A little known ancient historical building that marks the winter solstice

This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT, about 15 hours from the time of this posting. This thought provoking article highlights what the ancient people in what we now call Ireland knew 3200 years ago.


One Moment in Time: The Solstice Seen from Newgrange


Deep inside the world’s oldest known building, every year, for only as much as 17 minutes, the sun — at the exact moment of the winter solstice — shines directly down a long corridor of stone and illuminates the inner chamber at Newgrange.

Newgrange was built 1,000 years before Stonehenge and also predates the pyramids by more than 500 years.

Lost and forgotten along with the civilization that built it, the site was been rediscovered in 1699. Excavation began in the late 1800s and continued in fits and starts, until it was undertaken in earnest in 1962. It was completed in 1975.

Seen as a tomb, the function of Newgrange in regards to the solstice wasn’t known until 1967 — and then by happenstance acting on a hunch. It was in December of 1967 that the astronomical alignment was witnessed and understood:NEWGRANGE.jpg

Michael O’Kelly drove from his home in Cork to Newgrange. Before the sun came up he was at the tomb, ready to test his theory.’I was there entirely alone. Not a soul stood even on the road below. When I came into the tomb I knew there was a possibility of seeing the sunrise because the sky had been clear during the morning.’

He was, however, quite unprepared for what followed. As the first rays of the sun appeared above the ridge on the far bank of the River Boyne, a bright shaft of orange light struck directly through the roofbox into the heart of the tomb.

‘I was literally astounded. The light began as a thin pencil and widened to a band of about 6 in. There was so much light reflected from the floor that I could walk around inside without a lamp and avoid bumping off the stones. It was so bright I could see the roof 20ft above me.

‘I expected to hear a voice, or perhaps feel a cold hand resting on my shoulder, but there was silence. And then, after a few minutes, the shaft of light narrowed as the sun appeared to pass westward across the slit, and total darkness came once more.’

Since that time, people from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to Newgrange to bear witness to this ancient ritual begun over 5,000 years ago and only brought back into the light for the last 40.

The unknown makers built well. And they built for a very long time:

Five thousand years ago, the people who farmed in the lush pastures of the Boyne Valley hauled 200,000 tons of stone from the river bank a mile away and began to build Newgrange. At the foot of the mound, they set ninety-seven massive kerbstones and carved many of them with intricate patterns. Inside, with 450 slabs, they built a passage leading to a vaulted tomb, and placed a shallow basin of golden stone in each of its three side chambers.

Like so much else from the Age of Myth the “why” of it all at Newgrange will never be known. The people who took 20 years to move 200,000 tons of rock left us no clues beyond the spiraling runes cut into the rock. Like all the mysteries that emerge from time with no footnotes, it is left to us to make what meaning we can from them. But perhaps this one monument from the Age of Myth gives us, every year, one small hint.

No matter what time and the universe can throw at us, we still go on. To remind ourselves that we have and shall endure and prevail, we still mark our small planet’s turn around our home star. We mark it with ceremonies every year when, at this moment in time, the sun begins to rise higher to warm us again in our small patch of heaven. And we are still here to bear witness, no matter how shrill the Acolytes of Zero, to the mystery and the gift. We’re a tough race and a rough species. It will take more than a few degrees centigrade, one way or another, to finish us.

The light of the solstice pierces to the heart of the tomb at Newgrange, and then, soon after, the Light of World arrives. Two moments that remind us of the many manifest miracles of God. Reminders that no winter is without end and that The Gift is given to us again. If we can but receive it.

Posted by Vanderleun at American Digest h/t to dbstealey


218 thoughts on “A little known ancient historical building that marks the winter solstice

  1. It is a real shame that most children growing up today don’t see the night stars due to light pollution or watch the Sun’s shadow change over the seasons.
    I grew up in a very rural area and on cold, clear winter nights would go outside and watch the planets, stars and the milky way and it has left a lasting impression. Now when I go outside, the best I can see are a few stars, planets and the occasional ISS coming across.
    I’ve taken my children offshore on our sailboat just to see the stars, and they were totally amazed. And for me to go to the tropics to see some of the southern constellations was also fascinating.
    I can see how the ancient people put so much in astronomy as it was a constant show as the stars and planets slowly changed over the seasons.

    • I can remember the same on the South coast of UK near Pevensey in the 50’s. Lying looking at the stars. And my father saying “There is no up or down in space. So you may be looking down at the stars, what is holding us up here?’. How to start an interest in science.

      • Lovely! I am lucky enough to still live in a part of West Sussex that is quite dark. I hope you don’t mind if I use your father’s line on my son.

      • Ironically, I just finished reading a novel about, for choice of a better word a nonbeliever, a hard bitten writer who specializes in debunking myths, old wives tales, folklore, and such.
        At a particular point in the story he considers the Big Bag theory, where everything currently existing in the known universe was a ball of energy which exploded; for some reason this same individual experiences a situation affecting his life and those that he loves, and finds himself praying to God for their safety.
        Suddenly he realizes that though he’s always believed that all phenomena could be explained naturally, the concept of a God is no more ridiculous than a 13 billion year old tennis ball of energy exploding to form the immense, ordered universe we know today.

    • I agree seeing the stars on a clear dark night is great. It is therefore encouraging that several places in the UK have now been granted Dark Sky status as they strive to prserve the darkness. So, for example, if you visit the island of Sark (in the Btitish Channel Islands) TAKE A TORCH. .

    • What I find remarkable is that if these people e don’t know build this place 3200 years ago, based on their astronomical observations, and the geometry still works today, doesn’t that indicate that the earth’s axis has not moved appreciably in that 3200 years, so axis shift cannot have influenced climate change in historical times.
      ps I thought the pyramids and the Sphynx were much older than 3200 years.

      • Humm yes the pyramidae are older than 3200 years there is the liitle bit of c.a. 2000 extra years you need to add to any date marked as sometime BC.

      • >>so axis shift cannot have influenced climate change in historical times.
        The angle of obliquity, which would effect the solstice angle, has a 40 kyr cycle. So no, the last 5 kyrs would not change the angle much. And the pyramids are more like 4.5 kyrs old, than 3.2.

      • The article says that Newgrange was built 5,000 years ago, and predates the pyramids by “more than 500 years”. 5000-500= 4.5k Where did you get 3200 from?

      • In actuality, they don’t have a clue as to actually how old the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Sphinx is.
        The Egyptians never had the technology, the mathematics or the tools that were required for the construction of the Great Pyramid.

      • Samuel,
        Actually the pyramids are well dated and clearly the ancient Egyptians did have the technology and tools needed to build them.

      • “Actually the pyramids are well dated and clearly the ancient Egyptians did have the technology and tools needed to build them.”
        Two words: Space Aliens.
        One name: Erich von Daniken.
        ’nuff said.

      • It is 5000 years ago, built 3200 BC. It is of the same vintage as the Ulster Cycle, reckoned to be the oldest surviving mythology in Europe. ‘S Ultach a th’annam agus tha mise pròiseil. ( I am proud to be an Ulsterman!(

      • Actually the pyramids are well dated and clearly the ancient Egyptians did have the technology and tools needed to build them.

        Gloateus Maximus,
        Your mimicry of what you have been told does not impress me any. There are no records, references or artifacts that denote, define or describe the technology and/or tools that were REQUIRED for the construction of the Great Pyramid. The Egyptians just “laid claim” to it after they migrated there from the western Sahara region.
        First of all, the Egyptian Pharaohs never dictated the construction of much of anything, especially something personal, that they did not also dictate that their name, their deeds, their “picture” and/or statues of themselves … were to be, per se, “plastered” all over the structure, both inside and outside. The Great Pyramid contains no said “signatures”.
        And 2ndly, the Great Pyramid was originally “surfaced” with pure white limestone, bottom to top, all four (4) sides …. resulting in a perfectly smooth “white” surface no matter the direction it was viewed. (HA, it could have been used as a “reflecting telescope” for measuring the movement of celestial objects – Sun, Moon, stars, etc.) The Egyptians were not capable of performing that “surfacing” task. As a matter of fact, that “surfacing” task would be a great challenge for present day architects and/or construction engineers.
        And 3rdly, the precision of alignment and dimension are daunting factors of the Great Pyramid that “beg” for an intelligently reasoned explanation.

      • Yes, George, it does indicate that. If current precession theory were correct, then the time of seasonal transition marks should change about one season every three thousand years.
        Hum, did you know that astronomers do not make an ajustment for objects inside our solar system.
        Perhaps the solar system is curving through space?

      • …and George, contrary to a comment above yours, precession is a 24 thusamd year cycle. Curiousely it was thought to be 25 thousand years, but it is accelerating for no explainable reason.
        So, to correct my above post we should observe a three month shift every six thousand years if current precession theory is correct.

    • The saddest aspect is that here in the western US, even in light-polluted Central California, you only have to drive a couple of hours along judiciously chosen routes to let your kids see the stars. In Oregon, Washington and Nevada the trip is even shorter.

    • I have to agree. The flora and fauna of the planet share the return of spring as the awakening and rebirth of life itself. Why wouldn’t the first civilizations have marked this occasion as a start of the new year and used this structure as an annual clock, having realised and studied the cyclicality of the seasons?

