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      The Salisbury Complex: (Sacred Landscape).

There are several noticeable concentrations of Neolithic sites along the western Atlantic coast. These prehistoric complexes can be seen at locations as far apart as the Orkneys in Scotland, the Boyne Valley in Ireland, Carnac in France and Evora in Portugal, all of which share similar features and all are contemporary. The Salisbury landscape retains the same indelible fingerprint of unprecedented civil-scale prehistoric activity and the remains of some of the largest prehistoric monuments from the ancient world. Landmarks such as Stonehenge, Avebury and Salisbury dominate the prehistoric the landscape, but other sites such as Durrington Walls, The Sanctuary, West Kennet Long-barrow and Old Sarum (to name but a few), were also parts of this ancient landscape, all operating together to create what is often termed a 'sacred' or 'living' landscape.

Archaeology has revealed that associations do exist between these complexes (through discoveries of both Grooved-ware and Beaker-ware), and while it is not yet possible to say that there was a direct connection, the arrangement of monuments at each complex can be seen to provide the means for an accurate localised measurement of both the cycles of the sun and moon, and evidence suggests that the distribution and placement of the most prominent European monuments goes beyond random selection (see below).

Suggestions of astronomical observations in the region can be seen dating back over 8,000 years (through the Stonehenge Post-holes). It is perhaps no coincidence that the Goseck Henge in Germany lies on the same latitude as Stonehenge supporting the idea that the preference for this latitude was no coincidence. The astronomical significance of this latitude (being the specific latitude at which the maximum zeniths of the sun and moon cross at 90° of each other), is a clear suggestion behind the motivation for such intense construction activity, but without a more complete context the overall picture of events eludes us. However, recent observations are starting to show that not only is the local landscape woven together, but that it extends outwards to other important and contemporary prehistoric sites leading to a suggestion of the deliberate separation of complexes according to a basic set of basic astronomical and geometric principles.

 

   The Wiltshire Complex:

General Description of the Area:

The Wiltshire complex includes some of the largest man-made constructions from the prehistoric world leaving no doubt as to the importance of the area. (The estimated man-hours for Silbury and Avebury alone are in the region of 5 million man-hours). We now know that the majority of the works in the area were carried out over a broad period of around 600 years, with two distinct periods of construction (c. 3,100 and 2,400 BC). The original reasons, driving force, and the  organisation behind such civil-scale activity is unknown to us and we are forced to speculate on much today, but there are certain clues which suggest that the design and arrangement of these huge civil structures was aimed at creating a larger arena, uniting the Salisbury landscape in an unprecedented way.

Human activity in the region extends back to the Mesolithic era, and continues to the present day. The complex can be loosely divided into two groupings of significant sites; The northern group which includes Avebury, Silbury, The Sanctuary and West Kennet long-barrow, and the southern group which includes Stonehenge, Old Sarum, The Cursus, Durrington Walls, and the newly discovered 'Bluestone circle'. Why this particular area was chosen, and what it was original function was are still amongst the most challenging questions about the complex.

The appearance of the Avebury monuments would have been completely different when they were first completed, more in line with other large monuments in Britain, being covered with a white surface of chalk from which they were dug. Silbury Hill would have seemed like a snow covered mountain, and the ditch and bank of the Avebury circle would have shone white against the surrounding landscape. Likewise would have been the mounds of the numerous long-barrows and tumuli that were commonplace in the area. It is of interest to note that the earlier passage tomb of Newgrange in Ireland's Boyne Valley included a spectacular surround of white quartz when it was built. This quartz was quarried in the Wicklow Mountains some 50 miles away indicating that some Neolithic builders would make a great effort to give their constructions a white appearance. Excavation of the three large Henges at Thornborough in Yorkshire revealed that the banks of these substantial earthworks were deliberately made to appear white by the application of layers of gypsum which had to be transported to the site(s). Whether this has any connection with Avebury is yet another question our Neolithic ancestors have left us to consider (3) We are reminded that the first 'Blue-stones' from Wales are now proposed to have been included into the first phase of construction at Stonehenge (c. 3,100 BC), discounting the argument that the Salisbury area was selected for its availability of Sarsen stone.

