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KRONOS Vol IV, No. 3

The Cairns Of Kintraw


Copyright (c) 1979 by Dwardu Cardona.

Dr. Euan MacKie's archaeological excavation at Kintraw, Argyllshire, Scotland, has been hailed by some as a dramatic confirmation of the astronomical function of this megalithic site. According to Alexander Thom's earlier work, the site consists of what he mistook for a small circle of stones approximately twenty feet in diameter, an outlying menhir twelve feet high, a fallen stone which would have been some seven feet high, and a ruined cairn the diameter of which is slightly over fifty feet. The arrangement, as shown in the accompanying diagrams, occupies a small level piece of ground, the only such place on a very steep hill. To the southwest are the slopes and peaks of Beinn Shiantaidh, Beinn a Chaolais, and Beinn an Oir. These are the so-called "paps" of the island of Jura which are also visible from our previously described site of Ballochroy,(1) some thirty-five miles to the south of Kintraw.

Around 1800 B.C., according to Thom, the upper limb of the setting midwinter Sun, declination -23 54' when taken for the centre of the Sun's disc,(2) slid down slightly behind the slope of Beinn Shiantaidh and was visible, but only momentarily, as a flash of green light in the col between that slope and the rising left-hand one of Beinn a Chaolais. It is this flash that, according to both Thom and MacKie, the ancients meant to mark at this so-called megalithic solar observatory.

Thom's first mention of the Kintraw site was in 1954. In his table of solar sites, he shows the solsticial line as being indicated by a "monolith and circle". The foresight is merely alluded to as a "col in paps of Jura". The declination is given as -23 38' 1'.(3)

[*!* Image: Fig. 1. Facsimile of Thom's 1967 plan of Kintraw. Labels: To notch. Fallen menhir. Large cairn. 12-foot menhir. To Beinn Shiantaidh]


In his 1967 work,(4) Thom presented this alignment in a diagram (Fig. 1). As shown there, the line runs from the centre of the "ring" through what appears to be an oriented stone on the "ring's" circumference. There is, however, a flaw to this arrangement. As Thom and MacKie both point out, not only the Sun's flash in the col but the Jura mountains themselves are entirely hidden from view by an intervening tree-covered ridge. Actually, the col can be seen but only by moving far to the right. By then, however, the azimuth of the col would be rendered too low to indicate the solstice. In other words, the phenomenon to be observed cannot be observed from ground level.

Thom remained dauntless. He turned his attention to the nearby ruined cairn. He surmised, and rightly so, that this must once have been much higher. The flash could then have been viewed from the top of the cairn which brings the paps into sight above the broken foreground of the intervening ridge. The line from the cairn, he tells us, would then have been marked by the top of the twelve foot high menhir.(5) Here Thom's reasoning is not very clear because the menhir, as can be seen from the diagram (Fig. 1), is not in line with the centre of the "ring" and the "oriented" stone that marks the original alignment. Could Thom's superbly accurate ancient surveyors have been that inaccurate? Or was there another solution to the problem?

Viewing the phenomenon from the top of the cairn raised two other obstacles. In the first place, since the flash was invisible from ground level, how did the ancient builders know exactly where to construct the cairn? And, for the same reason, how could the ancient surveyors have carried out their preliminary work of driving stakes in the ground, day after day, in their endeavor to pinpoint the alignment? The top of the cairn would not have afforded enough space for the sideways movement. Meanwhile, the cairn could not have been built before the alignment had been found. Something of a vicious circle. For a while, Thom left the problem unresolved even though this did not deter him from accepting the alignment as genuine.

