Sites Aligned to the Sun

Omahk Sacred Landscape and the Majorville Medicine Wheel, Alberta, Canada — Aligned to Solstices and Equinoxes


Sun setting over the Majorville Medicine Wheel during the summer solstice. Photo © Cliff LeSergent — Licensed from Images West Photography

The Majorville Medicine Wheel is the oldest and most intricate medicine wheel in North America, dating around 5,000 years. The site’s age means there is little known about its past, purpose, or the people who built it. Fortunately, by using the methods of ancient skywatchers, some of its mysteries are coming back to light.

What is emerging is a sacred landscape spanning 30 square kilometres that includes solar and lunar alignments to all solstices and equinoxes, as well as a highly precise calendar which measures the length of the year and the dates of its major turning points as well as our own.

The high precision of solar and lunar alignments as well as their similarity to sacred sites around the world suggest of a highly developed culture who studied the sun and lived in the Canadian prairies some 5,000 years ago.

University of Alberta Professor and chemical physicist Dr. Gordon Freeman has investigated the Majorville Medicine Wheel for over 30 years. He found major alignments to summer and winter solstices, equinoxes as well as to both major lunar standstills. In the process he understood the same measurement techniques that ancient peoples used in the construction of this temple and is slowly recovering its major components. This article will describe some of his oldest and most striking findings. It is likely that there is a lot more depth to this site that is yet to be uncovered.

The Majorville Medicine Wheel

At first sight, from a distance, the Sacred Hill seems little different from others in the area. But on its top there is a large pile of rocks – a cairn – in the middle of a big ring of stones, high above the deeply gouged valley of the Bow River to the east. The nearly circular stone ring measures thirty large paces across, three times the diameter of the cairn itself. Twenty-eight lines of stones connect the ring to the cairn.

~ Dr. Gordon R. Freeman, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders

The Majorville Medicine Wheel is a Sun Ring — the name “Sun Ring” is suggested by Dr. Freeman, as being more appropriate than a “medicine wheel” because a wheel is not known to have existed in the Americas in pre-Columbian times.


The Majorville Medicine Wheel. Image copyright Dr. Gordon R. Freeman (re-posted with permission)

At its center is a large rock pile (called a cairn), nine meters across and 1.5 meters high . Around the cairn is a ring of smaller stones with a 28 meter diameter. There are 28 radial lines (or spokes) linking the cairn to the ring.

To the north, west, and east of the Medicine Wheel are groups of stones that, along with four of the 28 radial lines emanating from the central cairn, precisely mark the cardinal directions.

The term “medicine wheel” is a modern term used to classify a wide range of stone rings on the plains of Canada and the United States. Some of the rings commemorate famous chiefs, some have a ceremonial purpose, and others relate to the buffalo hunt.

Of all known medicine wheels only two others bear significant similarity to the medicine wheel in Majorville: Moose Mountains Medicine Wheel (Saskatchewan, Canada) and Big Horn Medicine Wheel (Wyoming, USA). Both of these are of a much more recent construction.

The Medicine Wheel in Majorville is around 5,000 years old. Archaeologist James Calder from the University of Calgary excavated the site in 1971. He found a total of eight layers of rock separated by seven layers of earth containing thousands of stone, bone, and fossil artefacts. The oldest spearheads he found were 4,500 years old and successive layers provided more modern artefacts, with the most recent being 300 years old. Some of these artifacts can be seen in the film Standing Alone (from the 16:50 mark until the 20:57 mark).

Based on archaeological details Dr. Calder determined that at least two different cultures used the site: The first from 2,500BC until 1,000BC, and the second from 200 AD until the European conquest of the Plains. This age correlates reasonably well with Dr. Gordon Freeman’s estimate of 3,200 BC based on the oldest solar alignments in the site.


The Medicine Wheel is part of a sacred area, or temple, that Blackfoot Indians call Ómahkiyáahkóhtóohp (or Omahk for short), which means “old, big arrangement”.