(The Specific Selection of Stones)

All the sites within the Wiltshire complex have different designs and presumably served different functions to different peoples at different times, being built over a period of several hundred years, but the resulting combination marks one of the largest Neolithic complexes in the world, and requires a better understanding  in order to explain the context behind such energy and design. The division of the complex into two distinct clusters of sites, with the Stonehenge grouping in the South and the Avebury grouping in the North is of clear importance and perhaps it is through the connectivity between these sites that we can begin to learn their association and purpose. Geographically, the Northern Avebury cluster is the terminal point of both the Ridgeway and the Icknield way. Although there appears to be no physical connection today, it is likely that the River Avon was used to convey people from the northern area to the southern area, as it starts only a mile or so south of Avebury and flows south directly past Durrington Walls, Stonehenge and Old Sarum, then on south to the coast.

 

The Pre-Pre-History of the Region (Before Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury).

The fame of Stonehenge has for a long time overshadowed the larger picture of activities in the Salisbury area. It is now much more reasonable to view it as a single component of the larger, inter-connected Salisbury landscape.

Archaeologists have found four, or possibly five large Mesolithic postholes which date to around 8,000 BC, beneath the nearby modern tourist car-park (6). These held pine posts around 0.75 metres (2ft 6in) in diameter which were erected and eventually rotted in situ. Three of the posts (and possibly four) were in an east-west alignment which may have had ritual significance; no parallels are known from Britain at the time but similar sites have been found in Scandinavia. Salisbury Plain was then still wooded but 4,000 years later, during the earlier Neolithic, people built a causewayed enclosure at Robin Hood's Ball and several long barrow tombs in the surrounding landscape. In approximately 3,500 BC, the vast Stonehenge Cursus was built 700 metres (2,300 ft) north of the site as the first farmers began to clear the trees and develop the area. (6)

A thousand years before Stonehenge, Avebury or Silbury existed, the (3km long) Cursus had been built in the area (c.3,630 - 3,375 BC) (4) The cursus was aligned on the equinox sunrise which rises over the eastern long barrow. at around the same time the region was also home to the 'long-barrow' builders. The long-barrow builders (Windmill hill culture) built over 300 barrows in Britain but the highest concentration is in Wiltshire, and they date from c. 4,000 BC - 2,500 BC. It is probable that any monuments that were built after them, were built with them in mind. For example, the Beckhampton cove/long barrow and the Sanctuary are both estimated to date at c. 3,100 BC, but were only physically connected c. 2,400 BC through the construction of the Beckhampton and West Kennet Avenues via Avebury.

All these indications are that the region already held a special significance to the future builders of these great monuments before they built them. Of interest perhaps, that a similar construction to the original design of Stonehenge was built on the same latitude at Goseck in Germany, but long before Stonehenge was constructed (c. 5,000 BC). This particular latitude is the only latitude at which the sun and moon have their maximum azimuths at right angles to each other, a feature which was included in one of the earliest features at Stonehenge in the shape of the Station-stones.

 

The Major Construction Phases (c. 3,000 BC and 2,400 BC).

The importance of the area appears to have culminated in two intensive construction phases at around 3,000 BC and again c. 2,400 BC. It is perhaps no coincidence that the Salisbury Complex is home to both the largest man-made mounds in Europe, the most sophisticated stone circle and the two largest Henges in the World. The tens of millions of man hours involved in creating all the monuments during this time are only surpassed by the overall planning and design involved, something which is often ignored, but which suggests the presence of sophisticated cultures. A lack of burials beneath Silbury hill precludes the notion that it was a ritual burial mound, so how are we to explain the impetus behind such structures?.