Thom also shows an alignment from two other stones, set almost back to back, on the circumference of the "ring". The line runs to the northwest in the direction of another notch between two hills. Thom gives the declinations of both the peak of the higher hill and the notch between it and the next. These are +21.9 and +22.0 respectively,(6) which are close to +22.06, one of the solar declinations that Thom considers significant. But, despite the fact that the alignment is shown as indicating the notch, in his table of lines Thom preferred the less accurate +21.9 of the peak.(7) The reason is not stated. Even so, this alignment could not have been considered of great importance because all mention of it is omitted from the main body of the text. In fact, both this alignment and the one to Beinn Shiantaidh are shown in Thom's "list of observed lines" as of class "B" that is, of "poorer indication"(8) or "borderline cases which some people might accept and others discard".(9) To be fair to Thom we will assume that, in view of the later work which he conducted at the site, the alignment to Beinn Shiantaidh would have been promoted to class "A". In his later work, Thom classed Kintraw with Ballochroy as the most important of the solstitial sites.(10)

[*!* Image: Fig 1b. Facsimile of Thom's 1969 plan of Kintraw. Labels: River in gorge. Stone A (Later S4). Fallen menhir S2. To notch or peak. To Dubh Beinn. To Beinn Shiantiadh. 12ft menhir]


Then, in 1969, Thom gave us a new diagram with a new set of lines.(11) The line from the twelve foot menhir which runs through the centre of the stone "circle" is no longer shown as indicating Beinn Shiantaidh. It is now shown as pointing to Dubh Beinn (Fig. 1b). What was a solar sight line has now become a lunar one. At this point we become a little suspicious. Meanwhile, the line to Beinn Shiantaidh is shown as starting from a stone (designated "A" but later "S4") across a stream in a gorge to the northeast of the site. From there the line passes off centre across the cairn, through the twelve foot menhir, and, again off centre, across the stone "circle". The direction can hardly be said to have remained the same but, nevertheless, the line is still said to point to the same col. This seems to indicate that the arrangement of a site does not really matter to Thom; that only the foresight seems to be of importance; that backsights can be changed; that if his first surmises prove inadequate, he can always find other stones through which to draw a line. In our opinion, this alone already undermines the astronomical orientation claimed for this site. But we have other objections.

[*!* Image: Fig 2. Facsimile of Thom's 1971 plan of Kintraw. Labels: A. To Beinn Shiantaidh. B. To Dubh B(h)einn. C. Fallen menhir S2. D. Gorge. E. Merrit's stone S5. F. Platform (ledge). G. Stone S4. H. Stream. I. Stone S3. J. Large cairn. K. 12-foot menhir (S1). L. Small cairn.]


Our suspicion continued to be aroused when, in 1971, Thom decided to modify his diagram a third time.(12) Although the line to Beinn Shiantaidh remained the same, he now omitted the alignment from the "back to back" stones shown in his two previous diagrams (Fig. 2). Perhaps by then Thom had realized that these stones were actually part of a kist (or cist) and that the entire "ring" was nothing but the remains of a smaller cairn.(13) In truth, this had been known much earlier. As it stands, the kist would have been buried beneath the cairn's periphery and the phenomenon that Thom indicated with his alignment could not have been observed from beneath the structure of the cairn. Once again, this ably illustrates the fortuity of such sight lines, i.e., given enough stones and a mountainous horizon, some celestial occurrences are apt to line up with something.

Meanwhile, the lunar line to Dubh Beinn that was introduced in Thom's second diagram is now shown as running from the fallen menhir, S2. Again fortuitously, the fallen menhir does seem to be oriented in the direction of Thom's alignment. We say fortuitously because this "orientation" is only due to the coincidence of the stone's fallen state. When still erect, this menhir could have been said to have "pointed" in any direction. But here something else is wrong because even in its fallen "oriented" position, S2 does not point to Dubh Beinn. To give Thom the benefit of the doubt, we assume that either this diagram is badly drawn or a mistake in its layout has been made. We say this because beneath the horizon profile given for this alignment (Fig. 3 but 4.4 in Thom's work) appear the words "Moon setting on Jura Hills ... as seen from the cairn".(14) This, needless to say, would be impossible if the line passed through the fallen stone S2 as shown in the diagram. But even so, the path of the Moon does not follow the slope of Dubh Beinn (Fig. 3), so it did not much matter behind what portion of it the lunar orb rose or set.

