Minutia from me to you


View west from Carnbane East area of the sizable Loughcrew Cairns complex, in May 2017. Arrow points to Carnbane West hilltop. The bumps are cairns.

Among the eclipse hoopla, you may have read that a stone in Ireland has petroglyphs that may constitute the world’s earliest known record of an eclipse. The stone is in a large stone monument in the Loughcrew Cairns complex, and probably dates to about 5K years ago. It is one of many stone mounds on the hilltop west of the hilltop that’s open to the public, where I was standing to take this photo. The hilltop we visited, Carnbane East, had at least six obvious cairns on it.

The cairn is more properly a passage tomb, oriented so that the sun can shine in the passage and illuminate carefully placed stones usually on the solstice. And, yes, with human remains.

The designers and builders of these monuments clearly were aware of astronomical minutia, so an eclipse would have been in their wheelhouse. Whether the spirals and circles some consider the record of an eclipse are just that, I don’t know, but it certainly seems possible.

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