The Solar Lunar Orientations of the Orkney-Cromarty and Clava Cairns
Douglas Scott ©2015
Abstract: This paper outlines the background to earlier studies of the solar lunar alignments of the Orkney-Cromarty (OC) passage Cairns and the Clava passage and ring cairns and details the outcome of a new and comprehensive survey carried out by the author over recent years. The paper sets out evidence of orientations in both sets of cairns to the eight divisions of the year and tests whether the orientations were observable. The results were compared to see if the Clava cairns had been influenced by the older OC cairns and other solar/lunar aligned monuments are also briefly examined. As cairns feature in early medieval literature and in the Gaelic oral traditions, folklore was also researched for insight into the cairns possible function.
The remains of over 100 OC Neolithic passage cairns can be found in clusters near fertile areas of land throughout the Central and Northern Highlands, Illus. 1. The majority of these cairns are greatly ruined and apart from a few, they are unexcavated and most their information is from Henshall’s surveys, (Henshall, 1963, 2001). A few of these long, round, horned or heel shaped OC cairns were excavated during the early 19th century by Rhind A.H. A number of cairns, such as the two on the hill above the Camster round cairn, were later converted into long cairns. It is noted that the inner chambers of the northern cairns tend to have been built with flat stone. These stones tended to be used to create squared chambers, with stone slabs forming stall like bi or tri chambers leading outward to the passage. Evidence shows that many of the passages have been destroyed however we can see, from those still extant, that some are set at a slight angle to the line of the central chambers. In contrast most of the inner chambers of the southern cairns are rounded in shape.
lllus.1. Showing the distribution throughout the Northern and Central Highlands of the Orkney-Cromarty cairns (white) and Clava cairns (black).
The Camster round cairn, excavated by Anderson (1865) cited in Henshall et al., (1991) confirms that some flint and an iron knife blade were found. Evidence also highlights that the remains of inhumations were also found to have been deliberately placed within the blocking material filling the chamber and passage. During the 1940s archaeologist Gordon Childe undertook a process of conducting emergency surveys of monuments throughout the Highlands, and a number of previously unknown OC cairns were located, (Childe. 1944). It is also important to highlight that in respect of some of the OC cairns on the Black isle, which were investigated during the 1950s, resulted in a number of flint arrowheads and fragments of pottery being found, (Woodham. 1957-58).
The cairn at Embo was excavated and a blocked burial chamber was found at its southern end, with another later chamber at its northern side. A food-vessel and some jet beads were found in a cist at the cairn’s centre. In total nine cremations were found within the cairn along with fragments of bronze razors (Henshall. 1960). In 1995 the author noticed a large cup mark on one of the southern chamber stones, which had fallen since the excavation. When standing, this cup mark would have faced into the cairn material and could not have been seen. The earliest carbon date of 2715 BC from the 1966 excavation of the Ord Hill north cairn was from the remains of a woman and a child found at the base of a standing stone placed against the back wall of the main chamber. A later Bronze Age cremation was found in the cairns anti-chamber, (Cocoran et al., 1966). These results were not written up until much later due to Cocoran’s death, (Sharples, 1981). During their reassessment of the OC cairns, Henshall and Ritchie also re-excavated the Kilcoy south cairn which had been looked at by Woodham, (Henshall. & Ritchie, 2001). The carbon dates obtained from these excavations show that the OC cairns were built in the Neolithic Period 5000-5500 years ago, (Henshall. 1960, 1972, (Sharples, 1982). Henshall and Ritchie also proposed that while the OC cairn passages might be aligned to the major standstill moon, they would have been too low for the moonlight to have entered the burial chambers, (Henshall & Ritchie, 1995, p. 68, 2001). Aubrey Burl also commented that in his opinion their passage alignment were most likely symbolic, (Burl, 141-69.1982).
The Clava Cairns
The North-East Passage Cairn
Scattered around the north east end of the Great Glen near Inverness, are the ruins of 12 roofless Clava type passage and the 15 ring cairns, which are named after the best examples at Balnuran of Clava in Strathnairn, while others are further south in Strathspey or to the west near Beauly. These wide Straths, or river valleys, are generally aligned to the northeast and southwest and the latter direction seems to have been a major factor in the choice of the orientation of the passages. The passage cairns are about 10 to 18 metres in diameter and generally circular or oval, but the Clava central ring, Corrimony and Druidtemple, are egg shaped, while Tordarroch and Carn Daley have flattened south west facades.
The South-West Clava Passage Cairn
Most of the cairns are surrounded by stone circles and they and the cairn kerb stones, many of which are cup marked, are generally graded in height to the south-west. However, the grading in height at Carn Irenan on the Black Isle, which is the most northerly of the group, is to the south-south- east. The two passage cairns at Clava are placed on top of low mounds which extends beyond the width of the cairn. Their centrally placed circular chambers were originally formed by corbelled dome shaped roofs, and these were covered with small stones held in position by rings of large kerb stones. From their round or polygonal chambers, straight passages are aligned to the south and south-west. With the exception of Avielochan, Culdoich and Tullochgorm, all the other Clava type cairns are surrounded by the remains of stone circles. In 1996 the author found a small cairn with a shallow central depression on top of a gravel ridge just off the A9 road near Auchbain farm in Strathnairn. The steep north-west side of the ridge precluded a stone circle from being built. A short distance along the ridge to the south west there is a small standing stone, which generally indicated the setting midwinter sun some 4000 years ago.
The Clava Ring Cairns
The Central Clava Ring Cairn
The Clava type ring cairns comprise a large open unroofed central area surrounded by an inner and outer ring of kerb stones originally filled with smaller stones. The outer kerb diameters range between 14 to 29 metres, and their kerb stones and stone circles are graded in height to the southwest. At the Grenish; Delfour and Bruich this grading in height is towards large flat topped kerb stones. At Delfour a large stone stands to the south west of the large kerb stone, which is flanked by a slightly higher stone and while the other is missing, this setting is similar to the recumbent stone circles of the Aberdeen-shire area. At Grenish two fallen stones to the south west and west are all that remains of a possible circle.
The Clava cairns have been excavated nine times during the 20th century. The excavation of south west passage cairn at Clava in the late 1820s only produced a few bits of bone and the remains of two flat base pots. Excavations by Cash of the cairns at Avilochan and at Clava did not produce any primary deposits; however in the 1930s Kathleen Kennedy conducted some small excavations at the three cairns at Clava, one of which revealed cup marks on the south-east cairn’s eastern kerb stone, (Cash, 1910, Barkley, 1990).
