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Euan MacKie and Douglas Scott

21 January 2014

Euan MacKie was involved with the SIS from its very beginnings. However, his several articles in early journals mostly revolve around the issue of no evidence of a massive catastrophe around 1500BC, as claimed by Velikovsky. Instead, he pointed a finger at the late 3rd millennium BC, where there was some evidence of an upheaval of some kind. As such, he faded from SIS, temporarily resurfacing as a speaker at the 1997 SIS Cambridge Conference.

MacKie's main love was the work of Alexander Thom, and even now, he is ready and willing to defend the man against all his detractors – especially those that doubt Thom had actually found something of significance about the Neolithic inhabitants of Britain and Ireland, and their knowledge and abilities. In recent years, this has revolved around a calendar – in existence in some form or other from some 5000 years ago. He publsihed his research on a Celtic calendar in Time and Mind journal. At www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/07/2011/astronomical-observati… … there is an article by Douglas Scott that I reported at the time but to recap, Scott had a different take on the focus of alignment at Kintraw. Basically, he did not accept the idea the builders used an observation platform on a high spot on the hills behind the monument, an attitude that followed in the tradition of academic archaeo-astronomy in Britain, which very often appears to be out on a limb compared to the subject in other countries. This all goes back to Clive Ruggles and a debunking of Thom – where most of the long alignments were rejected as unrealistic. People of the time were generally considered to be too ignorant of the niceties of science by trial and error. Why would Neolithic people have had an interest in a calendar – and what would they have used it for. Quite legitimate scepticism – but it came to the fore and has dominated the debate. One reason why they may have been interested in the sky is catastrophism – and strange goings on upstairs. Hence, it would be necessary to know when the cycle of catastrophe was going to return and that meant having a calendar and using it to predict events before they happened.

A drawing by Edward Lhuyd in 1699 shows two burial cairns and a standing stone with a large ring of stones to the NW. Simpson excavated the cairns in 1959-60 and found the big one had no evidence of a burial and may once have been covered in quartz stones. A short wooden post was found in the heart of the cairn – purpose unknown. The standing stone toppled over in 1978 and when re-erected was aligned towards the centre of the two cairns – but previously it had been aligned towards the SW horizon (see images). Scott noticed that the winter solstice sun sets to the LH side of the Paps of Jura but 4000 years ago it could not have been set on the Jura notch as they would have been obscured – which cast doubt on one of Alexander Thom's most famous alignments (and cast aspersions on his character and hypothesis). Scott claimed it was not the notch between the Paps that was used to view mid winter Sun set but a view from the false entrance (or portal) of the larger cairn. This kind of sightline, he went on, has parallels elsewhere, and linked to the literature describing them. He also claimed that the standing stone marks where the Sun sets in early November (Halloween) and February (seasonal festival days) and so on. This view of course fits nicely into the idea of farmers and less technologically minded people being interested in pinning down the quarter days when festivities were played out (generally thought to be of a harmless nature and performed by rustics).

At www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/01/2014/midwinter-sunset-align… … we have the kick back by MacKie, a response designed to defend the integrity of Alexander Thom (and his own theory on the abilities of Neolithic people). Douglas Scott, it should be noted, had rejected Thom's long alignment – which has been the universal point of criticism over the last 30 years and more. Thom was generally more clever than the academics as he was an engineer. He had practical experience of working things out – and had spent a lot of time in the field, often in bad weather. He was also much more mathematically bright than your average archaeologist. The idea of long alignments was seen as a weak spot in his armoury – and was the point of attack to rubbish his ideas. The old argument that oval circles were built because the builders were just rough farmers who couldn't draw out a proper circle on the ground was completely overturned by Thom as he found they purposely composed oval circles to calculate the extremes of the Moon's orbit (and so on). Scott dismissed the idea of the platform behind the monument but MacKie had been there and researched it on the ground – and had a survey done by an independent team. Scott dismissed all this out of hand, much to the annoyance of MacKie. Clearly, politics are involved – as they always are when the consensus view is being defended. The likes of Thom are a thorn in the flesh of academics who have it all mapped out and don't like some guy coming along, scratching around in the wet turf with a measuring tape and surveying instruments, and telling them have it all wrong.

The platform has a level rubble pavement behind two massive stones that appear to have been levered into position, forming a notch in which an observer could stand behind without fear of mishap, using one notch in front of him to view the notch in the far distance. It is set to midwinter sun set in around 1800BC.

Thom recognised, even as early as 1954, the ground level sighting in the direction of the Paps of Jura was inadequate. He suggested they first established a line on the steep hillside to the N of the plateau and only then did they build the cairn – on that sight line. Thom also said the large burial cairn next to the standing stone was the primary observing position- which is what Douglas Scott found. The hypothetical location on the steep slope NE of the cairn was seen as a temporary device to make sure the cairn was built in the right place. All this of course ignores the possibility (if there is a chance of such a possibility) that the situation was slightly different when the monument was being constructed – possibly due to tectonic movements that have occurred since.

There was a BBC programme, 'Cracking the Stone Age Code' and this can still be seen at www.bbc.co.uk/archive/chronicle/8604.shtml … which describes some of MacKie's work and investigates the platform. However, the sun can only be seen momentarily from the platform – which bothered MacKie (and others). An observer higher up the slope would have been able to view the approach of the sun set and would have been able to warn the one beneath on the platform of the magic moment that was about to happen. This is supposed to have occurred at a small standing stone  above the platform and it is the actuality of this view point, that must have had a purpose connected to the monument below, that has never been discussed by any of Thom's detractors. MacKie has dubbed the viewer at the small standing stone as the Watch Man.

MacKie continues by saying that Thom's detractors often assume the builders of such sites had no pre-existing knowledge of the solstices and where they could be viewed at each monument. The also assume they needed the long alignments to establish them at each place. It is clear now, MacKie says, that a solar calendar, as inferred by Thom, was already in existence as early as 3000BC as it is marked in great detail on one of the carved kerb stones at Knowth in the Boyne Valley (MacKie, 2013). The solsticial and other alignments wre presumably used to keep track of the solar calendar over many years – or used to work out cycles of catastrophe involving cosmic objects or meteor streams.

MacKie concludes by saying Kintraw should have an international reputation because of all this- but its true significance is being ignored. Strong criticism of the consensus.


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