Spring equinox – walking with the sun

March 14, was a second sunny, frosty but distinctively colder morning with a very winterly wind.
Last March I pondered over the possibility of Cornamount Hill being a location to stand at the equinox to see the sun rising from behind the Grianán. So I returned, making good progress on the farmer’s new road and scrambling the rest through heather and only one barbed wire fence. Having reached the summit, now marked by a tiny pile of stones, where once the former tumulus stood, I soon became aware that like last year the sun would be still too far south and its point of rising occur along the slope rather than close to the summit. With time to spare I walked back towards the little ridge, which is leading from the north east up to Cornamount Hill, its name lost long ago. In a barren stretch of land, between summit and ridge, covered only by grass and heather, lie some ‘lost’ stones in a very roughly circular cluster and of noticeable size. It should be added that larger stones on this part of the slope are not an feature easily to be encountered and most certainly not in an assemblage.

Sunrise south of Grianán at 7.04 am from Cornamount Hill.

Sunrise south of Grianán at 7.04 am from Cornamount Hill.

The most noticeable stone in the unusual compilation.

The most noticeable stone in the unusual compilation.

The same stone on  April 23, 2008.

The same stone on April 23, 2008.

From there I proceeded to the ridge, leaving the sun disappearing again behind Greenan Hill. From this point the glow of the halo indicated that the sun would come up right beside and south of the monument and with six days to go until the equinox may just prove the right spot to stand. But for now to position the rising of the sun behind the Grianán I had to move slightly and further to the north east.

Halo behind Grianán at 7.17 am.

Halo behind Grianán at 7.17 am.

At 7.25 am

At 7.25 am

One may wonder why a little inconspicuous ridge could possibly draw any attention but in 2008, during my explorations around Greenan Hill, I found what only can be described as a raised platform on this ridge, on which an extremely suspicious and very large heap of stones, boulders and white granite was deposited. The amount and content seems to indicate that the material may have come from a structure once in place on this platform or nearby.
The platform gently slopes to the west but has an elevated, bank like appearance on its eastern and Grianán facing flank. The recent digging and trenching over the last year has done already some considerable damage to whatever might have been there and if it seemed improbable to find further indication then, it may have become impossible now.

The shadow of Grianán on the slope of the ridge during last year's autumn equinox.

The shadow of Grianán on the slope of the ridge during last year’s autumn equinox.

There was another bright and cold morning on March 22, and I revisited the ridge. Although nearly blown to smithereens, the sky was striking. It also gave me the opportunity to look again at the heap of stones left on it after all these years. But to my great sadness I found very little undisturbed and most of the surrounding fields have become part of a building site.

The sky above Grianán at 6.33 am.

The sky above Grianán at 6.33 am.

First sign of the sun at 6.43 am.

First sign of the sun at 6.43 am.

7.06 am.

7.06 am.

IMG_7376-Edit

The western slope of the ridge facing Inch Island. For reasons not obvious, a single tree has been enclosed with stones from the large pile above.

The western slope of the ridge facing Inch Island. For reasons not obvious, a single tree has been enclosed with stones from the large pile above.

Part of the 'bank' facing east and towards Grianán.

Part of the ‘bank’ facing east and towards Grianán.

As above.

As above.

There are a good few boulders in between, leaving one wondering if there may have been a structure on this ridge.

There are a good few boulders in between, leaving one wondering if there may have been a structure on this ridge.

The destroyed tumulus on the summit of Cornamount Hill, the circular cluster of stones on it’s slope in a otherwise stone deserted field and the awkward pile left on the ridge, not forgetting the capstone looking like boulder, covered in thousands of pockmarks and some undecipherable writing in what appears to be Latin to the west of the summit, may just try to tell us that there was more to this ancient landscape than one solitary monument crowning the summit of a hill.

The awkward pile of stones on the ridge on October 12, 2009.

The awkward pile of stones on the ridge on October 12, 2009.

The capstone looking like boulder October 13, 2009.

The capstone looking like boulder October 13, 2009.

Pockmark covered with some larger, cup hole like indentations.

Pockmark covered with some larger, cup hole like indentations.

Close up of the smaller holes.

Close up of the smaller holes.

The well weathered writing on the upwards facing side of the boulder.

The well weathered writing on the upwards facing side of the boulder.

Additional note: There was no equinox alignment nor eclipse visible on March 20, for there was no sun to be seen a all. The clouds, most disappointingly, did not allow for either.

 

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5 thoughts

  1. Great images! You are building an interesting picture of our ancestors activity within the area. That boulder certainly looks like a capstone. The writing on it is intriguing! So sad to see the decay and wanton destruction of these places by landowners, but you can feel good about the fact that at least you are preserving their memory. Great work!

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