Stuart Piggott also carried out a series of excavations of a number of the Clava type cairns in the Inverness area in 1952. His excavations at the Corrimony passage cairn found the chamber and passage had been filled with stones and a large cup marked stone was thought to be the cairn’s cap stone. From the large amounts of white quartz scattered around its surface it was proposed this had once covered the cairn. The stain of a crouched inhumation was found in the sandy floor at the centre of the chamber under a layer of flat stones and a bone pin was found just inside the narrow entrance. Piggott subsequently excavated the central chambers at passage cairns at Druidtemple, Kinchyle of Dores and the ring cairn at Clava. Druidtemple gave evidence of scraps of cremated bone from one individual. The central area of the Clava ring cairn had been disturbed and was partially filled with a thick layer of charcoal and fragments of cremated bone, (Piggott, 1952-53).
Following the collapse of a cup marked standing stone, which had stood a short distance to the south west of the Culdoich ring cairn, John Barber carried out a small excavation of the stones socket in 1982, (Barber.1982). No dating evidence or finds were recovered from the socket, and a resistivity survey did not locate any of the sockets of the supposed stone circle. The excavations around the Milton of Clava standing stone found a cup marked slab lying on the remains of a Clava type cairn, (Sharples N, 1993). A short distance to the south west of the Milton cairn are the remains of St Bridget’s Chapel. It has been suggested from the large stones around the chapel that it might have been built on top of a destroyed Clava cairn, (Jolly, 1882) (Henshall, 1963).
Showing the sightline from the Milton of Clava cairn and standing stone, through the St Bridget’s Chapel site, to the Culdoich ring cairn, which is hidden behind the wall below the trees to the right of the picture.
In 1972-73, the Stonyfield Clava ring cairn at Raigmore was excavated by D.D. Simpson, before being moved behind Raigmore Hospital to make way for the new A9 road. The ring cairn was graded in height to the south-west and in the opposite direction on the outside of the kerb stones a line of closely set post holes were found. A number of burial pits were found within and outside the cairn and near its centre was a U shaped setting of post holes open and aligned to the north-west. No evidence for a free standing circle was however found outside the cairn but cremated human bone gave carbon dates from 1740 to 1520 BC, (Simpson, 1996).
The ring cairn at Newton of Petty was excavated by John Thawley in 1975, but only a preliminary report was produced and the site was later written up by Prof. Richard Bradley, (Bradley, 2000). Prof. Bradley carried out a series of excavations at the three cairns a Clava from 1993-95. These excavations were primarily to date the cairns, which were generally thought to have been built during the Neolithic period. Samples of burnt wood from under the north east passage cairn were however carbon dated from 1950 to 1870 BC, which means the cairn was built during the Bronze Age, (Bradley, 2000. P. 73). Bradley also proposed that covering the south west half of North-East cairn in red quartz had a possible symbolic link to the dead. A small cup marked kerb cairn to the west of the ring cairn was built a thousand years after the larger cairns, and it was also found that these had also been reused during that period. A Pictish cremation near the central Clava ring cairn and Iron Age and Roman period burials next to the Bronze Age Hillhead stone circle in Aberdeen-shire, also suggests that ancient monuments were still regarded as sacred thousands of years after they were built. (Bradley, 2000)(Bradley 2014).
Previous Astronomical Surveys
The first suggestion that the Clava cairns could be aligned to the sun was made by Mr. George Bain in 1864, who from the centre of the Clava ring cairn, worked out that the circle stones were marking the rising and setting sun at roughly the eight divisions of the year (Bain, 1864). It was however Boyle Somerville who proposed that the two passage cairns at Clava were aligned to the midwinter sunset, (Somerville, 1923). Prof. Alexander Thom surveys at Clava seem to have been to test the geometric layout of the stone circles. He did however comment that observers could have squatted in the burial chamber and watched the midwinter sun as it appeared to set into the South-West passage cairn. Thom also proposed that monuments in other parts of the country were aligned to the northern and southern moon, and to the eight divisions of the year, (Thom, 1967).
Aubrey Burl’s remote surveys agreed with Somerville, but he also proposed that five cairns were aligned to the southern major standstill moon, and three to the minor standstill moon, (Burl, 1981). The author surveyed 11 Clava passage cairns and the ring cairns from 1988-1992, (Scott, 1992), and they generally concurred with Burl’s surveys. It later occurred to the author that previous surveys had failed to take into account of the low height of the passage. Although the southern aligned passages seemed to be orientated towards the southern major standstill moon, if the cairn entrances were high enough, it was possible the light of the midwinter sun around midday could have entered the burial chambers. From the centre of the Auchbain cairn the small south-west standing stone generally indicated the midwinter sun set some 4000 years ago. The author only became aware of Bain’s work during later research. In addition my own findings were used by Prof. Bradley, (Bradley, 2000).
To assess if the sun or moon light entered the OC cairns, the author carried out surveys of 4 Orkney and 65 OC passage cairns from 2006-2012. The 12 Clava type passage cairns were reassessed to see if their solar/lunar orientations had been influenced by those of the OC cairns. Both sides of the Clava entrances and their horizon altitudes were sighted by theodolite from the centre of the burial chambers in 1991. However, due to the OC cairns ruined state, with portal, passage and chamber stones missing or buried under the collapsed cairn, all the passages were assessed by sighting down their centre lines with a prismatic compass set to true north. To take account of the low heights of the OC and Clava passages, the altitudes of the horizon and, where possible, the portal stones were surveyed from ground level at the centre of the burial chambers by theodolite. Although the portal heights are not shown in Fig.1, these were found to vary between 5° and 10°, whereas the indicated horizons rarely exceeded 5°. Observations from ground level from the centre of the burial chambers also showed that the surviving portal stones were higher than the indicated horizon. This, and the fact that the horizon can be seen from inside the three Camster OC cairns, suggested there would have been a large enough gap between the entrance lintels lower edges and the horizon for the sun or moonlight to have entered the cairns. Aerial surveys were carried out by helicopter during 1992 and by kite in 2015, to assess if any of the Clava type cairns had been geometrically set out.
It was noticed from Henshall and Thom’s separate site plans, and the author’s aerial pictures, that the geometric shapes of Druidtemple, Dores, Tordarroch and Carn Urnan matched the grading in height of the circles and kerb stones. The resulting long axis of these cairns was surveyed to assess if they had been solar/lunar aligned. The Azimuths, Altitudes and Declinations for the midwinter midday sun at the southern aligned cairns are shown in red in Appendix 1, while those for the moon are blue. The Declinations in Target Areas in Appendix 1 are only used to show the passages were generally aligned to the sun or moon, and none of the passages were aligned to horizon notches, as suggested by Prof. Thom, (Thom, 1967). For Survey Results see Fig.1 and Appendix 1 &2.