Other than the lunar one,(15) to which he did not pay much attention, MacKie did not see fit to mention these auxiliary alignments in his triple description of the Kintraw site.(16) Obviously, he did not wish to cast any doubt on the site by the inclusion of these fortuitous lines. He therefore limited the reader's attention to the Beinn Shiantaidh alignment. For the rest of our argument, we shall do likewise.

[*!* Image: Fig 3. Moon setting behind Dubh B(h)einn

Fig 4. Midwinter sunset as seen from Kintraw. Labels: Beinn Shiantaidh. Beinn a Chaolais]


Regardless of his redesigned site plans, Thom's problems were not yet over. In his earlier work Thom stated, as he had done in relation to other sites, that the declination of the setting Sun as it brushed the slope of Beinn Shiantaidh (Fig. 4) was equivalent to the value of the obliquity of the ecliptic at 1800 B.C.(17) We do not know whether it was because retrograde calculations at this site did not work well or whether it was because he used a different equation, but in the later revised and corrected work Thom decided to change the date to circa 1700 B.C.(18) As a refinement of his earlier work, this is acceptable. But other changes of mind are not. For instance, in 1969 he stated, with regard to the solstitial line, that one foot of movement would correspond to one second change in declination,(19) whereas in 1971 he stated that 12 seconds of declination change would correspond to 19 feet of movement.(20) Consistency this is not.

This brings us to the preliminary driving of wooden stakes. Thom himself tells us that today the observations would be "bedevilled by refraction changes from evening to evening".(21) This obstacle he then sweeps aside by a matter-of-fact statement concerning "the clearer skies of Megalithic times".(22) In view of the uniformitarian tenets which he favors, on what basis does he assume the skies to have been clearer? One may answer: There was no industrial pollution, etc., in megalithic times. But, despite Ruggles' contention to the contrary, the mists and fogs which bedevil this part of the country today bedevilled it also in 1700 B.C.(23)

As to the solution to the rest of the puzzle it became "obvious". The ancient surveyors would have surveyed not from the site, not from the top of the larger cairn, but from a position higher up on the steep hillside to the northeast of the site. Between the hillside and the site there is, however, a deep impassable gorge through which runs a stream. Besides, the hillside is much too steep to permit "the rapid sideways movement necessary when observing".(24) But even here, a little exploration rewarded our modern surveyor. A little up the hill and facing the site, Thom discovered "a little platform [a ledge, really] like a short stretch of narrow road cut into the hillside".(25) The mystery was solved.

[*!* Image: Fig 5. Midwinter sunset as seen from the "platform" at Kintraw. Labels: Tree covered ridge. Jura paps. 12-foot menhir]


On the edge of this "platform, " fourteen feet above the site (although he had calculated it at 20 feet in 1969)(26) Thom also discovered a large stone. This stone (designated "A" in 1969, but henceforth as "S4"), he thought, might have once stood upright. From here the Beinn Shiantaidh col can be viewed quite clearly across the gorge in line with the top of the twelve foot menhir (Fig. 5). To clinch the matter, "on the line, or nearly on the line" from this stone to the big cairn, another stone, S3, lies on the level ground below. And as if all this was not enough, R.L. Merritt drew Thom's attention to yet one more stone, S5, stationed one hundred feet further up the hill.(27) It was from this "platform" that Thom believes the observations were conducted. It was from here that the ancients calculated where the big cairn should be built.

