Cornwall has a rich astronomical heritage. Megalithic sites with links to astronomy are found throughout Cornwall, but primarily on; Bodmin Moor, West Penwith, the Lizard and also the nearby Isles of Scilly. Many of the sites within the area are linked to the solar and lunar cycles. Some have links to the stellar cycle.
What is archaeoastronomy?
Just as we do today, though, without the technology, the people of the Neolithic and Bronze age would try to make sense of the motions in the sky. The stone monuments in our landscape leave us clues as to how they did this. Many, we know, have been aligned to indicate positions of objects in the sky. The most common being stones that are aligned with the solar cycle, such as the Heel Stone at Stonehenge marking a solstice point. Other stones are linked to the lunar cycle and some are suggested to have links with other celestial objects such as planets and stars. Archaeoastronomy attempts to understand the secrets that have been locked into the stones by studying the position and design of the monuments and linking them to the sky and landscape around them.
Sites which are linked to the solar cycle are Boscawen-un and Tregeseal.
Sites which are linked to the lunar cycle are Louden Hill, Stripple Stones and Boskednan
Much more can be found out about the archaeoastronomy of Cornwall in Carolyn’s book Celestial Stone Circles of West Cornwall. Otherwise, come and join us for a tour of the sites, you can book by contacting us through this website.
The Hurlers stone circle complex
Here is a link to a video made at the Hurlers stone circle site. This is a significant prehistoric landscape which has had a number of archaeological digs including Mapping the Sun and Reading the Hurlers. This video explores both the archaeology and the astronomical links at the site.
Famous astronomers such as John Couch Adams and Malachy Hitchins were born in Cornwall. Other astronomers conducted important astronomical work in Cornwall, such as John Bradley at the Lizard Lighthouse in 1769.
There is lots more information about these historic astronomers and their discoveries on The Society for the History of Astronomy’s survey page for Cornwall click the link below to visit their page.
Here is the wonderful Cornish Astronomy Hero’s Booklet inspired by The Society for the History of Astronomy’s Cornwall Astronomy Survey pages it was drawn by manga artist Keith Sparrow for the Mayes Creative Dark Skies Bright Stars Project and was produced as a Heritage Lottery and Feast funded project.