‘Professor Challenger and his Lost Neolithic World’

By Bernie Bell

In 2017, Dr. Euan MacKie mentioned to me that he was working on a new book………

“I am now convinced that long alignments to notches or peaks in distant horizons –  indicated fairly accurately by aligned standing stones – are the only type of archaeoastronomical sites that Neolithic wise men would construct.  The idea of Ruggles and others that orientations  – directions indicated only by the standing stones — are much too vague.   The Neolithic wise men would know that the standing stone – pointing approximately at a distant horizon – is intended to point to the conspicuous notch or peak which is more or less in line with it.   Short alignments are much less useful.

I shall explain that in the book I am writing, called ‘Professor Challenger and his lost Neolithic world’.   Alexander Thom is the modern equivalent of Prof. Challenger in the c. 1912 book by Conan Doyle, and I feel like his successor!”

I think Euan was being playful in the last line!  

Euan passed from this life in 2020…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/11/13/a-personal-tribute-to-dr-euan-mackie-and-his-work/

….and I wasn’t aware that the book had actually been brought to fruition until I received an email from archaeo-astronomer Douglas Scott  https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/02/19/the-stones-of-the-ancestors-unveiling-the-mystery-of-scotlands-ancient-monuments/ , asking me if I’d seen it.

We ordered a copy of the book…… https://www.waterstones.com/book/professor-challenger-and-his-lost-neolithic-world-the-compelling-story-of-alexander-thom-and-british-archaeoastronomy/euan-w-mackie/9781784918330

Rather than write a review, I think I’ll just recommend you having a look at this book if you’re interested in …..archaeoastronomy, standing stones and stone circles, cairns and their alignments, ancient rock carvings, interesting notches and shapes in the hills, the Ness of Brodgar, the work of Alexander Thom………….and the work of Euan MacKie.

By the by…re. page 134…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/04/16/a-particularly-interesting-stone-at-barnhouse-neolithic-village/

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  1. Euan’s discussions about notches in the hills and Standing Stones reminded me of Carnasserie….


    I later looked it up and found some information……

    Carnasserie standing stones reference on Canmore:

    It isn’t a difficult walk – up the track from Carnasserie Castle – don’t go straight ahead, which would take you back to Kilmartin, but curve round to the right until you get to the wooden gate. It really is striking when you stand at the old wooden gate and look back. It’s one of those places – you can imagine the people there, observing the light. I’m not sure if it would be the sun, or an alignment with a star or constellation – that’s one for people with more knowledge of astronomy to work out!

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