What can be said against all this? The two-and-a-half-foot stone, S5, discovered by Merritt is the easiest to discount. Thom believes that this "station" was used to "give warning that the limb [of the Sun] was coming into view". Of its position he states that it "might be said to be orientated correctly".(28) In truth, it might not so be said a look at the diagram (Fig. 2) makes this quite clear. Of course, it could have been intended to have this "station" away to the north of the actual alignment in order, perhaps, to view the Sun's upper limb peering slightly over the edge of Beinn Shiantaidh's slope as it slid toward the col. But are we arguing in favor or against Thom? our intention is to be as fair as possible.

Stone S4, however, is definitely not in line and no excuse can be forwarded for its location south of the alignment. Meanwhile, having forgone his original alignment, we are left with no astronomical purpose for the existence of the smaller ring-cairn. Since its construction had nothing to do with astronomy, should not the same be believed of the larger cairn?

The major question that comes to mind, however, is: Can it safely be said that the "platform" is an artificial construction? Here is where MacKie came to Thom's rescue. Having discussed the site with him and with astronomer Archie E. Roy, MacKie decided that Kintraw offered an opportunity for an archaeologist to shed some light on the astronomical theory by excavation. He thus conducted a preliminary reconnaissance in June of 1970 with further excavations in August of the same year and again in August of 1971. All this was prior to the publication of Thom's 1971 work but, perhaps because Thom's work was already set in print, he omits all mention of MacKie's archaeological effort. (What really puzzles this writer is that this omission was repeated in Thom's 1973 corrected reprint.)

Actually, D.D.A. Simpson had already conducted excavations at the Kintraw site as early as 1959-60.(29) The large cairn, it was then found, included a kist in its periphery as did the smaller one but no central burial. What was also discovered at the large cairn was the shaft hole for an upright wooden post. Now MacKie states that Thom mentions Simpson's excavations and the discovery of the post socket in his 1971 work.(30) Perhaps it was mentioned in the manuscript of Thom's work that MacKie said he had read prior to publication, but it is definitely not mentioned in the published version nor in the 1973 corrected edition. At any rate, the one-time existence of this central post, which is not in line with the alignment, only serves to becloud the issue and, perhaps, for that very reason, Thom chose to ignore it. I think in this instance it will be well for us to follow his example.

[*!* Image: Fig 6. Photogrammetric contour plan of the Kintraw site after MacKie. Labels: Boulders on "platforms". Stream in gorge. Modern sheep fank. Large cairn. 12-foot menhir. Modern road. To Beinn Shaintaidh]


But what of MacKie's own excavations? What did they reveal? First of all, MacKie's reconnaissance provides us with a more accurate map, a photogrammetric contour plan, of the site (Fig. 6), and here we notice that Thom's third revised plan of the alignment is now re-revised for the fourth time.(31) The alignment from the "platform" no longer runs through the twelve foot menhir but, as can be seen in our facsimile of MacKie's plan, well to the northwest of it. At this point our credibility (or is it gullibility?) begins to be strained. If the sight-line does not pass through the centre of the smaller ring-cairn, if it does not pass through the "oriented" stone on its circumference, if it does not pass through the twelve foot menhir, if it does not pass through the centre of the large cairn, if it does not pass through stone S3, and does not start from stone S4, what are the points that connect the alignment? All that is left is the mountain col and the "platform".

It is to this "platform" that MacKie's excavations were restricted. MacKie argued that Thom's theory in effect predicted that some traces of human activity ought to be found on this ledge. The signs of activity he hoped for would have been in the form of the definite artificiality of the "platform," post-holes, potsherds, etc. If such signs were to be found, he reasoned, "this would be as near to proof for the astronomical theory as one could hope to obtain in archaeology since there is no other obvious reason why prehistoric activity of this nature should have occurred in just that spot on a steep slope and above a steeper gorge".(32)

Of post-holes and potsherds he found none. Thom's ledge or "platform" was found to be "primarily a natural feature".(33) But just as Thom had remained dauntless so it was with MacKie.

The stone on the edge, Thom's S4, was found to be actually two adjacent boulders, not much more than two feet high, set upright with their pointed ends together to form a notch. Eureka! It was this notch, MacKie now believes, that was the primary sighting device.

