Autumn Equinox 2014, Part 2: Sunsets and testing Burt Castle

September saw some striking sunsets with none more spectacular then on the 21.
As last spring clouds hovering over Muckish cloaked the sight on September 5, by which time it was already too late by a few days to see the rolling sun on the northern slope as well as the setting right in the middle of the plateau shaped top of the mountain.

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On September 9, the sun set behind Crocknalaragagh of the Seven Sisters and although only four days later, the sun had already moved too far south to see it rolling down the slope of this hill.

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Not much luck with the twin peaks either on September 21. A band of clouds spoiled the prospect of seeing the sun enclosed between the two peaks.
What started out on this evening as a beautiful but not particular distinctive sunset turned into a dramatic display with only a very few to rival. The sun had disappeared behind the mountains twenty minutes earlier when I started walking down Greenan Hill. Having come not much further than a couple of hundred meters, what looked literally like a shinning stream of blood appeared above the Derryveigh Mountains, nearly impossible to describe in any other term, except that I have never seen anything like it.

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At the moment any possible importance of the sunsets behind the Seven Sisters still alludes me. There might not be any at all but such clearly identifiable and named assemblage of mountains tend to lead to some small suspicion that there may lay a certain significance in the sunsets over these mountains. And being so close to the equinoxes, starting two weeks after the spring and two weeks before the autumn equinox might give this thought some weight.

The ‘golden’ Seven Sisters.

I made a couple of visits to Burt Castle, which Peter McLoughlin so passionately described in 1833, to see if there could be a possible sunrise alignment to the Grianán.
First I tested for Lugnasad on August 7, and found the sun far off to the north.

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On my return on September 24, despite a somewhat cloudy view, I realised that by now the sun had passed monument and hill.

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Undeterred I went back two mornings later on September 26, just to be sure.

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Although the sun may just rise from behind the monument twice a year when standing at Burt Castle, probably around the beginning of September and middle of April, and a sight truly to behold, but regretfully not falling on any dates of the ancient festivals.
One fascinating observation could be made during a later trip to Inch Castle. The orientation of both castles is such that one side with windows is facing straight Greenan Hill, displaying very good views towards the monument. One is left wondering what the function of these rooms was and who occupied them. Surly, they wouldn’t be left to servants. Unfortunately, not enough is left of Elagh Castle to establish if the royal site also had windows with such notable view. But perhaps with further excavations a better plan of this castle will emerge, most likely showing the same bearing.

Related post: Spring Equinox 2014

 

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