The landscape is rich with history, it is a palimpsest of old stories if we take the time to try and unpick them.  One very old echo of the past is in the form of standing stones.  Most of them are hidden away from view behind gorse and trees, but sometimes they are in plain view.  One standing stone I sometimes drive past is on a road called the Carncome Road.  As far as I can tell, it means the road of the stone and hollow.  The stone itself does lie very near a natural hollow which looks to me like a nasty frost pocket.  The stone is unfortunately integrated into a garden wall which makes it look a little sad to me.  It takes away from its timelessness and ancient atmosphere.

The Carncome Standing Stone – image from Monu-mental about prehistoric Antrim by Tom Fourwinds

When I have driven past it my mind has usually been sent wondering about its past and purpose.  As with many standing stones it is more than likely a clock that marks the seasons as a sentinel of the summer and winter.  Yesterday I decided to see if I could find anything it might align to.  I sat down when I got home after school and measured obvious high points on the map and took some bearings.  Setting up Stellarium with the exact location of the stone and then winding back the clock a few thousand years revealed …..nothing.  No significant alignments revealed themselves.  I was a little disappointed and thought that if people had gone to the trouble of putting the massive stone their, they would have had a significant purpose for it.

I returned to the map and let my eyes wander a bit until I saw another standing stone five kilometres away.  This stone seemed placed to be visible on the horizon and nestled between two other high points.

The Tardree  Standing Stone on Browndod hill – image from Monu-mental about prehistoric Antrim by Tom Fourwinds

Again I measured the bearings and even measured the elevation angle.  I cranked up Stellarium and sat back to watch the dawn on the winter solstice three thousand years ago.  The sun rose perfectly at the standing stone on the Browndod hill.  If you think this is a little too geeky a thing for me to do, then please remember that the trouble the people went to thousands of years ago when there were a lot less people living here and these stones were ridiculously difficult to move about.

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