Site Section Links
KRONOS Vol IV, No. 4
THE AUBREY HOLES OF STONEHENGE (CONCLUDED)
Interesting investigations have recently been carried out at an archaeological site high in the Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming. The structure is generally thought to have been built several hundred years ago by Plains Indians for an undetermined purpose.* What the site consists of is a circle of stones approximately 83 feet in diameter on a relatively flat area with a pile of stones acting as a hub at its center and 28 uneven spokes radiating to the rim. There are five other stone cairns at various points on the circumference and a sixth that lies a short distance outside the rim at the terminus of an extended spoke. Interestingly, this sixth cairn forms an alignment with the central hub that points quite closely to summer solstice sunrise.
Dr. John A. Eddy of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, has conducted a study of the site and concluded that it was indeed a primitive astronomical observatory. Dr. Eddy has theorized that the 28 spokes may have also been used as a day counting mechanism for calendric purposes in aiding the designers to anticipate the day of summer solstice. It is highly significant that the Aubrey Circle of Stonehenge, as I have presented it, also contains a day-counting circle consisting of 28 double hole-spaces. A number of years ago I pointed out this striking numerical coincidence to Dr. Eddy and suggested a possible cultural, as well as an actual, connection.(28) This was at a time when his then current papers made no mention of such a correspondence. My suggestion evoked no comment but I see now, in a more recent article, that the 28 spokes of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, as it is called, and the 56 Aubrey holes of Stonehenge are being connected.(29) I also notice that Stonehenge is now openly being referred to as a solar calendar although it was not very long ago that this designation was being shunned.(30)
On a different front, Professor Barry Fell is a member of a new breed of scholars who have recently been pushing an old idea to the forefront of public notice. This is the idea of European contact with the continent of America long before the days of Leif Ericson and Columbus.* One of these contacts is now supposed to have been a wave of Celtic immigrants.(31) Fell, along with others, has apparently discovered that the North American Medicine Wheels were of Celtic construction and that one of them was dedicated to the Celtic god Bel. The Moose Mountain wheel of Saskatchewan is twice as big as the Big Horn wheel with a central cairn consisting of 60 tons of material. This also marks the sunrise and, on the strength of some star alignments, Eddy calculated that the observatory must have been built somewhere between 150 B.C. and 300 A.D.
Certain statements in Fell's work are worthy of notice in connection with Stonehenge as the information they provide may contain a connecting link between the solar calendar circle in Britain and those now being investigated in North America.
"An important contribution made by Byron in 1975 was his discovery that the calendar used by the people who made the Vermont sites [where other medicine wheels occur] was divided into eight parts" (emphasis added).(32)
"The Celtic year was divided by the Druids into eight parts ..." (emphasis added).(33)
"The Celts of Britain have never entirely forgotten the 8-part calendar of ancient time" (emphasis added).(34)
Keeping all this in mind, I now refer back to my claim that the Aubrey Circle at Stonehenge was originally constructed as an octagon with every seventh hole (i.e. holes #7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49 and 56) set out with great geometric precision, thereby implying a special significance for these 8 points. The eight holes in question effectively divide the circle into 8 parts and thus also divide the year into the same number of time divisions. I have amplified the evidence for this octagon schema, and thereby for the special importance of the designated 8 holes, by including the following orientations (see also Dwg. I ):
Fell gives a comparative table, reproduced below, of the Celtic festivals as celebrated in Europe and as they have been calculated for North America in "Pagan" times:(35)
Now it is my judgement that the 8 special holes of the Aubrey Circle represented the same 8 festival days. An actual comparison yields the following tabulation:
What I now suggest (urge) is a concentrated effort to determine if there is indeed a cultural connection between these "Celtic" solar calendar circles of America and the solar calendar circle of Stonehenge and to establish, despite past vehement denials to the contrary, if it was in fact the Celts of Britain who built the structure on Salisbury Plain. (It is generally believed that these peoples reached the zenith of their power around 400 B.C., thereafter suffering gradual decline.) If this can be demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction it would serve as additional proof of the lateness of Stonehenge. Needless to say, this would effectively silence all those detractors of Velikovsky who have been using the astronomical alignments, some of which are only imagined, as a refutation to one of his major theses.
NOTES28. Alban Wall to Dr. John Eddy, private correspondence (9/12/74).
29. "Stone Age Computers," in the June 25, 1977 issue of the Weekend Magazine, p 18.
