The Smithills stone rows

By David Aspinall

I've found the remains of four stone rows in Bolton (latitude: 53°37' N and longitude 2°30' W). Two are in pretty good condition still, though all the stones have slumped, and the other two have been substantially altered. There is a type of pairing to be seen in the rows, but I am only just starting to understand it - they're within a valley which runs from west to east and, as it is mostly a Country Park, there is full public access.
There is a pair of rows on the south side of the valley, these demonstrate the moon rises, and there is a pair of rows on the northern side that show the moon sets. There are also outlying stones, cairns and barrows nearby. The two southern rows are angled, maybe a third to a half the way up their length, so there is a total of six possible azimuths .
I have measured them with only the simplest equipment; a graduated magnetic compass (from Sweden), a Victorian 6" Ordnance Survey map and the conversion tables from Dr Thom's Megalithic sites in Britain [1967]. Further observations are very welcome.
I have estimated the apparent altitudes of the horizon, although I intend to construct a simple clinometer by the summer. So far I have calculated three of the intended declinations. It seems that each of the rows incorporates an alignment to one of the four standstill limits of the moon. An alignment to the setting position of Deneb, at around 2000 BCE, also appears.
Possible alignments seen:
  1. Brown Stones (minor lunar standstill limit at set) SD 679130
  2. Counting Hill stone row (major lunar standstill limit at set?) SD 672141
  3. Burnt Edge stone row (major lunar standstill limit at rise and Deneb set) SD 666127
  4. Thurstones (minor lunar standstill limit at rise? and ?)  SD 681116

Disclaimer and Copyright

Major content related changes: Feb. 8, 2004