    • It wasn’t “important” – it was ESSENTIAL !! If the sun continued to fall below the horizon – they were dead… Someone had to tell the people living then that – Yes, the sun has turned, it is coming back from its descending trend. “We will be able to survive another year…”

  2. I never heard of that site before. I worked at a building with long halls and picture windows that frame the setting sun during New Hampshire’s foliage season. Very colorful for a few days.
    One site in New Hampshire used to be called Mystery Hill but was renamed America’s Stonehenge after its seasonal standing stones were found. Not much is well understood about it, but it’s worth a visit. Their web site is, http://stonehengeusa.com/ is uninformative, http://www.unmuseum.org/mysthill.htm has more about the standing stones and what may be a sacrificial slab.

    • Ric, the links are interesting. One sad reality is that archaeology, like climate science is split into camps about what is, and what is not possible. Not infrequently sites that carry incredible information will be waved off as mistakes, incompetence, or even hoaxes by the more dogmatic and entrenched members of the field. Place like Mystery Hill tend to fall into a “no man’s land” between the camps because their very existence excites controversy and challenges “useful” existing models (not mathematical in this case). One important influence on American archaeology was the “isolation” of the continents from the rest of the planet. Another is that where archaeology in Europe derived from a mixed bag of paleotologists, classicists art historians, and religious studies, in the Americas the majority of archaeologists come through Anthropology. The “isolation” offered the possibility that the Americas could be regarded as a “test tube” where regularities in cultural evolution – apparently consistent patterns of changes from early small group foragers to high, literate, agricultural civilizations – could help understand humanity in a global sense. Any suggestion that the isolation was not total, or even non existent, threatened an immense body of evolutionary theory that had elevated these observed regularities into “laws” of cultural change.

      • John, if you ever get to visit the Orkney Isles, as I was fortunate to do for a whole week, also visit the Tomb of the Eagles, which you slide in and out of on a large skateboard:
        Reading the history of this area (in literature prior to the current propaganda), and understanding the vegetation, it was clearly considerably warmer than current times.
        I was more surprised though that if you walk across the fields and moors of this isolated outpost of the UK, there are some multi-thousand year old dwellings that have been partially excavated (sometimes by the local farmers), but there are also quite prominent mounds that have yet to be even studied.
        [If my memories aren’t quite correct, it could be due to the fact that there are two superb single malt scotch distilleries on the main island – Highland Park, the most Northerly on the planet, and Scapa].

      • Also look into the Callanish Standing Stones, on the Outer Hebrides. They predate Stonehenge and are aligned with a lunar event that occurs only once every 18.6 years. I find it literally unbelievable that they could be arranged so precisely without some sort of written instructions, as this event only occurred once or twice in the lifetimes of people alive then.

  3. It ought to engender a little humility in us. We don’t really know that much more about the mystery of life and the universe than the ancients did. We ought to be more respectful and less dismissive of things they held to be true. It might save us learning lessons the hard way. We ask science to answer a lot of questions it can never answer. Science can observe and measure… and it can repeat its observations and measurements. The conclusions are the fruit of human imagination. We ought to be humble when we observe historical evidence that man has always engaged in science thoughtfully.

    • Will,
      Like Aphan – I’ll plus one.
      Your point: –
      “We don’t really know that much more about the mystery of life and the universe than the ancients did.” is very well made.
      And I’d add that we do not know rather a lot about our own history; know some, and we interpret [or view through a glass darkly] some more.
      We do have ideas, some/much of which are about right.
      Yet Newgrange [3,200 BC]; Easter Island statues; the Volkerwanderung; even King Arthur [Myth or Man?] of Camelot.
      What do we k n o w – against guess, surmise, believe, hold as the popular view, etc.?

    • I think that then, like now, there were some people who were very curious by their nature, very patent and observant, and loved to tell people all about the things they knew.
      And people in general were always ready to do things in some easier way, or copy a good idea when they saw it, and brag about stuff they knew.
      So knowledge was gathered and passed around and readily learned by others.
      Just like now.

    • It may be that the tendency of other sorts of people to hoard knowledge and information, and use it to hold onto power rather than disseminating it freely, has held us back a great deal.
      I have read plausible accounts detailing how the ancient Romans came within a hairs breadth or inventing a steam engine and thus starting an industrial revolution a few thousand years earlier than it did start.

    • Yes, agreed, and it is sad that so much of “science” today is corrupted for profit or power over people.

  4. Early science to support a belief. Did they think a God was signaling them that their summer was returning, and that they were being rewarded for being chaste? No doubt they had priests to tell them so.(Do as I say and you shall prosper).

    • What difference does the why make? It’s obvious that no matter what they believed, they understood much about the planet’s behavior and that of the star system it exists in. They were mechanical and mathematical geniuses, and whatever drove them, drove them to accomplish incredible physical feats. A calendar that is so geographically accurate, even today, demonstrates high intelligence no matter what inspired it’s creators.

    • Early science to support a belief….
      So, the clock on the wall and the calendar next to it are there to support your belief? Was the USHCN established to support a belief? Or was it instead established to aid farmers in planning when to plant, shipping on when, and how, and by what means or route to ship? It is worth remembering that would be leaders (chiefs, ceos, etc.) tend to score higher in sociopathy. They’re useful, but they can’t help taking advantage of people who rely on them to do things that others don’t have time for.

      • There must be a belief in time in order to proceed accordingly.. Keeping the mind tuned to the passage of time so that we are aware of what we must do and what to expect in the future. Accurate timing and the awareness of longer periods than day and night are, I believe, only a human trait and not observed in other species. We have more control of our environment and the conditions in which we live with the keen awareness of time we possess. This awareness of time is one of our talents that give us our huge advantages over other species considering civilization.

      • Birds caribou and other animals, and even insects like monarch butterflies, begin their migrations long before they must do so in order to survive in the short term.
        Not sure what this indicates, but for the birds, we have good data to indicate that they are capable of planning ahead in several steps.
        Until we can ask them, we must wonder.
        I know some believe that only humans have complex emotions and thought processes, but we really do not know that, and I for one doubt it.
        Some animals have been shown to have a well developed theory of mind.

    • Farming and herding of animals began in the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, about 11,500 years ago. Members of the clan, tribe or family were assigned the job of “herder” which meant some of them had to spend night after night “watching the flock” to prevent predation or from straying off. Thus those herders had plenty of free time to observe the night sky and the “motion” of the Moon, visible planets, the stars and the rising and setting of the Sun. And surely, after a few hundred years of “observations” those herders knew quite a bit about the repetitive “movements” (equinoxes, solstices, etc.) of the earth and other celestial objects.
      So “Yes”, they knew when “summer was returning” and “winter was approaching” ….. and that “spring planting was just around the corner” ….. by simply counting the days from when the solstice occurred (beam of light thru an apeture or a shadow cast on a rock face.)

    • I would tend to disagree with you. Early science, just like it is now, was most likely intended to demystify life and move it from dogma to reality – thus it would have flown in the face of religion as it always has. Why would you ever think that it would have been intended to support religious beliefs? Your position is beyond my ability to comprehend.

      • “I would tend to disagree with you. Early science, just like it is now, was most likely intended to demystify life and move it from dogma to reality – thus it would have flown in the face of religion as it always has. Why would you ever think that it would have been intended to support religious beliefs? Your position is beyond my ability to comprehend.”
        Do you even history? Modern science exists because people took the premise of religion (God is logical, constant and understandable), applied it to the universe (God’s creation is logical, constant and understandable), and then observed the world around them, testing it, all for the purpose of understanding /how/ God made the universe work.

    • You beat me to it. Yes, Newgrange is 5,000+ years old. But it still isn’t the oldest building humans made that still stands. Göbekli Tepe holds that record at a whopping 10,000 BC timeframe. Thanks to the people that buried it in sand and dirt when they left it for good the site has been preserved in great condition.

      • I am not too sure that the date for Stonehenge is correct. Since you cannot date stone, archaeologists have relied upon carbon dating of intrusive burials and detritus. But is detritus coincident with the construction of the site? It is clear that Stonehenge was a sacred site, rather than a graveyard, so the one or two burials are likely to be from a period when the site was abandoned.
        Funnily enough, the only true dateable artifacts were some large ‘totem poles’ in the Stonehenge car park, and they were dated to 8,000 yrs BC.

      • It is clear that Stonehenge was a sacred site, …
        I don’t think it is necessarily clear at all. It is a common -place, and probably the best explanation, but any assertion about “ceremony” begs questions. What we really know is that you can use a “complete” version to predict eclipses, seasons, and if you want to stand around all day, it will operate as a glorified sundial, so you always know “Stonehenge standard time.” We know that cremations, and there are more than 60, were placed in the original Aubrey holes, and that the knuckle head who first excavated them in the 1920s reinterred them in a single hole without bothering to analyze them – why archaeologists often hate archaeologists. The date is probably more secure than you might imagine, but the purpose? Beyond that, every thing is, at best, educated guesses, and sometimes the education may be lacking; at worst arm waving. There’s a running joke in archaeology that if you can’t identify a function, call an object a ritual item. The same goes for sites. See:
        if only for the humour. If you are familiar with the history of archaeology, you will enjoy the not-so-veiled allusions.

