Its the winter solstice coming up on the morning of the 21st. Solstice – sun stands still. Good way of putting it as it pauses before swinging back along the horizon towards its other point in summer. People are looking to sit in passage tombs (the properly aligned ones to be fair to them) and have the sun enter at sunrise. Cant do it. Don’t have the yearning for that mystic experience. If I want to be in a bunch of people huddled together waiting for the light to come in I can take a lift. I am interested in the people who built them though. I intend to get a compass point for sunrise on the horizon and use sticks and string to trace its shadow track. Plotting orthostats, galleries, etc. will be easy to visualise after that. Walking through it may give me some insights into the building of these truly interesting megalithic monuments. Did they possibly get construction quotes or permission perhaps? Were they built with a predetermined time in mind? How many people and how long? What did it look like as it progressed? Did they include parking? How would it be built? Fun aside it is interesting and may lead somewhere.
Tag Archives: living
My wife and I went out to Streedagh to see if we could watch or even catch a glimpse of the predicted Aurora Borealis. It is an ephemeral vision at this low latitude, but if there is a chance who would miss it? We missed it. We went out to Streedagh because it is a north facing beach which would give a clear view if indeed it showed up. There was a light mist but the moon was making a good show through and the hope was it would clear over the sea. It didn’t and the moonlight hitting the low (very thin – we could spot stars) cloud basically set up a light screen.
So far a blog about what hasn’t happened. Onwards.
The beach was being pounded by surf – clear in the moonlight. Further along the strand the mist coming off the surf seemed to dissolve the vista beautifully. The camera could not get enough light to capture the beauty of the scene, but as our eyes adjusted everything was crystal clear. The camera couldn’t capture a shot, but I could see our shadows. Amazing. So we went for a moonlit walk on the beach. Wonderful. The thing is, the human eye takes a while to adjust fully to the darkness, so nothing looked familiar when we were walking back (the car was parked behind the dunes). Found it eventually.
Now the best bit for a random reader passing through – this was a beach where a Spaniard was washed up. From the Armada. Three ships actually beached there, but he wrote letters to his brother at a later point and these were kept safe and translated. I do like to work a book or reading bit in. Its potentially the script for a slew of movies – war, capture, escape, slavery, women chasing him, defending castles, pirates, chases and so on. He was amazingly lucky, a liar, or a bit of both – you decide. His translations can be read here – http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T108200/index.html . Its an amazing site with a vast number of ancient manuscripts translated. If you do read Captain Cuellar’s translations – no pressure, please let me know what you think of them.
Listoghil is tomb 51 at the Carrowmore Megalithic complex. Mention in past histories list the number of monuments at 200. Now less than 50, these monuments are gathering agreement among archaeologists as the oldest stone monuments constructed on the island. I recently met a family from Texas out there as well as 4 Dutch people, wandering around on a Saturday. The place was closed so no information was available. I found this amazing and was delighted to talk about the monuments (as much as I knew). Without the little I knew they would have wandered about and not have felt an impact.
I have heard that the vast majority of the tombs are oriented, not on a sunrise, but on Listoghil. Listoghil itself has been dated as a thousand years younger than some of the other tombs. Takes a lot to figure out the facts, let alone the theories.
The last picture is typical. You wait for a good shot with a clear lineup and out of nowhere someone jumps in. Happens quite often. Anyway, Listoghil was a cairned monument that had suffered substantial robout (theft of stones). Someone saw fit to raise a modern cairn like structure around the monument in the noughtes. I have heard “chamber of horrors, caged animal and Disneyland archaeology”. It is up to the person who visits to judge. The avenue is along the astro alignment so the sunrise still shines into the tomb or monument. The alignment is on a cross quarter day. These are the four festival points, Beltaine, Imbolc, Samhain and Lughnasadh – February, May, August and November. Samhain was the alignment we went to – sunrise was at 7.45am. Samhain is the time of the dead – the original Halloween type of thing. It was very early and very cold. I heard one lady mention it was so early she had left Micks breakfast on page 43 of the cookbook so she could be at the monument and didn’t miss anything.
Guessed there was over 100 people there, just curious and eager to hear from an archaeologist who was going to talk people through it. Nothing like the drumming, candles and chanting at a previous astro event.
And sunrise…… you have to admire the building of those people all those years ago – perhaps 6/7 thousand years ago, depending who you believe or need to agree with. For me it was the people there – after all that time people still gathered for the sunrise. The group I went with were absolutely class and helped make the morning. Well would you feel a wee bit daft standing there on your own in a field with stone constructions? For me, the crowd and the sunrise was more than the science and the sunrise. Cloud rapidly covered the horizon, but it didn’t spoil it a bit. Siobhans flask of hot toddies and the craic with Rory, Alan, Siobhan and Sinead made it more memorable again.
