Stone Age people in Ireland appear to have built tombs based on
a detailed knowledge of how the Sun moves across the sky during the
Tombs at the archaeological site of Loughcrew in County Meath
align with the rising Sun at the spring and autumn equinoxes.
The inside of the chambers are spectacularly illuminated by a
shaft of sunlight at dawn on these days, said Frank Prendergast of
the Dublin Institute of Technology.
It suggests settlers in the area some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago
knew the yearly cycle of the Sun and perhaps centred their lives
Tombs found elsewhere in Ireland have been found to point
towards the rising Sun at the summer and winter solstices.
At these times, the Sun reaches its most northerly and southerly
points in the sky, which can be easily observed from any place on
The equinoxes - in late March and late September - are not so
obvious and can only be pinpointed by tracking the passage of the
Sun across the entire year.
Why tomb builders wished to do this remains a mystery but it
suggests the Sun was at the heart of ritual and ceremonial practices
of Neolithic people.