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Martin Brennan

Martin Brennan

The Stars and the Stones by Martin Brennan
(Thames and Hudson UK £12.00 Hardback) IN DUBLIN '83

The Stars and the Stones is worth reading despite the carping dismissal of professional archaeologists. A perusal of a recent summary of the received wisdom in the field of megalithic monument study 'The Megalithic Monuments of Western Europe' (Thames Hudson 1983) illustrates why. The editor, Colin Renfrew, accepts is his introduction that disposal of the dead need not have been the primary function of these monumental almost exclusively in these terms. The one ray of enlightened openness among these papers is the sense of wonder in the late Michael J. O'Kelly's remark that the dramatic effect of the orientation of Newgrange to the rising sun at the winter solstice has to be seen to be believed.

It is this sense of wonder which informs Martin Brennan's book. He attempts nothing less than an archaeology of Neolithic thought, based on an intuition that light, sunlight, moon light and starlight is the key to the major preoccupation of the monuments builders. The work of Alexander Thom has given legitimacy to archaeo-astronomy. Brennan adds to this an attempt to interpret the stone engravings associated with the monuments as a from halfway between science and art, 'the science of the concrete' as the anthropologist Levi-Strauss terms this form of thought.

Brennan may be wrong, wildly wrong, time will tell; but the future of fruitful research surely lies along some similar pathway.

Gerry Sullivan.

 

Sunday Tribune 11/12/83

Sir - I was disappointed by several aspects of Mrs. O'Kelly's review of Martin Brennan's recent book The Stars and the Stones (Sunday Tribune, 4 December). Without wishing to add to the archaeological controversy resulting from Mr. Brennan's work which raged hot and heavy while he was here, although he was not an archaeologist and never claimed to be. His work was the interpretation of signs and alignments. This is what he came to Ireland to do and what he has now put into print. It seems to me that it would have been fairer to have asked an astronomer to review his recent book.

Helen O'Clery,
58 Palmerston Gardens, Rathgar.




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