      • If you can’t identify a function for an artifact, you don’t give it a definition. You simply say “I don’t know”, until you know.

      • But is unlikely that Aubrey holes were designed as cremation holes, because they are precisely aligned with the orientation of the site, and therefore alligned with its astronomical layout. In which case we are back to the original question of whether Aubrey hole ‘burials’ are truly are part of the functioning Stonehenge site. And these burials are certainly not coincident with its construction. So how do we know when the site was constructed?

      • Darwinist said “If you can’t identify a function for an artifact, you don’t give it a definition. You simply say “I don’t know”, until you know.”
        You’d think so, but not really. Some “expert” will start theorizing and comparing and correlating and declare that they “believe” that object 1 was some kind of utensil, or jewelry or whatever and if every person afterwards is too lazy to investigate further than the “expert” did, eventually all of them “believe” that object 1 is what someone once assumed it was. Whether or not it actually was a spoon or a bracelet is rarely proven.
        And that is the whole problem with science today. 🙂

      • Such nonsense as “salt causes high blood pressure” was invented by one guy who was completely wrong, and passed around and became “common knowledge” with absolutely no empirical studies ever showing it to be true, and in fact zero evidence to indicate it is so.
        Such things become so entrenched that even after being debunked and disproven, such people as organizations of medical professionals will still hang onto it and use it as a basis for medical advice.
        The more of this sort of thing ones learns, the more surprising it may be that we ever rose above living lives of rank superstition.

  5. Unlike modern Europeans, that believe a few degrees of warming will result in Armageddon, primitive Europeans recognized that cooling was the great enemy.
    To the northern hemisphere ancients, the most important day of the year was the winter solstice. The day upon which the sun stopped moving south and began its climb in the sky to return warmth to the North. The warmth upon which all life depends.
    Very likely this custom goes back tens or even hundreds of thousands of years, to Ice Age humans, who fully recognized that cold meant death and warmth meant life. Who first learned to chart the path of the sun in the sky, and time their annual migrations to follow the path of the sun, and the plants and animals which rely on its warmth.

    • Correct. All religions sprang from this fear of no sun reappearing. Magical spells had to be performed to prevent the death of the sun. A new sun (‘son’) is born this day, a new Apollo must arise with the dawn.

      • I hope that is irony, like the irony that lead to Apollo, originally a mouse god, supplanting Helios as the sun god in Greek religion.

  6. In the Gulf of Morbihan, near Carnac in Bretagne, France there’s the island of the Gavrinis, with a similar though much smaller building, called ‘Cairn de Gavrinis’ or colloquially ‘Tumulus du Soleil’, where the Sun aligns with the entrance tunnel at the summer solstice.

  7. Long ago they were terrified that the sun would not ‘come back’ from its descent into Hades (winter). All of our present festivals revolve around this sun business. The sun controls the climate more than any other factor. It is the thing that warms us all.
    By the way, the humans who moved into Europe during the glacial melt worried greatly about another Ice Age and for good reason.
    What I see today is total denial of Ice Ages. Instead of looking at the obvious information showing brief interglacials that suddenly descend into full ice ages, the ‘scientists’ and our rulers look at very slight warming with alarm which I think is totally fake.
    That is, all of these creeps use energy very energetically and tool around burning fossil fuels like madmen while screaming we will roast to death because of burning fossil fuels. Not sack cloth and ashes for them all. They want to consume and consume some more. I say we need a Nuremberg Trial for these criminals who scream about CO2 all the time while grinding out mountains of this CO2 gas, goofing around playing golf in Hawaii.

    • We might think it funny that in winter as the sun descended lower in the sky, people were scared that it would not rise again. Unless a ritual was performed.
      It s just as cute that people now see that climate warming and are filled with a numinous dread that – unless we perform a ritual – the climate will go on warming and not cool again.

      • Okay. Made me look it up. “Numinous” is “spiritual, airy, etc awe-inspiring.” I learn more words from these posts!!

      • @philsalmon
        I was thinking along the same lines. The IPCC and UNFCCC are constantly promoting the idea that we need to erect a governmental edifice to control the maximum concentration of CO2, a gas that is essential for more than 90% the biomass on this planet by weight. A governmental structure that will consume comparatively as much of our labor as Newgrange consumed of its community — and be just as effective.
        I wonder if the vast majority of the people who built the Newgrange and beheld its first winter solstice sunrise, turned as said to its designers, “Is that ALL it does?”

    • As of today, being a hypocritical moron is not a crime. I would examine myself and the lives of everyone I love and determine that all are above such behavior before attempting to sway public support for court trials against it.

      • …true, but is demanding other people’s money, and taking it by force in conjunction with hypocritica moronic behaviour worthy of , say at least far and feathers?

  8. People in those ancient days KNEW the earth, by personal observation and the life-and-death lessons of exposure to all the elements. They realized the extent to which all life on earth depends on the whims of Nature, and they remained humble in the face of Nature’s miracles.
    Today most think we’re somehow separate and apart from Nature, have grown beyond it and can rule it. How wrong-headed THAT notion is! Nattering monkeys, newly down from the trees!
    Happy Solstice Day!

    • Actually, nothing has changed. We still have witch doctors pretending they control the sun via magic spells. In the present case, pretending CO2 warms the planet, not the sun. And pretending the sun never shifts or changes the output of energy! That is really bizarre and can only be explained by the need to have religious powers.
      Note how our priests and rulers screaming about CO2 are cheerfully churning out mega-tons of CO2 with their private palaces, jets, yachts, etc. etc.

    • The observational capabilities of ancient people is often ignored. Their ability to link (sometimes correctly – sometimes not) events that were often considerably separated in time is, when you look back, remarkable.

      • Not only to notice, but to measure and record data to a 17 minute window out of 525,600 minute time period. And how many diverse cultures did the same or similar thing.
        I find it humorous when people talk about the Mayan calender not having or knowing a ‘Leap Year”. So they build pyramids to catch the solar and earth rotation effects, have great celebrations, but did not notice the date change after 4 years?

      • And possibly to not notice the ‘culture change’ that happened when we moved from a world governed by solar time to something more mechanical. Perhaps we should look at this through different eyes.

      • “Does that mean we are slightly wrong 3 out of 4 years?”
        It is always wrong, but they attempt to keep up by adding leap seconds here and there.

    • Gold
      The lack of awareness of the world – weather, seasons, climate, stars, trees, even biting insects or stinging nettles, is so disappointing.
      I am constantly telling my ships’ watch officers – “Look out of the Window!”, because what you see out there is real.
      [Better yet – get out on the Bridge wing, where there is not even a double thickness of glass between you and another ship that may be likely to smash into you (because they, too, are not looking out of the window . . . . . . .)]
      Now – what your screens show you is an electronic analogue, which – if you understand it – may be close to the real thing. Very close.
      But it’s not the real thing.
      It may help you interpret the real thing.
      But it’s not the real thing.
      It will – operated well – help you place yourself in relation to the real world of points, headlands, buoys, shallows, lightships and the rest.
      But it’s not the real thing.
      There is a beautiful world out there.
      I do not appreciate it – let alone know it – enough.
      But the millenials – do they know it is there?
      Auto – obviously showing his own antiquity!

      • Look out the window.
        This is, IMO, the gist of it.
        Back then, people lived outdoors.
        These days, some people rarely spend even a single entire day out of doors, and even fewer do so out in a place that is still in a natural state…such as going camping or even just on a day hike away from civilization.
        “You can observe a lot just by watching.”
        -Y. Berra

  9. Ahhh … the powers of those ancient priests, with their mysterious wisdom and knowledge, that made it possible for them to have massive structures built by a society that lived a precarious daily existence and surrendered so much to those very priests.
    Fortunately, here we are thousands of years later and have moved beyond things such as listening to the ramblings of mystical priests … oh, wait … there are those papal encyclicals that still haunt us …

  10. The spirals are not “Runes” they are perhaps Glyphs.
    Newgrange does not predate Stonehenge, in may predate the currently arrangement of remains there.
    As with Stonehenge, correlation or coincidence is not causality and the fact that Solstices coincide with certain alignments is only that, all else is conjecture.
    The temptation to re-write history to suit our current perspectives is always with us.

  11. If all the statements and even hints of the date of the birth of Jesus as stated in the Gospels are compiled, it could not have been at the end of December. For example, the shepherds did not keep their flocks in the fields that late in the years. Any attempt to place the birth of Jesus on December 25 is far more an attempt to connect it to the solstice than to scripture. And yes it does matter given the importance of the solstice to sun worship.

    • To ensure that the non-Christians followed Christianity it was necessary to match the Christian festivals to those of other religions particularly those where bacchanalian celebrations took place. So Christmas magically became the Solstice celebrations of which there were many. The crucifixion and associated celebrations were moved to the fertility festival of Eostre. A ‘Christian’ festival linked to the phase of the Moon. (Also read of Emperor Constantine and the way the ‘conversion’ to Christianity from Mithras occured.) Churches were built on old holy sites for the same reason.

