A group of ancient standing stones on the desolate Bodmin Moor in Cornwall in the South West of England may have been built to align with the stars in Orion's belt.

As with Stonehenge in Wiltshire, no-one really knows why this monument was built. According to English legend, the stones were once men who had been turned to stone for playing Hurling on the Sabbath. Hurling is a sport similar to the game of rounders played by schoolgirls (it's also similar to baseball).

Only three other monuments in the world are known to mirror Orion, and two of them are in Britain - the 5,500 year old Earthworks at Thornborough, North Yorkshire, the Stone Circles in the Orkney Isles and the Pyramids of Giza in Eqypt....

Hurlers may have been built to mirror the stars, say astronomers

19th December 2007
Daily Mail

The ancient stones on Bodmin Moor appear to align exactly with the stars in Orion's belt

An amateur astronomer could have finally unravelled the mystery of the ancient Hurlers on Bodmin Moor.

The three stone circles in Cornwall have been discovered to align perfectly with the constellation Orion.

New research now suggests The Hurlers were built as a primitive calender which indicates the exact date of mid winter.

Once a year at midnight on the winter solstice, they line up exactly with Orion's position in the night sky.

Brian Sheen, a retired research chemist and astronomer who runs the Roseland Observatory, in St Stephen, Cornwall, said the stones were built around 1500 BC.

Using a specialist computer programme that predicts the future position of stars he confirmed the alignment between Orion and the circles would occur.

Mr Sheen said: "As far as I can tell these Hurlers, a series of three stone circles, actually mirror the belt of Orion.

An astronomer believes that the Hurlers were built as a primitive calender

"Just once a year at the winter solstice Orion passes due south at midnight.

"What also happens is that allows the ancient people to tell the half way point between the autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox.

"This was important because they were starting to grow things and look after animals.

A diagram of the constellation Orion with its belt, (ringed)

"They were becoming farmers instead of hunter-gatherers.

"It confirms that the people that built the Hurlers around 1500 BC were fully aware of day length and season and had more knowledge of astronomy than we thought."

Mr Sheen said he was shocked when he made the discovery and says the winter soltice later this week be a stunning spectacle for those on the Moor.

"On December 21 we will be standing in the line of the three circles we will see Orion's belt due south in line with the stones."

The stones circles are said exactly align with Orion's belt

The 5,500-year-old Earthworks, at Thornborough, Yorkshire, the Stone Circles on Orkney and the Egyptian Pyramids at Giza are the only other known ancient structures linked to Orion.

Legend has it that the stones at Minions on Bodmin Moor were men that had been turned to rock for playing Hurling on the Sabbath - a game similar to rounders.

Anthony Harding, Professor of Archaeology at Exeter University said it was possible that the Hurlers could have been erected to align with Orion's belt.

"There has been a big debate about this sort of theory," he said. "Though many archaeologists are sceptical whether this can be the case.

"The question to ask really is if you wanted to make a very precise alignment like that would you do it by heaving large lumps of stone around the place?

"One wants to see the hard evidence for it. What I would say is we can't rule anything out."