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The Stones and the Stars: Building Scotland's Newest Megalith (Astronomers' Universe) [Paperback]

Duncan Lunan

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Book Description

22 Nov 2012 Astronomers' Universe
There are at least 48 identified prehistoric stone circles in Scotland. In truth, very little is known about the people who erected them, and ultimately about what the stone circles were for. Most stone circles are astronomically aligned, which has led to the modern debate about why the alignment was significant. The megaliths certainly represented an enormous co-operative effort, would at the very least have demonstrated power and wealth, and being set away from any dwellings probably served a ceremonial, or perhaps religious, purpose.

Observations at the site of the stone circles, of solar, lunar, and stellar events, have already cast light on some of the questions about the construction and use of ancient megalithic observatories.

In his capacity as manager of the Parks Department Astronomy Project, author Duncan Lunan designed and built the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain in over 3,000 years. 'The Stones and the Stars' examines the case for astronomical alignments of stone circles, and charts the development of a fascinating project with a strong scientific and historical background. The work was documented in detail by the artist and photographer Gavin Roberts, and this archive has been added to since -  so an appropriate selection of illustrations will bring the project vividly to life.

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More About the Author

Duncan Lunan was born in 1945 and grew up in Troon, Ayrshire, attending Marr College and Glasgow University. He is an M.A. with Honours in English and Philosophy with Physics, Astronomy and French as supporting subjects, and has a postgraduate Diploma in Education. He is a full-time author with emphasis on astronomy, spaceflight and science fiction, plus a wide range of other writing and speaking, as a researcher, tutor, critic, editor, lecturer and broadcaster. His books to date are "Man and the Stars", "New Worlds for Old", "Man and the Planets", "Starfield" (edited), "With Time Comes Concord" and "Children from the Sky". "The Stones and the Stars" is due from Springer at the end of November 2012. He has contributed to 21 other books and his publications include over 760 articles and 33 short stories including ten for the comic strip 'Lance McLane' created by Sydney Jordan, who has illustrated "Children from the Sky". He was science fiction critic of the Glasgow Herald 1971-92, founded the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers' Circle, and as Manager of the Glasgow Parks Dept. Astronomy Project, 1978-79, he designed and built the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain for over 3000 years, described in "The Stones and the Stars".
His latest book, "Children from the Sky", is a speculative investigation of the mediaeval mystery of the Green Children of Woolpit. After ten years of research Duncan offers identifications of the date and locales of the story and of the principal characters, including the green girl herself. Both mediaeval chronicles which tell the story state that she survived into adulthood, and Duncan has traced two families of her descendants to the present. Part 3 of the book, 'Speculation', attempts to explain the mysterious parts of the story which led Robert Burton to place it in the astronomy section of The Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621. If true, they would imply extraterrestrial abductions, for experimental purposes, with the knowledge if not the connivance of some of the authorities of the day - "The scenario of The X-Files in the 12th Century."
Duncan is Director of the educational company Astronomers of the Future. From 1963 to 2010 he was a Council Member of ASTRA, the Association in Scotland to Research into Astronautics, was Curator of Airdrie Public Observatory 1980-81, 1987-97 and 2005-2008, and in 2006-2009 ran an educational outreach project from the Observatory to schools, funded by the National Lottery. His other interests include ancient and mediaeval history, hillwalking, jazz and folk music - he ran folk song clubs in Ayrshire for 16 years, and organised the ceilidhs for the World Science Fiction Conventions in Glasgow in 1995 and 2005.

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From the Back Cover

There are at least 48 identified prehistoric stone circles in Scotland.  In truth, very little is known about the people who erected them, and ultimately about what the stone circles were for.  Most stone circles are astronomically aligned, which has led to the modern debate over the significance of the alignments.  The megaliths certainly represented an enormous cooperative effort, would at the very least have demonstrated power and wealth, and being set away from any dwellings probably served a ceremonial, or perhaps religious, purpose.

Observations at the site of the stone circles, of solar, lunar, and stellar events, have already cast light on some of the questions about the construction and use of ancient megalithic observatories.

In his capacity as manager of the Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project, author Duncan Lunan designed and built in the late 1970s Sighthill, the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain in over 3,000 years.  The Stones and the Stars examines the case for astronomical alignments of stone circles and charts the development of a fascinating project with a strong scientific and historical flavor.  The work was documented in detail by artist and photographer Gavin Roberts, and the book contains a large selection of illustrations that bring the project vividly to life.

About the Author

Duncan Lunan was born in Edinburgh in 1945 and educated at Marr College, Troon, and at Glasgow University, gaining an M.A. (Honors) in English and Philosophy, with Physics and Astronomy as supporting subjects. He holds a postgraduate Diploma in Education. 

He has been President of the Association in Scotland into Astronautics (ASTRA), three times, and has also been Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer at various times during 47 years on the society's Council; he has been on the exhibitions and publications committees since 1970 and was the Assistant Curator of Airdrie Public Observatory 1987-97, again 2003-2008. With his wife Linda, they launched a new organization to support newcomers to astronomy, 'Astronomers of the Future.'

In 1978-79, as Manager of the Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project, he designed and built the first megalithic observatory in Britain for 3,000 years; in 1990-91 he was photo archivist for the Press Centre during Glasgow's year as European City of Culture. In 2006-2008 he was manager of the North Lanarkshire Astronomy Project, organizing nearly 700 events including more than 450 school visits, and otherwise has been a full time writer since 1970.

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

Man and the Stars
New Worlds for Old
(Edited) Starfield, science fiction by Scottish writers
(Fiction) With Time Comes Concord and Other Stories
Children from the Sky: a Speculative Treatment of a Mediaeval Mystery
Incoming Asteroid! (book coming next year)


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