    • >>an attempt to connect to the solstice…..
      And the little oddity that while Jesus was said to have been born at the winter solstice, John the Baptist was born at the summer solstice. So Xianity was based upon an astrological cult, much the same as all the Sabaean religions of the East.
      And so was original Judaism. All of the very early synagogues in Judaea, Syria and Jordan have a zodiac on the floor. Perhaps the best of these is the 3rd century Hamat zodiac on the Sea of Galilee. The same is true of the early Irish crosses with a circle around them. Rather than being based upon a Roman instrument of torture, they are actually the circle and cross of the zodiac.

    • The Orthodox Christmas, and the original date of christmas is January 6th. Catholics changed the date to suit what Ian W references above.

      • Not so. The Orthodox Church just refused to move the celebration date, when the Gregorian calandar was introduced. So their date was effectively moved by 12 or so days into January.

      • Orthodox Christmas is 25th of December, but on the old Julian calendar. The 25th of December in Julian is the 7th of January on the Gregorian calendar.
        So the day of celebration remains the same for Orthodox churches. Catholics and other denominations moved the day of celebration to align with the date on the then-newly-adopted calendar. Same goes with Easter, which is determined based on the alignment of the moon at a certain date. This means that at times Orthodox/other Easter is on the same days, but most years it differs.

  12. It’s an enchanting site and worth a visit if you’re anywhere nearby (and in such a small country it’s all nearby). You can actually go to watch the solstice sunrise, but attendance is determined by lottery because of high demand and the limiting small size and fragility of the structure.
    At least as interesting a few miles to the south, unsigned and unsung, is a hawthorn tree standing alone near the edge of a field and festooned with ribbons and yarn and candy wrappers. The aos sí (primeval fairy folk) and the spirit world are still very close at hand in that part of the world.

    • But you can go much more easily on the days close to the solstice. And there is little solar movement, right at the solstice, so you will not notice the difference.

  13. … deep inside the world’s oldest known building …

    Aren’t the buildings at Göbekli Tepe thousands of years older?

    • I don’t know but perhaps ‘oldest known functional building which was not reconstructed’, would be more accurate? I can’t think of another building 5,000 years old which is in-tact and as functionable as when it was first built.

  14. Well, at least those people understood that they could not control the weather AND that cold was the greatest threat !!!

  15. Was built around 5,000 years ago – 3,200 yrs BC. Given temperature proxies available for the time, it was built when the planet was wormer than today. The people obviously enjoyed a great climate with long reliable growing seasons and good rainfall. So they had the time to focus on both science, and the extravagance of building such a long lasting monument.

      • Surely there is a correlation between a warmer earth and more earth worms? Maybe I should apply for a grant, if only I can prove that earth worms are bad for the planet. 🙂

      • The Lambton Worm
        One Sunday morn young Lambton went
        A-fishing’ in the Wear;
        An’ catched a fish upon he’s heuk,
        He thowt leuk’t varry queer.
        But whatt’n a kind of fish it was
        Young Lambton cuddent tell.
        He waddn’t fash te carry’d hyem,
        So he hoyed it doon a well.
        cho: Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
        An Aa’ll tell ye’s aall an aaful story
        Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
        An’ Aa’ll tell ye ‘boot the worm.
        This feorful worm was almost as frightening as manbearpig

      • Many may not realize that earthworms were absent from soil in the northern US prior to the arrival of Europeans. The glaciers killed them all it seems.
        I wonder if Ireland was not similarly wormless?

      • Good point. People had to be more clever back then I think.
        Must have had to use maggots.
        If you think it is hard to get a girl to put a work on a hook, try getting her to do it with a nice juicy maggot!

      • There is a lot of disagreement over whether earthworms were just rare, or totally absent form North America, and whether it was all of them, or only certain types, and whether it was the whole continent, or just the northern parts.
        it is a very interesting subject, especially for people like myself who love studying soils types, biomes, and other aspects of physical geography.
        Physical geography is indeed a very complex and interesting tapestry of knowledge.

    • In 3200 BC there was a sudden shift (colder) in the climate of that region. Farming ceased for centuries. The civilisation farming the land between Wales and Ireland was drowned – the stone walls can still be seen leading into the water in W Wales and from the air on the sea bottom. It is likely the axis of the Earth shifted about half a degree. There is a book on Britain’s lost megalithic civilisation.

  16. One of the claims the Egyptians made to Plato was that they were the oldest continuous civilization on earth and that their ancient records recorded the rise and fall of many great civilizations that flourished for centuries and then disappeared — with all the knowledge they had discovered. Time and time again civilization had to start over (except in Egypt).
    Lately much has been in the news about ancient structures that needed a flourishing culture to support their construction — civilizations that arose, expanded and then fell.
    How many times was the length of the solar year discovered and forgotten? These old structures suggest that many of the secrets of the skies were unlocked in many places and then lost.
    The Phaistos Disc of ancient Crete was probably a solar calendar indicating a solar year of 366 days divided into 6 months of 30 days alternating with 6 months of 31 days. But in a largely illiterate society a lunar calendar was probably of more practical use. Much easier to keep track of moons than of days.
    Eugene WR Gallun

  17. They also must have got a lot more sunshine to go to that much trouble and expect the sky to be clear on the 21st dec. , cos, it sure don’t happen much these days!!!
    Crowds there this morning. Cold, wet and windy!!

  18. I think the description, “the world’s oldest known building, every year, for only as much as 17 minutes, the sun — at the exact moment of the winter solstice — shines directly down a long corridor”, is a bit dramatic. What happens when the exact moment of the winter solstice is at nighttime in Newgrange? No sunlight in the corridor at all? In many years the solstice falls at night making this a pretty useless marker of the solstice if the sun shines in only for 17 minutes “at the exact moment of the winter solstice”. More likely the sun shines down the hallway for a few minutes on each of a few days on either side of the winter solstice.

      • I made my comments below after reading the article and about two comments.
        I should have realized I would not be the only one to instantly think of these facts.

    • Oh my word people. The word Solstice refers to the Sun-sol. It doesn’t happen at night because solstice is defined as :
      “either of the two times in the year, the summer solstice and the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon, marked by the longest and shortest days”
      The position of the earth will be close for a few days before and after the solstice, so you can still observe the light in such places, but the solstice isn’t just about a light in a hole. It’s about that light being perfectly aligned in that place, (completely and directly centered) at sunrise, on the exact day that is also either the shortest or longest day of the year. That the ancients even knew that there were two exact days in a year that could be calculated as being the longest and the shortest is remarkable. That they also figured out how to build something permanent that accurately marked those days over and over again is breathtaking.

      • Putting a stick in the ground and measuring the extent of its shadow daily would work to determine solstices.

      • ““either of the two times in the year, the summer solstice and the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon, marked by the longest and shortest days””
        That is one definition, but we all know that words have more than one definition.
        If you looked it up, you may have noted this alternate definition, that of the astronomical definition:
        A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year (in June and December) as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Both the solstices and the equinoxes are directly connected with the seasons of the year.”
        By the second definition, the solstice is a moment in time, not a day.

      • “That they also figured out how to build something permanent that accurately marked those days over and over again is breathtaking.”
        I do not know what the “over and over again” means.
        If you mark the spot on the horizon that the sun rises, and keep track of it, it will be seen to reach a certain point and then start going back the other way.
        Nothing complicated needs to be done to learn this…just observation and marking spots by some fixed object.
        Since they had buildings back then, it would not be unreasonable to guess that they had windows, and that they noted that sun shone into windows.
        So, it is not some giant leap of science to construct a building with a tunnel that faces the specific direction seen to be the furthest extent of the rising sun.
        It only takes patience and careful observation.
        Peoples lives depended a great deal more surely back then on such qualities.
        Nowadays, any airhead can stay alive with little trouble.
        Further back in time, such was likely not the case.

      • Menicholas- Said “A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year (in June and December) as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Both the solstices and the equinoxes are directly connected with the seasons of the year.”
        “By the second definition, the solstice is a moment in time, not a day.”
        I agree. But I never SAID that an equinox was related to a specific date. I said it referred to a “moment in time” that takes place twice a year DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS-and that they marked the days (of the year) in which the Sun’s light shines the least, and the longest. I never said those days always occurred on the same date.
        That DATE changes every year, but based on the calculations of how the earth rotates and tilts, we can determine where the Sun was in relationship to the earth thousands of years ago, and calculate whether or not the Sun’s light would have aligned a little, a lot, perfectly, or not at all with the various dates of the Solstices of the past.
        A solstice and an equinox are two different things.
        Equinox- “the time or date (twice each year) at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length (about September 22 and March 20).”
        Fact, all “days” are 24 hours long. A solstice-relates to just TWO days (not dates) out of any given year-the one with the shortest amount of sunlight-which would then logically precede the LONGEST night of the year, and the one with the longest amount of sunshine- which then logically precedes the SHORTEST night of the year.
        The equinoxes relate to the two days a year in which the amount of sunlight and the amount of darkness in a 24 period are of equal length. Equinoxes mark equality between night and day, solstices mark the extremities between the two. Neither one always falls on the same date every year.