Omahk is located in southeastern Alberta prairies, about 50 km from Cluny, the nearest town, and about 20 kilometres from a maintained road. It is remote. Thanks to its remoteness one can still experience the land in much the same way as people did for thousands of years with the wind as one’s main companion. Cattle, horses, and antelope roam free, eagles fly in the sky, and coyotes cry in the night.

The video below gives a good sense of the vast, isolated, and pristine expanse of land the Majorville Medicine Wheel is situated in:

The-Sun-Ring-with-a-view-towards-the-the-two-hills-to-the-south alberta medicine wheel

The Sun Ring with a view towards the two hills to the south. Image copyright Gordon R. Freeman (re-posted with permission).

There are three equal-height hills in the area, 919 meters above sea level, and about 30 metres above the level of the plains. The Sun Ring is located on the northern hill. Looking south you see the other two hills just touch the horizon.

All three hills have stone cairns on their peaks, and there are many other organized rocks and cairns in the surrounding countryside.


The Majorville Cairn looking west. Photo by Forgotten Alberta Archive via Flickr, shared under Creative Commons License 2.0. Modified.

When the glacier melted back from this area about 11,000 years ago, it left many thousands of stones and rocks on the prairie surface. However, in the zone within about 2 kilometres of the medicine wheel there are few rocks that appear to be in random positions. The thousands of random rocks have been gathered and placed in cairns, rings, crescents, and other patterns that now remain.

~ Gordon R. Freeman, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders

The Bow River twists and turns through the landscape. It comes from the Rocky Mountains and flows through Alberta, conjoining with other rivers to cross the breadth of Canada. At Omahk it flows at the bottom of a steep and wide gorge, encircling the Sun Ring on its northern and eastern sides. The Bow River separates the Sun Ring from the rising sun every day of the year.

Omahk has very little obvious man-made construction. The only part that is clearly built by man is the Sun Ring, and it shows relatively little of the marvel that is Omahk. To see deeper you need to know where, and when, to look. The solstices and equinoxes are the key. When observing the solstices from the Sun Ring, the vastness of the Temple is revealed.

Solstices at the Majorville Medicine Wheel

During the solstices and equinoxes the twists and turns of the Bow River, the surrounding hills, as well as many of the outlying rocks in the vicinity, play an obvious part in this sacred landscape.

It is almost as if Omahk’s builders used hills instead of towers, outlying rocks for passageways and parts of the Bow River as doors and windows to their Temple. The only difference is that normally you can see towers, doors and passageways on any day of the year, but in Omahk they are visible only on the days they are meant for: Solstices.


The trail to the Medicine Wheel, looking southeast towards Bow River and surrounding hills. Photo by Forgotten Alberta Archive via Flickr [Creative Commons 2.0. Modified]

Omahk’s builders didn’t just mark the solstices. They understood that a tiny change of the obliquity of the ecliptic adds up over thousands of years to cause a shift in sun’s rise and set positions. They noticed this shift and adjusted their calendar every few centuries, sometimes modifying outdated alignments and at other times creating new ones.

However, not all alignments were (or could) be adjusted. The oldest solar and lunar markers found at Omahk are between major topographical features – the hills, valleys, and the Bow River. They cannot be changed and have remained as a testament to the age and genius of its builders. These are the alignments focused on in this article.

Winter Solstice

Omahk’s builders clearly saw the winter solstice as a significant event. The very location they chose for their temple has amazing solar and lunar alignments at this time. What’s important to appreciate is how the landscape forms a part of the temple.

On the morning of the shortest day of the year sun rises from the position where the Bow River is closest to the Sun Ring Hill, intimately linking the sun, the Bow River and the Sun Ring.


Map of Omahk, including major alignments. Image copyright Gordon Freeman (re-posted with permission).

Dr. Freeman speculates that ancient peoples arrived to the site by the Bow River and used the route of the rising sun to walk up to the Sun Ring. They could have guided themselves by the Sun Ring Hill as well as a row of marker stones close to the river that points in its direction.

As they would have reached just below the Sun Ring Hill, its cairn disappeared from view only to reappear in its entirety once they mounted the Hill. From the Sun Ring they could have witnessed the major alignment between the rising sun, the Bow River and themselves.

