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Established 16/3/2000
Star Loughcrew Spring Equinox 2008 Star
Dawn breaks as the sun rises in the east
Dawn breaks as the sun reveals itself in the east above the distant hills of Sliabh Breagh.
Crowds gather to get access to the chamber
Crowds gather in the bitter cold to queue for their couple of minutes in the chamber of Cairn T to see the equinox phenomenon.
Golden light on the stones
The rising sun casts a warm golden glow on the stones of Cairn T, a megalithic passage cairn built on a hill nearly 1,000 feet above sea level by people who inhabited this landscape over 5,000 years ago.

Golden light in the passage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A golden light enters the passage of Cairn T after sunrise. It is as if the stones are glowing warm.

Sun on equinox stone
Inside the chamber, the bi-annual magic light show is taking place. The cleverly-crafted stone aperture allows warm sunlight to illuminate symbols on the rear of the back chamber wall - some symbols seemingly representing the sun and the stars.
Sun rising over Cairn V
While outside, the sun continues to rise, here casting its rays over the remains of a cairn known only as Cairn V. I wonder what the ancient stone builders called these sites. Surely each was individually named, with a unique cosmic purpose.

Sunight in passage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cold, dark interior of Cairn T becomes a belly of fire as the sun's welcome beam shafts penetrate the ancient womb/tomb. Neolithic decoration adorns the passage stones.

Shaft of light
As the sunrise progresses, the light on the backstone moves down the stone, and becomes a thin sliver of light.
Sun on sill
As it regresses, the light also illuminates a sun-wheel on the sill stone of the rear chamber. In this image, I have used flash to show up the symbols not illuminated by the sun.
Sun symbol illuminated
No colour adjustment was made to this image. The passage of time has turned the solar symbol on the sillstone green, which is very noticeable when the last light of the sun frames it nicely just minutes before the cairn is cast into darkness again,
Cairn glow
And, after just an hour, the sun has retreated from the chamber. This photo illustrates the beautiful afterglow effect in which significant reflected sunlight still reaches the rear stone. It is a beautiful piece of art, crafted in the remote yesteryear by people whom we have very little in common with, other than our desire to live in eternal happiness in the heavens after our mortal lives have passed. Many of their monuments have a significant concern with the sky, their cosmic beliefs ever present in their grand designs. It takes considerable physical effort to walk up to Cairn T on the morning of the equinox. In the Neolithic, men and women driven by a desire for higher things carried stones to this site in a physical endeavour which makes our climb up the eastern Carnbane at Loughcrew look like a gentle stroll. We bow to their achievements.
All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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