Accurate Drawing of the Earth and Moon in Pictish Artwork: A Detailed Analysis of the Invereen Stone

Midnight Science (2012-2013), Volume 8, Paper 4

Author: Derek Cunningham

Paper Submitted: 27th Dec 2012, Published: 28th Dec 2012

Updated: 1st Oct 2013


2016 July Website Ad Page The Long JourneyPictish artwork commonly known as the Z-rod and Double Disk are decoded using the same astronomical data found in artwork in Siberia, Australia and the United States (1). The astronomical values used are linked to the measurement of time and the prediction of eclipses. The data suggests that detailed knowledge of the moon’s orbit may have been retained in Scotland up to the end of the 10th or 11th century (circa 1000 years ago).


The recent discovery that many ancient archaeological sites all exhibit the same astronomical data has recently been used to confirm the existence of a global civilization circa 15,000 years ago (1). This civilization may have been centered at what is now known as the Gulf of Tonkin, in Asia (1).

Astronomical artwork (the oldest being circa 400,000 years old (1)) is constructed using the simple concept of converting standard astronomical values to a series of  lines, with the angles of the lines equal to the “astronomical value”. In other words, rather than “writing” the astronomical value, the astronomical value is “drawn”. In this archaic writing method the conversion does not consider the units employed. Thus values measured in years are treated in exactly the same as those that are measured in days.

Though it would appear that this approach would create an almost infinite number of astronomical angles, it is found that the range of data employed is limited to a very small range of specific values (1-6) – typically those used to predict eclipses.

Starting with basic astronomical observations the first value any astronomer would measure is the duration of the sidereal month. This is the time required for the moon to pass the same star twice. At 27.32 days this is 2.21 days shorter than the average value of the synodic month, which equals 29.53 days. By careful observation of the sidereal month this would then produces the realization that (a) the sun took 365.25 days to orbit the sun and (b) that there is a circa 1 degree (360/365.25) shift in the earth’s orbit each day, and furthermore that each 6 synodic month period, or 6.511 draconic months there exists an eclipse period where the earth moon and sun can align.

For the accurate prediction of eclipses the next important parameter is the 5.1 degrees angle of inclination of the moons orbit relative to earth. This is then linked to the 9.3/18.6 year lunar cycle. Taken together this produces an astronomical series that is described by lines drawn at 0; 1.0; 5.1; 6.511; 9.3; 13.66; 18.6; and 27.32 degrees. Added to this series is then a special value equal to 11 degrees which relates to the 11 day difference between the solar and lunar year.

In the study of ancient artwork around the world (See The Long Journey by Derek Cunningham) the same values have successfully interpreted the circa 5,ooo year old Orkney Venus (4), the undated Preminghana petroglyphs found in Tasmania, Australia (1), the circa 14,000 year old Irkutsk Pendant and 16,000 year old Irkust geoglyph field (1), and a series of undated petroglyphs found in the  southwestern United States (1).


The enigmatic pictish artwork known as the Z-rod and Double Disk are archaeologically speaking very recent art pieces that were only made some 1,200 to 1,500 years ago.

Overall Pictish artwork can be divided into three main groups. The first group are abstract, geometric designs. These are typically well defined. The second group is animals which perhaps represent the nordic constellations. The third group appears to exhibit tools, and items used in work. It is usually found that drawings of animals are found alongside abstract images.

For this specific study a random Pictish stone known as the Invereen Stone was chosen in to test the hypothesis that Pictish stones contain astronomical data. The pictures of the Invereen Stone were taken by the author, at its current location in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The specific stone appears to be a good choice for this study as it contains a variety of symbols, including the crescent, the v-rod symbol, a double disc a z-rod and a circle with a line. The location of Invereen (the site where the stone was discovered) is latitude 57.3549, longitude -4.000.

For this study the only astronomical values used to interpret the Invereen Stone are those that have been used previously to decode the interior of the Giza Pyramids and geoglyphs/petroglyphs found at Irkutsk Russia, The Orkney Venus, and Preminghana in Tasmania (1,4).

The most common values used are;

The 18.6 year lunar reset, which equates to the time taken for the moon to travel from furthest to closest orbit, and back to furthest orbit. This is sometimes referred to as the Lunar Nutation Cycle.

The 6.511 draconic month eclipse semester. This also equals the offset angle of the proposed astronomical map used to aid navigation.

The angle of inclination of the moon’s orbit relative to earth, which is 5.1 degrees

A value of 11, which equals the 11 Karanas used in the Vedic sidereal calendar, and the 11 day difference between the solar and lunar years.