The Survey Results
The midwinter alignment of Maeshowe is well known, but the passages of the three other Orcadian cairns; Cuween, and Wideford Hill showed general alignments to the rising and setting sun near the equinoxes and Quoyness to the sunrise in early November/February. These were similar to those of the OC cairns, which were aligned to the rising sun near the eight of the forty five day divisions of the year, see Appendix 1. The rising sun was also photographed in the entrances of 26 OC cairns during the survey period, see end of document. For example the best preserved of the OC cairns is the Camster round cairn in Caithness, into which, as shown below, the sun will shine near the equinoxes.
Camster Round Cairn, Caithness. Cat 13. ND 261440. Sunrise at 7:06am on the 10th September 2005.
These eight yearly divisions occurred around midsummer, midwinter and early May/August; most were, however, focused near the equinoxes and early November /February, with only 8 aligned to the major standstill moon. It’s possible that some of the eastern aligned passages were focusing on the rising moon near the equinoxes. The orientations of some cairns were clearly dictated by their local topography, but others, while having wide views of the surrounding horizon, were focused specifically to the times mentioned. Cairns with high horizons, such as Balvraid, INV 51, were perhaps built with short passages to allow the sun or moon light to enter their burial chambers.
Clava North-East Passage Cairn, INV 9. NH 757444. Midwinter Sunset 21st December 1989.
The midwinter sun was photographed in the two cairn entrances at Clava in 1989, and in 8 Clava passage and at 6 ring cairns at the eight divisions of the year from 2006-2012. The two passage cairns at Clava and Corrimony were covered with a black plastic sheet and the sun was videoed entering the burial chambers at midwinter and in early November and in February. Druidtemple showed its long axis was aligned to the northern major standstill moonset, and to the southeast to the midwinter sunrise. From Druidtemple’s burial chamber the midwinter sun was observed rising in line with the highest kerbstone, and around midday, it was also seen from ground level within the passage entrance.
Corrimony Passage Cairn, INV 17. NH 383303. Sunset 9th February 2006.
Observations of the midwinter sun around midday in the entrances of Avielochan, Carn Irenan and Dores also showed that the sunlight would have entered the chambers for several weeks before and after the winter solstice. Prof. Thom was the first to comment on the midwinter orientation between the NE and SW passage cairns at Clava, (Thom 1967). Bradley also proposed that the central ring cairn, and NE passage cairn along with Mains of Clava West and Mains Of Clava North-West formed a linear cemetery aligned to the midsummer sunrise, (Thom, 1967),(Bradley, 2000). The author’s surveys suggest that the sun would have risen in line with these cairns about the 20th May and August, while to the south west they align with the minor standstill moonset. A sightline between the Balnuran South and the Mains of Clava South-East ring cairns is aligned towards the rising northern and the setting minor standstill moon.
From the Culdoich ring cairn its fallen standing stone indicated the setting southern minor standstill moon. A survey from the Milton cairn suggested the St Bridget’s Chapel cairn formed a linear cemetery with the Culdoich ring cairn aligned to the midwinter sunset. This was confirmed by observation and a photograph from the Milton cairn of the winter solstice sun setting in line with the Culdoich cairn in 1992. From the Culdoich cairn to the north-east, the northern moon will rise above the Milton cairn during a major standstill.
On the 21st December 1992, the winter solstice sun set in line with the Culdoich, St. Bridget’s and Milton cairns.
The Clava type cairns show a higher level of complexity and sophistication than the OC cairns and their passage alignment seems to have been dictated by the northeast-southwest orientations of the Straths. Their passages are aligned to the southern major standstill moon and the sun at midwinter and in early November and February. The orientation of both the OC cairns and the Clava type cairns are shown in Figure 4. The Clava kerb and circle stones, some of which are cupmarked, are graded in height to the southwest and southeast to the rising and setting sun at the eight divisions of the year and to the northern and southern rising and setting moon during major standstills, (Scott, 1992). Carn Irenan on top of the Black Isle is the only cairn which is graded in height to the south east to the rising moon during a major standstill, see below. Observations have also shown the shadows of circle stones, cast by the rising or setting sun, touched the cup marked kerb stones, (Scott, 1992, 2003, 2010).
Carn Irenan, Black Isle. NH 5666 5229.
An aerial picture shows that Carn Irenan is a slight tear drop shape, the long axis of which runs from between these two symmetrically placed north western kerb stones through the burial chamber and higher kerb stones to the large south-east standing stone. Although it could never have been seen from inside the burial chamber, the southern major standstill moon will rise above this south-east standing stone.
Even though the passage is blocked by a fallen lintel on the inner side of the passage, the 7 day old southern major standstill moon was watched as it set in line with the entrance on the 29th September 1987.
This picture was taken from the top of the earth filled passage on the inner side of the fallen lintel, and shows that originally the midwinter sunlight would also have entered Carn Irenan’s burial chamber.
Aerial pictures of a number of passage and ring cairns clearly show that they were geometrical egg shapes or have flattened facades. Corrimony and Druidtemple are egg shaped and the formers long axis is aligned to the November/February sunset and the midsummer sunrise, while Druidtemple’s is aligned to the midwinter sunrise and the major standstill moonset. It has been suggested that these shapes were created with knowledge of Pythagorean geometry, (Thom, 1967). These egg shaped ring cairns could have had a “practical” function by aligning them to other solar/lunar events. This cannot be applied to the flattened façade of the Tordarroch ring cairn, the axis of which passes through a fallen cup marked kerb stone and highest circle stone which indicates the setting southern moon during, but not at its major standstill position.
The view to the south-west from the cup marked kerb stone to the highest circle stone. Although the lower cup marks on this kerb stone would have been hidden by small stones within the ring cairn, the upper ones would have been visible.
At 11:00pm on the 25th August 2004, the southern gibbous phased moon, during, but not at its furthest south major standstill position, set to the left of the highest circle stone. Like many other lunar aligned monuments, this suggests that the cairn builders were not interested in marking the extreme southern moon.
The recumbent stone circles in Aberdeen-shire also have flattened facades and many of these are cup marked and aligned to the sun and moon. The Torhouse stone circle in Galloway is a similar shape, which Prof. Thom suggested was formed using Pythagorean triangles, (Thom, 1967). When the author’s aerial picture of the Torhouse circle was overlain on Thom’s plan there was almost a perfect match. The highest circle stone is cup marked and from the centre of the circle the indicated sunrise in early November and February was photographed at 8:00am 2nd November, 2014. In the opposite direction to the north east the circle’s axis is “aligned” to the setting sun in early May and August.
It therefore seems that some of these circles were geometrically created, but we have to be careful about reading too much into this. In the same way a circle can be drawn without any knowledge of Pi, it’s possible to create an egg shape without any knowledge of Pythagorean geometry. As the “egg” shapes of these circles are intentional, perhaps this and their solar/lunar orientations are linked more to fertility beliefs and rebirth of the dead.
