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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Tim's Jolly Jape

 

 The blue line shows the "axis" of the monument, and the red one shows the "newly discovered alignment."

Stonehenge mystery solved at last........ etc etc.  I've been watching with increasing incredulity the wonderfully gullible coverage in the media of Tim Daw's latest theory about the alignment of the flat face of stone 56 at Stonehenge.  There was even a photo on the BBC web site showing the sunset moment in just the right place, depending on where you stood to take the photo..... but let that pass.  This should of course have been published on April 1st, but somehow they got the dates mixed up at WANHS magazine.  So here we are, with yet another wacky alignment theory, by far the most implausible in a long history of such things.  And people keep on taking them seriously, obsessed with the search for meaning and significance. Almost anything will do, and the media will take it seriously.  So good for you, Tim! 

Er, you can't possibly be serious, can you....??

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Stonehenge's tallest stone 'points at winter sunrise'

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-32356993

The tallest stone at Stonehenge points towards the sunrise on the midwinter solstice, according to a new theory from a steward at the site.
Historians have long known the circle of stones is aligned with the midsummer sunrise but Tim Daw says the tallest one is lined up with the midwinter sun.
It was previously thought the stone had been put back at the wrong angle when it was re-erected in 1901.
But Mr Daw, who works there, says his research shows its angle is deliberate.
Mr Daw said: "The largest stone at Stonehenge is not where it 'should' be, it is twisted.
"This stone, Stone 56, is the tallest one at the end of the inner horseshoe of sarsen stones.
"Because it was put back to the vertical in 1901 it has been assumed that the twist is the result of the modern excavators botching the job.
"My research shows that not only was the standing stone out of symmetry with the central solstice alignment originally, but that its now fallen partner had also been, and so were surrounding stones, including the Altar Stone."
Mr Daw, who last year came up with evidence that the outer stone circle at Stonehenge was once complete, said his newly discovered alignment was at 80 degrees to the line of the axis of the monument, which points to midsummer solstice sunrise and midwinter sunset.
"The stones point to the midwinter solstice sunrise and midsummer sunset," he said.
"This alignment had been missed by previous investigators... as they used an idealised plan rather than an actual plan for their calculations."
"This isn't some nebulous sighting line on a distant star; this is 100 tonnes of stone deliberately pointing to the major event at the other end of the day the rest of the monument celebrates.
"One stone out of line might be a coincidence but that it is five of the major stones, at least, shows it was a designed feature.
"It shows what can be discovered by simple observation even in such a well-researched site as Stonehenge."
Director of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS), David Dawson, said: "This is an interesting new idea which highlights the "skew" of the Stonehenge trilithons, which has been known for some time.
"It highlights the significance of the summer and winter solstices at Stonehenge, and the 80 degree angle between them.
"We know that the Bush Barrow lozenge, on display at the Wiltshire Museum, hints at this same significant astronomical feature.
"There will now be a debate between archaeologists and a re-examination of the evidence to test this new hypothesis."
Jessica Trethowan from English Heritage said it was "an interesting idea".
Mr Daw's theory has been published in the latest WANHS magazine.
People traditionally gather at Stonehenge for the winter and summer solstices

21 comments:

Geo Cur said...

There was never any need for the photo op , it was a simple enough calculation .
What Tim was concerned was as much the argument about the skew of the stone , he provides evidence to support an original intentional skew and therefore not a mistake on Gowland’s behalf , the “alignment” was a possible explanation for that skew .

There are far more implausible alignment theories about the monument suggested on a weekly basis , and no shortage of others in relation to other monuments , even IA enclosures , as we have seen here .

Evergreen said...

"Mr Daw, who last year came up with evidence that the outer stone circle at Stonehenge was once complete.."

!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I saw that, and refrained to comment. What Tim did, with his smart observations, was show that there are probably other holes in the ground approx in the places where sarsens are supposed to have stood. Those holes now hold sediments which have different drying qualities than the surrounding chalk debris / Stonehenge layer / debitage. What he did not show is that those supposed pits ever held monoliths.

Evergreen said...

Indeed. They are certainly a possible indication that the intention was for the sarsen circle to be complete, but without digging we won't know if stones ever stood in those holes.