Just a note, all pictures were taken before sunrise by my inexperienced hand. The light gather in each makes some seem brighter or darker. Siobhan kindly lent me her camera as I had left mine charging at home (so I wouldn’t run out of power). The camera was better than I was.
Asking the question probably answers it to a certain extent. Its either do it or don’t. Making shelves for people in return for money is in theory easy. The issues are demand and supply. Firstly there needs to be the connection between people tripping across piles of books and getting shelves to solve this problem. Secondly there is the idea of the shelf. Primarily it should be furniture. My reasoning for this is it is the best return on investment. Anything stuck to the wall can not be rearranged and if removed leaves holes. Holes in any wall are not viewed as a positive feature and doubly so if the property is rented or you are thinking of moving on in the future. Shelves as furniture are an asset. They look well and if made well, they last well. They can be rearranged, moved, sold or given to someone who will appreciate good quality. On the supply side there are numerous sets of shelves and bookcases out there. The issues there are value for money too. You shouldn’t need a mortgage, nor should you be forced to buy low cost kits that after the slightest damage turn out to be temporary.
Reading Pratchett I find I agree with the character Vimes when he looks at the price and quality of boots. The rich pay 150 for a pair of boots that are waterproof and last for 4 – 5 years. The poor buy boots that cost 40 and leak almost straight away and buy a pair each year. So the poor pay more and still have wet feet. Good quality shelves or bookcases are in the same category. They look well and keep the books well. They last well and tag along with you through life. They are worth something if you want to sell them. I like value for money – either getting it or giving it, but I am living in a society where a company pays more for advertising than manufacture. Needs more thought.
Great day was had by all. The comference was fully attended and with all manner of interdisciplinary talks on how the dark may have affected people in the past – in all manner of ways. Dr. Robert Hensey, Prof. Richard Bradley, Dr. John Carey, Ken Williams (photographer), Tim O’Connell (Caver), Dr. Paul Pettitt, Brian Keenan (writer and captive in the dark for some years in the middle east), Prof. Muiris O’Sullivan, Dr. Sian James, Dr. Marion Dowd, Prof. Jack Santino, Fr. Colman O Calbaigh, Prof. (Emeritus) Ruth D. Whitehouse, Prof. Colin Richards and Prof. Gabriel Cooney all spoke over the day to a packed auditorium. I managed to get notes down during some – where there was enough light. Some had the lights off with only the projector on – Prof. Cooney gave his talk (last but by no means least) in complete darkness. So many elite in the one room was like going to a Police concert and finding them supported by Madonna, Ac/Dc, One Direction, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce. There was so much presented – some new ideas, some new finds, that it was hard to devour in one sitting, yet it was compelling. Trying to concentrate enough to pierce some of the accents made a person wish they were powerful enough to have anyone who coughed silently removed.
The two internal photos were taken in the morning before kickoff – and before we were asked to switch off our phones. Outside the auditorium Wordwell had set up a bookstall – all stock was related to the topic. I was delighted to get the last copy of The Irish Revolution, 1912 to 1923 SLIGO, by Michael Farry as well as a few other books. Handy, as on my entertainment side of reading I had just finished Joe Abercrombies Red Country. There was tea, coffee and biscuits with food stalls outside. On the timber and bookshelf side of things I came across a lady I hadn’t seen in a while. She keeps bees and sells their produce in so many ways. I understand she mixes and pours the waxes herself as well as makes the sweets and candles. Havn’t used the candles but the sweets and polish are top class. If you find her – go for the one labeled Polish if you need it for wood – she has a different mix for leather. Having looked at my photo, the text is fuzzy so here it is -(from the top) Direct from the Producer. Guaranteed Pure. Beeswax Polish. 60ml. Shanvaus Apiary, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim. Ingredients: Turpentine, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax.
So many things taken from that day – it will take a while for it all to settle in. What did I love most – John Carey for his use of manuscripts, Tim O’Connell for his obvious love of caves, Marion Dowd for presenting a deep command of her subject so well, Ruth Whitehouse for her subject and because I like Italy, Colin Richards, because Easter Island is so exotic to me and Gabriel Cooney for bringing us all into the dark. Those were the people. The papers presented will have to be studied and studied before I say anything there. But that is just at the moment – its all up in the air and something else may settle into focus over later dates (as I get to know the people and the subject) – way too early to nail that list to the door.
It was a very, very good day.