Fires in the Sky


Other archaeologists indulge in limited speculation about what took place at Stonehenge in prehistoric times, in some cases because of a lack of imagination, but more often because of the professional constraints under which they are forced to operate.

There is intense rivalry in the world of archaeology and a huge amount of professional jealousy, especially as far as Stonehenge is concerned, so this unhealthy state of affairs frequently prevents intriguing and informed opinions being publicly aired, with the sad result that most people are left with a distinctly one-dimensional view of the monument and the people who built it.

As I’ve made clear elsewhere on this site, I’m prepared to consider an extremely wide range of aspects of Stonehenge. If you care to browse through the various categories on the right, you will find posts written on a broad range of subjects pertaining to Stonehenge, while I’ve also set up a page for news items about the ruins.

This page is for contributions about reported phenomena that aren’t directly related to Stonehenge or Silbury Hill, but which may possibly have some relevance to how our ancestors perceived or used these sites on occasion.

The photograph above is one I took at Stonehenge a few years ago during the course of a private visit. I’m afraid the details of the camera make, shutter speed and so forth have long been lost, so it will have to remain a curiosity. However, I saw nothing when I took the photograph, while I should also point out that the faint light at the top right of the photo is not the moon.

If you come across any links pertaining to hauntings, dowsing, ‘fires in the sky’ or anything else you feel may possibly be relevant to how our ancestors who built Stonehenge and Silbury Hill perceived the world around them, please feel free to write in with the relevant link and a brief explanation of why you think it would be of interest to other readers.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis December 9, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Well, I’ll set the ball rolling again. The design of Stonehenge leaves no doubt that our ancestors regularly raised their eyes to the night skies, while the late Professor John North wrote about this in exhaustive and fascinating detail in his book ‘Stonehenge, Neolithic Man and the Cosmos’.

I often wonder how our ancestors would have explained phenomena such as comets, as these visitors from the depths of space can be truly spectacular. The latest occurrence in this vein to catch my eye was the news of the strange spiral lights in the sky above Norway, which was also reported here on the BBC.

There are further amazing pictures on this link to the Sun newspaper.

Update 10.12.2009: Apparently, the lights were caused by a Russian missile, but this is still a perfect example of how “fires in the sky”, regardless of their origins, have the capacity to evoke awe and wonderment. If this happens to us in the 21st century, what interpretations must our ancestors have placed upon such phenomena?

It’s been fifteen years, Dad, but not a day goes by without me thinking of you…

Dennis February 4, 2010 at 1:23 am

More fires in the sky from Norway – this time a jellyfish or parachute, apparently caused by some celestial object reflecting the Northern Lights.

Dennis December 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm

A blood red Moon and a complete lunar eclipse at the Winter Solstice would doubtless have interested our ancestors greatly, especially those “watchers of the skies” the Druids, but these and other events are open for discussion on the post An Omen?

Dennis February 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm

On the subject of ‘fires in the sky’, it’s impossible to ignore these reports of something hovering over Jerusalem.

Dennis September 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

My interest in orbs is not quite absolute zero, but not far from it, so I was fascinated to be made aware of this link, thanks to Philip Coppens.

Dennis September 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Some amazing photos of the trails ‘left’ by stars, taken by an Australian photographer.

Dennis December 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Not fires, but spectacular lenticular clouds seen in Britain in 2011.

Dennis May 26, 2012 at 1:49 am

I recently came across this compilation video of recent UFO sightings, some of them truly spectacular. I’m not interested in arguing which, if any, are ‘fakes’ inasmuch as camera trickery was employed, nor am I really interested in discussing what these various things are, mainly because I’m not really qualified to comment in a meaningful fashion.

However, it seems clear that the skies above us have been alive recently with strange phenomena. Assuming that there’s an explanation for these things that doesn’t involve (living) visitors from outer space, then it follows that these things have always happened and have always been visible, albeit periodically, to observers of the skies. If this is the case, then it can be little surprise that our ancestors believed that various Sky People, gods, spirits, messengers of the gods, deceased ancestors and others inhabited the vast realms above them.

Dennis December 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I don’t think there can be any reasonable doubt that, on May 11th 1950, a Mr Paul A. Trent of Mc Minnville Oregon photographed something very real and very strange in the skies above him. Did our ancestors see similar things during the course of the millennia that raised their eyes to the heavens? I don’t doubt it. Did they leave any record of what they’d seen? I’m inclined to think they did.

Dennis June 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Yes, I was sat outside my home, wide awake, when everything around me was drenched in an unearthly, baleful green light for a few seconds, like something from a Lovecraft story. I didn’t see the fireball overhead, but I assumed that a meteor had passed through the skies above me and once again, I found myself wondering what our ancestors would have made of such an omen or portent.

Dennis July 8, 2014 at 3:59 pm

And what would our remote ancestors have made of clouds that glow in the night? I don’t think I’d ever heard of them until now and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to explain them.

Jonathan July 9, 2014 at 6:39 am

When I saw the title of the post, I thought it must have something to so with smoke on the water and was almost expecting a lead into one of the most classic riffs in history.

“There is intense rivalry in the world of archaeology and a huge amount of professional jealousy, especially as far as Stonehenge is concerned,”

In some exceptionally limited ways, my profession has similarities to archaeology: We investigate old structures, usually using historical research and investigative techniques, to determine what can be done with them, how to retain and preserve them and, often, what they were used for.

But that is where the similarity ends: There is always a known reason why someone would want this information in the construction industry: It has a value and that value can be quantified. Almost any new information about a structure is always welcomed, especially if that information provides a better explanation.

Perhaps archaeology has no equivalent reason to exist: Other than idle curiosity, I haven’t been able to find anyone who knows what value there is (or even might be) in knowing what older monuments were for.

Does this explain the professional jealousy thing that you are describing: If there were any quantifiable value to our society in knowing what these monuments were for, perhaps the profession would work in a different way?

Dennis July 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Jon, thank you for those exceptionally thought-provoking words; they’re so good that I shall make a point of addressing them as best I can in a new post. I’ll compose it as soon as I can, present circumstances allowing.

DanJ July 10, 2014 at 12:43 am

I have seen noctiluscent clouds several times in my lifetime and they are eerily beautiful but strange. I’ve seen them out on the prairie at full twilight on a summer’s evening where they light the sky like a narrow band of blue or red LED’s glowing in the north sky. The first time I saw them, I asked an atmospheric scientist what they were and he said they’re ice crystals incredibly high in the atmosphere reflecting sunlight long after sunset. Whatever, they’re worth seeing but you’ll only see them by accident. I think being out on land flatter than a pancake helps as the horizon is a long way off.

Juris July 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Here’s a nice shot of a noctiluscent cloud over London just posted on the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day. They have a new photo daily relating to astronomical matters. I look at it every day.


Jonathan July 13, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Thanks Dennis, much appreciated. It’s something I have been pondering for quite a while.

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