30. Ibid .
31. Barry Fell, America B.C., Demeter Press (Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co.), New York, 1976.
32. Ibid., p. 209.
33. Ibid .
34. Ibid., p. 212.
35. Ibid., p. 213.
THE BOOK OF THE SECRETS OF ENOCH
Interestingly enough, there exists a strong recorded testimony in support of the concept of the Aubrey Circle of Stonehenge as a solar calendar. This is to be found in the astronomical portions of The Secrets of Enoch, an apocryphal manuscript which, in the opinion of a number of authorities, has been extant from about the time of Jesus. These descriptive passages, couched in the picturesque and metaphorical style of those times, are so astonishingly applicable to the calendric aspect of the Aubrey Circle that one might easily be led to believe that the author was describing, with slight variation, the actual functioning of that part of the monument. On the basis of available evidence, it is highly unlikely that the unknown author had Stonehenge in mind, or that he was even aware of its existence. But though he may not have been describing the actual arrangement of Salisbury, he did present an accurate exposition of the theoretical celestial phenomena upon which the operation of the Aubrey Circle, as I have described it, was based. The passages in question are these:
An introduction to the text introduces these passages as:
Of the "Book" itself, the compiler states:
[*!* Image: INSERT KIV3_86.JPG]. Dwg. 1 Stonehenge Showing the principal elements of the structure. Dwg. 2 The Stonehenge 13 Month Solar Calendar.
Following is a tabulation comparing the quotes from Enoch with my postulated workings of the Aubrey Circle as well as an interpretation of Enoch's words in modern technical terminology. The similarity between the calendric mechanism detailed in this tabulation, as described by Enoch and as postulated for the Aubrey Circle is at once obvious and striking. It is amply illustrated by a comparison of the plan of Stonehenge (Dwg. I ) and the solar calendar (Dwg. 2) as well as with the accompanying diagram (Dwg. 8) which shows and explains the diurnal circles or Enoch's seven heavenly circles.
1. The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden, World Publishing Co., Cleveland, Ohio, 1926, Part 2, p. 81.
2. Ibid .
THE CLOCK CALENDAR
The absolute test of any mechanism is whether or not it will work. Not being able to spend a full year, or any substantial part of one, at Stonehenge, I had to resort to the next best thing. I built a miniature, electric-driven replica of the structure, and although this in and of itself does not constitute absolute proof that the Aubrey Circle was used as a solar calendar, it is indeed compelling evidence. The clock calendar, which is what it really is, is constructed in the shape of a cube 7 inches each way. (Dwg. 9) The dial face is segmented into 28 increments which are numbered 1 through 28, but each increment is itself sub-divided in half, making a total of 56 graduations. A black pointer at the outer edge of the dial, attached to a slowly rotating spindle of the clock mechanism, moves through one numbered segment of the dial every 24 hours (through each half-segment in 12 hours), and through all 28 segments, one complete rotation, in exactly 28 days. The pointer makes 13 circuits of the dial in 364 days. The dial is also marked off in quadrants, thereby dividing each month into 4 weeks of seven days each. The clock is stopped one full day each year to provide the 365th day, and once every four years for a leap year intercalation.
A second circular dial is situated at the top of the clock and rotates within a plane that is at right angles to the front dial, being geared to, and driven by, the latter at a ratio of 13 to 1. The top dial, therefore, rotates around its axis once every 364 days. The edge of the upper dial, when viewed at eye level, appears as a straight line and simulates the horizon.
[*!* Image: INSERT KIV2_88.TIF]
Dwg. 8. Sun's diurnal circles plotted for 51.2° North
AhA = Horizon Z= Zenith (Position of Observer) P= Elevated Pole (N)
AaA', BbB', CcC', DdD', EeE', FfF' ,GgG'= Diurnal Circles
6-21, 7-22, 8-22, 9-22, 10-22, 11-21, 12-20 [Sun symbol] [right-hand arrow]
[left-hand arrow][Sun symbol] 5-20, 4-19, 3-19, 2-17, 1-18
ADG= Arc of the Horizon Over Which All Sunrises Occur During the Year 182 Times from A to G; 182 Times from G to A
A'D'G'= Arc of the Horizon Where All Sunsets Occur During the Year 182 Times from A' to G'; 182 Times from G' to A'
AB, BC, CD, DE, EF, FG, GF, FE, ED, DC, CB, BA= Sunrise Zones for 12 Solar Months
A'B', B'C', C'D', D'E', E'F', F'G', G'F', F'E', E'D', D'C', C'B', B'A'= Sunset Zones for 12 Solar Months
ah, bh, ch, dh, eh, fh, gh= Meridian Altitudes for June 21, July 22, Aug.22, Sep. 22, Oct. 22, Nov. 21, Dec.20, Jan.18, Feb.17, Mar.19, Apr.19, May 20
Diurnal Circle= The Apparent Daily Circle Described by a Heavenly Body Due to the Rotation of the Earth
Meridian Altitude= An Arc of the Meridian Between the Horizon and Any Celestial Body on the Meridian
[*!* Image: INSERT KIV2_89: Dwg. 9. 13 Month, 28 Day, Perpetual Calendar]
Affixed to the outer rim of this top dial is a small red ball that serves as a model of the sun. As the dial slowly rotates, the ball is carried in a circuit once every 364 days. Although the real motion of the ball is at a uniform velocity, its apparent motion to the observer is not, much as the motion of a rider on a carousel appears non-uniform to a bystander - fastest as the rider passes abreast of him and slowest when making the turns toward and away from him. In this way the movement of the imitation sun quite closely simulates the movement of the real sun in its annual azimuthal journey along the horizon, the motion of that body being much faster as it crosses the equator, and considerably slower near the solstice points.