A random scattering of stones and small boulders was found in the trenches cut into the soil of the slope of the hill. But, immediately behind the boulders forming the notch, and running into the notch itself, MacKie discovered "a compact layer of angular stones, some 15 cm thick".(34) This layer came to an end just to the west of the boulders but it was traced for more than 6 meters (approx. 19.7 ft.) in the opposite direction.

The question now boiled down to this: Was this layer of compact angular stones a natural accumulation or an artificial construction? Because of certain features which we need not go into, it was decided that this layer could not have been a scree deposit those loose stones that normally slide down mountain and hill slopes. There was, however, the possibility that the accumulation could be a natural one formed under periglacial conditions. Such natural platforms are known, and have been studied, elsewhere in Scotland. The layer was therefore subjected to petrofabric analysis. What were the results?

J.S. Bibby, of the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research, was brought to the site where he performed two analyses of the orientation and long axial dip of the stones. The pattern taken up by such stones varies according to the origin of the layer, the angle of the slope on which it occurs, and other factors. The contoured diagrams obtained from the plotting of a Lambert polar equal-area net(35) were then compared to those obtained from other sites: from a solifluction/ periglacial platform on Broad Law in Peeblesshire; from a scree deposit also on Broad Law; and from a rubble floor layer of known human origin in the vitrified fort of Sheep Hill in Dunbartonshire. The results, according to MacKie, "showed clearly that the Kintraw platform was an artificial construction".(36) Quod erat demonstrandum. As far as MacKie was concerned, the case was closed.

We reopen it.

First we shall look at MacKie's conclusions. Regarding the "platform," he states:

"The massiveness and permanence of this observation point seems to carry another implication. It looks like something more than a temporary flat surface from which the preliminary sightings were made ... The structure could well be the permanent observing point ... If the site is interpreted in this way its various features seem to become more straightforward ... Altogether the Kintraw site would surely have been a more convenient observatory if the hill platform was the primary viewing point."(37)

Why, then, we ask, was the twelve foot menhir erected? MacKie tells us:

"From the boulder notch the standing stone [the twelve foot menhir] serves the useful function of directing the eye towards the foresight on Jura; the alinement would then be an indicated rather than an inferred one."(38)

[*!* Image: Fig 7. The present tilt of the 12-foot menhir at Kintraw looking toward the gorge]


But the "indication" of the twelve foot menhir suffers from a malaise we have so far omitted to mention. In his conclusion, MacKie talks of the "foresight on Jura"(39) and the "correct line to Jura".(40) The alignment in question, however, concerns one particular notch or col between two particular mountains and not the whole island of Jura. Meanwhile, as Hadingham pointed out,(41) the menhir does not "indicate" the solstice notch or col at the foot of Beinn Shiantaidh's slope. Granted, as Hadingham also admits, the true indication is somewhat exaggerated by the present tilt of the menhir which, if not corrected in the near future, will eventually prove the stone's downfall (see Fig. 7). But even so, if straightened without being moved from its present base socket, the stone will still "indicate" the peak to the northwest of the col. This is not accuracy; the alignment, as shown in MacKie's own plan, in no way passes through this stone. The stone might as well not have been erected at all unless its position was meant to "indicate " a different celestial occurrence or is due to other than astronomical purpose.

