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#13 BARBRECK Thom A2/3, Ruggles: AR3, NM 8315 0641

Thom's work gives evidence that Nether Largie ( #20), 1 mile south of Kilmartin, is a lunar site (Thom 1971). The unusual arrangement of stones is also found at Barbreck (and nowhere else).  It was claimed by Patrick (1979) that, as no alignment has been found at Barbreck, this casts doubt on the claims made for Nether Largie.  Ruggles appears to have conflicting views on this claim. (See comments at the end).  However, observations show that there could well be an alignment at Barbreck.

Although the heavily tree lined horizon to the south must make any conclusions regarding alignments somewhat speculative, the potential significance of the site makes the attempt worthwhile.


The 1:25,000 map was used to draw the skyline with the result below. The accuracy is considered to be about ±2' arc.  There are two regions (marked) which are at least possible for precise lunar alignments.


  • Based on the current observations, it should not be claimed that there are no lunar alignments at Barbreck.
  • The trees are due to be felled in or around 2012
  • High sensitivity GPS has an accuracy of about 1m. which would give greater confidence in the likelihood of precise lunar alignments at Barbreck.

Ruggles wrote in 300 western Scottish sites 1984 (BAR 123) p 306:-

"Our conclusions are also at variance with those of Patrick (1979), who could find no lunar alignment at Barbreck (see page 20).  In his analysis of the site he omitted the one most obvious alignment there, that along the two aligned slabs, dismissing it because "neither direction of the stones faces can indicate important lunar declinations". In fact the southern indication points within a degree of the major standstill moon (Section 12.4.5; Fig. 8.3).  This correction is important, for Patrick used the architectural similarity of the Barbreck and Kilmartin [i.e. #20 Nether Largie] sites, and the lack of lunar alignments at the former, as an argument against the intentionality of the lunar alignments at the latter. His argument is in fact in error and should not be allowed to confuse the conclusions of this volume".

15 years later Ruggles writes in 'Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland' 1999 p76-77  a paragraph that begins:-

"Ignoring the 'negative' evidence ....  also arises when great emphasis is placed upon a particular site or sites while superficially similar ones are ignored."

He then in the same paragraph gives several examples of this including Nether Largie/ Barbreck and appears to support Patrick by saying:-

"Thom's high-precision lunar interpretation of Nether Largie ..... is weakened when the monument is compared with the superficially similar site of Barbreck less than 10km to the north.62 "     and gives the same plan of the sites as given above.

However, he then says in the note that he has referred to:-  "62. See Patrick 1979.  The indications at Barbreck that, on grounds of architectural similarity, parallel the putative lunar indications at Nether Largie are without lunar significance.  However Patrick was wrong to imply that there is no lunar alignment at all at Barbreck (ibid. S84) for the aligned pair (Patrick's A-B) is oriented close to declination -30° in the south (Ruggles 1984, 306; see also ibid., fig 8.3)."

(There therefore seems to be some doubt about what Ruggles believes or perhaps he was altering his views in the light of new evidence.)