“SCIENTISTS have unearthed what appears to be a mammoth wooden version of the famous Stonehenge monument at the Hill of Tara.
In a revealing new RTE documentary, many theories and insights into the country’s prehistoric past and 150,000 ancient monuments are unveiled and explained.
For the first time, people will be able to view a computer-generated recreation of what archaeologists believe was a major wooden structure — a version of Britain’s Stonehenge — at the ancient seat of the Irish high kings in the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.
Archaeologist Joe Fenwick revealed a LiDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) laser beam had been used to scan the ground surface to create a three-dimensional map, which revealed more than 30 monuments around Tara.
Using another technique — described as taking an X-ray through the hillside — archaeologists discovered the huge monument, a ditch stretching six metres wide and three metres deep in the bedrock.
The ditch, circling the Mound of the Hostages passage tomb, separated the outside world from the ceremonial centre of Tara.
It was believed the ancient architects had also surrounded the ditch with a massive wooden structure on each side — a version of Stonehenge — on a large scale. Its sheer size meant a whole forest would have had to be cleared to build it.
“In scale, it is comparable, for example, to Croke Park’s pitch. The Hill of Tara had enormous ritual significance over the course of 5,000-6,000 years, so it’s not surprising that you get monuments of the scale of the ditch pit circle,” said Mr Fenwick, from the Department of Archaeology, NUI Galway.
Cutting-edge technology is helping to provide a new insight into the lives of our ancestors, according to the documentary makers behind ‘Secrets of the Stones’.
It shows Ireland’s first civilisation began 7,000 years ago, they withstood major climatic changes and voyaged throughout Europe, returning with new religions and mementos.
An RTE spokesman said the broadcaster, along with the Department of Education, would be sending two free copies of the book accompanying the series to all second-level schools in the country.
The first part of the ‘Secrets of the Stones’ will be shown on RTE One at 6.30pm on Easter Monday.”
Original article here.
“Visiting my first-ever Neolithic circle of standing stones—Beltany Circle—is inextricably linked in my memory with another far more terrifying first: driving alone on the left-hand side of the road.
As I planned my trip to Ireland, I realized that my pilgrimage to prehistoric stones and countryside spas and B&Bs required a rental car. However, I was traveling alone on this trip—there would be no brave companion to volunteer to take the dreaded right-sided wheel or navigate clockwise roundabouts.
So, I reserved an automatic car—no shifting gears with my left hand, thanks very much!—and then spent weeks anticipating the horror of making right turns in heavy traffic. My one consolation: My first week in Ireland was at a weeklong Patchwork Farms creative writing and yoga retreat in Downings, Donegal, which I reached from Dublin via bus and taxi.
Driving to Beltany
While relaxing with other writers, I prepped myself mentally: I sat directly behind drivers and pretended I was piloting the bus through crowded streets and across one-vehicle-at-a-time bridges. Except for the ultra-narrow byways requiring that you back up if you meet oncoming traffic, country roads felt far more relaxing.
And so, after swallowing a capsule of herbal anti-anxiety valerian, I loaded my suitcase into the “boot” of my little Ford, buckled my seatbelt, and pleaded with the ancient Irish warrior goddesses to give me courage and a clear shot on the road.
Luckily, I had minimal town driving before I hit the highway, then I was off on smaller country roads toward the village of Raphoe, where I followed signs pointing me to Beltany Circle. The whole trip lasted less than an hour, but it felt like a lifetime.
My guidebook, The Traveller’s Guide to Sacred Ireland by Cary Meehan, mentioned that this circle sat amongst farmland, but until I got there, it was hard to imagine. Even with the signs, I was sure I was trespassing down someone’s private farm road—and technically I was—but in Ireland, megaliths are public property, even if they’re in your back yard.
Here, I parked close to a large farm, peeled my fingers off the steering wheel, took a deep breath of the damp country air, and walked up the hill through an eerie, dark passageway of trees.
