Godmanchester's temple of the Sun

Reproduced with the kind permission of The New Scientist Magazine

Archaeologists digging away amid the gravel pits of Cambridgeshire have discovered what appears to be ancient Europe's most sophisticated astronomical computer

Almost 5000 years ago, people living just outside what is now Godmanchester, near Cambridge, built an impressive monument of banks, ditches and wooden poles covering some 7 hectares. The construction seems to have been designed primarily to predict the major events of the year-long solar cycle and the 19-year lunar cycle.

The complex-which probably functioned as some sort of temple involved with the worship of the Sun and the Moon-consisted of 24 wooden obelisks flanked by more than half a kilometre of banks and ditches arranged in the form of a giant trapezoid. Archaeologists say the site is unique.

Preliminary research has shown that pairs of key obelisks were aligned with all 12 major events in the solar and lunar cycles: the major and minor midsummer and midwinter moonrises and moonsets, and the midsummer and midwinter risings and settings of the Sun. Moreover, the temple faces the point on the ...

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