The discovery of Beaker-ware at most of the sites in discussion, leaves little doubt as to who the builders of these great monuments were, but we are told that the Beaker people arrived in England c. 2.500 BC. with the earliest examples of their pottery being found in Iberia c. 2,900 BC. (15) which precludes them from the earliest phases of work, but places them exactly in the right place and at the right time for the majority of the works c. 2,500 -2,400 BC. The question remains however, in what context was such work undertaken?. The Beaker people's arrival c. 2,500 BC can be seen as part of a wave of immigration that occurred along the Mediterranean basin and the Western coast of Europe at that time. Sites that had already been in use such as Carnac, Boyne Valley, Salisbury, and the Orkneys all show evidence of great building works at this time, but they also show that the monuments were built over existing Megalithic centres. Putting it simply, it seems that the Beaker people arrived and almost immediately began to adapt or convert existing significant monuments (and their meaning) in perhaps a similar way the Romans integrated cultures into their empire as they expanded throughout Europe and beyond.

If, as it seems, the important important megalithic complexes were already in place when the Beaker people arrived, there is still the question of who originally conceived and initiated such grandiose works. Before their arrival for example, the first (and arguably most important) phase of works had already been carried out at Stonehenge, with other sites such as Old Sarum and the Sanctuary showing signs of activity at the same time (c. 3,100 BC). This same pattern is repeated at other Megalithic complexes along the Atlantic coast of Europe and in each case we see the common theme of adaptation rather than initiation.

Stepping back several hundred years to the initial phase of construction (c. 3,100 BC) takes us into a largely unknown yet globally significant period of prehistory. At present our knowledge of events at this time is limited as it also signifies the beginning of the written record, and trying to reconcile evidence of such a concerted exercise with our knowledge of what we know from this time relies on an element on speculative research. So where are we to look for the skills and organisation required to initiate such large scale works?. The primary candidate at present is the ignominiously named 'Grooved-ware' people. Pottery from this culture has dominated our impression of them, but it was these people that brought the first Henge monuments to Britain (likely an adaptation to the cursus), with discoveries being found at Newgrange, the Orkneys, Thornborough, Arbor Low and Salisbury. It is currently speculate that the 'Grooved-ware' people originated within Britain, probably in the region of Ireland or Scotland, extending southwards c.3,000 BC. (20) It has also been suggested that the Grooved Ware people represented 'an emerging elite within Neolithic society'.

 

  Description of the Major Monuments:

The Major Monuments of the Wiltshire Complex.

The Salisbury complex can be divided into two distinct clusters of sites; The Southern Group surrounding Stonehenge, and the the Northern group surrounding Silbury Hill.

(Map of the Salisbury Complex)

 

The Southern (Stonehenge) Sites:

Stonehenge: The specific location of Stonehenge was in use from the Mesolithic (c. 8,000 BC) as determined by the presence of several large post-holes in the car park. (6). Three of the posts were placed in an east-west alignment. Around 4,000 years later (c, 3,500 BC), the almost 3km Cursus was built near where the Stonehenge monument would begin its first construction phase 500 years later. The Cursus was designed to run in line with the sunrise on the spring and autumn equinoxes. Both these facts suggest an early understanding of the basic principles of astronomy before Stonehenge even existed. Exactly when it was realised that this latitude was 'the exact latitude at which the Midsummer Sunrise and Sunsets are at 90°  of the Moons Northerly setting and Southerly rising' is not known. However, this fact does appear to have been incorporated into the first phase of Stonehenge through the arrangement of the Station Stones. It is perhaps also worth noting that the Goseck Henge in Germany was constructed c. 5,000 BC. It is of a similar design to the first construction phase, and lies on the almost exactly the same latitude.

First Construction Phase: 3,100 BC (6). This is the same time that work begins on the Northern section of the Salisbury complex, at both Avebury and Old Sarum. In addition, civil-scale constructions simultaneously appear in the Boyne Valley, Ireland, Carnac in France, Evora in Portugal, on the Orkney Islands in Scotland and on Malta. It is noticeable that this exact time is also ascribed to the start of the Egyptian dynasties and pyramid building. It will be shown that all of these locations share a common theme in construction, geometry and astronomy. They are also related through Geodesy, by separation through units of degrees of longitude and latitude (based on a 360 division of the globe).