Observations at Avielochan, Carn Irenan, Dores, and Druidtemple, the passages of which are aligned south to the southern major standstill moon, showed that their entrances were once high enough for the midwinter sunlight to have entered their burial chambers around midday. Whilst the idea of passages being aligned to the midday midwinter sun is at odds with the accepted rise or set view, there was no obstacle to those passages being aligned to the midwinter sunset, and the choice seems to have been deliberate. This can perhaps be explained by a closer look at the sophisticated layout of Druidtemple, Illus. 2. The long axis of this egg shaped cairn is aligned north-west to the northern major standstill moonset. To the southeast; the axis passes through the highest kerbstone which indicates the midwinter sunrise. Around midday the sun light would have entered the burial chamber, and a few hours later the sun would then have set behind the highest circle stone, Stone 1.
Illus. 2. Druidtemple, Inverness. INV30. NH 685420. The above plan after Henshall shows how Druidtemple’s long axis aligns with the northern major standstill moonset and midwinter sunrise.
Illus. 3 The above image shows from ground level, how the sun and moon will first rise in line with Druidtemple’s highest southern kerb stone and Stone 10, and then later appear in the passage entrance before setting behind Stone 1. These events are shown if the next three photographs.
On the 16th December 2012 the midwinter sun rose above the highest SW kerb stone. Originally the sun would have risen closer to Stone 10, and would have been above it as it cleared of the horizon. The fact that the southern major standstill moon will also rise to the right of Stone 10, should also be taken into consideration.
The snow was cleared off the portal stones before this picture of the midwinter sun was taken within the entrance at 11:55 am 25th December 2010.
A few hours later the sun would then set behind Stone 1 as shown on the 21st December 1992.
Although the midwinter sun rise to the left of Stone 10, the stone actually indicates the southern rising moon during a major standstill. A few hours after rising, the moon would have also appeared within the entrance before setting behind Stone 1. If the passage had been open, the moon would have appeared many times in the entrance in the 4.5 years it took to move from the winter solstice position to its southern major standstill position. At this time the moon would have briefly risen and then set within the entrance see Illus.4. The sun or moon rising and setting in line with Stones 10 and 1, could not have been seen from within the burial chamber, but the care taken to build this effect into this and other cairns suggests that perhaps it was believed they could have been seen by the spirit ancestors. Observations at the Corrimony and Carn Daley passage cairns showed that they were not, as suggested from previous surveys, aligned to the setting minor standstill moon, but to the setting sun in early November and February.
Illus.4. The above image showing how the sun and moon will rise and set in line with Druidtemples southern kerb stones and passage is for illustration use only.
The cairn at Dalcross was aligned to the southern minor standstill moon, but as the sun also sets in line with the passage in the middle of November and February, perhaps its alignment was intended to be solar and lunar? The reason some Clava cairns were thought to be aligned only to the southern major and minor standstill moon, is perhaps because they were surveyed remotely (Burl, 1981) or from eye level and did not take account of the low height of the passage, (Scott, 1992). There is however a problem with the passages being aligned to the setting southern major standstill full moon. Observations from the Nether Largie stones near Kilmartin in Argyll in June during the 2007 major standstill have shown that it was almost impossible to see the moon at this time in the bright early morning light, (Scott, 2010).It is therefore possible that the passages were aligned to the moon in its different phases, as well the midday midwinter sun. The first quarter moon was seen in September later that year, but it was hidden by trees before it set between the two southern Nether Largie stones, (Scott, 2012). On the 11th September 1986, the southern gibbous moon was watched as set in line with Carn Irenan’s passage, and it would have been bright enough to illuminate the burial chamber. The orientations of the passages of Newgrange and Maeshowe to the midwinter sun rise and set are well known. Both monuments have three similar internal burial niches, and although the following events are hidden, like those at some Clava cairns, these niches are placed in the direction of the rising and setting midsummer and midwinter sun.
Midwinter aligned cairns such as Carn Baan, Culcarron, and Kintraw can also be found southwest end of the Great Glen, in northern Argyll. Carn Baan’s chamber and passage were entered in 1871, and two rows of ‘walnut’ sized quartz stones were found with some broken pottery in the burial chamber, (Smith, A. 1874). Although its chamber is now filled with stones, its passage is aligned to the rising midwinter sun as observed at 9:00am on the 27th December 2008. Most of the coastal strip of northern Argyll to the east is bounded by hills, and Carn Baan’s location near the mouth of the river Etive, is perhaps the only place where the horizon was low enough so that a cairn passage could have been aligned to allow the rising midwinter sun could shine into its burial chamber.
The north-west side of Culcarron cairn was destroyed by a railway line, but when excavated, a flat cup marked stone, now on display in Oban’s Corran Halls, was found lying in front of a false portal, (Peltenberg, 1971). Culcarron’s false portal aligns with the midwinter sun as it appears from behind a high southern hill at about 11:00 am.
The Kintraw cairn stands in line with a large standing stone and another smaller cairn to its south-west. Although there was no sign of a central burial, a burial cist containing burnt wood was found on its north-western side, while a false portal was located on its south-west side, (Simpson, 1966). This false portal is in line with the midwinter sun as it sets on the high south west horizon as observed and photographed at 2:15pm, on the 19th December 2003. Perhaps the reason why these cairns had false portals is because the high horizons would have precluded the sun from shining into any passage?
The alignment of Maeshowe’s passage to the midwinter sunset is well known, but surveys on Orkney have shown a number of monuments around the Ness of Brodgar, had been aligned to the sun and moon. As previously mentioned the Odin and its companion stone were aligned to the northern major standstill moonset and this could have also been seen from Stenness. To the south-east the Odin Stone’s were aligned to the midwinter sun rising above Stenness. The Watch Stone also had a companion stone, the stump of which was found during road work in the 1930s. The flat sides of the Watch Stone would suggest that these stones were also aligned to the midwinter sunrise and to the northern major standstill setting moon. The Lochview standing stones next to the Ness of Brodgar excavations, indicated the setting and rising sun in early May and August and November and February.