Meanwhile, as in the case of Ballochroy,(42) MacKie himself raises some objections. Concerning the artificiality of the stone layer, he also states:

"However, such a diagnosis is handicapped by the complete lack of what one might call the normal archaeological signs of human activity no potsherds or artefacts of any kind were found during the excavations, nor any fragments of charcoal such as might have come from fires. Neither were there any signs of post-holes, kerb stones or any other obvious structural remains. Only the stone layer itself, and the two adjacent boulders up against which it runs, are there to be considered."(43)

This objection of MacKie is most important in view of his opinion regarding the permanency of the "platform." But then, especially if one has a theory to push, time mellows all such objections. In one of his 1977 works, MacKie simply tells his readers that the 1970 and 1971 excavations "discovered an artificial platform of rubble"(44) without even as much as a hint at his own earlier objections. More than that, in this same work, he describes the "platform" as having "a conspicuous observation point at one end of it, made from two massive boulders"(45) (emphasis added). Or what the site itself lacks in grandeur, MacKie attempts to supply through his adjectives - thus also ensnaring the unwary reader.

How "massive" the boulders really are, anyone can see. Those who are not familiar with the site can judge for themselves by the photograph that MacKie included in his Pensée article.(46) These "massive" boulders could not be much more than two feet high. These constitute a "conspicuous" observation point, we ask? But not everyone is fooled. As Hadingham also pointed out:

"For such an important observatory we would have expected the observer's final position to be marked by something more distinctive than a pair of boulders."(47)

This is especially true when we consider the toil that went into the erection of the truly massive twelve foot menhir which MacKie considers much less important than the boulders with the notch.

As for the stone layer itself, Dr. C.J. Ransom states:

"He [MacKie] dug where he wanted to find something, but apparently nowhere else. He then had to run a statistical analysis on the rocks to see if they were just a natural formation. This does not sound conclusive. What if he dug 100 meters to the left or right and found similar rocks? How these people can piously point a finger at Velikovsky and say he selects data is amazing."(48)

Ransom's skepticism is not unfounded. According to MacKie's own statement, and as we have seen, the stone layer came to an end just to the west of the boulders but it continued for at least 6 meters (19.7 ft.) in the opposite direction. MacKie did not continue to dig beyond that.

But did Bibby even say that the "platform" was definitely manmade? In conclusion, his actual words were: "The available evidence supports the hypothesis that the Kintraw pavement was manmade"(49) (emphasis added). To echo Ransom's statement, above, conclusive this is not.

What was the available evidence? Bibby's own answer to this question is illuminating:

"No information was available concerning patterns produced on fabric diagrams by data drawn from man-made stone pavements. In order to obtain some check, however tentative, a visit was made to the Sheep Hill vitrified fort, Milton, Dunbartonshire, where a pavement exists that has been identified as man-made by independent evidence" (Emphasis added).(50)

We are therefore left with a hypothesis of which the sole available supportive evidence, that from MacKie's own excavation at Sheep Hill fort,(51) is only tentative.

It seems that Aubrey Burl, for one, still believes the "platform" to be a natural formation, and this in spite of the fact that he is well aware of MacKie's excavations and Bibby's petrofabric analyses.(52)

The best objection to the Kintraw site, however, comes from Hadingham.(53) Megalithic man, according to both Thom and MacKie, was an intelligent and sophisticated being. Why, then, did he go to all the trouble of collecting stones, laying them neatly on a steep hillside, levelling them, rolling boulders and stationing them on a narrow ledge at the edge of a precipitous and dangerous gorge - why all this unnecessary toil when all he had to do was construct the site at the very top of the same hill? Was Megalithic man a glutton for punishment? The top of the hill would have been, as it still is, high above the intervening ridge.

Or, better still, why did ancient man not build his observatory on the tree-covered ridge itself where the view to Beinn Shiantaidh would have been even clearer?


The tale of the Kintraw site does not end there. In MacKie's final version we note that the two cairns and the scattering of other stones do not play an astronomical part. Since the site supposedly served as an astronomical observatory, we wonder why the cairns and the other stones were erected. We also wonder whether the cairns and the menhirs are of the same age. Now Burl, whom we have just quoted as a witness for the prosecution, has more to say regarding the site.(54) Of Thom's theory, Burl says kindly that he "may" be wrong. MacKie's excavations and Bibby's petrofabric analyses he relegates to the limbo of a footnote. To come straight to the point, Burl presents a good case in evidence of the cairns having been religious monuments. The large cairn at Kintraw, for instance, contained signs of ritual. This, apparently, is indicated by the scatter of quartz pebbles found in its construction, an occurrence that Burl compares to that of the Clava cairns. The Kintraw cairn, like those of Clava, also contains a false entrance.