      • Aphan,
        As i am sure we both know, in order to understand these subjects in any sort of organized or precise way, one must be aware of terminology, and in order to communicate effectively, one must be aware of what others are referring to in their use of terminology.
        If I use the word “month” in one context, it refers to a specific period of time, and some months are 30 days long, some are 31, and one is either 28 or 29 days long.
        But none of these coincide precisely with the many different sorts of months that exist in the astronomic lexicon, such as tropical month, synodic month, sidereal month, draconic month, or anomalistic month.
        Similarly, what is being referred to when one says “day” may be different depending on context.
        If one is referring to a solar day, meaning the period of time from noon on one day to noon on the next day in the same location, then a day is not 24 hours, except on a few specific dates (which may vary from place to place and year to year.
        Further confusing things is that a particular moment in time occurs on two separate dates depending on where one is on the Earth, given that we have 24 time zones (except when it is noon at the international date line…at that moment everyplace on Earth has the same date. I think…it may be that some do not since some places are on a different daylight time standard).
        So, if one looks up this years ” Winter Solstice”, one will get different answers depending on where one looks.
        If I look it up for Drogheda, for example, it is reported as ” Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 4:49 AM”.
        It is not listed as noon.
        If I look it up Fort Myers, it is listed as “Monday, December 21, 2015 at 11:49 PM”.
        Same event, same moment in time, different times and dates.
        Such references are describing the moment that the sun reaches the Tropic Of Capricorn and reverses direction, similar to when the sun crosses the equator (which is itself subject to a specific definition, given the width of the Sun and the equator being an imaginary line).
        In any case, I am not intending to argue with you or anyone, just make a point to clarify what I saw as something which may be confusing to some readers, as well as to attempt to inform and educate, since I find the entire subject very interesting and have studied and read about such things since I was a kid (back around the time that this structure was built).
        Plus I just love a good argument.

      • “Equinox- “the time or date (twice each year) at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length (about September 22 and March 20).” ”
        A good arguer can even dispute this, as it is for sure that the sun is not crossing the celestial equator, but the Earth reaching a specific point in it’s orbit.
        After all, the sun is regarded as fixed and the Earth revolving around it.
        Of course, at the terrestrial equator, every day is of equal length.
        But even such statements as “day and night are of equal length” must be qualified, as daytime is regarded as when the sun is above the horizon. Is sunrise when the center of the sun crosses the horizon? The earth is not a sphere, so what about topography and the shape of the geoid? Do they count? Mostly not…sunrise is not when the sun gets above a mountain to a locales east.
        Actually, sunrise is regarded as the moment that the upper edge of the sun gets above the horizon, and sunset the moment the last bit disappears.
        But these are not the same as Dan and dusk, which according to the law is the time when a day begins.
        There are three distinct definitions of “twilight”, and if the law says I must have my headlights on at night, i cannot get a ticket unless it is before dawn or after dusk. A cop cannot slap me with a fine because the sun has not risen yet.
        So, I do not think that the definition of something like the “equinox” should include words like day or night.
        At the equinox, day is longer because the sun is not a point but a disc.
        OK, I will stop now.

      • So 5200 years ago these guys were arguing… “The sun ALWAYS stops there and turns back!” says one, “on the same day!” says the other, “no way” says the third. “Look, I’m going to pile some rocks here, and bet it’s the same! “Next year, if I’m right, you have to build a room and window to demonstrate it forever. If I’m wrong, I build the demonstration of my mistake. Deal?”
        Like all Scottish cuisine, Celtic science is based on a dare…

  19. As others have pointed out, the structure is more than 3200 years old.
    It is stated that: .

    Newgrange was built 1,000 years before Stonehenge and also predates the pyramids by more than 500 years

    However, that may be controversial. It appears that it was built during the Neolithic period around 3000 BC to 2500 BC. So the precise date is not known and spans a wide period of 500 years, and this is critical.
    So for example, the Step Pyramid in Egypt was built during the 27th century BC for the Pharaoh Djoser. So that pyramid is smack within the period when Newgrange is thought to have been built. There are older predynastic period tombs in Abydos dating back to about 3100BC, but of course, not well preserved.
    Obviously, Newgrange is one of the oldest manmade buildings, but whether it is the oldest is a matter of debate amongst archaeologist.

    • Depends upon what counts as a building. Even in the British Isles, there are the Orkney structures dating from c. 3700 BC.
      To say nothing of Jericho or Çatal Höyük.

      • I couldn’t agree more that it depends upon how a building is defined.
        The Step Pyramid is, of course, a very large building. Whether that predates Newgrange or Newgrange predates the Step Pyramid is a matter of some conjecture.
        Of course, Newgrange is a remarkable building and appears well preserved.

    • “There are older predynastic period tombs in Abydos dating back to about 3100BC”
      So the space aliens that visited and gave this knowledge showed up more than once?

  20. So the Irish might still have bragging rights over the Egyptians and the English.
    Here’s an Irish tribute to the alarmist crowd. It’s their official poem:
    by John O’Brien
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    In accents most forlorn,
    Outside the church, ere Mass began,
    One frosty Sunday morn.
    The congregation stood about,
    Coat-collars to the ears,
    And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
    As it had done for years.
    “It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
    “Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
    For never since the banks went broke
    Has seasons been so bad.”
    “It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
    With which astute remark
    He squatted down upon his heel
    And chewed a piece of bark.
    And so around the chorus ran
    “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”
    “The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
    To save one bag of grain;
    From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
    They’re singin’ out for rain.
    “They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
    “And all the tanks are dry.”
    The congregation scratched its head,
    And gazed around the sky.
    “There won’t be grass, in any case,
    Enough to feed an ass;
    There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
    As I came down to Mass.”
    “If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
    And cleared his throat to speak –
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If rain don’t come this week.”
    A heavy silence seemed to steal
    On all at this remark;
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed a piece of bark.
    “We want an inch of rain, we do,”
    O’Neil observed at last;
    But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
    To put the danger past.
    “If we don’t get three inches, man,
    Or four to break this drought,
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”
    In God’s good time down came the rain;
    And all the afternoon
    On iron roof and window-pane
    It drummed a homely tune.
    And through the night it pattered still,
    And lightsome, gladsome elves
    On dripping spout and window-sill
    Kept talking to themselves.
    It pelted, pelted all day long,
    A-singing at its work,
    Till every heart took up the song
    Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.
    And every creek a banker ran,
    And dams filled overtop;
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If this rain don’t stop.”
    And stop it did, in God’s good time;
    And spring came in to fold
    A mantle o’er the hills sublime
    Of green and pink and gold.
    And days went by on dancing feet,
    With harvest-hopes immense,
    And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
    Nid-nodding o’er the fence.
    And, oh, the smiles on every face,
    As happy lad and lass
    Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
    Went riding down to Mass.
    While round the church in clothes genteel
    Discoursed the men of mark,
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed his piece of bark.
    “There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
    There will, without a doubt;
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    • Its Australian. 1880’s a country of extreme weather.
      The day Ireland is warm enough for the grass to catch fire will be a day we might have to take warming seriously. It won’t happen.

    • Daniel,
      IIRC, the author was an Irish-Australian priest, writing about Ireland. But I could be misteaken and I’m not taking the time to look it up. It’s still the perfect alarmist poem, no?

      • ‘John O’Brien’ was Monsignor Hartigan, the Parish Priest of Hay in NSW.
        This is an Australian poem about predictions, wheat fields and drought.
        I was married by his Literary Executor, Fr Frank Meecham.
        Many Catholic schools had this as part of an anthology of Australian poetry, which made my generation skeptical of predictions in a changeable climate.
        The other poem was by Dorothea MacKellar
        Official Dorothea Mackellar Website
        My Country
        The love of field and coppice,
        Of green and shaded lanes.
        Of ordered woods and gardens
        Is running in your veins,
        Strong love of grey-blue distance
        Brown streams and soft dim skies
        I know but cannot share it,
        My love is otherwise.
        I love a sunburnt country,
        A land of sweeping plains,
        Of ragged mountain ranges,
        Of droughts and flooding rains.
        I love her far horizons,
        I love her jewel-sea,
        Her beauty and her terror –
        The wide brown land for me!
        A stark white ring-barked forest
        All tragic to the moon,
        The sapphire-misted mountains,
        The hot gold hush of noon.
        Green tangle of the brushes,
        Where lithe lianas coil,
        And orchids deck the tree-tops
        And ferns the warm dark soil.
        Core of my heart, my country!
        Her pitiless blue sky,
        When sick at heart, around us,
        We see the cattle die –
        But then the grey clouds gather,
        And we can bless again
        The drumming of an army,
        The steady, soaking rain.
        Core of my heart, my country!
        Land of the Rainbow Gold,
        For flood and fire and famine,
        She pays us back threefold –
        Over the thirsty paddocks,
        Watch, after many days,
        The filmy veil of greenness
        That thickens as we gaze.
        An opal-hearted country,
        A wilful, lavish land –
        All you who have not loved her,
        You will not understand –
        Though earth holds many splendours,
        Wherever I may die,
        I know to what brown country
        My homing thoughts will fly.
        Dorothea Mackellar

      • Lewis B, Daniel, ntesdorf,
        Well, I stand thoroughly corrected! That’s what I get for being too lazy to look up O’Brien’s name.
        But it’s still the perfect climate alarmist poem, no? ☺

    • Back-o’-Bourke identifies the writer as being west of Bourke in New South Wales, a bleak, parched, dry area with only the remains of the Darling River to drink from nearby.