The recent excavations at Barnhouse near the Stenness and at the Ness of Brodgar have found the remains of buildings, and the survey of their entrances in 2012 and 2014 have shown that some were solar/lunar aligned. The Barnhouse buildings are thought to be the earliest structures to be built on Orkney, and they have been likened by their excavator as being a mix between a burial cairn and a house, (Richards, 2013). These buildings have been partially recreated and from the central hearth in House 3, the doorway would have framed the rising midwinter sun. When excavated a burial was found under a large flag stone at the centre of House 2, and this would have been lit by rising minor standstill moon as it shone through the entrance. House 2 was eventually pulled down to make way for another larger squared building Structure 8 a short distance to the south. This had large square central fireplace, while another squared hearth was place in front of its northwest entrance. This building appears to have had a circular wall around it, but there was no evidence of this in front of the entrance. From the central squared fireplace the northern midwinter full moon would have set in line with the entrance during a major standstill. Graham Ritchie’s 1970s excavations at the centre of the Stenness stone circle, found a large squared hearth and the remains of another squared setting to the north-west. Colin Richards has proposed that these are the remains of the central and entrance hearths of a similar sized building as Structure 8, which was erected on the site before the Stenness stone circle was built, (Richards 2013).
The Ness of Brodgar Neolithic complex of 10 or so buildings has been under excavation by Nick Card since 2005. The interior walls of these buildings were painted red and carved with linear symbols, and stone axes, mace heads and a stone ball have also been found. These buildings were also surrounded by a large wall with northern and southern entrances. On hearing that the entrance Structure 10, which due to its large size has been called the “Cathedral”, was aligned towards Maeshowe, a remote survey by the author suggested the equinox sun would rise directly above the burial cairn. This information was passed on to site director Nick Card, and at his invitation, the author, in August 2014, surveyed other Ness of Brodgar doorways to see if they were also solar or lunar aligned.
Structure 1 was the first building to be erected on the Ness of Brodgar and from its south-west cup marked doorway the stump of a c1m high standing stone is aligned to the southern major standstill moonrise. This would have been blocked later the building of Structure 12. From central hearth inside Structure 1, the northern major standstill moon would have set in the northern doorway. Apparently all the other buildings were torn down before the “Cathedral” was built and aligned towards Maeshowe. As the equinox sun rose above the burial mound, its light would have flooded into Structure 10 and would have illuminated any sacred objects displayed on the stone dresser near the north-west wall. Perhaps this dresser contained the skulls and bones of some revered ancestors? Although it cannot be seen from inside Structure 10, the standing stone stump just outside Structure 8 indicates the setting sun at the equinoxes.
Burial Cairns in Early Written Accounts and Oral Tradition.
The surveys showed that many cairns were aligned to the sun near the times of the later Gaelic festivals of Samhain or Beltane. In the 12th century Irish manuscripts as there are accounts of people entering cairns to interact with their spirit inhabitants; this led the author to consider if these were fragments of prehistoric beliefs. The view there may be some aspect of ritual use of burial cairns and standing stones in traditional stories has also been expressed by other archaeologists, (Ritchie, 1971, Burl, 1976, O’Kelly, 1988, Richards, 2014). Although this may be contentious to some, just as Homer’s Iliad gives an insight into Greek beliefs, books such as the Lebor Gabala, “The Book of Invasions”, allow us to see how the cairns and their inhabitants were viewed at that time.
These stories were written down to create a foundation for Irish history by forming a link with the original guardian’s of the land, the Sidhe, (Shee) or the Tuatha De Danann, ‘Tribe of the Goddess Danu’. Just as European kings claimed their lineage to Adam and Eve; the powerful O’Neal’s right to rule Ireland was apparently due to one of their ancestors having married a woman of the Tuatha De Danann. These supernatural beings once ruled Ireland and when defeated by the invading Celts, they retreated to the underworld to live in burial cairns. Some might say these stories would have changed over time, but Jeffery Gantz points out, “when originally recited by the Celtic Bards, while each recital of the story might have varied depending on the performer, the main structure would have remained intact and it was only later when written down that they deteriorated”, (Gantz, 1981). Gantz also indicated that this oral tradition “originated in the mists of Irish prehistory (some elements predating the arrival of the Celts in Ireland)” (Gantz, 1981).
The Tuatha De Danann are described in the Book of Armagh as the ‘dei terreni’ or earth gods who exacted tributes of food or milk from people to ensure rich harvests, (Wentz, 1911). The survival of these beliefs can still be seen in the late medieval period in 1567 and to paraphrase John Carswell; the Bishop of the Isles, in his “Book of Common Order, “that it would be better if his flock followed more the teachings of the Bible than the stories of the Tuatha de Dannan”, (Ross, 2000). Only a few of these expensive books survive and as the majority of the population were illiterate, they could not have been the source of these traditions. These traditional stories continued to circulate among the Gaels into the 20th century as evidenced by Gaelic folklorist Alexander Carmichael and by other researchers, (Carmichael, 1928), (Fraser, 1914), (Wentz, 1911), (Davidson, 1964, 1993).
To our culture cairns were simply used for burying the dead, but in the traditional view they were where the fertility earth gods lived. To the Gaels this Otherworld was Tir Nan Og, the land of the ever young, and people by entering a cairn at Samhain (Sowain) in early November could travel to the Otherworld (Davidson, 1964, 1993). Samhain was the most sacred time of the year for the Gaels, when bards such as Ossian, and the spirits of the dead could cross to each other’s worlds.
In Gaelic Scotland and Ireland cup marked stones were known as ‘Clach Aoraidh’, or worship stones and there are oral and written accounts of them being used in the twentieth century to contact the Sidhe who were believed to live in cairns and standing stones, (Richardson, 1990, p.40), When the Rev. Mackenzie suggested to an old Crofter he should break up or bury cup marked stones lying about his croft he was told, “this would insight the wrath of the supernatural beings living within them”, (Mackenzie, 1899-1900.) If the woman of the house each night failed to fill the cup marks with milk each night to appease the Gruagach, the goddess of cattle, the best cow would run dry and be found dead in the morning, (Carmichael, 1928). In Sweden, milk was still poured into cup marks in the 1960s to thank the Elves for the harvests, (Davidson, 1964). St. Patrick also cast out the demon Crom Cruach from his gold covered standing stone, (Tripartite Life of St Patrick).
On Orkney the guardian spirits within the cairns are called the Hogboon, who were believed to look after the fertility of the surrounding fields and they were kept happy with beer being poured through a hole in the roof of their cairn. There is also traditional story of someone circling the Odin stone nine times at the time of the full moon for nine months, before looking through a hole in its side. Food offerings and small pebbles were also left at this stone, (Marwick, Ritchie, 1976). There is an Orcadian tradition that Brodgar and Stenness were called the Circles of the Sun and Moon, where people pledged themselves to each other after which they held hands through the hole in the Odin stone before taking the “Promise of Odin”, (Martin, M. 1703).