The half and full month values of the sidereal equal 13.66 and 27.32 days respectively.

Other values sometimes seen are the lunar (synodic) month value, the 1 degree daily sidereal motion of earth as it travels around the sun, the value of 3 (or possibly 3.14), which equals the number of rotations of the expanded star map around earth , or the value of Pi, and lastly and very occasionally a value equal to 10 degrees is seen, which is of uncertain meaning. For research purpose these secondary values are considered secondary values.

As there are many symbols on the Invereen Stone it is necessary to analyze each pattern separately. The first part studies only the Z-rod and the double disk. No effort is made here to analyze other standard Pictish symbols.

Part A: The Double Disk and Z-rod

The double disc pattern is first analyzed for angular alignments by simply drawing lines that cut the circumference of the two discs. As each disc contains three circles this produces multiple values, and with the presence of three circles on each disc a sufficient number of values can be extracted to determine if there is any statistical significance in the methodology used. Here, and in subsequent studies of Pictish symbols, the internal reference is assumed to be the Z-rod which aligns to the horizon and the 1 degree sidereal shift of earth.

The first observation is the Z bar produces two alignments to zero and one degree, which is the daily sidereal motion of earth as it orbits around the sun.

The Inner circle produces three alignments to 3, 4, and 11 degrees. Here the angular values are measured as offset values relative to due east/west. The number 4 is not present in the standard series (1).

The central circle aligns to 10 degrees and 3 degrees (twice) either south or north of due east/west. The alignment to 10 degrees replicates an alignment angle seen at the Giza Pyramids. All three values are not related to the measurement of time or eclipses.

The outer circle aligns to 5.1, 11 and 18.6 degrees. The lowest angle relates to the angle of inclination of the moon’s orbit relative to earth’s ecliptic, 11 is the 11 day difference between the solar and lunar years, and 18.6 degrees is the duration in years to reset the moon’s nutation cycle. All three values are standard values.

With the lower section complete, the next data set is the upper half of the disk.

The inner part of the circle again produces alignments to 3, 10 and 18.6 degrees. Of these only the 18.6 degree alignment is connected to time or eclipse related astronomical values. The value of 3 (or 3.14) and the value 10 are from the list of secondary values.

From the middle circle the alignments are 13.66 degrees (the half-sidereal month), 6.5 degrees which relates to the 6.511 draconic months in an eclipse semester. The value of 1 degrees is again the daily sidereal motion of earth as it travels around the sun, and 9.3 degrees which represents the half duration of the lunar nutation cycle of 18.6 years, and is equal to the time taken for the moon to travel from apogee to perigee.

From the outer circle the alignments are to 1, 6.511,and to 13.66 degrees. All three values are related to the measurement of time and eclipses.

In total 11 out 18 values (61.11%) of the drawn lines align to standard Eclipse Values, and 38.89% align to Secondary Values.

Within the remaining seven secondary values the angle 3 appears four times, and the 10 degree alignment appears two times. Statistically the alignments seen appear to be selected, and are not random in nature.

Part B: The Circle and Line

The circle and line present in the Invereen stone is perhaps the most interesting feature, and the most easy to link to astronomy.

This simple drawing, which is rotated exactly 90 degrees from the previous study, appears to show an accurate picture of earth as a circle/sphere with the lines representing the daily 1 degree shift as earth travels around the sun. The 5.1 degree line represents the angle of inclination relative to the ecliptic. The orientation the central limb of the Z-bar exhibits a value equal to the full sidereal month of 27.32 days (1).

The interpretation that the left circle represents earth also appears to be justified by analysis of the three circles drawn on the lower right side of the stone (landscape orientation).

In the drawing the circles are found to be drawn to the correct ratio for lunar apogee, and perigee. The  interpretation here is the central circle might represent the diameter of the moon, and the middle and outer circles represent the distances to apogee and perigee. At this orientation the limb of the lower limb V leading up to the crescent is set at 60 degrees, which is the average distance from the earth to the moon when the distance is measured in units of “earth radii”. After the bend point the line then aligns to an angle of 52 degrees, a number that appears to link to the number of weeks in the year.

The moon is also known to have a mean diameter of 3,474 Km, a value equivalent to 27.3% the size of earth, which is numerically identical to the 27.32 day sidereal month. This numerical value is also revealed by the central line drawn in the Z image. In this drawing the central circle is drawn to the ratio expected for the moon at perigee if the large circle drawn, in the picture on the lower left, is considered to be earth. When this is done the upper right central circle is then consistent with the diameter of the moon at apogee.