  21. Sorry if I am missing something, but ” 04:49 GMT”? Sunrise is way after I get to work (north UK) at 08:00.
    Or does the term “Solstice” mean something other than daybreak to dayend?

    • That is the astronomical solstice. At Newgrange, they just mark the dawn solstice, which will be about 08:00 ish in Ireland. And since the solstice angle does not change much over that period, you can go a couple of days before or after and see the same effect.

      • The solstice is the solstice. It’s always astronomical, because it’s always determined by the position of two astronomical bodies-Earth and Sun- in relation to each other. I think you meant that specifically, Newgrange only has a mark for sunrise on the Winter Solstice, it does not have a mark for sundown on the Winter Solstice, nor marks for either event on the day of Summer solstice.
        Rockyspears-solstice does not mean “daybreak to day end”. It means Sun-stand still-or the point during the day in which the Sun appears to stop moving in the sky-between it daily assent and its daily descent. The mid point, the zenith, noon. It marks the “mid point” of the day of the year in which the least amount of sunshine is seen, and the midpoint of the day of the year in which the longest amount of sunshine can be seen. Period.

    • Solstice means literally (when the Sun stands still) and it applies to the position of the Sun, at noon, on both the shortest and longest days of the year. A day is a 24 hour period, always. But Sol means Sun, so it’s only referring to the hours in which the Sun shines.
      The word “noon” in any location correlates with the Sun’s mid day position- it’s zenith in the sky-the point where it stops rising, and begins to fall. This is how someone without a watch can determine the approximate time using sundial principles. If you place a straight stick directly perpendicular to the earth on a sunny day, when the shadow of that stick falls only directly over itself, that marks “noon” or the Sun’s zenith in the sky.
      On the Winter solstice, the Sun’s zenith (at mid day) is at the LOWEST point it ever is all year long- marking the day with the shortest amount of sunlight of the entire year. On the Summer solstice, the Sun’s zenith (at mid day) is the highest it ever gets all year-marking the day with the longest amount of sunlight of the year.

      • Interesting to note that back in the mid 1800s, every town and locality kept time the way you mention…they noted the time of local noon and set the town clock accordingly.
        But marking the time by using the sun leads to ever single place having a different time. This was fine when people got around on horseback, as one could just set one’s watch by the town clock upon arriving at your destination.
        There were no time zones back then, and no standard times.
        This all changes with the advent of the transcontinental railroad.
        One could not run a train and keep a consistent schedule when every town had their own local time.
        So, we have the trains and the people who needed to keep them on schedule to thank for our present systems of ordered and standardized time zones.
        BTW, if I use the method of noting the sun at noon to estimate what time it is here in Ft Myers, I will be way off, as will someone in Bar Harbor, Maine. Being that both locales are in the same time zone, with northern coastal Maine being on the Eastern margin, and Western parts of Florida being on the Western margin of the Eastern Time Zone.

        • “Thanks all for the enlightenment; by this reckoning then, there is in fact a Solstice everyday, we just don’t care so much about them.”
          Thanks for playing, but um…nope. There is a NOON every day, but by this reckoning a Solstice happens twice a year AND is specific to where the sun is at noon on JUST those two days out of the year…the day with the longest amount of sunlight, and the day with the shortest amount of sunlight. Period.

  22. This part of Ireland appears to have been fairly stable through the Holocene – not depressed by thick ice so not much affected by isostatic rebound. Sea level during Holocene Optimum (about 6000-4000 yBP) is documented 2-5 m higher than today in Ireland
    The builders of Newgrange could have transported stones from the coast nearly to the site by barges on the adjacent river –
    Fascinating story

    • All that was needed was to note the position of the lowest sun angle, and what date it occurred on.
      For superstitious folks, they may have done this to reassure themselves that the sun would not just keep sinking and the days getting shorter until it was completely gone.
      Since they could not just go to a library, or pick up a newspaper to get the date, they had to keep track of the sun in order to know what the date was, and so when to plant crops.
      Guessing based on weather would be a very risky proposition for people who had no grain and feed supply store down the road.
      And as for other phenomenon like predicting eclipses, this was possible if and only if a given culture happened to discover the saros cycle.
      Once that was noted, the rest fell into place rather naturally.
      Realize as well that it was likely only one or a few people in a given group or culture had this knowledge, and likely kept it a sort of cultish secret.
      Travelers likely transported and traded such knowledge to others in distant locales.
      So it may have been the case that one or a few geniuses of a very observant nature learned these things and then passed them along.
      Structures like this may have been built to make sure that an untimely death of the keeper of the knowledge did not cause disaster when no one was then able to predict planting times.
      Just guessing about all of this…I do not really know.

    • Menicholas-
      Let me be clear-
      A light shining down a hallway, or through a window is no big deal. Doors and windows must face some direction right? But that’s not what I find breathtaking. What I find breathtaking is that this mound contained a “roofbox” situated so perfectly that ONLY on the day of the Winter solstice, just at the point of sunrise ( the sunrise that occurs ON the day of the Winter Solstice…not “at the moment of the solstice”-the author is wrong) that roofbox channels the light of the sunrise, directly and exactly INTO the tomb area below in such a way that there is bright light, directly centered inside that tomb for 17 minutes. If you’d read the linked article, maybe you’d have a better idea of why I might think that such a feat “is breathtaking.”
      (quoted from the article linked to in the OP)
      “Every year since 1967, O’Kelly has returned to Newgrange for the midwinter sunrise, and every year, from his vantage point lying on the smooth sandy floor of the tomb, he has seen the bright disc of the sun fill the roofbox and the shaft of light pass down the passageway, across his face, into the recess at the back of the chamber. Its precision makes him certain that the effect was deliberately engineered.”
      “The builders must have sat here on the hillside, perhaps for a number of years, at the winter solstice period, watching the point of sunrise moving southward along the horizon, eventually determining the point where it began to turn back again. Having established this, they could then have put a line of pegs into the ground and laid out the plan of the passage.’ However, there was one more problem to resolve. The roofbox would have had to have been precisely aligned to the horizon and, as each of the stone slabs weighs about a ton, the position of the slit would have had to have been determined before the building began. Add to this the fact that the tomb was built on a hill, with the chamber 6ft (1.8m) above the entrance, and the achievement of the builders of Newgrange is all the more astounding.”
      (hence my point about it happening again and again and again…but only when the alignment of the rising sun is just right )

      • ““Every year since 1967, O’Kelly has returned to Newgrange for the midwinter sunrise, and every year, from his vantage point lying on the smooth sandy floor of the tomb, he has seen the bright disc of the sun fill the roofbox and the shaft of light pass down the passageway, across his face, into the recess at the back of the chamber. ”
        Ok, since we are now dotting i’s and crossing t’s, i want to doubt this account.
        Are we to believe it was clear and sunny every year in the day of the solstice? Many comments are to the effect that it is a rare year that it is so.

      • (Note: “Buster Brown” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. Therefore, all the time and effort he spent on posting 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name is wasted, because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

        • BusterBrown@hotmail.com

          (Note: “Buster Brown” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. Therefore, all the time and effort he spent on posting 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name is wasted, because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

          Another meaningless, distracting comment intended to irritate and confuse, not inform nor improve.
          No. The relation of “cold temperatures” to “winter is NOT an absolute one-to-one of day-of-year=Dec 22 to declare “winter starts”, nor does “winter end” when the sun crosses the equator again on March 22. Well, at least to anyone other than the TV newsreaders and their writers. Just as June 22 does NOT begin “summer” (hot days of the year start anywhere from mid-March through early June across the northern hemisphere).

      • Yes, and for that matter, how is that Winter begins in December anyway?
        I think that it would be more accurate to have the Solstice occur in the middle of Winter.
        Like Summer beginning at the end of June? Come on!
        When are we going to convene a nomenclature summit to resolve these vexing issues?

