Our Knowth tour guide had just observed that the ancient peoples who built these monuments were likely more sophisticated than we might think. But then she went on to say they were farmers and as such would need to know when to plant and harvest their crops. So the reason they built these sites with alignments to the solstices and equinoxes was to know when to do just that. Really? These are just some sort of megalithic alarm clocks? I had to take a deep breath, clamp my mouth shut, and step back from the tour.
Until recently, Ireland’s megalithic cairns, stone circles, and dolmens have been referred to as places of burial. Tombs and cemeteries. And although those labels still appear on signage in many places, that is slowly changing and I’m glad alignment is now part of the guide script these days. But there is so much more to say.
Slow as they are, these changes are due much to my friend Jack Roberts who worked with Martin Brennen to prove the solar and lunar alignments of these places. Others have added their voice, research, and observations to this. Friend and colleague Anthony Murphy chief among them. And the tide is turning. For it is really impossible to consider the intricate and complex architecture of these places and not know that something else was going on here beyond telling time and season. These are places of sacred ceremony and connection with universal harmonies and energies. What manner of ceremony, we will likely never know. But these sites are not simply agrarian alarm clocks.
Think about it. Our ancient ancestors lived in intimate relationship with the seasons. They would have known when to plant and harvest by knowing the intricate details of the plants and animals though the procession of the year. When the birds arrived and left. Which plants emerged from the Earth first, last, and in between – and in what relationship. They would have known the patterns of the Earth, Sun, and Moon and how to plant, harvest, and live within those patterns. They didn’t need a stone circle to tell time.
With our dependence on technology to tell us the time and weather, with our separation from an intimate relationship with the Earth’s cycles, seasons, and patterns, the sophistication of these ancient architects is perhaps beyond our comprehension.
And I wonder. Who is the more sophisticated?
Judith – email@example.com