There is evidence that more recent peoples used a similar route to mark the winter solstice. An alley of stones is found leading from the Bow River to the Sun Ring along the winter solstice sun-rise direction as it was 1,000 years ago.


An alley of stones leading from the Sun Ring to the Bow River. The alley aligns to summer solstice sunrise of 1000 years ago. Image copyright Gordon R. Freeman (re-posted with permission).

Summer Solstice

The second of Omahk’s major solar alignments is to summer solstice sunrise. This alignment is observed from a hill about two kilometres south-west of the Sun Ring Hill.

On the morning of summer solstice 5,200 years ago, sunrise corresponded to a valley formed by the bottom edge of the Sun Ring Hill and a smaller hill on its west. The valley forms a V-like shape just below the horizon, and creates a highly precise (and obvious) solar marker.

Summer solstice alignment alberta medicine wheel

Summer Solstice Alignment from the Southern Hill. The markings on the image show sunrise today, and in thousand years increments before present. Image copyright Gordon R. Freeman (re-posted with permission).

I have found over the years that foresights for some of the marked Sun rises and sets are the bottom of a V made by intersecting profiles of rocks or hills… There is a V made by intersecting hillsides to the left of the first flash. The SSR [Summer Sun Rise] had been above the bottom of this V 5200 years ago. When the SSR [Summer Sun Rise] drifted sufficiently to the right of the bottom of the V, apparently a rock was placed as a foresight, and another rock was placed every four centuries or so.

~ Dr. Gordon R. Freeman, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders

A row of stones is found on the eastern slope of the hill that makes up the marker V. These stones correspond to more modern markers of the summer solstice sunrise.


The most interesting equinox (or rather equal day/night) alignments at Omahk are a set of measurement stones called “V Rocks”, located about 100 metres north-west of the Sun Ring. These stones are the solar calendar of Omahk.

V Rocks - Omahk's calendar Alberta Medicine Wheel, Canada

V Rocks – Omahk’s calendar. Image copyright Gordon R. Freeman (re-posted with permission).

A sight line that points to one first flash in March and to another in September has a rifle-like V back sight made of 1-tonne rocks. In fact, these heavy rocks were finely adjusted, wedged, and shimmed so that when viewed from different directions they also make V back sights for the rises and sets of the Sun at both the Winter and Summer Solstices. That’s why I call them the V Rocks. They are a pivot for six calendrical Sun observation lines that mark the annual swing of rise and set directions.

~ Gordon R. Freeman, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders

Whereas equinox is an astronomical event, equal day/night is the closest terrestrial equivalent. It is the day when light and darkness are of equal length, based on the first and last flashes of the sun. The exact date varies with latitude (for latitude dependence of equal day/night see here], but occurs always before the spring equinox and after the autumn equinox. At Omahk’s latitude of 51° N there are roughly three days between equal day/nights and the equinoxes.

The V Rocks are wide enough to see the sun on equal day/night on all 4 years of the leap-year cycle, as well as to tell at which stage of the 4-year cycle we are on. Using the V Rocks it would have been possible to accurately tell the date of each solstice and equinox for thousands of years!


V Rocks – precisely measuring the moment when day and night are of equal length. Image copyright Gordon R. Freeman (re-posted with permission).

The great accuracy and superb design of this leap-year-marking device reflects the genius of the people who constructed it. The left grey granite of the back sight V has been chipped to alter its shape. The left edge of the right red granite was chipped away to make visible a long enough seat. The left edge of the seat-rock red granite might also have been modified to produce an adequate slope for the V bottom.

~ Dr. Gordon R. Freeman, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders

Interplay Between the Sun and Moon at the Solstices

Omahk is aligned to major lunar standstills of winter and summer solstices. Major lunar standstills occur once every 18.6 years when the moon rises and sets at its furthest point to the north (around the winter solstice) and south (around the summer solstice). These days correspond to the full moon’s longest (winter solstice) and shortest (summer solstice) ever journeys through the night sky.

