 CT.
The internal cameras stop broadcasting at 1600GMT, so I would guess the page is just showing their final image as a still. You didn't miss much. Driving rain, force 8 winds and near total cloud cover saw to that. Check again today! And tomorrow! And the day after that! And the day after that! And the... Well, you get the idea.

Wow, some of those Vikings (http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/maeshowe/maeshrunes.htm) were pretty naughty with their graffiti. :razz:The big hairy brutes.

(Disclaimer for pedants - Yes, I know lots about the Norse! It was a joke about the stereotype!)

Lianachan
2005-Dec-22, 08:27 AM
Been inside Maeshowe long ago; impressive. Skara Brae is even more remarkable.Depends what you're interested in. They're different sites, constructed for different purposes, and each is probably about the best example of their kind in existance (well, that's been found so far anyway). I've visited both, several times. If I had to choose a favourite from them, it would be Maeshowe - I find it more atmospheric (plus, I've been discussing it with leading experts for a couple of years, due to my interest in toponymy).

Presumably someone has made allowance for the precession of the solstices when they say that the mound entrance is aligned with the midwinter sunset.Indeed, the alignment isn't so precise now. When it was built, the sunlight shone into the rear chamber - it doesn't now, it shines onto the back wall. I'm guessing your visit was when you were allowed to go in unaccompanied by a guide? These days, people are herded into it in small groups, and things like that are explained to them.

After all the Box railway tunnel is nearly aligned with the sunrise on the builder's birthday (just a few days out; the builder being Brunel, of course); but that is a complete coincidence.I think that, in general, there's too much emphasis placed on the astronomical alignments of neolithic sites. Most of them are so inaccurate that they are highly likely to be coincidental in the first place. We don't know what these sites meant to the people who built and used them, so how can we think that any alignments there may be (however approximate they are) are significant.

eburacum45
2005-Dec-22, 12:48 PM
My feeling is that such alignments might have been useful during the planning and constructon phases (which would have been very different to the way buildings are planned now).
But you can't necessarily deduce any religious significance to the alignments; such significance may have existed, or it may not. There is simply not enough information to go on.

eburacum45
2005-Dec-22, 12:51 PM
As a point of toponymic interest, there are a couple of howes near me; Duggle Howe and Willy Howe. Unfortunately no internal structure or entrances, so you can't go inside.

eburacum45
2005-Dec-23, 08:36 AM
Correction; it is Duggleby Howe.
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/5701

Lianachan
2005-Dec-23, 01:03 PM
Correction; it is Duggleby Howe.
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/5701

That is a big one. Very impressive - thanks for the link. Different fromthe Maeshowe kind of construction (which is kind of chambered cairn, or passage grave). Howe, of course, comes from the Old Norse haugr, and is generally attributed to any mounds that are associated with burials - be they massive, like your example, or enclosed tombs like the various kinds that are scattered all over the place up here in A' Ghàidhealtachd.

By the way, I contribute to the site you linked to - you can find some of my photographs of brochs and suchlike there, although I tend to hold back the good stuff, which I have other plans for. I've chosen to link to this example (http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/7164) since we seem to have many Star Trek fans around this board.

farmerjumperdon
2005-Dec-23, 01:30 PM
Very cool stuff. Thanks for the links.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Dec-23, 01:36 PM
Wow, some of those Vikings (http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/maeshowe/maeshrunes.htm) were pretty naughty with their graffiti. :razz:Very interesting, especially if you stop to think whom they were being naughty with.

Candy
2005-Dec-24, 07:38 AM
Very interesting, especially if you stop to think whom they were being naughty with.
http://home.att.net/~candy.stair/I.jpg http://home.att.net/~candy.stair/L.jpghttp://home.att.net/~candy.stair/O.jpghttp://home.att.net/~candy.stair/B.jpg http://home.att.net/~candy.stair/U.jpg ;)

I had to use B for V and no E (only 16 letters in the alphabet)

Eroica
2005-Dec-24, 08:16 AM
Let's not forget the mother of all Neolithic alignments:

Newgrange (http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm)

Lianachan
2005-Dec-24, 02:46 PM
Let's not forget the mother of all Neolithic alignments:

Newgrange (http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm)

Incredible, innit?

I've never been there. I've always wanted to.

In fact - I've never been to Ireland. I've always wanted to.

LurchGS
2005-Dec-25, 06:09 AM
don't go - it's inhabited by aliens!

Actually, I do find this stuff interesting (I was down at Mesa Verde a couple of years ago, checking out the cliff dwellings). Not so old, but still interesting.

HenrikOlsen
2005-Dec-25, 11:18 AM
http://home.att.net/~candy.stair/I.jpg http://home.att.net/~candy.stair/L.jpghttp://home.att.net/~candy.stair/O.jpghttp://home.att.net/~candy.stair/B.jpg http://home.att.net/~candy.stair/U.jpg ;)

I had to use B for V and no E (only 16 letters in the alphabet)
You could have used the old futhark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Older_Futhark) instead, that would have all the letters you need:)

Candy
2005-Dec-25, 06:19 PM
Futhark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Older_Futhark) I couldn't get your link to work. Is this the correct one?

Am I supposed to write from right to left? Now, this could be fun. http://www.bautforum.com/images/icons/icon10.gif

HenrikOlsen
2005-Dec-25, 08:57 PM
I fixed the link, left to right is the norm, though the writing occasionally curves around so part is upsidedown and right to left.

teri tait
2005-Dec-26, 06:36 PM
Depends what you're interested in. They're different sites, constructed for different purposes, and each is probably about the best example of their kind in existance (well, that's been found so far anyway). I've visited both, several times. If I had to choose a favourite from them, it would be Maeshowe - I find it more atmospheric (plus, I've been discussing it with leading experts for a couple of years, due to my interest in toponymy).
Indeed, the alignment isn't so precise now. When it was built, the sunlight shone into the rear chamber - it doesn't now, it shines onto the back wall. I'm guessing your visit was when you were allowed to go in unaccompanied by a guide? These days, people are herded into it in small groups, and things like that are explained to them.
I think that, in general, there's too much emphasis placed on the astronomical alignments of neolithic sites. Most of them are so inaccurate that they are highly likely to be coincidental in the first place. We don't know what these sites meant to the people who built and used them, so how can we think that any alignments there may be (however approximate they are) are significant.


And yet, triangulation is extremely precise (especially when employing points aligned vertically to anticipate the exact location of the Actual stars' future locale as was done w\pyramid the big)

Triangulation always stylish and sublime :)
Still in use today by smart astronomers...

Lianachan
2006-Dec-19, 05:40 PM
Thread necromancy, I know, but it's that time of year again. (http://www.maeshowe.co.uk)

Lianachan
2007-Dec-21, 08:47 AM
Thread necromancy, I know, but it's that time of year again. (http://www.maeshowe.co.uk)

Heh. Same again.

Eroica
2007-Dec-21, 09:56 AM
Live Webcast from Newgrange (http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/Solstice2007/)

KaiYeves
2007-Dec-21, 08:14 PM
Live Webcast from Newgrange
Rats! I don't have Flash!
But archeoastonomy is really cool and something I may specialise in one day!

Lianachan
2009-Dec-17, 01:58 AM
Heh. Same again.

Heh. Same again. Just flagging it up in case it's of any interest, especially to the people who have joined BAUT since the last bump.