Beltany Hill, Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland
For thousands of years the landscape around Raphoe has been an important centre of ritual practise, a place of worship to where pre-Christian ancestors came to pay homage to their spiritual rulers such as the Sun & Moon. Near Raphoe on the summit of Beltany Hill stands this Bronze Age stone circle dating back 800 – 1400 BC. This stone circle comprises of 64 standing stones although it is thought that there may have been originally 80 stones. One of the stones which is about 2 metres in height stands to the southeast of the circle. It probably had some function related to the pagan ceremonies held in the circle.
For years I’ve visited here during day light & wondered what this site actually looked like under the star? I believe these stones were aligned to the heavens in some way or other. So on a clear night I set out like ‘Sherlock Holmes’ to ‘Beltany Circle’ in hope of capturing the Milky Way or some recognisable night sky objects over the actual standing stones. On arrival I realised the Milky Way was way off alignment although I did manage to capture some great star constellations & deep space objects.
From the left to the right of this photo can be seen Sirius our nearest & brightest star, Orion constellation, Pleiades Cluster (Seven Sisters), Taurus Constellation, Aries constellation & distant Spiral Galaxies ‘Messier 77/74’. All this can be seen in this one patch of sky directly above these mystical stones & as the earth rotates more objects come into sight. Our ancients certainly had their work cut out for them trying to understand & make sense of what they saw each night above them. Therefore I believe they aligned these stones possibly as a form of early calendar & place of worship to their ancient Gods in the night sky.
In all my journeys across Ireland, Beltany stone circle holds the most mystery for me. I always wonder how & why this monument was constructed before the invention of the wheel or rope & why on this very sacred location? So many questions & to this very day no scientist or archaeologist really knows the answers! This ancient monument has held its secrets for over 4000 years & I strongly believe it will hold them for 4000 more….