These traditions tend to be dismissed as southern ideas, but no one before this had suggested that monuments, such as Stonehenge, were aligned to the sun or moon. The Rev. William Stukely was the first to propose this after watching the 1723 midsummer sunrise at Stonehenge, but he didn’t publish his account until 1746, some 43 years after Martin. In the late 1980s Colin Richards excavated the Odin Stone’s socket and that of an unknown companion stone, (Richards, 1991). The authors surveys showed that the Odin Stones from Stenness indicated the setting northern moon, supports that these were ancient traditions which had survived on Orkney for over 5000 years. The high regard in which these fertility gods were held can be seen from a Norwegian quote where “sacrifices were made to an early king of Norway Olaf, Elf of Geirstad in his Howe (burial mound) of plenty as they once did to Freyr the sun god”, (Davidson, 1964).The offerings of food and drink given to Elves, Sidhe, and Hogboon at cup marked stones and cairns imply they were worshiped as guardians of the fertility of the land and they are a faint echo of those we call the ancestors.
The low level of the cairn passages would have precluded direct observation of the sun or moon from inside the chamber. However, their construction allowed for the sun or moon light to have entered the burial chamber and it seems that this light was believed to be a vital factor for the interred ancestors. The charcoal and fragments of burnt bone found in the centre of the Clava ring cairn could suggest that this kind of monument was used for the cremation of the dead as the sun and moon rose or set in line with the circle stones. It’s possible that after being cremated in the ring cairn the burnt bone was collected in pots and placed in the two passage cairns to await the midwinter sun to shine into the burial chambers. The location of the cup marks on the circle and kerb stones would also suggest a connection with the sun and moon and the dead at these times. The author’s surveys of about 100 cup marked monuments have shown similar solar/lunar orientations to the northern and southern major and minor standstill moon about every 19 years and to the eight divisions of the year, (Scott, 2003, 2010).
The circle stones around Clava cairns also mark the rising and setting sun every 45 days and for the northern and southern major standstill moon, and similar alignments were found at other monuments throughout Scotland. (Scott, 1992, 2003, and 2010). These orientations probably reflect long held social-religious beliefs linked specifically to those times. This suggests that the sun or moonlight entering these cairns were obviously part of a religious belief, and that the spirit ancestors were believed to be animate within the cairns. As these people were farmers, the sun or moonlight entering the cairns was perhaps linked with rituals to the ancestors and with the regeneration of the fertility of the earth.
The people building these monuments must have watched and marked where the sun and moon rose or set on the horizon at a specific chosen time, prior to the monuments’ construction, which were close to the eight divisions of the year as described. The Clava Cairns, despite being built a 1000 years after the OC cairns, demonstrate similar solar/lunar alignments. Their close proximity would suggest that the Clava Cairns were, therefore, inspired by the OC cairns which, in turn, derived from the older passage cairns on Orkney.
The style of Pierowall curvilinear and other rock carvings links Orkney with the Boyne Valley cairns in Ireland. This contact could have been maintained via Callanish on the Isle of Lewis; but the safest route was south along the eastern coasts of the Moray Firth and by the lochs in the Great Glen. The choice of this route is also exemplified in the concentrations of Orkney-Cromarty cairns in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter-Ross. Although they may have been influenced from elsewhere, perhaps this also explains the midwinter aligned Culcarron, Carn Baan and Kintraw cairns in northern Argyll.
From the solar/lunar aligned monuments and the non domestic highly decorated buildings at Brodgar and Barnhouse, it therefore seems that Orkney was a major centre of religious power, run by an elite group of priests similar to those suggested by Dr Euan MacKie, (MacKie E, 1977). It would have been these priests who would have directed the construction and alignment of these monuments and conducted the rituals for the spirits ancestors as the sun or moon rose out of or set into the Otherworld.
In conclusion the author would suggest that it is important to reflect on all the information available to us in order to fully understand these monuments. This presents us with a potential challenge as folklore beliefs, although irrational, allows us a clearer understanding as to the function of these monuments. Mike Parker Pearson and Colin Richards comment: ‘despite the obsessive practice of recording architecture and physical features in the greatest detail imaginable, archeologists were somehow missing the point in their substitution of description for understanding, (1994 xi) cited et al in Henshall A.S. and Ritchie, J.N. G. (2001). It is all very well to understand these monuments from our surveys but as they are possibly reflecting religious beliefs our challenge surely is to try and understanding these rationally.
Illus. 4. This illustration is for visual reference only and shows the general orientations of the OC and Clava cairn passages to the rising and setting sun near the eight divisions of the year and to the moon near its northern and southern major and minor standstills.
Achaidh (Achey), Spinningdale. SUT 2. NH 671911. Sunrise 5thFebruary 2011. Achaidh and Kyloag are located within a 0.5km of each other and the sun rises in line with their blocked passages for a few days in early November and February.
Appendix 1. The Orkney-Cromarty and Clava passage cairns are only generally aligned to sun and moon near the times shown in the Target Area. The four Clava cairns passages aligned to the southern moon were assessed to see if the midday midwinter sun could have entered their burial chambers. The altitudes and declinations of the midwinter sun’s at the times it was seen around midday within the Druidtemple, Kinchyle of Dores and Carn Urnan passages are shown in blue.
Kyloag, Spinningdale. SUT 37. NH662911. Sunrise 29th January 2012.
Loch Borralan East, Assynt. SUT 43. NC 262111. The sun rising in line with the blocked passage on the 30th September 2011.This cairn is located on the side of a hill a few hundred metres to the north-east of the cairn below.
Loch Borralan West. SUT 44. NC 260111. Sunrise on the 30th September 2011.
The Ord North, Lairg, Sutherland. SUT 48. NC 573056. Sunrise on the 8th November 2009.
Ord South, Lairg, Sutherland. SUT 48. NC 573056. Sunrise on the 8th November 2009.
Evelix, Clasmore, Sutherland. SUT 28. NH 763899. Sunrise of the 3rd February 2012.
Millnafua Bridge, Rogart, Sutherland. SUT 84. NC 731026. 8:50am 3rd February 2012. Due to the height of the horizon at this site it’s possible to see the sun rise at this cairn about 20 minutes after it rises in line with the Evelix cairn. The midwinter sun rises on the lower horizon, and this shows that there were other social or religious factors in choosing the orientations of these cairns.
Camster Round, Caithness. CAT 13. ND 261440. Sunrise on the 10th September 7:06am 2003.
Allanfearn, Inverness. NH 716476. The sun rising in line with passage entrance on the 4th May 2011. This cairn does not appear to have been assessed during Henshall’s surveys.
Cnoc Chaornaidh South-East, Assynt. SUT 70. NC 303079. Sunrise at 9:39am on the 1st February 2012.
Benbhraggie Wood, Golspie, Sutherland. SUT 12. NC 829006. Sunrise 8:30am 30th January 2012. Although this picture was taken slightly to the north as the chamber is occupied by a large tree, the sun originally would have risen in line with the passage in early February/November.