TonyH said...

Wouldn't have thought this is a jape, i.e. a practical joke, by Tim. As Geo says, he appears to have researched matters thoroughly back to 1901 and what the alignment was before the re-erections.

BRIAN JOHN said...

OK -- tongue in cheek. But I thought I read somewhere (one of your comments, Geo?) that sunrise and sunset positions are not in the same places today as they were 5,000 years ago?

Geo Cur said...


Brian ,
there is a difference over 5000 years but it amounts to just over 1 degree .

Timothy Daw said...

https://www.academia.edu/12401342/The_Twisted_Trilithon_of_Stonehenge_Corrected_Version_ has the paper. Observations, hypothesis, experiment design, test result. It is how it is done.

Akhen3sir said...

The change in the obliquity of the ecliptic (axial tilt of the Earth) between 4.5Ka ago and today is about 0.5° (24° to 23.5°), which makes a difference of about 1° (~two solar diameters) in the solstice rising and setting points between then and now.

In the past the points were closer to the local meridian (ie further round to the north and south) than they are today. That's about the same as your little fingernail held at arm's length.

Tim's highlighted the fact that there are other features that share his proposed intentional "skew" angle of 80° of the Great Trilithon - notably the Altar Stone* and postholes 3362 and 3364 that flank it on the NE. It's an interesting conjecture.

* First remarked on by Prof Gordon Freeman 2009

Akhen3sir said...

By the way, Banton et al 2014 ("Parchmarks at Stonehenge July 2013") clearly states:

"While the discovery of parchmarks corresponding to stone holes 17 and 18 does have a bearing on this question it does not answer some of the other difficulties listed above — and the presence of a stone hole does not of itself prove that a stone ever stood in it."

ND Wiseman said...

In My Opinion ...

If you stand at the location of the "Three Pits" or postholes discovered by Hawley in the 1920s, located in the southeastern Embankment, and look across to Station Stone 93, you'll see that the Great Trilithon impedes the sightline. That's because this sightline existed before the Stones were installed.

So what, you say? Well, that particular line marks the Summer Solstice sunset, and it precisely bisects the space between the Stones of the Trilithon.

Now if this location was important enough to position those Stones at that specific point, who's to say that they didn't skew the whole shebang to have the backs of S-56 & -55 align with it?
Remember that the Trilithon Set existed for quite a while before the Stone Circle was erected, so this design feature would have been prominent at that time.

I have always felt that the Altar Stone was recumbent, and it lays at 80-degrees to the Axis. It would take some serious physical geometry to persuade me that the collapse of S-55 would push the east end of it to the south! Tim says that Bluestones -66, -67, and -68 may also have aligned. (I'm not 100% on that one). But if true, it leans toward intention.

Other previously unnoticed solar alignments exist, such as the following, extremely old example.
Get yourself a good map of the Aubrey Holes, ie the 1919 OOW version, or Roz Cleal's from 1994. Now draw a corresponding angle of the SSSS and/or WSSR across the Henge. Tell me what you see. (Hint: It will floor you.)
In short: These folks were very keen on Solar & Lunar alignments, and had been for a Very long time. Not at every site, no, of course not. But Stonehenge was quite special, coming at the tail-end of these things. Basically, it distilled 2,000 years of accumulated knowledge and put the Moon, the Sun and Earth all in one convenient location.

On missing Stones -17 & -18. The parchmarks are there. They are the correct size and are in precisely the correct location for where those Stones aught to be. Yes, we should probably dig to be absolutely sure, but ... seriously?

Over to you, Brian & Co. I'm ready for the lambasting!

Best,
Neil

Geo Cur said...

“Get yourself a good map of the Aubrey Holes, ie the 1919 OOW version, or Roz Cleal's from 1994. Now draw a corresponding angle of the SSSS and/or WSSR across the Henge. Tell me what you see. (Hint: It will floor you.) “

Neil , feet still on the floor ,rest of body still above feet .
There is no comparison with the actual solstice alignment which involves multiple paired stones and a linear monument and has a very clear indication among the huge amount of potential among the various components .
The Aubreys are relatively regularly spaced and have an average of three degrees separating the various centres of diametrically opposed holes . That means that any given orientation will be accurate within 1.5 degrees and even less when the full extent of the AH is taken into account rather than just the centre . You can therefore argue for a rough alignment to almost anything . Pits 85 m apart are not the stuff of astronomical alignments . Even if they held stones or stakes there is still the problems of the above and which of the pairs are to be chosen . Circumstances might be different if we knew for sure that there were markers in some of the pits and the two marking the alignment had some form of indication as to their import i.e. were taller ,they were the only or a much smaller number of markers than 56 .

