Winter Solstice is a special time for people and cultures worldwide. The days centred on the 21st December are when the southerly track of the rising and setting Sun nears the so-called ‘turning points’. Then, the greatest celestial body in the sky literally does a stand-still on the horizon for a period of a few days. This is a magical and mysterious time for many and it marks the interval of longest nights and corresponding shortest days. In overlapping with the feast of Christmas, it is also a time to celebrate and reflect on the year past and the year ahead. Summer Solstice is equally significant too and charged with a different set of traditions, symbolism and meaning.
Our awareness of the astronomical event of Solstice – where the Sun literally does a U-turn on the horizon – is deeply rooted in our historic and prehistoric past. This richly illustrated talk, featuring some of Ken William’s renowned site imagery, will journey across the Irish landscape searching for indications of cultural symbolism and meaning in the solstice alignment of megalithic structures erected thousands of years ago during the Neolithic and Bronze Age.
Dr Frank Prendergast is a graduate of DIT and holds postgraduate degrees from Trinity College Dublin and the School of Archaeology, UCD. His professional career in Ireland and Africa as a geodetic surveyor involved positioning, mapping, navigation, field astronomy and mineral exploration.
Now, he is an Emeritus Researcher at DIT in the field of Cultural Astronomy and lectures/publishes on the topic nationally and internationally. His recent significant contributions to interpretative archaeology include several publications associated with the discovery of an Iron Age temple at Lismullin, Co. Meath.
His numerous other publications include three chapters in the Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy published by Springer Reference (2015). A more recent venture is in the conservation of the dark sky at landscapes of archaeological importance. In that role, he is a scientific adviser to several heritage organisations.
Frank is a faculty member of the International Space University for 2017 and contributed a Cultural Astronomy element to their Humanities Curriculum. His publication list is available at https://dit.academia.edu/frankprendergast and http://arrow.dit.ie/authors.html .