Balvaird, Black Isle. ROS 7. NH 539519. 7:41am 17th March 2012. In the above picture the sun is actually rising to the left of the passage line, as this is obscured by trees, and this would have occurred about the 12th March/September.
Bishop Kinkell, Black Isle. ROS 8. NH 541527. Sunrise on the 3rd May 2011.
Heights of Brae, Easter-Ross. ROS 22. NH 514615. Sunrise at 7:00am 20th September 2011. There was another burial chamber a short distance to the north of the main chamber, and this was also aligned to the equinox sunrise.
Ardvannie, Easter Ross. ROS 2. NH 682874. There’s not much left of this cairn, but as shown on the 21st March 2011, its entrance is in line with the equinox sunrise.
Muir of Conon, Black Isle. ROS 34. NH 546524. The sun rising above the remains of the entrance on the 3rd July 2011.
Belmaduthy, Black Isle. ROS 8. NH 644559. Midwinter sunrise 5th January 2011.
Carn Glas, Black Isle. ROS 12. NH 579520. Equinox sunrise at 6:21am 25th March 2014.
Scotsburn House Cairn. ROS 46. NH 715751. From the chamber the sun rose in line with the passage’s two portal stones at 7:37am on the 1st November 2014.
Clashmore. SUT 19. NH 743896. Midwinter sunrise 2013.
Cnoc Odhar SUT 21. NH 767967. Midwinter sunrise 2013.
Badnabay, SUT 10. NC 218467. Sunrise at 9:10am on the 1st November 2012.
Kilcoy North, ROS 23. NH 570515. Equinox sunrise at 6:48am on the 30th March 2014.
Avielochan, Inverness-shire. INV 5. NH 909167. The portal stones were cleared of snow before the midwinter sun was photographed in the passage entrance on the 24th December 2010.
Corrimony, Glen Urquhart. INV 17. NH 383303. Sunset 9th February 2006.
Clava Northeast Cairn. INV 9. NH 757444. Midwinter sunset 21st December 1989.
Clava Southeast Cairn. INV 10. NH 756443. Midwinter sunset 21st December 2002.
Dores. NH 62153896. Although aligned to the southern major standstill moon, as shown at 12:35 pm on the 18th December 2013, the sun appeared in line with the passage.
Carn Irenan. NH 5666 5229. The setting midwinter sun below a false lintel placed on top of the portal stones at 1:30pm on the 26th December 2013. As the camera was placed on the earth filled passage it’s likely the midwinter sunlight would have entered the burial chamber.
Carn Daley. INV 16. NH 494314. The horizon is now hidden by since my last visit 20 years, but it was possible to photograph the sunset through the trees on the 3rd February 2011.
Dalcross, INV26. NH 779484. From the cairn the south-west horizon is hidden by trees, with one actually growing in the passage entrance. It was possible however, by moving slightly to the left to get a brief glimpse of the setting sun through the trees at 16:45pm on the 15th November 2012.
Tullochgorm Cairn, INV 49. NH 964213. Midwinter Sunset at 15.16pm on the 5th December 2012.Although originally thought by Henshall to be a ring cairn, she now thinks it could be the remains of a passage cairn, with the flat topped stone forming the left side of the entrance.
Clava Ring Cairn, Inverness. NH 757444. The sun setting in line with the tallest south west axis stone on the 6th November 2010. The north east axis marks the sunrise in early May and August.
Easter Delfour Ring Cairn, Aviemore NH 845087. From his survey Prof. Thom suggested from the centre of the ring cairn the midwinter sun set behind the south west standing stone, and this was confirmed on the 21st December 1995. The sun then set in line with the flat top kerb stone.
Gask Ring Cairn. NH 679358. The midwinter sun setting behind the large south-west standing stone on the 15th December 2003.
Grenish Ring Cairn, Aviemore. NH 907155. The midwinter sun setting in line with the highest south west kerb stone at 2:38pm on the 29th December 2014. A large fallen standing stone lying a short distance away would also have marked the setting sun at this time.
Bruich Ring Cairn, Kiltarlity. NH 499414. This ring cairn was turned into a duck pond in the 19th century, and from its centre; the largest circle stone and kerb stone indicate the midwinter sunset.
|Cairn||Henshall||Grid Ref.||Latitude||Longitude||Azi.||H.Alt.||Decl||Target Area|
|Cuween||12||HY 364127||58°59’50″N||3°06’29″W||93°||0°30′||– 1°32||Equinox|
|Wideford Hill||54||HY 409121||58°59’31″N||3°01’48″W||272°||0°30′||+1°02||Equinox|
|Allt Na Buidhe||CAT 3||ND133267||58°13’17”N||3°28’35”W||125°||0°00′||-18° 6||Nov. & Feb.|
|Bein Freiceadain||CAT 4||ND059558||58°28’51”N||3°28’54”W||60°||0°00′||+15°00||May & Augt.|
|Camster North||CAT 12||ND 30442||58°22’48”N||3°17’00”W||120°||1°40′||-14°30||Nov. & Feb|
|Camster South||CAT 12||“ “||“ “||“ ”||104°||1°30′||– 6°17||Equinox/Moon?|
|Camster Round||CAT 13||ND260440||58°22’42”N||3°15’56”W||86°||3°40′||+5°02||Equinox/Moon?|
|Cnoc Na Maranaich||CAT 20||ND131331||58°16’42”N||3°28’55”W||125°||0°00′||-18°00||Nov. & Feb.|