“These folks were very keen on Solar & Lunar alignments”

This is obvious in only a very small proportion of monuments, it’s modern folks who are far more keen on them ,or at least "discovering" them .

Evergreen said...

I'm surprised nobody has tried to claim an alignment over the radial bluestone...

ND Wiseman said...

Geo, my old friend - you know our love will never die, but there's 26 oppositions of Aubrey Holes along the Summer sunset/Winter sunrise - not just one or two. When we include SS-94/Hole-G and SS-93/3 postholes there's 28. They are all equally spaced and they are all parallel. The present lines are shifted a degree or so to the right - now slightly off-center to the Holes - but still hit them because the Holes are so wide - not just points on paper. If we accommodate Obliquity, they are on-center.

The Aubreys form a very accurate circle within the Bank, but are by no means 'evenly spaced'. You are well aware of my original-build Stone-97 Axis theory, and if we take this under advisement it's shown that there was a great deal more going on with the placement of those holes than has previously been noticed; at least that I know of. This explains the seemingly sloppy spacing. With apologies to Dr Hawkins, it has nothing to do with eclipses.

Now, because of these pre-stone configurations, it tells us that those folks were well aware of solar and lunar motions from the very outset, and that those motions were embedded into the design. At each stage of the idea the evidence mounts and shows that the theory doesn't just extrapolate from a single original point, but is bolstered by subsequent elements within the build.

It's my contention that though the funerary site was originally a 'Lunar Monitor', the sun was also included in a key way. When the emphasis eventually shifted to the Sun, they transferred what was already there with what came later, and the placement of the Stones 500 years later seem to indicate this.

Therefore, it's quite possible that -56/-55 were indeed cocked along the SS-93/'3-posthole sightline to Summer Sunset/Winter Sunrise.

Best,
Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tim for sending the link to your paper. I have now read it, and fear that I am entirely unconvinced. It seems that this particular alignment is simply one of an almost infinite number of alignments which one can superimpose on a detailed plan of Stonehenge. Some of them will, of course, coincide with "significant" locations of the rising or setting sun, or the stars, or the moon. All good jolly fun.

Geo Cur said...


“ there's 26 oppositions of Aubrey Holes along the Summer sunset/Winter sunrise - not just one or two. “

Neil , I never suggested that there were only one or two oppositions to choose from , the fact that there are so many is part of my point about lack of indication , such a large choice makes the likelihood of any one being “the one “ for any given orientation much less likely . If there were only one indication , as in two markers , then there might be the start of a case, but the choice from 56 is immense with the vast majority having no relation to anything to do with the sun or moon . Because there are so many and because “because the Holes are so wide” the choice of possible azimuths from each pair is about to obliquity and you can therefore pick a bearing to anything you wish and claim accuracy too . The level of presumed intentionality is zero , compare that with the actual solstice alignment and various passage graves where the intention is clear ,the contrast is ,again , immense .
“Now, because of these pre-stone configurations, it tells us that those folks were well aware of solar and lunar motions from the very outset, and that those motions were embedded into the design. “
No it doesn’t , they are just a group of pits “by no means 'evenly spaced'. “ around the perimeter of the henge . However we analyse their distribution and play about with the figures it doesn’t tell us anything about the builders knowledge of astronomy . The fact that they would have been aware of the solar and possibly lunar cycles is not evidenced in the siting of the Aubreys .
“It's my contention that though the funerary site was originally a 'Lunar Monitor', the sun was also included in a key way. “ Evidence ? If they knew the basic lunar cycle ,what was there to monitor ? Once it is worked out and you realise you have nailed it , job done .It’s much the same with the solstice , although much simpler , you don’t have to keep checking , after a few years it looks like it will continue , unless your’e David Hume , of course .


