The Anomalist


Archive > Milestones


In Memory of DONALD L. CYR
Archeological theorist and
publisher of
Stonehenge Viewpoint

Donald L. Cyr, age 79, died in his sleep while flying over Montana, his birth state, on May 31, 1999. Donald and his wife Joan were returning to their home in Santa Barbara, California from Ripon, Wisconsin, where Cyr had just addressed a conference of international scholars from 30 countries at the American Rock Art Research Association (APARA). His presentation, "Rock Art Motifs and Halo Patterns," reflected his lifelong involvement in archeological theory. Cyr's topic on his final trip reflected the kind of intellectual breakthrough that was years, if not decades, ahead of its time. "Archaeologists never looked at rock art to make those connections until recent years," stated David Grisafe, of the State Geological Survey of Kansas, who introduced Cyr at the ARARA conference.

At age 15 a fortune teller told Donald Cyr, "always play your hunches," and he spent a lifetime doing just that. In 1944, Cyr's first book, The Origin of Saturn's Rings, was the first to postulate that the rings of Saturn were composed of ice crystals, which was confirmed in the 1990s by the Voyager spacecraft. Following a career that spanned industrial engineering and space technology, Cyr continued to play his hunches in Stonehenge Viewpoint, a journal and a series of related books which he published since 1968. Through these works he created and fostered dialogue between archaeologists, astronomers, geologists, anthropologists, and epigraphers throughout the world. "Controversy Is Our Specialty,
" was Cyr's proud boast of his magazine. "He published even rebuttals to rebuttals of rebuttals," notes Dr. Robert Forrest, a prominent British Skeptic. "His books are a monument to his assiduous scholarship and maverick spirit, providing a receptive public with new concepts," said Paul Screeton, a British scientific author.

The past thirty years have seen increasing recognition both nationally and internationally for Cyr's latest innovative theories combining astronomy and archaeology. Cyr's central work was an interdisciplinary study into the idea that Stonehenge was not just an astronomical observatory, but set up to study halos, a meteorological phenomenon that he believed ancients saw in the sky and recorded in everything from stone carvings to high art. It was a lifelong intellectual quest that would involve Cyr and his wife (and often their children) in traveling all over the world. Their research journeys took them from the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland to the deep caverns of the islands of Malta. Most recently Cyr had been involved in exploring rock carvings and monuments in the United States.

Cyr's theories drew upon the work of Isaac Vail, a Quaker schoolteacher who lived from 1840 to 1912. (Cyr was given Vail’s papers when Vail's daughter realized his interest in them made him the heir recipient.) Vail's "canopy theory" held that after the last ice age, a canopy of ice clouds covered the Earth for thousands of years, forming an atmospheric "crystal veil." This veil would cause the sun and moon to be ringed with halos on a regular basis and may have created "ice mirrors" in the sky that ancient explorers could use to navigate by. The halos were shown in ancient rock carvings. "Cyr's ability to draw associations between ancient texts and maps and possible historic voyages was dazzling," wrote Anomalist editor Patrick Huyghe.

Cyr found backing for Vail's theory in the work of Louis A. Frank, who in 1986 presented evidence that the Earth was being bombarded by twenty house sized comets per minute, a finding that was confirmed in 1997 in images produced by NASA's Polar spacecraft. "Donald Cyr was one of the first to recognize this," declared Dr. Frank. Cyr had published support for Louis Frank's work in the 1980s, when skeptics hooted that "if this is correct we'll have to burn half the contents of the libraries in the physical sciences." "Stonehenge Viewpoint will not join that bonfire," was Donald Cyr's rejoinder. Throughout the years, Cyr was a beloved champion of other innovative thinkers and scientists.

Donald Cyr earned his BS degree Cum Laude in industrial engineering from the University of Southern California (Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi). During the 1950s, Cyr was the technical editor at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He split his time between scientific editing and engineering until the late 1960s when he shifted to publishing. In his later years he operated the Hatton Letter Shop, a publishing and mailing business in Santa Barbara, with his wife Joan. Cyr was also a member of the Downtown Optimist Club, the co-president of Friends of the ROTC, and a 32 degree Mason. "But his greatest passion was publishing Stonehenge Viewpoint and all the friendships that resulted from his publishing and research projects," stated his daughter Annette, a New York City based painter. She plans to continue the Stonehenge Viewpoint book and mail order business (P.O. Box 30887, Santa Barbara, CA 93130).

E.C.Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, met Donald Cyr when mutual interest in Stonehenge and prehistoric astronomy put them in contact. Krupp wrote of Cyr: "Donald liked to speculate, and he operated at the fringe. His practical perspective, his genuine interest in physical evidence, and his sense of humor distinguished him, however, from most of those who negotiated the same ambiguous waters. For an avocational publisher, he invested remarkable energy in Stonehenge Viewpoint and in the series of books that emerged from it. Donald generously promoted my books, solicited my dissenting opinions, and supplied me with an extraordinary stream of unusual and engaging publications that would have eluded me without him. Unlike armchair thinkers, Donald confronted the facts in person in the field at distant and exotic destinations, and he delighted in bringing new mysteries back alive to amuse and confound his readers. I am persuaded those halos he tirelessly advocated now grace his head."

--Marianne Macy