But then Burl also informs us that these monuments might have incorporated astronomical alignments in their design. He does not consider the cairns to have been actual observatories used for recurring observations. Besides, the alignments he presents are entirely different from those of Thom and MacKie. For one thing, Burl believes that the twelve foot menhir belongs to the smaller and not the larger cairn and that this provides a good alignment, in the opposite direction to Thom's and MacKie's, indicating the midsummer sunrise. The large cairn's blind entrance also defines an orientation "perhaps" directed toward the midsummer Moon's maximum setting. But in matters of this nature, "perhaps" is not good enough.

Meanwhile, Burl's solar alignment is obstructed by the larger cairn. Once again, we seem to be at a dead end.

"Was this deliberate?" asks Burl. "It may be more discreet," he replies, "to suppose that the sun-line was no longer important and, with indifference, the kerb-cairn builders set up their new monument alongside a site whose antiquity they respected but whose orientation was no longer of any interest."(55)

Despite the respect we have for Burl, we can only class such obstructed alignments and their apologetic interpretations with Thom's class "C" sight lines of "little or no indication" and "which would be excluded from a statistical analysis".

As far as we are concerned, the Kintraw site teaches us an important lesson. From the beginning of Thom's first survey to the end of MacKie's excavations not to mention Burl's suggested alignments sight lines and backsights have been posited and discarded time and again. Each time an obstacle popped up, a new line running through other stones was decided on and once again rejected. Yet all the posited sight lines, the rejected as well as the accepted ones, actually "pointed" to some occurrence. We seem to see here an obstinate persistence in trying to fit a sight line which would indicate the midwinter solar flash in the col of Beinn Shiantaidh the only factor which cannot be discounted, but only on uniformitarian terms.

More that one line has been found to point to it and we grant that, had the site been arranged in any other way given enough random scattering of boulders and menhirs and other stones some other line would have been found to point to the col, to sunrise or sunset, to the Moon, and, failing that, would not our modern surveyors have perhaps discovered a star or two to which one of the posited lines might have pointed?

A site like Kintraw, and there are many like it, because of the encircling hills and mountains, because of the many stones found scattered throughout it (eight, not counting those of the ring-cairns), acts very much like a stone ring(56) in that stones will be found which can be made to "point" in almost any direction. Midwinter and midsummer sunrises and sunsets are all visible from the site as from almost anywhere else. All that is required is any two "markers" in line with the occurrence of our choice and, as we have seen (and elsewhere will continue to), this is not difficult to find. In fact, three of the four major calendar "dates" have all been posited from the site.

This brings to mind the words of A.H.A. Hogg, who rounded off the Discussion on the Place of Astronomy in the Ancient World that was held by the Royal Society and the British Academy a discussion that both Thom and MacKie attended and participated in:

"The credibility of a theory could properly be taken into consideration, as well as the statistical evidence. For example, a very significant statistical correlation appeared to exist between the occurrence of severe earthquakes and the position of Uranus, but few people would accept this as other than accidental" (Emphasis added).(57)

After all, even a fake site, erected in A.D. 1827, was found to contain a "precise" sight line indicating a verifiable celestial occurrence. And the man who conducted the survey, and came up with this "precise" sight line, was none other than Alexander Thom.(58)


