To catch the sunset through the hole on New Year’s Day it was necessary to take the photograph at 3.15 pm, standing a little to the left of the stone. Perhaps the alignment with the sun would be exact at the winter solstice, ten days earlier, an indication of the care and precision with which the massive stone was erected. If so, then North Ronaldsay’s ‘stan stane’ should join Maeshowe in showing, in its unique way, the significance of the winter solstice in neolithic culture.
This is extremely interesting, and we’re going to follow up with further links.
And for another opening into Orkney’s archaeoastronomy, there’s a particularly interesting section on Sigurd Towrie’s Orkneyjar site. The site itself is recognised as one of the finest places anywhere for insights and information into Orkney’s past. It’s always up with the latest news, and provides authoritative assessments of developments.
Sigurd has been looking at the conclusions coming from some other areas where stone circles are found, which suggest a layout on the ground that maps parts of the constellation of Orion. He’s looked at the three Orkney stone circles of Bookan, Brodgar and Stenness, and argues that these could be laid out in the shape of the stars of Orion’s Belt.
The argument is careful and clear, the approach thoughtful, and it really opens up some fascinating directions for investigation.