Measurements on Dutch passage mounds
(One of?) the first web pages on Dutch megalithic passage mounds
has been set-up to look into these Dutch monuments. It is at this
moment looking into the protection around the oldest monuments in The
Orientation measurements were done on almost all of the Dutch passage
From an overview and discussion on these results
one can see that most chamber of the Dutch passage mounds are oriented
along east and west.
Below a pictures is given of the number of passage mounds that have
a particular orientation (a comparable investigation has been done by Bom,
F. and see also Orientations
of the Dutch Hunebedden).
From this picture one can deduct that most chambers are oriented
246o and 305o (75% of measured passage mounds).
main declination will be between: -14o and 20o.
is not really dependent on the altitude of the horizon, because in this
region of The Netherlands the horizon could be at maximum some 10 [m]
than at the location of the passage mound (or the effect of trees had
be significant in the past).
Comparable orientations can be found on the German
passage mounds (of the same time frame, 3300 BCE to 2600 BCE, close
together [100 km], and comparable cultural environment [Funnel Beaker
Possible explanation for this distribution
The orientation of the Dutch passage mounds is around 270° +/-
(or of course 90° +/- 25°).
I have the following theory that the deviation has to do with the
moon positions around equinox at building time of the mounds:
- The deviation of the Dutch passage mounds is around 270° or
so a relation with equinox (my definition of equinox is that sun sets
rises at 270° or 90°: around March 18th, 1999 AD)
have some significance
- The main reason why I think that it is not equinox that former
interested in, is because it is not a very interesting day in many
Perhaps a full moon setting before or after equinox is much more
for a rite!
- Furthermore and more important: I don't think it is equinox
there are clusters of mounds standing very close to each other (up to
within 50 m), which still vary in the orientation of the main axis by a
- Related to something like easter (Christian calendar)?
Easter Sunday is to be the first Sunday after the first full moon
after the 21th of March (spring equinox). If this full moon falls on a
Sunday, it is to be the following Sunday.
For calculations of Easter sunday; see here.
But I have the idea that the megalithic people also looked after
autumn equinox (or before spring equinox), because the
is not one sided around 270° or 90°.
- Related to Harvest
moon closest to autumn equinox)?
- The altitude of the horizon could be of influence, but the height
in the Netherlands are not very large (in Niedersachen,
where 53 mounds were measured, the horizon has more height
It could be that the height of the trees in the surroundings is
Difficult to determine.
- The max. difference between sunset (or sunrise) azimuths some 29
moon's orbit time) before and after equinox is around 2 * 17°.
This 52° is thus comparable to the 2*25° measured orientation
of the passage mounds!
If you include the max. moon set/rise difference due to its
the moon's azimuth before and after equinox can vary around 2 * 17°
+ 2 * 9° (at a latitude 53°) = 52°. In the below picture
moon's azimuth is determined from its actual (ephemeris) moon sets in
time period 29 days before/after equinox.
- The question is, if we calculate the full
moon set (or rise)
equinox, do we get a comparable distribution of orientations as
measured with the passage mounds?
Here is the distribution of calculated full moon setting between
AD (5 times the nodal cycle) before and after spring
(calculated with the help of the JPL's
HORIZONS ephemeris) and the distribution of the orientation of the
passage mounds in The Netherlands and Germany:
- The interval width of this distribution is 10°, because
normal statistical practice an interval should hold at least 5 to 10
. Because the number of passage mounds in the Netherlands is 54, and
distribution spans some 60° (from 250° - 310°), the
width should be at least 6°. So the chosen interval of 10°
to be oke.
This interval value will thus obscure any perturbation/etc. effects
of the moon's orbit and also most inaccuracies of the measured
(1 sigma around 1°).
- The distributions look comparable, but if using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov
test (Dn*) it looks as if the orientations of the NL and DE passage
mounds don't have the same distribution as the azimuths of the full
setting around equinox.
- When using the Chi-Square test (5 intervals [4 degrees of
the number of samples per interval > 5) for both the NL and the DE
mounds the hypothesis (that the distribution of azimuths of the passage
mounds is equal to the full moons azimuths around equinox) is rejected
Other possible explanations
About 25 degrees of scatter seems about right.
- Ancient cultural requirement to orient mound passage E-W for
- But (unlike our own culture) little cultural interest in
- So you dig the mound with an east-west orientation, as
Remark VR: Could be indeed. The orientation could be
towards any planet, because any
the ecliptic gives the same orientation variation as shown above.
Remark VR: Not true, there is still this +/-25° distribution.
So equinox itself was important. Furthermore I think the moon is more
in most cultures then e.g. Venus or Jupiter. And full moon is a very
feature in the sky, which has been an important factor in a lot of
Like mentioned by several people (Bom, F.
J.A.), some stones seems to be spliced. Some good examples are cover
stones 1 with 2 and 3 with 4 of D25 and cover
stones 1 with 2 of D29.
Spliced stones at D25
Here are two examples of the splitting:
- cover stones 1 and 2
The scale and angle of the two pictures is different! Furthermore:
the brownish is the flat face of the stone while the greenish part is
A lot of points on cover stones 1 and 2 provide evidence of the
One of these evidences can be seen in the below pictures.
A step in the underside of cover stone 1
A step in the underside of cover stone 2
- cover stones 3 and 4
First we see two pictures of a three sided pyramid on the undersides
of cover stone 3 and 4. On stone 3 the pyramid comes out of the stone
at cover stone 4 is thus goes inward.
Outward 3 sided pyramid on cover stone 3
Inward 3 sided pyramid on cover stone 4
In the following picture one sees the superposition of the two
Superposition of pyramid 3 (brownish) with pyramid 4 (bluish)
Spliced stones at D29
The geometry of the undersides of cover stones 1 (blue) and 2 (red)
in length around 2%):
More specific geometry info:
Possible methods to split stones
There are some ideas how people could have spliced megalithic stones
granite, gneiss, etc.):
- just by coincidence (perhaps because of frost/water/etc.). An
been seen in Ireland, Co. Wicklow.
- people pushed them over a hill lock. There are not many of them
Netherlands;-), so this I would rule this out.
- They used fire. An even split could be made by put a burnable
some material (palm e.g.) around the rock, burn this material and then
pour water over it. The stone could split just a the 'circle' where the
- they used wooden pegs to split the stone (like we still do with
Would that be feasible on gneiss and granite?
- usage of wooden poles in round holes. By making the poles wet,
splits (practice in Greece and Italy).
- use little interstices, filling them with water, and allowing
due to frost (with the aid of wooden poles and so on).
- by laser, but I don't think the people at that time will have had
and the surface is not regular enough to support this.
- using cleavage, which is a predictable way splitting
least it was predictable to the ancient masons. It may be relevant to
the Danish scientist Steno who, in the 1600's announced the 'law of
of interfacial angles', which observed that no matter how large or
narrow or thick, the angles of quartz prism faces remained constant...
always 60 degrees.
- The slight variations observed on sites just 50m away from one
indicates a "processional " and that the event was "probably" tracked
foot between sites by the people who built them (Dutch Neolithic Beaker
culture) so that the entire sunrise and possibly sunset and (as
suggested) full moon or even eclipse track could be observed, prayed
offered to, worshipped etc. The sequence would depend upon which end
the aperture (opening).
- your idea! Please send them to me!
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Last content related changes: Aug. 24, 2000