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Glasgow, Sighthill Park, Stone Circle

Commemorative Monument (Period Unassigned), Stone Circle (20th Century)

Site Name Glasgow, Sighthill Park, Stone Circle

Classification Commemorative Monument (Period Unassigned), Stone Circle (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Broomhill Park

Canmore ID 320490

Site Number NS56NE 5025

NGR NS 59691 66443

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Glasgow, City Of
  • Parish Glasgow (City Of Glasgow)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District City Of Glasgow
  • Former County Lanarkshire

Threatened Building Survey Programme 2012 (8 April 2013)

This stone circle was built to honour the contributions to archaeoastronomy of Professor Alexander Thom, Professor Archie Thom, Professor Archie Roy and Dr Euan Mackie, all of Glasgow University. The circle was constructed in 1978-9 by a team employed on a Job Creation Programme managed by Duncan Lunan, an author and astronomer. The formal name of the undertaking was ‘The Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project’.

The monument is located in Sighthill Park on made-ground overlooking the M8 on the E side of the Clyde Valley. There are extensive views in all directions except to the ESE. On plan it deliberately recalls the lunar alignments the Thoms had identified as radiating from a series of menhirs they denoted as backsights around Quiberon Bay in relation to Le Grand Menhir Brise, at Er Grah, near Carnac, Brittany, which they believed had been used as a universal foresight.

A circular cobble path measuring 17m in diameter and 1.15m wide encloses a ring of sixteen radially arranged whinstone orthostats measuring 13.75m in diameter. A seventeenth stone occupies the centre. Twelve of these stones have been carefully orientated on key solar and lunar events, each of which was believed to have been of exceptional interest to a class of astronomer priests in Britain during the Early Bronze Age. These and similar alignments had been detected in the geometry of many British stone circles by Alexander Thom and others, which resulted in their being characterised by some at that time as ‘ancient observatories’. Other megalithic settings and natural features in the landscape were also thought to have played a part in the grand astronomical designs of prehistoric peoples, but this is not reflected in the configuration of the Sighthill circle. However, the remaining four stones are opposed pairs aligned on events relating to Rigel - the brightest star in Orion - with one pair being intended to enable the date of the monument’s construction to be calculated at any point in the future.

The orthostats originate from the Beltmoss Quarry, Kilsyth; and the alignments they mark in the Sighthill monument fall into four quadrants, which are reinforced in the design by four trapezoidal cobble settings arranged like the spokes of a wheel.

The three stones in the NE quadrant are orientated on the major standstill northern moonrise (H: 1.45m, W: 0.75m, Th: 0.9m), the summer solstice sunrise (H: 1.15m, W: 0.95m, Th: 0.55m) and the minor standstill northern moonrise (H: 1.55m, W: 1.1m, Th: 0.45m). The five stones in the SE quadrant are orientated on Rigel rising in 1979 AD (H: 1.3m, W: 0.45m, Th: 0.3m), the minor standstill southern moonrise (H: 1.2m, W: 0.95m, Th: 0.5m), Rigel rising in 1800 BC (H: 1.0m, W: 0.6m, Th: 0.3m), the winter solstice sunrise (H: 1.15m, W: 0.9m, Th: 0.4m) and the major standstill southern moonrise (H: 1.3m, W: 0.95m, Th: 0.6m). The three stones in the SW quadrant are orientated on the major standstill southern moonset (H: 1.45m, W: 1.25m, Th: 0.71m), the winter solstice sunset (H: 1.14m, W: 0.7m, Th: 0.5m) and the minor standstill southern moonset (H: 1.65m, W: 0.75m, Th: 0.6m). The five stones in the NW quadrant are orientated on Rigel rising in 1979 AD (H: 0.85m, W: 0.6m, Th: 0.3m), the minor standstill northern moonset (H: 1.3m, W: 1.45m, Th: 0.65m), Rigel rising in 1800 BC(H: 1.25m, W: 0.45m, Th: 0.6m), the summer solstice sunset (H: 1.3m, W: 0.85m, Th: 0.65m) and the major standstill northern moonset (H: 1.28m, W: 1.1m, Th: 0.8m). By contrast, the central orthostat was simply located on all these sightlines (H: 1.75m, W: 0.95m, Th: 0.6m).

The larger stones were deliberately used to mark the lunar alignments on the advice of Alexander Thom. However, due to a misreading of the plan, the ground level was raised after the seventeen stones had been set in place and as a result, they are all more deeply buried than anticipated.

The original design had called for a low, circular external bank which was to be most marked on the south where the ground fell away. This was to be encased in granite sets, which were also to be spread over the interior save where four trapezoidal grass segments were to be ranged on the cardinal points. In addition, plaques were to be used to identify the alignments. However, a political row that spilled out on to the national stage proved an embarassment to the City Council and completion of the monument was prevented.

There are four additional stones lying prone beneath some trees about 30m N of the monument (from west to east - L: 1.28m, W: 0.5m, Th: 0.26m; L: 1.53m, W: 0.82m, Th: 0.4m; L: 1.8m, W: 1.05m, Th: 0.5m; L: 1.5m, W: 1m, Th: 0.5m). These did not figure in the original design, but later it was the intention to use two of these stones as outliers to mark sunrise and sunset at the equinoxes and two to support a plaque illustrating the astronomical alignments. But, on account of more pressing social problems, the City Council felt unable to commit the resources to these and other mooted improvements in 2002.

The monument fell under the threat of demolition in 2012-13, following a bid by the City to host the Youth Olympics of 2018. The plan for the athletes village envisaged the redevelopment of the Sighthill Housing Estate and its immediate curtilage, including Sighthill Park. Despite the failure of the bid, the area is still to be redeveloped and the future of the monument remains at risk.

The Sighthill monument is unique in celebrating and commemorating the remarkable contribution to archaeoastronomy that was made by four individuals from Glasgow in the mid-late twentieth century. Although not entirely novel, their research was couched in a contemporary idiom that not only resonated with popular culture, but also did much to establish the subject of archaeoastronomy as a serious scientific discipline worldwide. It is also of interest in pre-dating the modern megalithic revival that owes much to the transatlantic influence of Rob Roy, who paid a visit to the monument in 2012.

Visited by RCAHMS (ATW and IA), 25 February 2013

Site Summary by ATW, April 2013; Revised February 2014


Measured Survey (7 August 2013)

RCAHMS surveyed two profile lines over the landscape of Sighthill Park, N-S and E-W from the stone circle. RCAHMS GPS survey

Photographic Survey (21 May 2013)

A photographic ground survey of the Stone Circle within Sighthill Park, Glasgow was made in May 2013, as the future of the circle continued to be discussed by the council and members of the public. The stone circle was recorded earlier in 2013 by RCAHMS through aerial photography and it is hoped that access to the park will be granted to make a high-spy photographic record and drawn site sections.

IA, RCAHMS (08/13)

Laser Scanning (4 February 2014)

A laser scan survey of the Stone Circle in Sighthill Park, Glasgow was carried out in 2014. The Stone circle was due to be removed as the level of the ground in the surrounding area was to be reduced prior to house building.


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