        • “Yes, and for that matter, how is that Winter begins in December anyway? I think that it would be more accurate to have the Solstice occur in the middle of Winter. Like Summer beginning at the end of June? Come on! When are we going to convene a nomenclature summit to resolve these vexing issues?”
          Lol 🙂 Well you take that up with the Solstice and see what happens! lol Here’s what I’ve been trying to say, more succinctly: (from wiki no less…sigh..bold mine)
          “Although the instant of the solstice can be calculated, direct observation of the solstice by amateurs is impossible because the sun moves too slowly or appears to stand still (the meaning of “solstice”). However, by use of astronomical data tracking, the precise timing of its occurrence is now public knowledge. One cannot directly detect the precise instant of the solstice (by definition, one cannot observe that an object has stopped moving until one later observes that it has not moved further from the preceding spot, or that it has moved in the opposite direction)[citation needed]. Further, to be precise to a single day, one must be able to observe a change in azimuth or elevation less than or equal to about 1/60 of the angular diameter of the sun. Observing that it occurred within a two-day period is easier, requiring an observation precision of only about 1/16 of the angular diameter of the sun. Thus, many observations are of the day of the solstice rather than the instant. This is often done by observing the sunrise and sunset or using an astronomically aligned instrument that allows a ray of light to be cast on a certain point around that time. Before the scientific revolution, many forms of observances, astronomical, symbolic or ritualistic, had evolved according to the beliefs of various cultures, many of which are still practiced today.”
          My point-without anywhere near our technology, they got pretty darn close. Close enough that if the sky is clear, 5,000 years later, that roofbox still produces a shaft of light at sunrise on the winter solstice.
          And shes out…

      • It is just that words fail to adequately describe the lag the Climate system has from coldest/warmest input (solar) to coldest/warmest response (climate). Something I am sure the ancients knew all about.

      • RACookPE1978
        (Note: “Buster Brown” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. Therefore, all the time and effort he spent on posting 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name is wasted, because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

      • (Note: “Buster Brown” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. Therefore, all the time and effort he spent on posting 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name is wasted, because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

      • There is a valid point of curiosity here…how is it (in the northern hemisphere), or why should it be that the beginning of December, when is normally very cold in places that get cold, is not Winter, but the middle of March, when it is just about full Spring in many places, is part of Winter?
        Similar logic applies to Summer.
        Now about that summit…

        • “There is a valid point of curiosity here…how is it (in the northern hemisphere), or why should it be that the beginning of December, when is normally very cold in places that get cold, is not Winter, but the middle of March, when it is just about full Spring in many places, is part of Winter? Similar logic applies to Summer.
          Now about that summit…”
          I don’t know anyone that thinks that “Winter” or “Summer” or any of the seasons actually fit into nice little boxes defined by dates. Most people I know think “winter” starts when it gets cold and snows. And summer starts when it gets hot enough to go swimming without shivering upon getting out. In fact, I’ve heard people my whole life say “Well…it’s the first OFFICIAL day of winter now” etc.
          Of course, if you shop in retail stores, you KNOW that Valentines season starts on Dec 26th, Easter season starts on February 15th, Summer starts the day after Easter, back to school season starts the day after Summer break begins (locally) Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving starts the day after the kids go back to school, and the Christmas season USED to start the day AFTER Thanksgiving but doesn’t anymore….:)

  23. My understanding is that the moment of solstice may occur at night, or evening, or any other time at random.
    Since this beam of light is only observed at dawn, it is not precisely accurate to say that the inner chamber is illuminated at “the moment” of the solstice.
    I am also very curious as to whether the light gets in there, but not quite so directly, for some number of days before and after the solstice?
    The sun angle changes very slowly at the solstices…a fraction of the rate of change at the equinoxes…so I would be very surprised that light only shines down the corridor at sunrise on one day a year.
    If the solstice is at midnight, does no light appear that year, or is the day before and the day after both have the same size shaft of light in there?
    It seems few are aware, the earliest sunrise is not on the solstice, due primarily to the length of a solar day varying throughout the year. One has to use the equation of time for a given latitude to know, or look it up in a table.
    The date of perihelion also has a small affect, but latitude is the most important factor.
    The closer to the poles, the closer to the solstice is the date of latest sunrise and earliest sunset.
    Near the equator, earliest sunset is in November!
    So the moment of sunrise continues to get later for many days after the solstice, and the day of earliest sunset is a few weeks before the solstice.
    (Here in Fort Myers, for example, the sun rises today at 7:11, but for several days in January it is 7:17)
    Of course, the precise location of the sunrise on the horizon is not the same as the time of the sunrise, but it too changes very slowly near the solstices.
    A quick check shows the heading of sunrise at Drogheda is close to 131 degrees S. for many days.
    The Earth sun relationship is far more complex than many might suppose.
    I have won bets from smart people who had never looked up the time of sunrise on any particular day, and were 100% sure that the sun rose earlier and set later on the day after the solstice…it does not.
    Erin go Bragh!

    • I wonder if the date of Michael O’Kelly’s visit to Newgrange to witness the sun rise was in 1966 not 1967. In 1967, the solstice occurred at 13:16:44 UTC whereas in 1966 it occurred at 07:28:08 UTC. Apparent sunrise on December 22 1966 at Newgrange occurred at 07:20 UTC. If the sunlight entered the structure as the sun rose and disappeared 17 minutes later the solstice would have occurred almost exactly in the middle of that period on December 22 1966. I rest my case.

      • I made an error using NOAA’s sunrise calculator. Sunrise at Newgrange on Dec 22 1966 was 08:42 UTC, just over an hour after the solstice, compared with about four and a half hours before the solstice in 1967.

      • (Note: “Buster Brown” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. Therefore, all the time and effort he spent on posting 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name is wasted, because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

    • “My understanding is that the moment of solstice may occur at night, or evening, or any other time at random.”
      Then your understanding is incorrect, because the word solstice means Sun-stand still, and is defined as
      “either of the two times in the year, the summer solstice and the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon, marked by the longest and shortest days.”

      • And the author’s statement about the exact moment of the solstice occurring at sunrise is ALSO incorrect. It would be correct to say ” at the exact moment of dawn, on the day of the winter solstice” or something like that.

      • (Note: “Buster Brown” is the latest fake screen name for ‘David Socrates’, ‘Brian G Valentine’, ‘Joel D. Jackson’, ‘beckleybud’, ‘Edward Richardson’, ‘H Grouse’, and about twenty others. The same person is also an identity thief who has stolen legitimate commenters’ names. Therefore, all the time and effort he spent on posting 300 comments under the fake “BusterBrown” name is wasted, because I am deleting them wholesale. ~mod.)

        • “Actually Billy understanding is correct, because the solstice can occur “at night” because at the exact moment the solstice occurs, the sun is at it’s highest/lowest point somewhere on the planet. Remember, when it’s night where you are, it’s day on the other side of the earth.”
          Again, there is no such THING as a solstice that occurs at night, because a solstice is based upon the Sun’s position at NOON, in every time zone, during a specific 24 hour period. Earthlings established a little thing called the International Dateline a long time ago. That “dateline” is defined as “an imaginary line of navigation on the surface of the Earth that runs from the north pole to the south pole and demarcates the change of one calendar day to the next It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° line of longitude but deviating to pass around some territories and island groups.” (bold mine)
          The day of the winter solstice is a 24 hour period, just like every other 24 hour day is, that lasts for exactly 24 hours for everyone in the world, no matter where in the world they happen to live. The sun and the earth don’t care what the “date” is for the humans living here. The Sun doesn’t suddenly change position relative to the Earth at some “exact moment”. The beginning and ending of the winter solstice in Idaho occurs at a different time than the beginning and ending of the winter solstice in Egypt, but both periods are exactly 24 hours long and have the exact same “date”. And both of them call sunrise the moment that the sun breaks the horizon FOR THEM, no matter what time it is FOR THEM in that location.
          In other words, Egypt’s solstice will never coincide exactly in real time with Idaho’s solstice.

      • Aphan, I am not sure what to say.
        I know what you are referring to, but you seem to have no understanding of what i and others are referring to.
        Having read many of your well informed comments over many months now, I do not really believe that either.
        The solstice is defined and listed in tables everywhere as occurring at a specific moment in time.
        Most dictionaries list both definitions, either the specific day that is the shortest of the year, and also, separately, as the specific moment in time that the center of the sun is overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn or the Tropic of Cancer at some point on the Earth.
        it only resides there for an instant, as it then reverses direction and heads back the other way.
        (Actually, as I noted above, it would be more correct to refer to a specific point in the orbit of the Earth, and this would also make it plain that the event is a moment in time, not a day, by this definition.)
        You are talking about something else. The other definition.
        I could say that you are wrong, but I would not do that, because I see that there are two separate definitions:
        1. either the shortest day of the year ( winter solstice) or the longest day of the year ( summer solstice)
        2. either of the two points on the ecliptic at which the sun is overhead at the tropic of Cancer or Capricorn at the summer and winter solstices

      • Again:
        “Either of the two corresponding moments of the year when the Sun is directly above either the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn. The summer solstice occurs on June 20 or 21 and the winter solstice on December 21 or 22, marking the beginning of summer and winter in the Northern Hemisphere (and the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere). The days on which a solstice falls have the greatest difference of the year between the hours of daylight and darkness, with the most daylight hours at the beginning of summer and the most darkness at the beginning of winter. Compare equinox. ”
        The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
        Note the word “moment”.
        The literal etymology likewise refers to the standing still, which is again a moment in time.
        One can use whatever definition of a word one wants, but it is pointless to declare in big letters than any other definitions are false, even if the other definition were not the precise scientific definition.

      • Ric,
        “I don’t know who came up with daylight time,”
        Being from Philadelphia, I have heard this attributed to Ben Franklin himself.
        Although he was an inveterate traveler, and I would not be surprised if he was the popularizer rather than the author of many of the ideas attributed to him.

