Dec 22, 2007

Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the the year: the days will now start getting longer again. This event has been celebrated by mankind for at least 5,000 years.

Many years ago I visited the Maeshowe, a neolithic burial chamber in the Orkney Islands in the very north of Scotland. I was intrigued to learn that the long entrance passage to the burial chamber had been carefully aligned to allow the setting sun to shine into the inner chamber at sunset on the winter solstice. Thanks to the (slightly more modern) wonders of the internet, you can now watch it live by webcast or see it recorded by YouTube.

While the stone age people in Orkney were apparently late risers, those at Newgrange in Ireland were early risers: their most famous "passage tomb" is aligned with the winter sunrise. "Heritage Ireland" broadcast it as a live webcast, and has posted a very interesting recording of the event (details).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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