Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument
Oldcastle, Co. Meath Ireland

Solar Eclipse 3340 BC Nov 30th

Confirmation of World's Oldest Solar Eclipse Recorded in Stone

Paul Griffin

Special thanks to Dan Charrois and his team at Syzygy Research for all their help and assistance in making this page possible and for valuable information pertaining to the eclipse.

Irish archaeoastronomer Paul Griffin has announced the confirmation of the world's oldest known solar eclipse recorded in stone, substantially older than the recordings made in 2800 BC by Chinese astronomers. This finding was made at the world's oldest lunar eclipse tracking multi cairn site at the Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument in Ireland, and corresponds to a solar eclipse which occurred on November 30, 3340 BC, calculated with The Digital Universe astronomy software.

Cairn L Front Elevation

The possibility of an eclipse was first discovered in 1999 by Mr. Griffin and posted to his web site in 2000. Subsequent improvements in astronomical software has indicated that this eclipse obscured nearly 100% of the solar disc and was visible in the late afternoon just before sunset.

The Irish Neolithics used a 4044.5 day lunar eclipse cycle which is broken up into 365 days x 11 years + 29.5 days (synodic lunar month). This is also similar to a Tritos/Nova Lunation combination of one Tritos cycle of 3986.63 days and two nova lunations of 29.53 days each, yielding a total of 4045.69 days.

The Irish Neolithic astronomer priests at this site recorded events on 3 stones relating to the eclipse as seen from that location. This is the only eclipse that fits these petroglyphs out of 92 solar eclipses tracked by the discoverer.

Neolithic Word Symbol Key Code:

To better understand the symbols to follow, the following legend (established by Paul Griffin through extensive study of the Loughcrew Megalithic Complex area) may be helpful:

Anticlockwise (from centre) single spiral Full Moon SW2 Kerbstone Knowth Satellite 12, Knowth SE4, SW18, NW9, SE31, SW9, SE2 Kerbstones
Small Clockwise (from centre) single spiral New Moon Stone 4, 20, Cairn L Stone 1, Cairn H Loughcrew K13, Newgrange SE4, SW7, NE6, SW9, Kerbstones Knowth
Concentric Circles Isolated Lunar Eclipse Cairn H Loughcrew Knockmany, Stone 2 + 4 SE2, Knowth East Basin SW5, NE4, NW10, SW3, NW15, NW20, NW19, NW4, SE34, SE29, SE28, East 0, Knowth
Concentric Circles Overlapping Solar Eclipse Eclipse Stone, Stone 7 Cairn L, Stone 1 Cairn T Loughcrew, NW20, Knowth, Stone 6 Sess Kilgreen, Tyrone
Lozenge/Diamond Standing Stone or Pillar Stones North of Loughcrew SE4, SE2, Knowth, K52, K67, K1, R21, L15 Newgrange

Details of the Event:

The location of the site is situated at 53.7441 degrees north latitude and 7.1325 degrees west longitude, approximately 244 metres above sea level. Assuming an extrapolated Delta T (difference between Universal and Dynamical Time) of 104610 seconds, the New Moon rises at 7:29:19 Universal Time on November 30th, 3340 BC, at an azimuth of approximately 114 degrees. The upper limb of the Sun rises approximately a half hour later, at 7:54:52 Universal Time, at an azimuth of 117.4 degrees.

The following images compare the view of the scene as it would have appeared a couple of minutes later, as rendered by The Digital Universe software, and as engraved by the Neolithic astronomers on Stone 20 in Cairn L (the diagram can be found in the book "The Stones of Time" by Martin Brennan, on page 110). Note that in the following comparison images, The Digital Universe has been configured to ignore the effects of the blue sky (to make the location of the New Moon more easily visible), and to disregard the positions of the stars, which would not have been visible except for perhaps a few brighter ones during the moment of mid eclipse.

Stone 20
Based on "The Stones of Time", P. 110, by Martin Brennan

Digital Universe rendering

At 16:02:56, the event is shown at mid-eclipse. It is compared to a stone engraving located on the back wall of the chamber of Cairn T of the complex, approximately a half a mile from Cairn L.

Cairn T engraving

Digital Universe rendering

At the point of mid-eclipse, the Moon's solar elongation is a mere 0.001 degrees, making the site very near the centre line of the eclipse. The eclipse can be seen by The Digital Universe as being annular.