|Earl’s Cairn||CAT 23||ND262697||58°36’33”N||3°16’13”W||105°||0°00′||-8°15||Equinox/Moon?|
|Hill of Shebster||CAT 28||ND011646||58°33’31”N||3°42’00”W||140°||0°20′||-23°43||Midwinter|
|Kenny’s Cairn||CAT 31||ND310408||58°21’02”N||3°10’59”W||159°||0°00′||-29°58||S.Ma.Moon|
|Knockinnon||CAT 33||ND184316||58°15’58”N||3°24’00”W||120°||0°00′||-15°45||Nov.& Feb.|
|Langwell East||CAT 34||ND091222||58°10’47”N||3°32’47”W||105°||Trees||-8°20||Equinox Moon?|
|Loedebest West||CAT 36||ND133322||58°16’15”N||3°23’43”W||44°||2°25’||+24°11||Midsummer|
|Lower Dounreay||CAT 38||ND996677||58°35’10”N||3°43’04”W||122°||0°00’||-16°33||Nov.& Feb.|
|M’Cole’s Castle||CAT 39||ND316433||58°22’24”N||3°10’16”W||262°||2°20’||-2°25||Equinox|
|Ormiegill North||CAT 42||ND332429||58°22’11”N||3°08’35”W||139°||0°00′||-23°51||Midwinter|
|Sithean Dubh||CAT 48||ND049583||58°30’11”N||3°37’56”W||138°||0°00′||-23°23||Midwinter|
|Sithean Buidhe||CAT 51||ND060575||58°29’45”N||3°36’47”W||80°||0°30’||+5° 12||Equinox|
|Torr Ban Gruagaich||CAT 56||ND058600||58°31’03″N||3°37’04″W||70°||0°40′||+10°28||17th May|
|Torr Beag||CAT 57||ND063562||58°29’10″N||3°36’37″W||140°||1°21′||-22°35||Midwinter|
|Warehouse East||CAT 62||ND309423||58°21’50″N||3°10’57″W||342°||0°00′||+29°||N.Ma.Moon|
|Warehouse North||CAT 63||ND305422||58°21’48″N||3°11’18″W||85°||0°00′||+2°07||Equinox|
|Warehouse South||CAT 64||ND305420||58°21’42″N||3°11’17″W||44°||0°00||+21°37||N.Mi.Moon.|
|Langwell House||CAT 72||ND110224||58°10’55″N||3°30’53″W||90°||trees||-0°29||Equinox|
|Clashmore||SUT 19||NH743896||57°52’43″N||4°07’11″W||140°||0°30||-24° 01||Midwinter|
|Cnoc An Daimh||SUT 20||NC 166429||58°20’12″N||5°08’00″W||62°||2°20||+16°04||May & Augt.|
|Cnoc Odhar||SUT 21||NH767967||57°56’34″N||4°05’03″W||144°||0°50||-25° 3||Midwinter|
|Craig na Caorach W.||SUT 25||NC 868309||58°15’11″N||3°55’46″W||74°||8°50||+15°48||May & Augt.|
|Druim Liath.||SUT 26||NH609930||57°54’19″N||3°20’55″W||122°||1°40||– 15°10||Nov.& Feb.|
|Evelix.||SUT 28||NH 763899||57°52’55″N||4°05’12″W||124°||0°40||-17°06||Nov.& Feb.|
|Fiscary||SUT 29||NC 731627||58°31’59″N||4°10’52″W||239°||0°10||-15°57||Nov. & Feb.|
|Kinbrace Burn||SUT 33||NC 875283||58°13’44″N||3°54’58″W||67°||5°||+16°03||May & Augt.|
|KinbraceHill Round||SUT 35||NC 868293||58°14’18″N||3°55’41″W||123°||3°00′||-14°12||Nov. & Feb.|
|Kyleoag||SUT 37||NH662911||57°53’21″N||4°15’24″W||126°||0°20||-18°22||Nov.& Feb.|
|Loch Awe||SUT 42||NC 240146||58°58’00″N||4°59’10″W||133°||6°00||-15°51||Nov.&Neb.|
|Loch Borralan E.||SUT 43||NC 262111||58°03’20″N||4°56’46″W||101°||3°30||-2°59||Equinox|
|Loch Borralan W.||SUT 44||NC 260111||58°03’18″N||4°56’59″W||98°||2°20||-2°28||Equinox|
|Lothbeg.||SUT 45||NC 946104||58°04’14″N||3°47’15″W||119°||0°00||-15°22||Nov.& Feb.|
|Ord South.||SUT 49||NC 573056||58°00’59″N||4°24’55″W||127°||2°20||-16°44||Nov.& Feb.|
|Ord North.||SUT 48||NC 573056||57°00’59″N||4°25’00″W||125°||2°40||-16°03||Nov.& Feb.|
|Skail.||SUT 52||NC 712469||58°23.49’N||4°12’19″W||43°||2°40||+24°45||Midsummer|
|Croc Na Moine||SUT 60||NC 389660||58°33’11″N||4°46’10″W||187°||5°00||-26°21||S.Ma.Moon|
|King’s Head Cairn||ROS 25||NH697751||57°44’48″N||4°11’23″W||80°||0°00′||+4°49||Equinox/Moon?|
|Lower Lechanich N.||ROS 29||NH684859||57°50’35″N||4°13’08″W||83°||0°00||+3°13||Equinox|
|Lower Lechanich S.||ROS 30||NH684858||57°50’33″N||4°13°37″W||90°||0°00||-0°29||Equinox|
|Muir of Conon.||ROS 34||NH546524||57°32’20″N||4°25’49″W||41°||0°36||+23°54||Midsummer|
|Woodhead Round||ROS 42||NH650610||57°37’08″N||4°15’41″W||50°||trees||+20°08||N.Mi. Moon|
|Scotsburn House||ROS 46||NH715761||57°45’25″N||4°09’38″W||115°||0°20′||-13°11||Nov.&Feb.|
|Scotsburn Wood E||ROS 47||NH726768||57°45’49″N||4°08’30″W||105°||trees||-8°26||Equinox/Moon?|
|Scotsburn Wood W||ROS 48||NH721767||57°45’40″N||4°08’36″W||116°||trees||-14° 01||Nov.&Feb.|
|Stittenham||ROS 49||NH649743||57°44’18″N||4°16’14″W||132°||1°25′||-20° 04||S.Mi.Moon|
|Brahan Wood||ROS 53||NH504552||57°33’44″N||4°30’05″W||190°||2°40′||-29°29||S.Ma.Moon|
|Tarradale N.||ROS 61||NH549497||57°30’51″N||4°25’51″W||103°||trees||-7°26||Equinox/Moon?|
|Tarradale S.||ROS 61||NH549497||“ ”||“ ”||103°||trees||-7°26||Equinox/Moon?|
|Allanfearn||NH716476||57°30′ 2″N||4°08’38″W||62°||1°20||+15°27||May& Aug.|
|Balnuaran Clava NE||INV 9||NH757444||57°28’24″N||4°42’04″W||213°||2°00||-25°11||Midwinter|
|Balnuaran Clava SW||INV 10||NH756443||57°28’21″N||4°04’28″W||213°||2°00||-25°11||Midwinter|
|Carn Daley||INV 16||NH493314||57°20’53″N||4°30’11″W||233°||3°00||-16°28||Nov.&Feb.|
|Croftroy||INV 18||NH683331||57°22’12″N||4°11’26″W||196°||4°00||– 27°28||S.Ma.Moon|
|Kinchyle of Dores||INV 37||NH621389||57°25’12″N||4°17’04″W||182°
|Carn Urnan||ROS 13||NH566522||57°32’16″N||4°23’46″W||196°
|Lagmore||BAN 1||NJ 176358||57°24’20″N||3°22’19″W||167°||3°40
|-28°13||S. Ma. Moon|
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