1. D. Cardona, "The Stones of Ballochroy," elsewhere in this issue.
2. A. Thom, Megalithic Sites in Britain (Oxford University, 1967-74), p. 156.
3. Idem, "Solar Observatories of Megalithic Man," in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 64, 397 (1954), p. 400.
4. Idem (see note #2), p. 141.
5. Ibid., p. 156.
6. Ibid., p. 141.
7. Ibid., p. 97.
8. Ibid .
9. Ibid., p. 96.
10. Idem, Megalithic Lunar Observatories (Oxford University, 1971-3), p. 36.
11. Idem, "The Lunar Observatories of Megalithic Man," in Vistas in Astronomy, 11, 1 (1969),Fig 5.
12. Idem (see note #10), p. 38.
13. A Burl, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (London, 1976), p. 197.
14. A. Thom (see note #10), p. 39, Fig. 4.4.
15. E.W. MacKie, "Archaeological Tests on Supposed Prehistoric Astronomical Sites in Scotland," in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol 276 (Sec. A, "The Place of Astronomy in the Ancient World"), (1974), p. 180.
16. Since these words have been written, MacKie has continued to describe the Kintraw site sans any of Thom's auxiliary alignments.
17. A Thom (see note #2), p. 156.
18. Idem (see note #10), p. 37.
19. Idem (see note #11).
20. Idem (see note #10), p. 38.
21. Ibid., p. 37.
22. Ibid., p. 38.
23. D. Cardona, "The Stones of Ballochroy," op. cit., p.32; see also T. McCreery, "Megalithic Lunar Observatories - A Critique," soon to be published in KRONOS .
24. A. Thom (see note #10), p. 39.
25. Ibid .
26. Idem (see note #11).
27. Idem (see note #10), p. 40.
28. Ibid .
29. D.D.A. Simpson, "Excavations at Kintraw, Argyll," in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. 99 (1966-67), pp. 54-59.
30. E W. MacKie, op. cit., p. 178.
31. Ibid., p. 179.
32. Ibid., pp. 180-181.
33. Ibid., p. 181.
34. Ibid .
35. For a detailed description of the Lambert polar equal-area net method see F.C. Philips, The Use of Stereographic Projection in Structural Geology, 2nd edition, (London, 1960).
36. E.W. MacKie, "Megalithic Astronomy and Catastrophism," in Pensée IVR, X (Winter 1974-75), p. 10.
37. Idem (see note #15), pp. 184-185.
38. Ibid., p. 185.
39. Ibid .
40. Ibid., p . 184.
41. E. Hadingham, Circles and Standing Stones (New York, 1975), p. 113.
42. D. Cardona, op. cit., pp. 27-28.
43. E. W. MacKie, (see note #15), p. 183.
44. Idem, The Megalithic Builders (Oxford, 1977), p. 102.
45. Ibid .
46. Idem (see note #36), p. 11, Fig. 8.
47. E. Hadingham, op. cit.
48. C.J. Ransom to D. Cardona, private communique, Sept. 2, 1976.
49. J.S. Bibby, "Petrofabric Analysis," appendix to E.W. MacKie (see note #15), p. 194.
50. Ibid., p. 193.
51. E.W. MacKie, "The Vitrified Forts of Scotland," in Hillforts (London, 1974), pp. 205, 211-213.
52. A. Burl, op. cit., p. 199.
53. E. Hadingham, op. cit .
54. A. Burl, op. cit., pp. 164, 170, 171, 197, 198, 199-200.
55. Ibid., p. 199.
56. Some of which will be discussed in future articles by this writer.
57. "Contributions to the Discussions on Ancient Astronomy: The Unwritten Evidence," in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol.276 (1974), p. 167.
58. This site is Auldgirth, in Dumfries, a subject to which this writer hopes to return in a future article. For Thom's calculated declinations regarding this fake site, see his Megalithic Sites in Britain (Oxford University, 1967-74), pp. 98, 137.

NOTE: The author wishes to thank Professor Lynn E. Rose, Raymond C. Vaughan, Dr. C.J. Ransom, and Thomas McCreery for their invaluable aid in the preparation of this paper and the additional material with which they presented me.

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