The Sun's semidiameter was calculated as being 16.2508 arcminutes, producing a visible surface of px16.25082=829.658 square arcminutes. The Moon's semidiameter was 16.1035 arcminutes, producing an obscuring surface of px16.10352=814.686 square arcminutes. Thus, only (829.658-814.686)/829.658=1.8% of the Sun's light would be reaching the surface. Despite the fact that the eclipse was not truly total, the annularity was so close to being total that the event may have darkened the sky sufficiently so that the solar corona may have been visible.

The diagram etched in stone on the back wall of the chamber in Cairn T may be found in the book "Light Years Ago" by Tim O'Brien, on page 40. It shows various radial diagrams, including universal Sun symbols with possible solar corona emissions and prominences.

At 16:51, the Sun and Moon set together while still in partial eclipse. A diagram depicting this event is etched onto stone 19 behind the right hand recess basin of Cairn L.

Eclipse Icon 3340 BC

Digital Universe rendering

The flattened appearance of the Sun and Moon in the Digital Universe rendering is due to the refractive effects of the Earth's atmosphere when the objects approach the horizon (represented by the green band across the bottom of the image).

A stone pillar inside the cairn is shown in the photograph below, taken on November 3th, 1980 AD when the Sun had just risen above the horizon, at an azimuth of 116.5 degrees. This was witnessed by Martin Brennan and Jack Roberts in their book "The Stones of Time". Brennan states that the sun would strike the pillar directly on November 8th of every year at sunrise, at an azimuth of approximately 119.25 degrees.

This holds true in current times, but due to precession, the alignment in 3340 BC was slightly different. The next morning after the eclipse (December 1, 3340 BC), the Sun would have fully emerged above the horizon by 8:02. At that moment, the Sun's azimuth was 119 degrees, which meant that it would have beamed directly onto the pillar. The pillar may have been placed in its location to commemorate the event of the Sun's reappearance the next morning.

White Pillar inside Cairn L on right side

Deposited charred bones from approximately 48 individuals under a stone basin inside the monument attest to a possible human sacrifice to "save" the Neolithic "sky God" (Sun) from dying as it descended to the "underworld" at the horizon, with 15% of its surface still "eaten away". See the book "Loughcrew The Cairns, A Guide", by Jean McMann, page 35.

A new web site and/or article detailing these events will be forthcoming.

Confirmation of events on January 21, 2002 by Dan Charrois, Astronomer and President of Syzygy Research & Technology Ltd., Box 83, Legal, AB T0G 1L0, Canada (Phone: 780-961-2213).

Any readers with The Digital Universe astronomy software from Syzygy Research & Technology can visually see these events much like the ancient Neolithic peoples did.

In The Digital Universe, choose "Environment" from the Settings menu. Select the region entitled "Europe", click on <Other>, then enter the longitude, latitude, and altitude of the site as 53.7441N, 7.1325W, and 244m respectively. Choose "Greenwich Mean Time" from the "Time Zone" list, then click on the "OK" button to dismiss the window.

Choose "Display" from the Settings menu. Turn off the option to simulate twilight, and deselect all objects (Stars, Deep Sky Outlines, etc.) except Planets/Moons. As The Digital Universe contains information on approximately 20 million objects, most of which are stars, deselecting everything except planets and moons dramatically speeds up the software when dealing with times in the far past or future like this. Turn on all of the "Precision" options (precession, proper motion, nutation, aberration, and refraction). Select a translucent or opaque horizon, as well as altitude/azimuth marks or grid if desired to help visualize where the events take place in the sky. Then click on the "OK" button to dismiss this window as well.

Choose "Time" from the Settings menu. In the "Local Mean Time" box, enter -3340/11/30 and the various times quoted above. Ensure that "DATE" appears in the Epoch box, and click the "DT Estimate" button (this step is very important, as it tells The Digital Universe to consider effects related to irregularities in the Earth's rate of rotation that are necessary for accurate calculations in the far past and future). If you click on "Lock Onto: Object" and then select "Moon" from the list that appears, the software will keep your display centered on the Moon as you explore the events thorugh time.

You can zoom in or out to various fields of view by pressing one of the numeric keys on your main keyboard (not the numeric keypad) or by clicking the mouse at the centre of a region you want to zoom in on, and then dragging the mouse to define a new field of view. Some of the ways to pan around the sky include holding down the SHIFT key while clicking the mouse at the point you want to center, or bringing up the "Motion" control panel. The easiest way to advance forwards and backwards through time is probably to use the "Time" control panel.

Paul Griffin can be reached in the U.S. by calling 1-215-631-9543 or writing to flightnow@hotmail.com.

Copyright © Paul Griffin 2002