THE SHOTGUN METHOD
Following is a tabulation of 8 astronomical alignment azimuths obtained by using the center and specific holes of the Aubrey Circle compared to the alignment azimuth values for the same celestial targets using the asymmetrical system employed by Hawkins. It will be seen that, on the average, alignment errors using the center/ hole method are appreciably less than those accruing through the use of the asymmetric method.
It will also be noticed, however, that the tabulation in question does not take refraction and parallax into account. One might think that this is an incorrect way of tabulating data but notice that Thom also presented declination tables which were not corrected for parallax.(1) Thom himself supplies the formulae for these corrections and,(2) actually so does Hawkins, though in a different way.(3) On the other hand, if these corrections are applied to Hawkins' data as well as to my own, the ratio of the errors in question, both mine and his, would remain unchanged.
In a later work of his, Hawkins refined his figures to the advantage of his theory.(4) If these newer figures are used, Hawkins' error average just about evens out with mine.
I also realize that the Aubrey holes subtend about 1.4° when viewed from the center of the circles but it must also be understood that in these alignments it is the center of each hole that must be taken into consideration. This might also invoke in some a certain amount of doubt as to the visibility of the holes during moonrise and moonset. Actually, the fact that the holes were chalk-filled seems to render this objection as somewhat baseless. Even in moonless nights, a chalk-filled hole is readily visible especially when one knows exactly where to look.
Now let me not be misunderstood. I am not here arguing that the Aubrey holes were used specifically as moonrise and moonset alignments but only that they could have been. After all, we must not forget the words of Fred Hoyle who stated:
A further word about the questionable habit of seeing intended celestial alignments in non-symmetrical combinations of foresights and backsights: the practice is highly speculative as the following tabulation will show:
The celestial target in this instance is the midsummer - sunrise azimuth 50.75° E of N:
All these alignments point to midsummer sunrise and, in reverse, to midwinter sunset. They are parallel to each other and to the station-stone lines 93-94, 92-91 as used by Hawkins and others in their investigations. But were all these alignments really intended? It is hardly likely.
A similar large series of Aubrey hole alignments can also be tabulated for moonrise and moonset azimuths. In addition, scattered odd pairs of Sarsen and/or trilithon stones can also be used to give these same, and other, alignments. In fact, we can play "the numbers game" at Stonehenge almost ad infinitum. Given a circle with enough stones, almost anybody can. But can we truly say that this is what the ancients had in mind?
NOTES TO APPENDIX III1. Alexander Thom, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press, 1974, pp. 97-101.
2. Ibid., p. 118.
3. Gerald Hawkins, Stonehenge Decoded, Doubleday, New York, 1965, p. 111.
4. Idem, Beyond Stonehenge, Harper & Row, New York, 1973, p. 61.
5. R. J. C. Atkinson, et al., "Hoyle on Stonehenge: Some Comments," in Antiquity, XLI, 1967, p. 94
NEWHAM'S SUNRISE DIAGRAMS
Included are facsimiles of two of C. A. Newham's pertinent sunrise drawings. Following are my comments explaining the apparent difference between his and mine.
With regard to the first drawing: (1) Since the Aubrey Circle is thought to be part of the first building phase at Stonehenge, as is the Heel Stone, whereas the Sarsen Circle is assumed to be part of the second phase, it seems appropriate to use the center of the former in solstitial alignments involving the Heel Stone. As a matter of fact, the Sarsen Circle is not a true circle, but bulges considerably and therefore does not have a precise center. Instead it has rather a central area of consequential dimensions that contains the numerous midpoints of the varying diameters. Obviously, bearings can vary somewhat depending upon which pinpoint within that central area an observer "chooses" to use as his foresight. In addition, a number of the Sarsen stones are missing and it is not even certain that they were ever erected.
The principal cause of the difference, however, is that Newham's amplitudes are related to a perfect horizon and not to the actual horizon as it exists at Stonehenge.(2)
To me the most important point to be drawn from Newham's work is that it clearly substantiates my claim that if the Heel Stone was indeed erected as a sunrise marker at the time of the monument's construction, then its date of construction could not have been nearly as long ago as 2000 B.C.
