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36 37 Orkney is famous for its fine collection of megalithic monuments the Ring of Brodgar henge and circle of stones, the Stones of Stennes, the remains of another henge and stone circle, and the vast chambered mound of Maes Howe. The latter has its passage oriented directly to the point on the horizon where the midwinter sun sets. To reinforce this alignment a standing stone was erected over 900 yards away at Barnhouse as a foresight. Magnus Spence, an Orcadian schoolmaster, first noted this and other solar alignments in 1894. A line linking the Watchstone, an 18ft high monolith and Maes Howe points to the equinox sunrise. These alignments can be clearly seen both on the map and on the ground. Alignments upon the Ring of Brodgar point to hills where fires were once lit to mark the Celtic festivals of Beltane 1st May and Samhain 1st Nov. Alexander Thom, who surveyed the sites in the 1970s, found alignments to the moon from the Ring of Brodgar. Opposite Astronomical and topographical alignments underlie the sacred geometry of Orkney. Above The principle alignments around Maes Howe after Spence. Below The passage of Maes Howe aligns to midwinter sunset. OrCadiaN lEyS Orkney, Scotland
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