At one spot, there was a break in the trees, and I peeked through to see it: Beltany, my first stone circle! Its name refers to Beltaine, the pagan celebration of the first day of summer, celebrated on May Day (May 1). Beltany Circle’s largest slab is aligned with the sunrise on Beltaine.” …
Read the rest of the story here …
Ireland is home to some of the world’s oldest astronomically-aligned structures, giant stone monuments erected over 5,000 years ago. Despite their apparent simplicity, these megalithic edifices were crafted by a scientifically knowledgeable community of farmers who endeavoured to enshrine their beliefs in a stellar afterlife within the very fabric of their cleverly-designed stone temples.
In this updated and revised edition of their best-selling book, Anthony Murphy and Richard Moore present evidence suggesting the builders of monuments such as Newgrange and its Boyne Valley counterparts were adept astronomers, cunning engineers and capable surveyors. Their huge monuments are memorials in stone and earth, commemorating their creators’ perceived unity with the cosmos and enshrining a belief system which resulted from a crossover between science and spirituality.
As investigation of this awe-inspiring civilisation of people continues on many levels, evidence is emerging that significant archaeological sites dating from deep in prehistory are linked – not just through mythology, archaeology and cosmology – but through an arrangement of complex, and in some cases astonishing, alignments. Some of these alignments of ancient sites stretch from one side of Ireland to another.
While the accounts of the lives of some prominent Irish saints appear to be steeped in folklore and mystery, it seems from new interpretations of the literature that the cosmic world view which existed in Neolithic Ireland experienced a continuity right into the Early Christian period.
Join us on this fascinating exploration of stones, stars and stories. Island of the Setting Sun was launched in December 2006 and was sold out 13 months later in January 2008. The second edition is revised and expanded, with new images and more fascinating insights into ancient Ireland. It will be officially launched in Dublin Castle on Thursday, September 25th. We’d love to see you there.
Critical acclaim for Island of the Setting Sun
“A fascinating insight into Ireland’s ancient burial sites” –
“A monument” – Drogheda Independent
“The sheer amount of information contained within the book is mind-boggling. It is well thought out and structured . . . The more you read the evidence the more convinced you become.” – Astronomy & Space
“The authors . . . reach interesting and challenging conclusions about the significance of ancient astronomical knowledge. The book is jammed with colour illustrations, maps and photographs. A thoroughly interesting read!” – Archaeology Ireland
“An essential book that demonstrates just how much the beliefs and practices of our ancestors were influenced by the movement of the stars. . . . A must have tome for all those passionate about what remains of our fast disappearing ritual monuments of the prehistoric age.” – Andrew Collins, author of The Cygnus Mystery
“A recent, beautifully written and illustrated publication, Island of the Setting Sun offers a thought-provoking merger of the studies of archaeology, astronomy and folklore, to explain Newgrange’s significance.” Geraldine and Matthew Stout, authors of Newgrange
200,000 year-old flaked flint is certainly of human workmanship, but its ultimate origin remains uncertain
(Please note: image left is an illustration of a Levallois-type flake inserted by the blog author, not the actual find)
The possibility of a Palaeolithic human presence in Ireland has once again presented itself. A flaked flint dating to about 200,000 years ago found in Co Down is certainly of human workmanship, but its ultimate origin remains uncertain.
Discovered at Ballycullen, ten miles east of Belfast, the flake is 68mm long and wide and 31mm thick. Its originally dark surface is heavily patinated to a yellowish shade, and the lack of sharpness in its edges suggests that it has been rolled around by water or ice, Jon Stirland reports in Archaeology Ireland.
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How to make Bronze Age beer.
I’ll say no more – except to say that if I had my time over and somebody had said make a film about Standing Stones and stuff that’ll take you two years to complete and a whole lot of work getting it noticed – or – investigate the making of beer 2,500 B.C. and then set up an experiment which involved actually making the stuff and then drinking it, er … how hard a choice would that be?
Anthony Murphy has posted a terrific video review of Standing with Stones at his wonderful website: MYTHICAL IRELAND. Anthony does a great job making his site look great and at the same time being a fantastic resource for anyone researching or just fascinated by the megalithic sites of Ireland, and in particular, their astronomical alignments and significance.
Thank you, Anthony – great job and keep up the good work.