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55 54 Star cuLture high spirits in the night sky Before Stonehenge and the start of the Neolithic, the people of southern Britain built long barrows long multiple chambered burial chambers. Examples include Belas Knap, Gloucestershire, Winterbourne Stoke, near Stonehenge, and West Kennett, Avebury opposite. These enigmatic structures, like giants sleeping bags, were often aligned to important risings and settings of stars. The diagram below after Thom shows the setting points of major fixed stars on the western horizon in 2000 BC. Stars rise and set at a given location from the same places for hundreds of years, and alignments to these fixed places on the horizon would have indicated security at a time when the Sun and Moons motions were perhaps not yet fully understood. Aerial photographs of the British landscape often reveal the remnants of long straight tracks, preRoman, extending for many tens of miles, often aligned to ancient star risings and settings. We may never glimpse the true picture of prehistoric Britain, before Stonehenge, when stars were the sky gods.
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