Talk abstract details

Keeping time moving: lunar-solar paired alignments as diacritical syntax
Lionel Sims


The main archaeological interpretation of Stonehenge sees it as one monument within an integrated complex of monuments designed for funerary rituals (Parker Pearson 2006). The monument of wood at Durrington Walls, is associated with Grooved Ware pottery, pig remains and summer solstice sunset, and is linked by the River Avon to the monument of stone at Stonehenge, which is associated with Peterborough Ware & Beaker pottery, cattle remains and winter solstice sunset. The movement from wood to stone, summer to winter solstice etc. mobilises metaphors for the journey of the recent and transient dead to the permanently remembered ancestors. Ruggles (1997) has suggested that, rather than single solar alignments, these monuments had alignments on the moon and the sun in reverse and transverse pairings, and North (1996) and Sims (2006) have suggested that lunar-solar pairings of identity are also present. When we consider these alignments as part of an integrated complex, just as Pearson has done for the material culture, we can see that they suggest diacritical alternation rather than a unilineal metaphor for a funerary rite. This more nuanced archaeoastronomical model can be tested against the evidence of the Avebury monuments, and is consistent with models of the hunter-gatherer precursors of the monument builders and their Indo-European descendants (Kaliff 2007).