Geo Cur said...

Neil , I never suggested that there were only one or two oppositions to choose from , the fact that there are so many is part of my point about lack of indication , such a large choice makes the likelihood of any one being “the one “ for any given orientation much less likely . If there were only one indication , as in two markers , then there might be the start of a case, but the choice from 56 is immense with the vast majority having no relation to anything to do with the sun or moon . Because there are so many and because “because the Holes are so wide” the choice of possible azimuths from each pair is about to obliquity and you can therefore pick a bearing to anything you wish and claim accuracy too . The level of presumed intentionality is zero , compare that with the actual solstice alignment and various passage graves where the intention is clear ,the contrast is ,again , immense .
“Now, because of these pre-stone configurations, it tells us that those folks were well aware of solar and lunar motions from the very outset, and that those motions were embedded into the design. “
No it doesn’t , they are just a group of pits “by no means 'evenly spaced'. “ around the perimeter of the henge . However we analyse their distribution and play about with the figures it doesn’t tell us anything about the builders knowledge of astronomy . The fact that they would have been aware of the solar and possibly lunar cycles is not evidenced in the siting of the Aubreys .
“It's my contention that though the funerary site was originally a 'Lunar Monitor', the sun was also included in a key way. “ Evidence ? If they knew the basic lunar cycle ,what was there to monitor ? Once it is worked out and you realise you have nailed it , job done .It’s much the same with the solstice , although much simpler , you don’t have to keep checking , after a few years it looks like it will continue , unless your’e David Hume , of course .

ND Wiseman said...

Hi Geo,
I mention the varying widths of the Holes only to demonstrate that they still hit today. Deduct that 1.25-degrees and the lines run over the centers.

It occurs to me that if it were only one or two Holes then it might be considered random, of course. But there's 26 which run along the sunline, they hit the western-most Station Stones; Holes -F & -G are included, not to mention the center-most of the so-called Three Postholes.

The lines are all parallel, which would be impossible without the seemingly sloppy spacing.
The center sightlines would have been interrupted when the Stones were installed, which tells us that they were configured before that time - obviously when the Holes were first dug, some time after the ditch.

This also bolsters the idea that the Holes, at some early point, held sighting posts - perhaps followed by Bluestones.

In keeping with, but independent of Tim's idea, it infers that the Gt Trilithon was installed along the SS-93 / 3-Posthole sightline intentionally. He wants to cock those Stones at 80-odd degrees to the Axis, and that's fine. I say the line intersects the space between them.

Listen - I know that none of this changes the world as we know it, but it seems to me that perhaps these three points of evidence indicate that it's all just too precise to be anything other than intentional.

Best,
Neil

Geo Cur said...

Neil ,
If there were only two or a few pits then there is at least a basis for considering their relationship , albeit a tenuous one as pits are not the a stuff of astro alignments. But what we have is a relatively homogenous group of pits , as are often found at monuments from the period , and because of their number and general spacing any alignment could be suggested and confirmed . The problem is further exacerbated if we include the gaps between the pits which is closer to the method of indication for the solstice alignment .
“26 run along the sunline “ , using that criteria the same could be said of countless other lines to anything you care to mention . I don’t know your birthday but you will find any number of paired Aubreys pointing to the point on the horizon where the sun sets and rises on your birthday , mine and Santa’s too . The pits were dug prior to the erection of the megaliths , we know that , not much respect for our birthday alignments or any others for that matter .
They may have held posts , they may have held stones they have held neither , the jury is out and there are three camps who will argue expertly in defence of their respective corners . If there were posts or stones it doesn’t necessarily make them “sighting “ posts any more than the majority of bluestones were “sighting “ stones , that is entirely subjective .If they were “sighting “ stones then the choice of what was being sighted was enormous including all the birthdays you can come up with .
Unlike the solstice alignment which has multiple components of differing type .
I don't believe the 56 points and their additional area as well as the space between them which covers all compass points and thus all possible alignments can provide any indication of intention , it's too amorphous .

Geo Cur said...


"I'm surprised nobody has tried to claim an alignment over the radial bluestone..."

I'm sure they have .
which one is that ? 69 ?

Evergreen said...

33e I think