Hour Angles of the Sun
Note: mid-day sun position is not the Eastern Time (12:00) noon.

Great Serpent Mountain Site

As the sun’s daily path across the sky, its light (rays) shines to the earth; however, its position in the sky determines the direction downward. The morning sun shines on the west wall (face). High noon shines downward into the channel. The afternoon sun shines on the east wall. The opposite wall to the illuminated one is in shadow. The amount of light on the wall can be translated to the time of day (our times)..

Annual Sun Path across the Sun Dial Showing the Solstice and Equinox Positions (View from West (River) to East (Mountains)). The sun moves one degree every four minutes across the sky. The east/west sun movement can be called a solar calendar.

Timekeeping Devices - Solar Clocks

Spout Run Site.

Basic Solar Device Principles

The measurement of “high noon” is a major feature of all these TTDs which suggests all of the site’s users had a need for this type of sun timing.[1]  These sites very accurately indicate the exact position of the sun at high noon. Whether these observations were used daily or on special occasions will never be known; however, it suggests the users had the concept of “morning” and “afternoon”. The above drawings show the position of the illuminated daily channel at mid-day which was tested at various times of the years by the Survey

[1] Solar noon is the moment when the sun transits the celestial meridian – roughly the time when it is highest above the horizon on that day ("Sun transit time"). This is also the origin of the terms ante meridiem (a.m.) and post meridiem (p.m.). The sun is directly overhead at solar noon at the Equator on the equinoxes, at the Tropic of Cancer (latitude 23°26′16″ N) on the June solstice, and at the Tropic of Capricorn (23 26′16″ S) on the December solstice.

Time Telling Devices

Blackberry Site​

There are five known Time Telling Devices (TTD) in Virginia and West Virginia, which are located at:

  • Spout Run (44CK151), Clarke County, Virginia
  • Blackberry (TBS), Franklin County, Virginia
  • Great Serpent Mountain (46HM285), Hampshire County, West Virginia.


A time telling device is defined as:

A standalone stone structure that is a prehistoric observational location for the observation of the sun’s motion through the sky. A TTD has the alignment and angles of its rock boulders which measure the altitude and sky placement of the sun (and/or moon) at any given time of the year. They are also known as solar clocks and sun dials.

 Basics are:

Ancient priests knew how to arrange large boulders so that they performed lighting and darkening (shadowing) on stone surfaces which indicated daily and annual clocks. They knew solar noon (high noon), both equinoxes, and both solstices. The constructed structures which gave them the physical evidences of these timely events.

 The TTD was constructed as a ceremonial location for a cultural group with a priest to perform and lead religious ceremonies. Any solar event, such as high noon, equinoxes, or solstices, was treated as spiritual magic and was used to control the group’s behavior. With the TTD’s predictive capability, priests turned this knowledge into magic or the power to control the world. Only priests knew the actual mechanics of their TTD.

This sun has physical motion across the sky which was observed and a constant by early priests who turned the knowledge into social and religious control of the groups. The following drawing is a model of the sun’s movements across the sky.