This feature is similarly embedded into other ancient sites around the world, such as Kokino in Macedonia, and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, to name a few.

The full Moon near winter solstice [during a major lunar standstill] rises and sets the farthest North that the Moon ever gets, and farther north than the Sun ever gets. At transit, the winter solstice full Moon will be higher in the sky than the summer Sun ever gets…

The full Moon near summer solstice [during a major lunar standstill] rises and sets the farthest South that the Moon ever gets, and farther south than the Sun ever gets. At transit, the summer solstice full Moon will be lower than the winter Sun ever gets.

~ Dr. Judith S. Young, Moon Teachings for the Masses at the UMASS Sunwheel & Around the World: The Major Lunar Standstills of 2006 & 2024-2025

The two sharpest turns of the Bow River mark the rise and set locations of the full moon at the major lunar standstills around winter solstice. Similarly, on the summer solstice the maximum southerly moon rise is marked with a sharp turn of the Bow River south-east of the Sun Ring (see alignments map up top in the Winter Solstice section).

The longest and shortest journeys of the moon through the sky are particularly significant at 51° latitude, where Omahk sits. At this latitude the moon’s maximum northerly and southerly rising and setting points are exactly perpendicular to the sun’s sunrise and sunset locations at the solstices. Taken together they create two crosses during the summer and winter solstices.

Sun - Moon Crosses formed during solstices at 51 degrees latitude

Sun – Moon Crosses formed during solstices at 51 degrees latitude.
Image Copyright Aleksandr Klyashitsky.

These sites lie on the exact latitude at which the midsummer sunrise and sunsets are at 90° to the moon’s northerly setting and southerly rising. This particular phenomena is only possible within a band of less than one degree of which Stonehenge and Goseck lies in the middle-third. The sites also sit on one of two unique latitudes in the world where the full moon passes directly overhead on its maximum zeniths.

~ Deborah Scherrer, Ancient Observatories – Timeless Knowledge

It is a marvel that the people who built Omahk chose a place with such precise alignments. It reminds of places such as the Serpent Mound in Ohio and the Nazca Lines in Peru, which seem like they were created to be seen from above and hints at a highly advanced knowledge far back in time.

A Global Solar Spirituality

The geometric patterns in this fascinating structure have to be read like a book. On the south-west side of the ringed cairn on the hilltop is a crescent of seven large rocks, with a larger single rock midway between the ring and crescent. The cairn, crescent, and rock are connected in such a way that, after a few years, I concluded that they are effigies of the Sun, Moon, and Morning Star – a Holy Trinity in Plains Indian Religion.

~ Dr. Gordon R. Freeman, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders

The same core symbols and themes found in Omahk exist in solstice temples around the world. One such temple is Newgrange in Ireland, others are Goseck Circle in Germany, Glastonbury Tor in England and Arkaim in Russia. Stonehenge in England also has incredible similarities to Omahk, but is built with its major alignment to the summer solstice.

In all these temples, which are aligned to the winter solstice, there is a sunrise alignment with the man-made construction, which often takes the shape of a womb. A body of water surrounds each site and symbols of the cross and the holy trinity are incorporated.

The winter solstice is a celebration of the birth of Christ. It is described symbolically in major religions and sacred sites throughout the world as the birth of a divine child.

Article written and researched by Aleksandr Klyashitsky. Edited by Jenny Belikov



1. Freeman, Gordon R, Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders
2. Freeman, Gordon R. Temple of the Sun, Moon and Morningstar near Majorville, Alberta. Edmonton: University of Alberta Archives
3. Calder, James M. The Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel Site, Alberta, National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Archaeologica Survey of Canada Paper No. 62, 202-203
4. Scherrer, Deborah, Ancient Observatories – Timeless Knowledge, Stanford Research Center
5. Young, Judith S. Moon Teachings for the Masses at the UMASS Sunwheel & Around the World: The Major Lunar Standstills of 2006 & 2024-2025,, accessed on 07/12/2016
6. James M. Calder, The Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel Site, Alberta, National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Archaeologica Survey of Canada Paper No. 62, 202-203

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  • hi all. wonderful discussion. check out the work of Maria Wheatley. British Geomancer. there is some question as to the age of many sites because, I find that all archaeologists wont dare back before 4000 BCE.- there is some pressure there to not upset history as we know it. I feel they can be much older and from a time pre dating the waring cultures.

