World’s oldest calendar dating back more than 10,000 years discovered in Scotland

  • The monument is  made up of 12 pits that appear to mimic moon phases
  • This would  have made it possible for residents to track lunar months
  • It was  discovered in Warren Field near Crathes Castle in  Aberdeenshire
  • The  discovery predates the earliest known calendar by 5,000  years

By  Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 11:44 EST, 15  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:46 EST, 15 July 2013

Archaeologists believe they have discovered  the world’s oldest ‘calendar’ in a field in Scotland.

A group of 12 pits recently excavated in  Aberdeenshire appear to mimic and align with the phases of the moon, making it  possible to track lunar months over the course of a year.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham  now believe that the monument dates back 10,000 years – predating the earliest  known calendar by 5,000 years.

A group of 12 pits recently excavated in Aberdeenshire appear to mimic the phases of the moon to track lunar months over the course of a year.  

A group of 12 pits recently excavated in Aberdeenshire  appear to mimic the phases of the moon to track lunar months over the course of  a year. Researchers from the University of Birmingham now believe this monument  could be the world’s oldest ‘calendar’ and dates back 10,000 years


A Mayan calendar was recently uncovered  inside a vast city built by the ancient civilisation near  Guatemala.

One wall of the calendar was covered in  calculations that appeared to relate to the Mayan calendar.

It featured a line-up of men in black  uniforms and the astrological calculations are not fully understood.

Archaeologists from Boston University believe  the dates stretch up to 7,000 years into the future and  contradicted the  ‘doomsday’ predictions about 2012.

The first formal time-measuring devices were  thought to have been created in Mesopotamia about 5,000 years ago.


The pit alignment near Crathes Castle  predates those discoveries by thousands of years, experts say.

The Mesolithic monument at Warren Field is  said to have been created by hunter-gatherer societies nearly 10,000 years  ago.

It was excavated between 2004 and 2006 and  was recently analysed by researchers from the University of  Birmingham.

They found that the monument pits  align  during the Midwinter sunrise, which researchers say would provide  an annual  ‘astronomic correction’ to maintain the link between the  passage of time  indicated by the moon, the solar year and the seasons.

The project was led by Vince Gaffney,  professor of landscape archaeology at the University of Birmingham.

This is an artist's impression from the University of Birmingham of a fire burning in one of the lunar calendar pits at Warren Field from around 8,000 BC, in Crathes, Aberdeenshire 

This is an artist’s impression from the University of  Birmingham of a fire burning in one of the lunar calendar pits at Warren Field  from around 8,000 BC, in Crathes, Aberdeenshire

He said: ‘The evidence suggests that  hunter-gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to  track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and  that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in  the near east.

University of Birmingham professor Vince Gaffney, pictured, stands in front of the 10,000-year-old excavated lunar pits  

University of Birmingham professor Vince Gaffney,  pictured, stands in front of the 10,000-year-old excavated lunar pits

‘In doing so, this illustrates one important  step towards the formal construction of time and therefore history  itself.’

Dr Richard Bates from the University of St  Andrews, was also involved in the project and said the pit monument provided new  evidence of the ‘sophistication’ of societies in early Mesolithic  Scotland.

‘This is the earliest example of such a  structure and there is no known comparable site in Britain or Europe for several  thousands of years after the monument at Warren Fields was constructed,’ he  said.

The pit site was first discovered when  unusual crop markings were noticed during an aerial survey by the Royal  Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

It lies on the National Trust for Scotland’s  Crathes Castle estate and was excavated by the trust and Murray Archaeological  Services.

Dr Shannon Fraser, the trust’s archaeologist  for eastern Scotland, said: ‘This is a remarkable monument which is so far  unique in Britain.

‘Our excavations revealed a fascinating  glimpse into the cultural lives of people some 10,000 years ago – and now this  latest discovery further enriches our understanding of their relationship with  time and the heavens.’

The research was published in the journal  Internet Archaeology.


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Panel rules MMR jab made girl deaf – but not enough for payout

By Mail On Sunday Reporter

PUBLISHED:17:09 EST, 18  August 2012| UPDATED:17:09 EST, 18 August 2012

A woman has won her fight to prove she was  left deaf by the MMR jab – only the second time it has been linked to  disability.

But a medical assessment panel ruled Katie  Stephen, 21, will not receive compensation because she is not considered  disabled enough.

Katie was given the measles, mumps and  rubella jab in 1991 when she was 15 months old.

But she developed a fever and irreparable  damage to the nerve between her brain and ear, and is deaf on her left side.

Officials at the Vaccine Damage Payment Unit  accepted the vaccine was the likely cause of her hearing problems.

But the body, run by the Department for Work  and Pensions, ruled out compensation as she was only ‘20 per cent disabled’.

Katie, of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire,  said: ‘If my disability can be cast aside so easily, why have I suffered so many  difficulties in my life as a consequence? This has put me in a  negative  place.’

An alleged link with the condition has since  been discredited.

The family is now involved in a new group  action being brought by Blacks Solicitors, pursuing their ex-lawyers for  professional negligence.

A spokesman for the DWP would not comment on  the case.

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