A new study of the Stone Age-engraved panel ‘Hendraburnick Quoit’ in Cornwall, southwest England, revealed that 10 times the amount of markings were visible when the stone was viewed under moonlight or very low sunlight from the southeast.
“This makes Hendraburnick Quoit the most known decorated or deliberately marked stone in southern Britain – possibly topping even Stonehenge,” said archaeologist and digital heritage specialist Tom Goskar, who studied the stone.
After finding 105 new cup marks and 47 previously undiscovered grooved lines, archaeologists now believe the features may have been used for sacred moonlight rituals. This contradicts the previously held belief that Neolithic structures were built to align with the movements of the sun.
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“We were aware there were some cup and ring marks on the rocks but we were there on a sunny afternoon and noticed it was casting shadows on others which nobody had seen before,” Dr. Andy Jones from the Cornwall Archaeological Unit told the Telegraph.
“When we went out to some imaging at night, when the camera flashed we suddenly saw more and more art, which suggested that it was meant to be seen at night and in the moonlight.”
Jones and Goskar, who published a study of the monument in Time and Mind, also found that pieces of quartz around the stone panel had been smashed to effectively glow in the dark and illuminate the area.
“I think the new marks show that this site was used at night and it is likely that other megalithic sites were as well,” said Jones.
“Then when you think about the quartz smashed around, which would have caused flashes and luminescence, suddenly you see that these images would have emerged out of the dark”.
Jones believes the discovery means many more stone formations, like the historical landmark Stonehenge located some 144 miles from Hendraburnick, could also have mysterious messages engraved.
“Stonehenge does have markings, and I think that many more would be found at sites across the country if people were to look at them in different light.”