O farewell Orkney I'm leaving soon
But I'll return one day to you
Farewell and know as I leave this shore
I will return to this land once more
© Jenny & Carolyn,
Farewell Orkney, AT045, 1996
For the last 10
years see the online Maeshowe
See the archive of Newgrange
(only Dec. 21st)
The reappearing sun at Orkney
As described in my article in the 3rd Stone
Magazine, the sun will reappear from behind Ward Hill inside
Maeshowe ((59o 00' latitude, 3o 11' W
longitude and 22 m high) around the beginning of December and the
middle of January. A picture that describes this process can be seen
This reappearing of the sun is of course not only visible from
within Maes Howe, due to the fact that this is determined by the
horizon! A study has been made of other
buildings around Maeshowe, to see if this reappearing could have
been captured by other buildings.
In principle the sun can reappearing from behind two steep
In the below sections a few locations
are illustrated with pictures/video's:
- the steep slope of the Kame of Hoy (part of the Cuilags,
The reappearing here can take part at many locations around the
Maes Howe area. This can be from plus or minus 40 days to winter
Buildings that will witness this reappearing are e.g.: Maeshowe,
Ring of Stenness, Watch Stone, Breckness settlement, Brodgar Farm,
Ring of Brodgar, Staney Hill, Garth, Trinnawin, Trotty.
- the steep slope of Glen of Greor (part of Ward Hill of Hoy, HY
224031) in combination with the hill behind this Glen: Red Glen
It seems that reappearing over here can't be viewed from so many
places. E.g. reappearing at Ring of Brodgar is not likely due to the
Red Glen area, that is blocking the reappearance.
Reappearing is at plus or minus 20 days at Maeshowe. Somewhere
around Brodgar Farm the reappearing will take place at winter
Buildings that will witness this reappearing: Maeshowe, Ring of
Stenness, Watch Stone, Brodgar Farm and Unstan.
A Google Map is also available:
- reappearing sun from behind Ward Hill at winter solstice day near Brodgar Farm (HY304128).
- reappearing sun from behind Ward Hill at 20 days before and
after winter solstice at Maeshowe
- reappearing sun from behind the Kame of Hoy at winter solstice
day near Breckness (HY231096).
View Larger Map
Near Brodgar Farm
Dec. 21st, 1999 AD
The video of reappearing
sun is taken at a position near the Brodgar Farm (HY304128).
The direction from this location towards the steep slope of Ward
Hill is 217o 40' (+/- 30', compass reading 224o
(in 1999) compensated for true north) or using the sun
reappearance: 217o 50' (+/- 5'). The reappearing sun can
be seen in a region stretching over some 250 m: from HY30151290 to
5000 years ago this would be around
HY301130, so the question is: was there something build at that
location in neolithic times? The present landowner has heard
that some cists were found in earlier times. The following
findings are registrated by CANMORE in this neighborhood (no dates
After studying this information (e.g. normally cists are not from
the time period we are looking at), the neolithic house could be a
clue, perhaps a valid clue for the reappearing sun from behind Ward
Hill. The excavations
the Ness of Brodgar could reveal something along the lines I
am looking for around the purple area (same length as the red area):
The direction from this location towards the steep slope of Ward
Hill is 216o 10' (-1.5o change in the sun
position over 5000 years). Of course also the reappearing from
Kame of Hoy is visible from this location.
At Watch Stone
Charles Tait has witness a reappearing sun from behind the Ward Hill
at the Watch Stone location in 1998 or 1999 (date unknown, but it
was a few days before or after winter solstice).
The dates of the reappearing sun from within Maeshowe can be viewed
in the table of the sun sets
registrated in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Dec. 1st 1998 AD
The below pictures are taken inside or just in front of Maeshowe
(HY318128). The sun is here depicted at three different times on
Dec. 1st, 1998:
The sun just sets behind the horizon around 15:11 UTC
- The sun just sets behind the top of Ward Hill around 15:02 UTC
The effect of the sun light inside the Maeshowe chamber when the
sun sets can be seen in this
- The sun just reappears from behind the steep slope of Ward
Hill (Glen of Greor) around 15:09 UTC.
The following videos are made synchronously between 15:09 and
Jan. 11th, 1999 AD
Still pictures concerning this reappearing sunset can also be seen
pages. One picture of this reappearing sun is copied here:
Reappearing sun light around 15:30 UTC on Jan. 11th,
1999 (© C. Tait, 1999)
Jan. 12th, 2000 AD
Reappearing sun light at 15.27 UTC on Jan. 12th, 2000
and video are available.
Jan 31st, 2001
The reappearing sun from behind the Kame of Hoy (Cuilags) has been witnessed
Charles Tait from the entrance of Maeshowe.
Jan 31st, 2001 at 16:25 UTC from Maeshowe doorway
(© Charles Tait, 2001)
5000 years ago
5000 years ago, the sun would also have reappeared from behind Ward
Hill in the chamber (depending of course on the layout of the
entrance, see my article). The biggest
difference would be that the sun would shine in at 23/24 days before/after winter
solstice. A 22/23 day period happens to coincide with the Megalithic
Month mentioned by some people (like A. Thom).
The reappearing sun behind Kame of Hoy back some 5000 years is not
visible from within Maeshowe chamber, but visible from the entrance
of Maeshowe, the sun would reappear some 43/44 days after winter
solstice day (around 2800 BC).
Near Breckness there is a settlement (HY231096) looking over the Hoy
Sound towards Kame of Hoy (part of the Cuilags). The direction of
this line is 215o 40' (+/- 30', compass reading 222o
(in 2001) compensated for true north). This is quiet
close to the reading found at Brodgar Farm
of 216o 10' for winter solstice sunset at Brodgar Farm
5000 years ago.
From the settlement the top of Ward Hill is at 180o 30'
(+/- 30', compass reading 186.9o (in 2001) compensated for true north). Is this all a
After studying the documents on the settlement, no concrete
information has been gained. The settlement consist of two or more
chambers. These two chambers have passages, but these are directed
to Ward Hill of Hoy (if the compass used in 1902 was working
correctly). So it is not certain that this settlement has some
relation to Kame of Hoy and winter solstice (according to direction
in the picture, the passages of the two chamber point precisely to
has been made on January 12th, 2001 from near Breckness
(HY241091). This shows the sun while setting behind summit of Kame
of Hoy around 15:17 UTC, reappearing from behind Kame of Hoy
around 15:34 UTC and finally setting behind the mountains of North
Scotland around 15:45 UTC.
Reappearing sun from behind Kame of Hoy
on Jan. 12th, 2001 at 15:41 UTC
Not on film, but the sun reappeared for a second time
behind the mountains of North Scotland seen from this location!
At the Breckness settlement one would see the same effect of the
sun setting behind the Kame of Hoy, but then at winter solstice
day 5000 years ago. If the second reappearing at that time also
happens at Breckness settlement is not yet known.
Last major content related changes: Febr. 1th,