    • Thanks for sharing that reference Maureen. It’s a pity there is so much reluctance to delve beyond the accepted view of history, but it is encouraging that there are people around who are willing to engage in a much more open enquiry into our past.

  • Very interesting article. We are very fortunate that Professor Freeman has put in so much effort to understand this site. What knowledge these ancient people had!

    It’s wonderful that many sites still exist and have been found around the world. I’m sure there are many more that have been covered over in time, or the rocks just taken for other uses.

  • Thanks for the very well researched article Aleks. It’s incredible how much Dr Freeman’s persistant research has unveiled about the Omahk circle.

    There must be some connection between Majorville Medicine Wheel, Stonehenge in England as well as Arkaim in Russia. They share too many similarities and incredibly enough they are all built in around the same latitude (50-52 N).
    The distances between them are really close to the Golden Ratio: Distance between Omahk and Stonehenge: 6948 km. Distance between Stonehenge and Arkaim: 4084 km. That’s about 200km off which is incredible if we consider the vast distances and that the sites are separated by the ocean.

    It might be that it was the same people that built these sites. The coincidences are just too many to pass unnoticed. More could be found if the sites were intact from human interference.

    • I agree that all three sites share remarkable similarities. The Golden Ratio link is new to me and gives more evidence of this connection. The age of the sites is another bit of evidence of a connection, at least between Stonehenge and the Majorville Medicine Wheel.

      Time-wise it is within the realm of possibility that Stonehenge and the Majorville Medicine Wheel were built by the same culture or at least shared a cultural link. Both sites were built approximately 5,000 years ago, around 3000BC. Newgrange in Ireland was also built at around the same time, and at a similar latitude, so could share a link with the two sites.

      As far as I know Arkaim is a more modern site. This is at least the case for current archaeological findings of Arkaim, which date the site to around 2000BC. In my opinion this is not conclusive evidence and there could have been a temple at Arkaim’s location that predates the current one. More conclusive evidence about Arkaim could be found through a detailed analysis of long-distance solstice alignments at the site.

      Both Stonehenge and Omahk have very precise summer and/or winter solstice alignments through which the sites can be dated to within a few centuries through Dr. Freeman’s techniques. If Arkaim was built by the same peoples, then it will probably show similar precision alignments (possibly based on landscape topography) through which an original age for the site can be found.

  • Thank you, Alex, for your very comprehensive and thorough research.

    Presented in a very interesting way, it also raised my attention to more questions like the impact of the medicine wheels, their role in the ancient Native American sacred complexes, and which are the similarities between them. I saw that the Bighorn medicine wheel is maintained in a good state but it’s more recent as you mentioned.

    The view also from above was very helpful to have a panoramic tour of this site, seeing the details of its location, with its arrangements of rocks, cairns, and spokes, understanding better its alignments to solstices and equinoxes.

    Thanks again both of you for this interesting arising subject!

    • Yes these are good questions to look into. There are so many medicine wheels in North America, and some of them are quite advanced. Unfortunately not much in-depth research has been done into them. Dr. Freeman’s work on the Majorville Medicine Wheel is the best I know of for a Canadian medicine wheel. Bighorn medicine wheel has also had a fair bit of research into it. The vast majority of the remaining medicine wheels have not had any serious work put into them, and by most people are assumed to be simple structures of a buffalo-hunting peoples.

      While looking into the Majorville Medicine Wheel I tried to find people who could tell me more about the significance of the medicine wheels. As part of my search I asked Dr. Freeman, hoping that he would suggest someone. His recommendation was that to find out about the sites I need to visit them as that is where the real-life religion can be felt.

      • Yes, visiting a place would supplement our theoretical approach and feel this connection with the past. It’s like talking about an experience in all its form.

