SHADOWS AND TIME
The central pole at SunWatch is forty feet high, estimated from the size of the post-mold from the original. It casts long shadows, aligning with surrounding houses at key points in the year. Site archaeologist Andrew Sawyer:
The layout of the village is like a giant sundial: they watched the morning shadows falling off this center pole, on the west side of the village, telling the folks what time of year it is. It looked like one of those alignments in particular corresponds with the beginning of the planting, and the beginning of the harvesting seasons.
On these two dates, in April and August, the center pole shadow falls through the doorway of the Big House, striking a post, and crossing the central hearth. On the winter solstice, December 21, the center pole shadow enters another house:
We recognize the winter solstice on our calendars, itís the shortest day of the year, and what happens on that day is the sun is rising the farthest south in the eastern sky and so the shadow it creates falls on the northwestern corner of the village, again, through a doorway, hits a post, and across the hearth and the floor of the house.
Everyone in the village could watch, day by day, as the pole shadow moved toward the most important days of the year.