The Crescent

The two arched semi-circles are again drawn to the size expected for the moon and Earth, with a displacement perhaps related to the position of the moon at apogee and perigee. Here, if the largest semi-circle (the line producing the outer edge of the crescent) is considered to be part of the circumference of earth, a complete circle can be drawn with a center located as shown. A theoretical study then shows that lines drawn from the proposed center to the fully drawn circles to the right all appear to also be astronomical in nature, but these specific secondary lines are speculative, and no supporting evidence exists to confirm this was actually the intent of the artist.


The Invereen stone appears to be an accurate representation of both earth and the moon. Specifically the drawing suggests the Picts were aware of apogee and perigee, and the dimension of the moon relative to earth, and many of the drawn alignments do appear to be astronomical in nature.

However, by itself, the Invereen Stone does not produce sufficient data to confirm that the symbols present on the stone are a type of early proto-writing. Further studies of other Pictish stones are required – this is done in subsequent papers and within the author’s book “The Long Journey (2015 edition).

To observe the results form Part V of the authors study of the  Lascaux cave click here.

For the authors study of Stonehenge click here.


  1. The Long Journey (400,000 Years of Stone Age Science), by Derek Cunningham.
  2. D. Cunningham, Solving the Pyramids Part IV: Greek Myths and the Earth/Star Map – Linking the Pyramids to Greece, Easter Island, and the Canary Islands, Midnight Science Vol. 5, (2011-2013) Paper 1.
  3. D. Cunningham, The Mayan Reset Explained Midnight Science Vol. 8 (2011-2012), Paper 1.
  4. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Orkney Venus: Suggestion of Proto-writing in the Alignment of the Etched lines Present on the Orkney Venus Statue to Standard Lunar Astronomical Values, and the Suggestion of an Archaic Global Civilization, Midnight Science Vol. 8 (2011-2012), Paper 2.
  5. D. Cunningham, Solving the Pyramids Part IV: Greek Myths and the Earth/Star Map – Linking the Pyramids to Greece, Easter Island, and the Canary Islands, Midnight Science Vol. 5, (2011-2013) Paper 1.

© 2010 – 2013 Derek Cunningham; Midnight Science, ISSN 2160-0201; Volume 8, Paper 4



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8 Responses to Accurate Drawing of the Earth and Moon in Pictish Artwork: A Detailed Analysis of the Invereen Stone

  1. j. macnicol says:

    excellent presentation and analysis , very interested in pictish materials
    john macnicol

  2. T. Goodridge says:

    Completely fascinating ! Must know more!

  3. J. Barker says:

    Amazing. Does this apply to all Pictish symbol stones with the circles and Z rod?
    The circles and Z rod are particularly clear on the Picardy stone which I have visited several times. A local guide book suggests these symbols may represent a chariot and in some cultures a chariot is the symbol for the passage of the Sun or Moon etc.

    • dcunningham says:

      Overall I found the angular data was consistent over a wide range of images. I have just completed a study of Australian art, and it shows very similar statistical data to the Lascaux Cave geomterics. Unfortunately not having much luck in getting a mainline journal to publish. Search the website for the Lascaux cave images and you will see what I mean.

  4. v. burns says:

    Still love your site. Really enjoy the Pict symbols with their astronomical implications. I have seen paleo-astronomical signs from the Orkney isles to the Pyrenees, Balkan cultures, to the rock art and circle in the highlands of Armenia, Gobekli Tepe, Arkaim, Egypt, and as far back as Blombos cave and the Python caves of Africa. I believe these sites may be interconnected. It was all about Astronomy. I believe it may be possible to link them all with teacher/priests who tried to explain the star map and its cycles. These explanations of early planetary, moon/sun movements were explained in mythological god/goddess stories (zodiac references), to remember these movements via storytelling in the absence of written language. This later became religion. I also believe the 25,000 yr old mother goddess figurines were also representative of astronomical info. Do you have any info on the moon cycles of the mother goddess figurines? Thank you, Vanda

    • dcunningham says:

      So far I have only completed three preliminary studies on mother figures The Orkney Venus, the Cyprus figurines and the Muisca figurines in South America. The test was to see if random figures discovered by archaeologists would fit the same trend irrespective of the country they are found in. That they do is very surprising, especially given the different ages being studied here.

      Recently I completed a more detailed study of Australian art which is showing interesting results….the data is published in Migration and Diffusion (search Cunningham in the webpage and it will take you to the article) It shows that the same astronomical values are being emphasized in both the Lascaux Cave geometrics and Australian geometric images

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