    • Have to share a chuckle…every time I scroll past your bottom image here, I think to myself “Hey look….boot-print of the Gods!”

    • I don’t know why the following got posted WAYYYYY down, instead of under Menicholas’s post at December 21, 2015 at 11:28 am , but I’m going to try again-
      Have to share a chuckle…every time I scroll past your bottom image here, I think to myself “Hey look….boot-print of the Gods!”

    • Yes, but the aliens that built it incorporated a repair mechanism powered by the sun.
      The next time it is not cloudy at sunrise near the solstice, the device will repair itself.

  24. I think it is a game hardly worth the effort disputing which megalithic structure is the oldest when there are so many uncertain factors at play, but can I recommend a fascinating book to your readers about stellar and solar alignments of ancient Egyptian temples – including detailed analysis of foundation dates for Karnak and other major religious sites – by a former Astronomer Royal, J.Norman Lockyer.
    His book “The Dawn of Astronomy” deals with a whole range of astronomical alignments and deals with all the issues of obliquities, equinoxes and solstices etc, in arriving at closely argued datings for when temples were first constructed or altered as risings shifted over time. His book was published in 1894 and is well worth the effort of reading. There is also a chapter about Greek temples.
    His book also confirms for me that the notion that ancient people were in any way mentally inferior to us just because their material culture was different to ours is pretty much on par with climate activists who think they are a whole lot smarter and “righter” than those who are a little more humble in the face of nature and the past.

    • Medical services were less than acceptable unless you believe in leeches as recently as a hundred or two years ago. Those really bright folks of the old days had very short average life expectancy. Children were not even considered people as recenty as ancient Rome and could be disposed of by their parents I they so desired. Strep throat or an impacted wisdom tooth could punch your ticket in those good old days.

      • Note that leeches have made a medical comeback.
        Containing blood thinners and anticoagulants, it may well have been the case that leeches could be medically beneficial in certain circumstances.
        But, being rather limited in their toolbox back then, they were then overused.
        When all one has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

      • Medical services were less than acceptable”. Well of course,medicine has always needed other technologies to be successful.
        One of the commentators made the point that European Anthropologists see everything in terms of religion when they find artifacts, such as at Stonehenge.
        One of the findings from excavation of Neanderthal sites in Southern Spain were carved curved pieces of horn with horizontal striations cut on one flat surface.
        The suggestion is that they were used for ceremonial purposes as sticks for beating out rhythm or rubbing together during shamanistic ceremony.
        At the time the Neanderthals had a growth spurt in population before merging with modern man.
        However if you look at these artifacts they look like the two sides of a pair of hemostats.
        Sure, no handles,no hinge no variable clip.These came later in the evolution of the instrument.
        My own view is that they were bound together with sinew and used as hemostats to clamp off the umbilical cords of newborn Neanderthals.
        This led to the rebound in Neanderthal survival and the technology was eventually transferred to our ancestors.
        If this be true they were not mentally inferior.

  25. Been there a few years ago during a round trip in Ireland. Very impressive what the people have done with hauling all those rocks and their knowledge of the sun and stars at that time…
    Quite narrow entrance, at solstice the sunlight enters from above the stone all along the tunnel into the main chamber, as you can see in the second photo in the story. Here the entrance from the outside:

    • To me that is perhaps the big wonder of these ancient structures. not necessarily the conception of them, but the incredible labors, sustained over many years by what must have been large numbers of people.
      Not to minimize the conception, but i suppose I tend to give these people credit for being as human as us, and they had smart and observant people too.
      Now, find me the guy who invented how to use friction to make a fire, or first used a wheel, or…and this is a big ‘un…took some cotton fibers and twirled it into a thread, and then wove up a piece of cloth, and then sewed it into a garment…those was some smart cookies.
      [Ok, so then they got all stupid and invented shirts for women…no one is perfect 🙂 ]

  26. 7th century rulers built a temple for the Sun God in Arasavalli [village] in Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh State in India on the East Coast side. The Golden Sun rays fall on the IDOL inside the temple on two times in a year — while crossing the equator south to north and north to south — in March & October 1, 2 & 3 early morning 6.00 am to 6.20 am. It is now a tourist destination.
    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  27. This is a fine website, with animations, on the analemma.
    It also has a nifty little sungraph you can put on your smart phone. (Not for android, though. Blast.)
    December 21, 2015 at 11:40 am
    Based on the clues in the Bible, Jesus was born in the Spring, and thus Easter is the celebration that occurs closer to the actual time of year. If Jesus was born in the Spring …
    There are amazing correlations in the Bible between the 12 tribes of Israel and the zodiac signs … Interesting stuff.”
    Indeed. That’s also the key to understanding the Star reported by the Magi. This fellow has what I think is the best explanation I’ve ever seen:
    If he’s right, he can give the exact date. Not a slam dunk by any means, but the author took a sabbatical to do the research and he has taken context seriously. As one of my history professors put it: know context, know meaning. No context, no meaning.

  28. In my youth riding a motorcycle through the middle of OZ it was at least 110 in the water bag and cloudless. Desert flat terrain almost forever. I stopped to camp just before sunset, set up a tent then laid on my back to watch. Being no reflection from clouds a dark line started at the horizon and the stars came out in a distinct line across the heavens like a curtain lifting, brights stars in half the sky and blue sky in the rest, special.
    As soon as the sky was full of stars the temperature dropped to almost zero in about half an hour, after the heat of the day amazing. In the sand the next morning I found some sea shells that were not eroded, the remnants of our inland sea from ages not long passed.
    It would seem to me that OZ and maybe the entire world was a different place in the not to distant past, but what would I know I am only a lowly engineer.

  29. Are you aware that Newgrange was extensively rebuilt in the 60s which led to certain features becoming apparent? I don’t like to be a party pooper here, but living on an island where these things are common, Newgrange sticks out like a sore thumb due to it’s apparent good condition. There are a few megalithic structures with similar features on Ynys Môn, but they look very different from Newgrange.

  30. Yet more den1ar science that need to be reconstructed / re-educated.
    No – people could not possibly have constructed this with their hands – the stones are too big.
    However the structure is anthropogenic.
    It was caused by changes in the CO2 level resulting from human fires and agriculture.
    Local anthropogenic changes in CO2 caused hurricanes to blow big pieces of rock together at the site,
    embossing symbols and drawings on the sides of the rocks in the process by a mechanism that was recently elucidated (Schmidt, Mann, Oreskes, By CO2 we have been made and without CO2 nothing was made that has been made, Nature 2015).
    Furthermore, tornados caused by anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere assembled the rocks into their precise arrangement.
    Resonance with the precession cycle caused the slit opening to appear which admits a sliver of sunlight at precisely winter solstice every year,
    the time and date when annual variations in anthropogenic CO2 output cause the day to have its shortest length.
    A lot of folks here should expect a knock on their door soon to arrange their re-education sessions to help understand that its always CO2 wot dunnit.

  31. Great article, I always find it impressive how people from a time gone by meticulously understood seasonal movements of the stars and geometry.

  32. The sunrise occurs at its southernmost point on the winter solstice. An alignment at this time is easily laid out with 2 markers (sticks or stones) by dead reckoning. It only requires being awake and alert at sunrise, and moving one stone a little if the next day’s sunrise is a bit further south, until the sunrise ceases to move southward. Then you have found the solstice alignment.
    The remaining structure can be quickly built around the alignment.
    All the talk about graves and ceremonies and rituals is sheer speculation. The builders left no written records and few artifacts.
    What counts is that they had an unambiguous and reliable marker for the end one year and the beginning of the next, and a handle on the number of days in a year (365 or 366) – invaluable data for agrarians.

  33. I just saw an article about an ancient Osage Indian cave, with an ancient sun calendar, which is illuminated on the winter solstice. I had never heard of this cave before–it is the Smallin Civil War Cave, near Springfield Missouri, and has been used by humans for 7000 years. Interesting.

  34. And some continue to insist that the stones of Stonehenge were delivered by an ice-sheet! Nuts! I would not give a fig for their supposed learning.

  35. Newgrange is five thousand years old. However, there is a problem with that.
    Sunrise assumes its southernmost position at the winter solstice. It only depends on obliquity, nothing else. Currently it is at 132°12′ at Newgrange’s latitude (53°42′). However, obliquity changes.
    It is 23°26′ now, but 5,000 years ago it used to be 24°. At that time sunrise at winter solstice occurred at 133°24′, 1°12′ south of its current position. If alignment of roofbox and inner chamber is sufficiently inaccurate to let light in at winter solstice even now, then at the time of construction the inner chamber was flooded with light for a month around solstice at each sunrise.
    Which does make the phenomenon somewhat less miraculous.

  36. It is clear to people who study similar spiral designs around the planet during the exact same time period that this culture was moved to build the structure based upon very prominent signs in the sky back then. Apparently, there was a major astronomical event in our solar system that created magnificent plasma discharges between the planets. The people then interpreted these signs in the sky as some kind of divine intervention and built structures to commemorate the event and made drawings to remember it by.

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