The source images were shot in Canon-Raw mode on a Canon EOS 5d DSLR with a 16mm Zenitar M42 Manual Fisheye lens mounted on the Canon via an EOS adapter.
Beltany stone circle is about 3km from the village of Raphoe in East Donegal.
This scene is also available as a Virtual Reality panorama as part of the World Wide Panorama project’s History event.
The Circle is 45m in diameter and consists of 64 large stones enclosing a low earth platform. This panorama was shot at the North Western edge of the circle next to some of the largest stones.
There may have originally been as many as 80 stones. There is a single larger (2m+) standing stone to the South East of the main circle. That standing stone may have been a marker, which when aligned with the position of the sun or stars performed a calendar function of some sort. The name comes from “Bealtaine” a Celtic festival, marking the start of summer, traditionally celebrated around the 5-7th May, the mid-point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The Celts of mainland Europe also celebrated what they called “Belotenia” at a similar stage in the year. In the modern calendar the shadow of Bealtaine probably lives on as May Day.
The mirror image of Bealtaine was the festival of “Samhain” (marking the mid-point between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice). Falling at the end of October it lives on in the modern celebration of “Halloween”.
Stone circles like this were built in the Bronze age (3,000-3,500 years ago). Their purpose is now unknown. Often people speculate that circles like this would have been associated with religious rituals but to my mind this could just have easily have been a Bronze Age night club or concert venue.
Modern festivals are mostly about the associated party. So, why should we expect that our ancestors were more concerned than we are with superstition or less concerned than us with having a good time.
Within other stone circles associated with Bealtaine archaeological evidence has been found of large bonfires. Documents from from early Medieval Ireland (800–1166) record “Bealtaine fires” being lit throughout Ireland.
Certainly the location of Beltany Stone Circle, standing as it does in the centre of a saucer of low hills, would have been ideal for a beacon blaze that could be seen through out the nearby countryside marking the date on the calendar – and inviting everyone for miles around to the party!
History of this Image on RedBubble
Techie Photographic Detail
The panoramas were created by combining 27 separate digital photographs covering every angle and with bracketed exposures.
The source images were shot on a Canon EOS 5d DSLR with a 16mm fisheye lens and stitched and blended together using Hugin, a free open source program. Hugin in turn invoked a program called enfuse to blend the different exposures and create the HDR effect.
Because of the way it was created this is a very high resolution images (the equivalent of about 40-megapixels). It is capable of delivering very fine detail even when printed at massive sizes.