Houses of the Gods - my new book is published!

000001Debates about the role of astronomy at the Neolithic monuments of the British Isles have occupied academic and independent researchers for many years. My new book - Houses of the Gods, Neolithic monuments and astronomy at the Brú na Bóinne in Ireland and beyond - argues that the practice of astronomical observation had a deeply practical as well as symbolic role for early prehistoric societies negotiating the transition to an agricultural way of life.

The book is available on Amazon, via the website, here

It argues that all societies, from the hunter-gatherers of the Upper Palaeolithic to our current technologically-driven cultures, require sufficiently accurate forms of time-keeping. Where these have not been available, it has resulted in significant challenges relating to the coordination and synchronization of social or collective behaviour.

US election campaign 2016

Barack and Michelle Obama both have outstanding gifts of oration, and the capacity to reach out to people from all walks of life - which they have put to good use in this election campaign.

Hear Barack Obama rouse the faithful in Las Vegas and Michelle Obama in New Hampshire speak so movingly about the rights of women and girls.


Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas

The fabulous exhibition at the Ashmolean - Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas - has revealed some little-known secrets of the battles for supremacy in the southern Mediterranean during the Roman rise to ascendancy. 

IMG_4243Battles between Carthage and Rome were especially savage - and the Sicilian coast was on the front line.  IMG_4247

The exhibition displays the astonishing cast-metal rams bolted onto the front of warships, making for devastating weaponry, as well as detailing the superior Roman tactics at sea. 

Intriguing finds show just how precarious was life at sea - but also how far it was the bread and butter of ancient Mediterranean empires.


Finds from the seabed include flagons, pottery and coins. Intriguingly, it seems the Emperor Justinian, keen to win Rome back for the newly-established Eastern Empire, and an enthusiastic Christian, shipped the equivalent of 'flat-pack' churches to newly-forming Christian communities.



1916 Easter Rising centenary in Dublin

Easter 2016 saw the centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 - when an ill-fated insurgency was met by overwhelming British firepower. Many lost their lives and neighbourhoods in Dublin were reduced to rubble. The Rising and its effects had a major impact on the course of Irish history - subsequent struggles led eventually to independence in southern Ireland.

The centenary celebrations included many exhibitions, discussions and performances. Among these were a wonderful series of short films - After '16 - commissioned by the Irish Film Board, which explored different aspects of the 1916 Rising and its aftermath.



Archive footage shows the devastating impact of the British response to the insurgency.



Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum

100_2294A recent visit to the Forum in Rome as part of my research into winter solstice alignments in prehistory and early civilisations threw up a surprise: the temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum may be aligned on the winter solstice sunset! 

Here are some photos of the sun setting directly behind and to the right of the remains of the temple, before disappearing below the horizon. The photos were taken two days before the winter solstice, on 19th December 2015. 

It has long been known that Saturn was associated with the winter solstice, notably through the ancient and popular Saturnalia festival in the old Roman world. Here is yet further evidence of the association....