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Kentucky's Stable Rocks

An Ancient Zodiac Site

by Jim Leslie

[Note: This article appeared in the Volume 24, Number 3, 2007 issue of the MES Newsletter and Ancient American #80]

Jim Burchell, Manchester, Kentucky had been approached on several occasions by a friend, who knowing of his interest in Clay County antiquities, suggested that he really should look into the possibilities of a mountain top called Stable Rock. Its name was derived from its use as a stable for horses by both sides during the American Civil War. A number of years passed before Jim and his group of loyal supporters acted on the suggestion. Right away they recognized the Ogam and Iberia scripts, and a few weeks later realized the stone hole patterns were stellar constellations.

MES was invited to Stable Rock March 2007 and I begin this article by giving the reader a general description of the site. The top of the mountain is an irregular-shaped area that gently slopes to the south ending in a sharp drop-off where there is three foot wide entrance to a small triangular-shaped box canyon (photo below) which recedes back into the mountain for about 55-feet, where it ends in a 16-foot wide wall. The depth of the canyon at the middle is 15-feet. Canyon walls and the upper edges are exposed rock including a separate ledge to west where there is a saucer depression about 12-feetin diameter that usually contains water. The rock surface at the southern end of this depression may have been chipped in a straight line to give an overal shape of a capital “D” to the rim of the depression. However, during our visit Jim Garrison drained it and thought it naturally formed.


On the western wall of the canyon were found several panels of short vertical strokes that are interpreted as ogam messages that uses natural occurring cracks in the stone being the stem lines. These were located just above ground level of the canyon floor, implying that they had been carved a long time ago when the depth of the canyon floor had been 5 to 6 feet deeper than current. The soil on the mountain top continues to erode into the canyon building its floor deeper and deeper. Likely there may be more ogam panels buried under this build-up. Three of the panels are illustrated in this article.

Photo by Jim Leslie

Burchell’s translations of the first two panels shown in the photo at left are depicted in the below line drawings. The stick points to the “Great Brow” and “Bel Smiles” is to the right above the “Great Brow”.


Burchell used MacBain’s Gaelic dictionary for the translation of both panels. The two stem lines in the “Bel Smiles” panel form a rebus in the outline of human lips, as defined by a reddish color in the stone.

The third and last ogam panel in this article is shown at left and yields “Scotland, our Great Love, (Desire). Line drawings of the ogam strokes:

MacFarlane’s dictionary was used as well as MacBains’s.
Photo by Jim Burchell


Atop the canyon and scattered around the perimeter of the circular area formed by the ATV’s and the standing author in Tammy Hensley's photo, below right are some flat stones that have shallow incised dots that, when connected, form star constellations. America B.C. , by Barry Fell has two photographs (bottom left) with dots or cupules as Barry Fell named them; one (top) found in Vermont and a drawing of another (bottom), almost identical from Portugal. In both instances the cupules depict a portion of Cassiopeia, the North Star and Ursa Major. And both are quite similar to those found at Stable Rocks.

                                                                                        Tammy Hensley photo showing canyon & star stones area

Three of the star constellations have been identified. At upper left is Pisces, at upper right are 8 stars of the open cluster Hyades that form the “V” in Taurus and at left are the three stars of Aries, which also has unidentified inscribed characters associated with it. These three lie in a contiguously arc on the ground that seems to represent that section of the Zodiac.

There are three more rocks with star patterns [one discovered by Earl Langdon during our visit] yet to be identified with stellar constellations. There are also some stones without patterns, which if turned over might have.


It is impossible to arrive at any incontestable conclusion of the nature and purpose of Stable Rocks, anymore than can be concluded about any hilltop formation, earthwork or mound. Nevertheless, since there are a number of ancient inscription sites in and around Clay County, notables such as the Redbird Stone, so there is reason to consider the same ancient connection with Stable Rocks. At 1500 feet elevation, Stable Rocks has a great view of the surrounding geography as well as the night sky, with all the stars visible except for nearby trees (which could have been easily removed for horizon star viewing). Zodiac constellation viewing from the flat mountain top thus could be easily and serve as a place for instruction, observation and gatherings at certain times of the year to celebrate the various heavenly events.

There are several “Zodiac Sites” in the world. In Glastonbury, England, the shapes of the Zodiac constellations can be seen in the countryside if one “astutely” draws lines along various landscape features that include field fences, old roads, streams, etc. There is the famous Zodiac discovered by Barry Fell, Bronze Age America, in the Ontario Peterborough Petroglyph and another Fell discovery from his interpretation of runes in Inyo California, described in ESOP Vol. 14, No. 377, page 202, aptly named the Inyo Zodiac. The only star charts similar in construction to Stable Rocks are the two in America B.C., already mentioned above, but these are non-Zodiac constellations.

Interestingly Burchell found three inscribed characters on the Pisces constellation rock (not discernible in the upper left photo) that he translated as: P R I(Y). With the help of MES member Victor Kachur who secured a Portuguese dictionary, Burchell was able at last to find a word match, PiRaYa, meaning a fish or Piranha, which yields more proof that the depicted star pattern is indeed the Pisces constellation. Not until the writing of this article was Burchell aware of the Vermont and Portuguese cupuled stone star charts and their similarity to his find at Stable Rocks. Having to use a Portuguese dictionary to complete the translation is more verification of authenticity.

A last consideration is the 13th constellation of the “Real” Zodiac, Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. This constellation may be depicted by the shallow pond, a rough shape “D”, depending on which stars you include in the constellation. If so, this may help date the site to as early as c.130-170 A.D. – when Claudius Ptolemy published the star catalogue, Al Magest, which was the first to include Ophiuchus in the Zodiac.

It seems reasonable that a few more star patterned stones may eventually be discovered on Stable Rocks. But an entire Zodiac find is unlikely, for the site was no doubt greatly disturbed during its occupation in the Civil War.