Saturday, 20 June 2015

Circles in stone at Dowth

Dowth kerbstone with circular carvings, illuminated from different angles to highlight the art.
This is a montage of four different images of a kerbstone at Dowth that has a number of circular features carved onto its surface.  I headed out with the camera tonight to try to get a photo of the triple conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter over Newgrange, but was disappointed when a bank of cloud rolled in before it got dark enough to get a nice shot. Not to waste the journey, I went from Newgrange to Dowth (my son Luke was with me for company) and we decided to try to light some of the kerbstones on the eastern side.

This stone is located two stones to the right of the famous kerbstone 51, the Stone of the Seven Suns. It is better exposed now than in any of my previous visits over the years. Some work has been done in recent time to clear away the grass around these kerbstones, which are fenced off to keep livestock away. Regrettably, whoever carried out the work also cut down a lone bush which had grown over kerbstone 51 a couple of years back.

To try to highlight the four circular features apparent on this stone, I tried to light it from different angles using a technique which I have been fond of for 16 years now which is familiar to photographers as "painting with light". What do these arcane circles represent? We could make many guesses. Given that Dowth's mythology as well as its design are likely connected to the study of eclipses, we could speculate that these are perhaps representative of full moons. Cosmic imagery is plentiful on the monuments of the Boyne Valley, where a community of farmers and astronomers built huge stone structures aligned on cosmic events over 5,000 years ago.

Triple conjunction of Moon, Venus and Jupiter over
Newgrange, pictured in 2012.
While we did not see the triple conjunction in all its glory, we did get a glimpse at the three planets hanging in the evening sky over Newgrange just before the cloud obscured them, and wondered what our ancient ancestors would have made of such a sight all those millennia ago.

Fittingly, as Dowth's Irish name, Dubhadh, means "darkness", it became pretty much completely overcast as we photographed its stones . . .

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