Home Events Skyscape Archaeology Keynote Lecture series – Part 3

Skyscape Archaeology Keynote Lecture series – Part 3

Tomnaverie Stone Circle, Aberdeenshire. Photo by Neil Williamson on Flickr (released under a Creative Commons licence)

In the third part of this series, the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology and the Sophia Centre present two Zoom lectures:

Kenny Brophy: Megalithic overkill and knights on a chessboard: rescuing the multiple stone rows of northern Scotland from Alexander Thom

The multiple stone rows of northern Scotland are one of the most enigmatic classes of prehistoric monument in northern Europe. In the absence of serious archaeological engagement for most of the 20th century, these megaliths became increasingly defined by the eccentric theories of Alexander Thom who believed that they were complex lunar extrapolation sites, machines for monitoring the movement of the moon and predicting eclipses. Aubrey Burl (1993) noted that Thom believed that the multiple stone rows were ‘constructed as a template in which a person could move amongst the stones like a knight on a chessboard forward and sideways to a calculable backsight for a lunar event he could not see’. Despite this bizarre theory, until recently the official Historic Scotland noticeboard for one of these sites, the Hill o’ Many Stanes, told the public that this probably was a lunar device. My own excavations at Battle Moss multiple stone rows in 2003 debunked Thom’s theories (and informed a new noticeboard!). Furthermore, through analysis of Thom’s fieldwork notebooks, I have been able to shed light on Thom’s working approach, and the assumptions and biases that underpinned his survey work. In this talk I will discuss the shortcomings in Thom’s approach in relation to these unusual prehistoric monuments and suggest the role these sites played in Bronze Age society was rooted in the land and family, not the sky.

Marc Frincu: Revisiting the Armenian highlands. New discoveries and alternative theories

The Armenian highlands are home to numerous archaeological sites, many briefly investigated decades ago. Some, like the Qarahunj are internationally known and their archaeoastronomical purpose are highly debated. Others such as Muradsar, Sevsar, and Hartashen are less known and their relation to the sky has only recently caught the attention of researchers. In this talk I will revisit them in light of new discoveries while not overlooking existing theories. By investigating the surrounding landscape and skyscape I will outline a possible archaeoastronomical destination of these sites where the cosmos was seen as a whole comprising both heaven and the earth.

Information and booking: Sophia Centre