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.

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.


In Hawaiian traditions, Newe (the Southern Cross) was used as a marker to guide the navigator to Kahiki (Tahiti), the ancestral homeland.

Kahikinui (“Big Tahiti”) is an isolated district of south-eastern Maui where the pre-contact landscape survives unusually well. Hanamauloa is a coastal location, particularly inaccessible today, and it was here that Kirch introduced Ruggles to a unique monument referred to in ethnographic testimony as the pānānā, or “sighting wall”. It is an isolated stretch of well-constructed linear wall, unconnected to anything else, with a large central notch framing a clear view of a segment of ocean to the south.

Our investigations revealed that the wall, together with an associated cairn and upright stone to the south, are positioned so that the notch framed the stars of the Southern Cross (as it still does, but precession has shifted the constellation lower in the sky). The constellation appeared at its most upright when right above the upright slab. Precise Uranium-series dating of branch coral associated with the cairn suggests a date of AD 1444 ± 4 for the construction and/or use of the site.

We suggest that the pānānā was not so much an observational device as a structure built to commemorate long-distance voyaging. It may well relate to a particular figure important in Hawaiian oral traditions, the voyaging chief La‘amaikahiki.

The geographical situation of the monument is also of interest: it sits within an area containing a number of place-names referring to ancestral Polynesian lands.

Go to the JPS website

Return to the research page

Return to the publications page

Return to the home page

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