Clive Ruggles


… is the study of beliefs and practices relating to the sky in the past, especially in prehistory, and the uses to which people's know- ledge of the skies was put.


Professional bodies

Free software tools

Basic declination calculator


by Andrew Smith

See the Tools page for more info


Springer Handbook (2014):


Ocarina Books publishes and distributes books relating to archaeo- and ethnoastronomy



This list of my books and selected papers and articles contains links and downloadable copies where available.

Research news

A Welsh precursor to Stonehenge — and its solstitial alignment

Following years of explorations in the area of south-west Wales known to be the source of the Stonehenge bluestones, excavations in 2018 revealed the remains of a stone circle that may well represent “the orignal Stonehenge”. The work is reported in a newly published paper in the journal Antiquity .

Waun Mawn stone circle, in the Preseli Mountains, was built around 3400 BC—several centuries before the first stones were brought to Stonehenge—and then partly dismantled. The unusual shape of one of stone holes, and the chippings found there, match one of the Stonehenge bluestones, implying that this very stone that now stands at Stonehenge (and, very possibly, others as well) actually stood at Waun Mawn first. Added to this, the diameter of the Waun Mawn circle—110 m—matches that of the ditch that enclosed Stonehenge.

Isotope analysis of cremation burials at Stonehenge suggests that a significant proportion of those who built the first structures there around 3000 BC were incomers from south-west Wales, implying that the movement of bluestones to Stonehenge accompanied a significant uprooting of the population (rather than, say, being directed by influential chiefs already established in Wessex at the time).

A natural question is whether one of the most important features of Stonehenge—its solstitial alignment—reflected a connection with the sky that was already seen as important at Waun Mawn. The excavations at the Welsh circle revealed what appears to have been an entrance, formed by two stones laid radially. Measurements taken in 2019 showed that, as viewed from around the circle centre, the summer solstice sun would have been seen through the entrance to rise and then climb up in the sky. At Stonehenge itself the solstitial alignment was made more precise in around 2500 BC when the huge sarsen stones were brought to the site.

Top: composite picture with Mike Parker Pearson marking the position of each of the entrance stones as seen from a vantage close to the circle centre. Bottom: a digitally-generated horizon profile by Andrew Smith showing the path of the rising summer solstice sun at the time of construction, with the entrance stone positions marked.

Heiau, ‘Āina, Lani published

Heiau, ‘Āina, Lani: the Hawaiian temple system in ancient Kahikinui and Kaupō, Maui, by Patrick V. Kirch and Clive Ruggles has been published by the University of Hawai‘i Press. The book represents the results of a joint fieldwork project by the two authors, spanning more than 15 years, in the south-eastern coastal area of the island of Maui. There is a remarkably well preserved archaeological landscape here containing pre-conquest house sites, walls and terraces for dryland cultivation, and including scores of temple sites (heiau), many of which are newly discovered and reported in the book for the first time.

Heiau, 'Aina, Lani is a collaborative study of 78 temple sites in the ancient moku (districts) of Kahikinui and Kaupō. The title of the book means "Temples, Land, and Sky" and reflects the integrated approach taken by the authors, combining archaeological and archaeoastronomical evidence (detailed mapping of the structures, precise determination of their orientations, and accurate dating) which allows them to offer some provocative interpretations of the complex relationships between the Hawaiian temple system, and landscape, and the heavens (the “skyscape”). The book repositions the study of heiau at the forefront of Hawaiian archaeology and also demonstrates the successful integration of archaeoastronomy into broader investigations of archaeology and landscape.

The photo shows temple site NAK-30 in its landscape setting, looking eastward along the coast with the southern slopes of the Haleakalā volcano in the distance.

Stonehenge avenue and “Bluestonehenge”

Stonehenge avenue runs for almost 3km up to Stonehenge from West Amesbury henge, by the banks of the River Avon. Excavations in 2009 suggested that this location once held a circle of bluestones that were subsequently moved to Stonehenge, around the same time that the ditches of the avenue were dug.

The final stretch of the avenue leading up to Stonehenge is famously aligned upon winter solstice sunset and summer solstice sunrise, as is the axis of Stonehenge itself. An excavated section across the avenue in 2008 yielded a big surprise, however…

Archaeoastronomy helps to identify a ceremonial gathering place in pre-contact Hawai‘i

Ethnographic accounts indicate the existence in the Hawaiian Islands at the time of European contact of special places where people would gather during the Makahiki period, to offer tribute to the priests of the god Lono and for sports and other recreational activities. However, no such place had been positively identified to date. Now, through a combination of mapping, excavation, radiocarbon dating, archaeoastronomical analysis, and ethnography, a strong candidate has been identified in the uplands of western O‘ahu.

Nā Inoa Hōkū published


This is an extensively revised and extended version of Nā Inoa Hōkū: Hawaiian and Pacific star names, first published in 1975 by Hawaiian scholars Rubellite Johnson and John Mahelona and still widely regarded as a definitive source of reference for anyone studying the use of astronomy in Polynesian voyaging as well as the nature and development of Hawaiian ritual and calendrical practices. This new edition includes new translations of many key original Hawaiian sources from the mid-19th century onwards.


Published in August 2015, Nā Inoa Hōku is available from the University of Hawai‘i Press world-wide apart from Europe, where it can be ordered from Oxbow/Casemate. See the Ocarina Books website for further details.

New orientation data for the Giza Plateau, Egypt

A paper presenting new basic data concerning the orientation of the three great pyramids and associated structures on the Giza Plateau has appeared in the August 2014 issue of Journal for the History of Astronomy.


A Polynesian sighting wall


Ke Pānānā Kahiko o Hanamauloai

A paper by Patrick V. Kirch, Clive Ruggles and Warren Sharp published in the March 2013 issue of Journal of the Polynesian Society describes a unique monument on the Hawaiian island of Maui interpreted by the authors as a “sighting wall” built in the 15th century to commemorate long-distance Polynesian voyaging.


The authors reach this conclusion by combining archaeological and archaeoastronomical evidence, together with precise Uranium-series dating.


Desert labyrinth


A paper published in the December 2012 issue of Antiquity describes a previously undocumented geoglyph in the Nazca desert, Peru. This 4.4km-long labyrinth was originally discovered by Clive in 1984, relocated and surveyed 20 years later, and is now interpreted by integrating the scientific data and conclusions drawn from the first-hand experience of walking it.


ALSO!  Video reconstruction by Victor Reijs


A Mesolithic calendar?


A team of British archaeologists has discovered what they believe to be the oldest calendrical monument known anywhere in the world, created by hunter-gatherer societies in Scotland and dating back to around 8000 BC.


The site, at Warren Field, near Crathes, is broadly aligned in the direction of midwinter sunrise, which was framed among prominent hills to the south-east. But it also appears to mimic the phases of the moon in order to track lunar months over the course of a year.


Astronomical heritage

Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy

Read more on the UNESCO–IAU Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy and about astronomical heritage in general

Free downloads

ICOMOS–IAU Thematic Studies on Astronomical Heritage

No. 1 (2010): See here for more information or click here to download a copy directly (46 Mb)

No. 2 (2017): See here for more information or click here to download a copy (19 Mb)


Astronomical World Heritage


Download a copy of an article published in A&G (Aug 2019 issue)

Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy


Download a copy of the Royal Astronomical Society’s factsheet

Alice Ruggles Trust

If you are looking for things related to Alice and/or information about stalking, please visit the Alice Ruggles Trust website