In the facsimile of Newham's sunrise drawing, I have superimposed the disc of the rising sun on his own "apex track of sun" for 1500 B.C. This amply illustrates that when the sun sat tangent on the horizon at that date, it was well to the left of the Heel Stone. By the time it had risen enough along its oblique path to be in line with the stone, it was well above it. This corresponds reasonably well with my own placement of the sun's lower limb on the horizon at summer solstice for 2000 B.C., although my foresight, unlike that of Newham, is taken as the center of the Aubrey Circle.
[*!* Image: INSER KIV2_94.TIF. Sarsen. Sun sat on the horizon here in 1500 B.C. Sun was well above Heel Stone in 1500 B.C. when aligned with it.]
With regards to Newham's other diagram, it is clear that he used the following values in order to obtain the figures for his plot:
By using these values one would arrive at a true amplitude for the sun's center of 40.2° N of E, as Newham's graph indicates (40° 12'). The sun's actual declination for the year 1500 B.C., however, was 23.9° while the actual latitude of Stonehenge is 51.17° N.
Newham's graph is therefore also based on a "perfect horizon" and not on the actual elevated horizon that exists in the Heel Stone sector of Stonehenge.
Incidentally, I have used 0.7° as the elevation. I notice that Hawkins originally assumed 0.6° but he later amended the figure to the obvious advantage of his theory.
NOTES TO APPENDIX IV
1. C. A. Newham, The Astronomical Significance of Stonehenge, John Blackburn. Leeds, 1972, p. 5.
2. Ibid., p. 30.
* * *
EDITOR'S NOTE (FBJ):
The axial tilt of the Earth is 23° 27', which is the difference between the plane formed by the equator and the plane formed by the orbit around the Sun. However, this tilt is not invariable, and its flexibility shows up as a change in the solar declination (or distance from the celestial equator) by approximately 0.47 seconds of arc decrease per year, which means that some 7650 years must pass for it to move through one degree. It is not known with any certainty how long a period of time it takes to go through a complete oscillation cycle and consequently the extent of the variation can only be guessed at, although it has been estimated from about 3° to the magnitude of the tilt itself, approaching 24°.
Underlying the uncertainty of this secondary motion is the additional assumption that the rate of change of 0.47 seconds of arc per year is constant, and therefore that this wobble describes a nearly circular path. It is far more likely that this oscillation describes an elliptical figure, with an as yet unknown eccentricity, despite our knowledge of today's incremental yearly rate of change. If, for example, we were to conjecture that the eccentricity - or elongation - of this wobble is of the same order as that of Earth's solar orbit, or 0.017, and that the 0.47 seconds of arc per year rate is an average value, then variations on past solar positions would not exceed by much + 9 years in absolute dating.
Since we are aware of other erratic and eccentric motions of the Earth, such as the 429-day Chandler wobble - discovered by the American astronomer, S.C. Chandler, around the turn of this century - it is within reason to consider, or even expect, that the rate of change of the axial tilt of the Earth (and thus also the Precession of the Equinoxes) would exhibit some erratic behavior and, more importantly, show a greater eccentricity than what has been previously suspected .
Were this variation just a minimal 3° in magnitude then the period of oscillation would approach some 50,000 years for the completed cycle, but still only by assuming a constant rate. Under conditions of high eccentricity, however, we cannot rigidly assume that the summer solstice sunrises was ever - or ever will be! - observed over the Heel Stone for any time period other than any within a few centuries of our own day. And the reason for this uncertainty is the lack of absolute knowledge of what our present position might be on this elliptical figure, no matter what the length of its period may actually be.
Nevertheless, in consequence of this speculative eccentricity, which must be defined before we can pinpoint any of the several construction stages of Stonehenge, we can at least reasonably assume that the rate of change on the elliptical figure has gone through an accelerating phase sometime in the past. Even this would have a limiting value reaching back to circa -687, when planetary interactions either gave this acceleration its initial impetus or else possibly contributed additional energy to an already existing precessional motion, and in so doing imparted more acceleration to this oscillation. Our present rate of 0.47 seconds of arc per year may be but part of a beginning deceleration phase, where the Sun is now slowly creeping southward from solstice to solstice (or toward the left side of the Heel Stone), whereas during the last couple of millennia this declination may have passed through on its way to a maximum by approaching from the right of the Heel Stone and moving toward the peak of its acceleration. And, having now passed through this maximum, it would not be unreasonable to consider that the summer solstice sunrises were once advancing toward the left (northward), and eventually away from the present orientation of the Heel Stone, some 2700 years ago when the Earth was given an additional nudge by an extraterrestrial agent. The resulting varying rate of change in the declination motion of the precession, which would be Earth's attempt to stabilize itself, would explain why the builders of Stonehenge were forced to revise its orientation repeatedly during each period of construction, so that at each stage the positioning was such that the first flash of sunrise occurred exactly over the Heel Stone on the first day of summer. This experience will not be ours for another thousand years.
[*!* Image: INSERT KIV2_97.TIF]