DR FABIO SILVA, a lecturer in the Sophia Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Lampeter campus, and Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, have caused a world-wide media sensation with their theory on the use of prehistoric tombs as ‘telescopes’.
After examining 6,000 year old passage graves in Portugal, Silva concluded they functioned like telescopes without a lens.
Viewers within the tunnels would have had a chance to spot the first appearance of Aldebaran, the red star that is the brightest object in the constellation of Taurus before those outside. This was crucial for the rituals which timed seasonal migrations, such as taking sheep to higher pastures. The annual event, Silva argues, could have coincided with the star’s first appearance in the morning twilight each year. “This first rising of Aldebaran occurred at the end of April or beginning of May 6,000 years ago, so it would be a very good, very precise calendrical marker for the move to higher ground,” he said.
“The key thing is that a passage grave with its long corridor acts like a telescope that does not have a lens – it is similar to a long tube that restricts views to the sky close to the horizon.” Dr Daniel Brown added: “Seeing only a small portion of the sky while in a dark environment could help the eye fixate and prolong dark adaptation.”
These astronomical observations could have been linked to ancient rituals in which individuals were left on their own in the tomb with the remains of their ancestors. “There is a wealth of evidence now that these passage graves were not only used as tombs for burials, but they could also be used for rites of passage,” said Dr Silva. Such rituals, he adds, often involve the revelation of an astronomical secret to the initiate. “Could the secret be that the initiate could see the star rising days, if not a full week, before everybody else that was outside the passage grave could see it?” he said.
Dr Silva and the team are currently testing these ideas by simulating the conditions of celestial visibility from within the passage graves in the laboratory.
Dr Silva and the team‘s work was presented at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting 2016 at a dedicated cultural astronomy session coordinated by Dr Brown. It was reported in the UK in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist and Astronomy Now, and around the world on the BBC World Service; Der Spiegel (Germany); Archaeology magazine, WIRED magazine, CBS News, FOX News and The Washington Post (USA); New Zealand Herald (NZ); The Hindu (India); Jibada (China); and Globo (Brazil).
Dr Silva teaches the course on Skyscapes, Cosmology and Archaeology in the University’s Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture.
Free parking in Ceredigion for the three Saturdays before Christmas
PARKNG will be free in all Ceredigion County Council operated Pay and Display car parks on the three Saturdays preceding Christmas this year.
The development follows a decision made the by the Council’s Cabinet on 16 October 2018. Parking charges at Council operated Pay and Display car parks will be waived on 8, 15 and 22 December 2018.
The Cabinet Member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services, Councillor Dafydd Edwards said, “Christmas is a very important time of year for many small businesses in our towns. This decision will support people to prepare for the festivities locally and help small businesses compete with the increasing influence of online shopping.”
The decision contributes towards one of the Council’s corporate priorities of boosting the economy.
Development of the Welsh Language at Ysgol Bro Pedr a step forward
A CONSULTATION is to take place on the development of the medium of instruction to Welsh in the foundation phase at Ysgol Bro Pedr, Lampeter.
On 15 March 2018, members of Ysgol Bro Pedr’s Governing Body unanimously agreed to support a consultation on the development of the medium of instruction in the Foundation Phase. In its meeting on 16 October 2018, Cabinet supported and approved the Governing Body’s decision to commence a consultation to develop the medium of instruction to Welsh in the foundation phase at Ysgol Bro Pedr.
Councillor Catrin Miles, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, said, “The Governing body’s decision to seek approval to proceed to consultation supports the wider context noted in Ceredigion’s WESP, to see more seven year old children being educated through the medium of Welsh. The decision also supports the Council’s aim to teach Ceredigion pupils so that they are fully bilingual when they leave primary school and to develop this ability during their time in secondary education.”
Currently, pupils transferring from the reception class to Year 1 are taught in separate classrooms. One classroom is taught mainly through the medium of English and the other through the medium of Welsh. Implementing the decision of the Governing Body would mean that only Welsh-medium education would be provided to the end of the Foundation Phase. English and Welsh medium classes would continue in Key Stage 2.
The formal consultation will begin on 06 November 2018 with an opportunity to present views and comments on the proposal or express support for status quo. In addition, drop in sessions will also be undertaken at the school to allow parents to discuss the proposals in detail with members of the Governing Body and County Council officers.
The Cabinet decision contributes towards realising the Council’s corporate priorities within the Corporate Strategy of investing in people’s future.
If the proposal is approved following the consultation, it would be implemented from 01 September 2019. However, pupils currently receiving their education in the Foundation Phase through the medium of English would continue to do so until they enter Key Stage 2.
Margaret Jones: 100th birthday of award winning Ceredigion illustrator
CEREDIGION MUSEUM celebrates the 100th birthday of award winning Ceredigion illustrator Margaret Jones with an exclusive exhibition.
The exhibition Margaret Jones: Celebrating 100, highlighting the career of award winning illustrator Margaret Jones on the eve of her 100th birthday, includes early sketches and unseen drawings owned by the Jones family themselves. The exclusive exhibition opens the door to this famous painter’s art, inviting visitors to discover the ideas, sketches and inner workings of her iconic paintings and illustrations.
The exhibition will feature previously unseen original prints from the ‘Arthur’ series and rare prints from unpublished work including ‘Seven days of the week’, which looks at how the names of the days of the week derive from the sagas of the Nordic Kings and Queens. Archive photo albums and unpublished books will be shown alongside the drawings and prints giving an intimate view of the artist and her life.
Ceredigion Museum’s assistant curator Alice Briggs said, “It has been wonderful to have the chance to delve through the portfolios of Margaret Jones, to discover more about her process of creating her illustrations and to learn more of her own detailed knowledge of the storytelling traditions in which she has illustrated.”
Becoming a professional painter at the age of 60, Margaret became known as one of the leading illustrators in the Celtic tradition and other folklore. Born in England, Margaret brought up her own young family in India with her husband, before being appointed as lecturer in Education Studies at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. Here, her portrayal of the Mabinogi has defined the way a generation of children in Wales imagine the folklore of the nation’s past.
Professor Sioned Davies, the former Head of Welsh at Cardiff University, whose ongoing contribution to Welsh language and culture is highly influential, will open the exhibition on Saturday 27 October at 2pm. All museum visitors are very welcome to attend the official opening.
The Margaret Jones: Celebrating 100 free exhibition will run at Ceredigion Museum gallery from Saturday, 27 October 2018 until 5 January 2019.
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