        Recently I read something related to the role of medicine wheel in Bighorn this time, and I would like to share it, as it showed to me that these wheels were part of a bigger transformation journey, as the one we are working upon.

        What is referred to that source is that ”the wheel was decorated in special symbols, colors, and stones, to let people entering the tribe know about its inhabitants. The wheel was a reflection of an individual’s strength and weaknesses, and it gave people guidelines to follow for personal growth. It told people what they needed to learn and what they needed to teach. Everyone was ordered to work on themselves, or else leave the tribe. After several generations of this work, people lost the concept of blame and anger. This, in turn, resulted in the longest peace in modern history”

        • I also found that the Native American approach to life reminded me about the inner work. There is a lot about personal cleansing and seeking inner guidance that I could relate to and I can see the same efforts in the quote that you posted.

          For sure some of the medicine wheels were used for a spiritual purpose. The one at Majorville and Big Horn demonstrate so much understanding of the stars that the people behind them must have known something about a personal significance of the solstices and equinoxes, or could at least tap to it while working on the sites.

          From the website you posted I found it interesting that the use of Big Horn Mountain much predates Big Horn Medicine Wheel. I wonder if there is more ancient evidence of a solar religion there that could give credence to a link between the peoples who built Majorville Medicine Wheel and the those behind other solar temples in Southern US and Mexico.

          The link you posted did not work for me, this is the corrected link to the website you spoke of:

          • Right, Alex, thanks for correcting it.

            If we stick to the fact (at least according to the site) that between 70 and 150 wheels have been identified in North America and that the Bighorn wheel is part of a much larger complex of interrelated archeological sites that represents Native American adaptation which has also astronomical alignments, then many hypotheses already mentioned here could be true.

  • It’s very fortunate that Freeman’s devoted so much of his life to understanding this site. He and his wife would be there in the deepest Canadian winter, sleeping in a camper. It’s so rare to have such a perceptive mind unravel a place like this, but it could be more common – if only academia would ‘allow’ this field of research. It’s as good as forbidden – no funding, no kudos, no publicity, no support.

  • This place was really unique for me – I’ve only been to such a remote place a handful of times. The Bow River is really quite extraordinary, it’s not quite captured in the videos; it feels gigantic and very serene.

    We also had the chance to meet Professor Freeman. I think in part he was able to see the site, and uncover its secrets, as he pioneered ‘interdisciplinary studies’ in the university, as “there are no boundaries in your mind”. He was great at seeing connections and the ‘bigger picture’. He was very much convinced of the link between it and Stonehenge, and studies both in depth.

    Lovely article Alex! 🙂 And thanks Jenny for bringing it to life!

    • Like Ella said, Dr. Freeman pioneered interdisciplinary studies at the University of Alberta with pattern recognition being one of the main methods. He was able to take his skills of pattern recognition from Chemistry to Omahk.

      Dr. Freeman’s main contribution is the meticulousness of the study. Whereas people before him measured alignments, no one really paid attention to the details, and because of that many quoted alignments are debatable – because it depends on how the detail is interpreted. This is where Dr. Freeman’s work really breaks ground.

      Dr. Freeman got down to the details. He brought the meticulousness of academic investigation into archaeoastronomy. He made sure to not overlook small discrepancies from ideal. In doing that he figured out the reasons for small misalignment from the solstices observed in Omahk, Newgrange and Stonehenge (gradual change in the obliquity of the ecliptic), and managed to date these sites based on the misalignment. He also traced the equinox alignments to be an equal-day/night alignment, and decoded a highly precise calendar made from seemingly crude rocks.

      People who investigated the Majorville Medicine Wheel before Gordon glossed over all these details and ended up misunderstanding and misrepresenting the significance of the Majorville Medicine Wheel and Omahk.

      • Really interesting, Alex. Thank you for sharing. I can totally see how it takes a certain level of care and interest to really delve into things like this and unravel their mystery, despite others around not having much faith in the site or its significance. Double hard when you’re doing it solo. Kudos to Dr. Freeman for leading the way.

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