Clive Ruggles

Publications

     

This list of books and selected papers and articles contains links and downloadable copies where available.

Free downloads

ICOMOSIAU Thematic Studies on Astronomical Heritage

No. 1 (2010): See here for more information or click here to download a copy directly (46 Mb)

No. 2 (2017): See here for more information or click here to download a copy (19 Mb)

 

Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy

 

Download a copy of the Royal Astronomical Society’s factsheet

Image collection

Leicester University Archive

An archival collection of c. 1100 images of archaeological and archaeoastronomical interest has been available on-line since 1995.

     

     

Thousands of new images are (very!) gradually being made available— see here

A Mesolithic calendar?

 

A team of British archaeologists has discovered what they believe to be the oldest calendrical monument known anywhere in the world, created by hunter-gatherer societies in Scotland and dating back to around 8000 BC.

 

The site, at Warren Field, near Crathes, is broadly aligned in the direction of midwinter sunrise, which was framed among prominent hills to the south-east. But it also appears to mimic the phases of the moon in order to track lunar months over the course of a year.

 


 

Experts in landscape archaeology, remote sensing and computer visualisation have analysed a Mesolithic pit alignment discovered in Aberdeenshire. In research published in vol. 34 of the journal Internet Archaeology, they conclude that it may have functioned as a luni-solar device for keeping track of the seasons by observing the sun and moon some 5,000 years before formal time-measuring devices were developed in the Near East.

The site, at Warren Field, near Crathes, is broadly aligned in the direction of midwinter sunrise (in the direction perpendicular to the line of pits), and this was framed among prominent hills to the south-east. But it also appears to mimic the phases of the moon in order to track lunar months over the course of a year. Marking the position of sunrise is one way to provide an annual astronomical correction which would maintain the link between the passage of time, indicated by the Moon, and the asynchronous solar year and the associated seasons.

The capacity to measure time is among the most important of human achievements and the issue of when time was ‘created’ by humankind is critical in understanding how society has developed.

Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, who led the project, comments: “The evidence suggests that hunter gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East. In doing so, this illustrates one important step towards the formal construction of time and therefore history itself.”

Quotes from Clive:

Clive, who advised the team on archaeoastronomical issues, points out that

“The site did not mark particular moonrises as the changing patterns of moonrise are far too complex—the argument is that it represents a combination of several different cycles which can be used to track time symbolically and practically. There are certainly hunter-gatherer societies who use the phase cycles of the moon to help synchronise different seasonal activities but it is remarkable that this could have been monumentalised at such an early period.”

Could this Scottish monument represent the world’s oldest calendar?

“We need to be cautious. There are many issues to be addressed before the Warren Fields alignment could be definitely accepted as an ancient device for tracking the sun and moon. For me, the excitement is discover that such an impressive monumental structure exists from such an early era, very likely associated with seasonal observances, broadly aligned upon solstitial sunrise, and which can plausibly be connected with the lunar cycles that there is every reason to suppose were well known to people at the time.”

 

Article in Internet Archaeology, vol. 34

Return to the research page

Return to the home page

Archaeoastronomy

… is the study of beliefs and practices relating to the sky in the past, especially in prehistory, and the uses to which people's know- ledge of the skies was put.

     
Journals

   
Professional bodies


Free software tools

Basic declination calculator

 

HORIZON
by Andrew Smith


See the Tools page for more info


Books

Springer Handbook (2014):

 

Ocarina Books publishes and distributes books relating to archaeo- and ethnoastronomy

Alice Ruggles Trust

If you are looking for things related to Alice and/or information about stalking, please visit the Alice Ruggles Trust website