Baltray Standing Stones, Ireland – Solstice Alignments

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  • #18856

    Nathan
    Participant

    Hey guys, I was reading a bit just now about a site I’d never actually heard of before. It’s a pair of standing stones, the largest of which aligns to the sunrise on the winter solstice.

    They’re located in Baltray, a small coastal village in Co. Louth, Ireland, which lies in the northern point of the Boyne Valley – the region with Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth and other Celtic monuments.

    Although there’s only 2 stones remaining now, originally there was a third. They’re both spaced 9 meters apart, with the largest stone measuring 2.9 meters in height and the shorter one being 2 meters.

    Photo copyright: Anthony Murphy of www.mythicalireland.com

    Winter Solstice Alignment

    The alignment itself was only rediscovered in 1999 by 3 local astronomers. They discovered that the largest stone aligned with Rockabill, a pair of islands in the Irish Sea off the coast of Dublin. When standing by the largest stone in Baltray, the sun on the winter solstice would rise above the islands.

    Here’s a short video of the solstice sunrise by Anthony Murphy, one of the men involved in discovering the alignment. Although there’s cloud cover on the horizon, the lighthouse on the Rockabill Islands is clear in the video.

    Modern day Rockabill. Image credit: Wikipedia user Jaqian

    Working from an Ordinance Survey map, Mr. Murphy worked out that if he drew a line between the standing stones and Rockabill, the angle was approximately 129-130 degrees.
    ‘I knew that this was roughly the rising position of the sun at Winter Solstice, having done plenty of research on the mid-Winter spectacle at Newgrange,’ he said.

    …the precise alignment with the passage at Newgrange has shifted over time, and the sun now rises about two sun diameters to the left of where it originally rose circa 3000BC.’

    ‘This is caused by a slight shift in the Earth’s axis, and means that the same situation applies to Baltray. Assuming that the stones are of megalithic origin, the alignment would have been perfect!’

    Although there’s no longer a perfect alignment between the standing stone and the islands, I couldn’t help thinking about how similar the image would have been to this Egyptian depiction of creation, of the sun rising out of the waters of chaos over the mound of creation.

    I couldn’t find any images for it, but the standing stone should also align to the summer solstice sunset.
    As it happens, the largest stone also aligns to the rising moon a few days before the summer solstice (17th of June to be precise). Whether there’s any significance to that or not, I’m not sure, but I thought it’s worth mentioning here for completeness.

    Possible Link to an Equinox Alignment

    The 3 men also noticed that the 2 standing stones, when viewed in line with each other, align to a man made mound close to the Fourknocks site.

    This mound lies exactly due west from Rockabill. Although the view of the islands from the mound is now obscured by modern buildings, it’s possible that it was used as a site to observe the sunrise on the spring equinox, with the alignment to the Baltray Standing Stones being part of an overall series of alignments between the different sites in the area.

    Here’s more information and images of the sites if anyone’s interested:
    Alignment discovery in 1999
    Winter solstice 2000
    Some more images of the standing stones can be seen here.

    Possible equinox connection

    Summer moonrise

    Image of solstice sunrise – copyright: Anthony Murphy of mythicalireland.com
    Image of Rockabill by wikipedia user Jaqian

    #18928

    Ella
    Participant

    Nathan, the more that comes out of that region of Ireland, the more it seems so clear it used to be inhabited by a highly spiritual people! I’d really love to spend time in a place like that around a solstice or equinox, (ideally a time when you can visit sites that aligns) moving from place to place.

    That image of the ‘dawn of creation’ is one of my favourites. (I love how it also looks like one stage in the dividing of a cell that’s drawn in biology class). Thanks for including it; I hadn’t quite been able to visualise the impact the stones would have had.

    I’m going to use this post as an excuse to share one of my all-time favourite images of the Tuatha Dé Danann 🙂

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