The specific location of the Stonehenge monument c. 3,100 BC placed it approximately 15 miles south of the northern Avebury cluster. The 'Sanctuary', which later became connected to the Avebury monument, shows activity from the same time period and was built on the same longitude of 1° 49' W and is exactly 1/4° north revealing the first of many 'coincidences' regarding the placement of other significant sites in relation to these two markers. (see below)

(More about Stonehenge)

 

The Bluestone Circle: The Newly discovered 'Bluestonehenge' was made of 25 massive bluestones, erected in a circle about 5,000 years ago, and eventually were encircled by a ditch and an earthen embankment. About 500 years later, however, the stones were moved and incorporated into Stonehenge itself. The monument was found at the beginning of an avenue leading to Stonehenge and near the river Avon, which "not only solidifies the view that Stonehenge covers the entire landscape, but also the sacred importance of the river itself," said archaeologist Christine Hastorf of UC Berkeley.

So far, it is believed that there was a 30-foot-wide circle of about 25 standing stones. The dimensions correlate precisely with those of bluestones in the inner circle of Stonehenge.

The stone circle at 'Bluestonehenge' was eventually replaced by a henge, a circular ditch nearly 74 feet across with an external bank. Broken antler pickaxes in the ditch date its construction to about 2470 BC to 2280 BC. At least one entrance has been discovered, on the east side, and it contained a specially placed deposit of antlers, an antler pickaxe, cattle bones and stone and flint tools. The team also found the riverside end of the avenue to Stonehenge. It was marked by two parallel ditches about 54 feet apart. These originally held posts, forming a small palisade on either side. The avenue apparently terminated at or close to the outer bank of the newly discovered henge.

Archaeologist Josh Pollard of Bristol University, a co-director of the project, noted that the circle "should be considered an integral part of Stonehenge rather than a separate monument, and it offers tremendous insight into the history of its famous neighbour." Previous research had shown that Stonehenge originally consisted of 56 bluestones set in a circle inside a ditch and bank. Sometime about 2500 BC, those stones were moved to their current location, leaving behind the holes now known as Aubrey holes. But there are 80 bluestones in Stonehenge and only 56 Aubrey holes, Parker Pearson said.
(23)

Prehistoric Salisbury Landscape.

The 'Ceremonial' Avenues of Stonehenge and Durrington Walls connect them together with the River Avon.

 

Durrington Walls: Evidence of Neolithic habitation at the site, but the monument was constructed between 2,600 - 2,400 BC. Estimates range at around one million man-hours in construction. The largest Henge in Britain and now seen as a complimentary structure to the Stonehenge site (13). Local finds of Beaker-ware, and the discovery that one of the homes excavated within the site was 'remarkably similar in layout to a house at Skara Brae in Orkney' (14) draws clear a clear association between this monument and others seen at contemporary Neolithic complexes along the Western Atlantic coast. 

The first timber circle c. 2,600 BC was oriented southeast towards the sunrise on the midwinter solstice and a paved avenue was also constructed on a slightly different alignment – towards the sunset on the summer solstice which led to the River Avon.

 

Old Sarum: Inhabited since 3,000 BC (5). Old Sarum lies on one of the earliest recognised examples of leylines as determined by Sir N. Lockyer. It lies directly in line between Salisbury and Stonehenge. Before Salisbury Cathedral was built, Old Sarum was the seat of religious power until Salisbury Cathedral was built c 1250 AD.  Legend has it that the Bishop of Old Sarum shot an arrow in the direction he would build the cathedral; the arrow hit a deer and the deer finally died in the place where Salisbury Cathedral is now. The alignment between sites can be seen to extend beyond Old Sarum, with indications that it was a deliberate alignment from the outset.

It is significant in that it lies on the same azimuth as the Glastonbury Ley, and is approximately the same length.

(More about Old Sarum)

 

The Northern (Sanctuary) Sites:

The Sanctuary: Constructed C. 3,000 BC (24). this potentially one of the most important sites of the Salisbury complex along with Stonehenge. It began life as several circles of post-holes, being later converted into a circle of stones around 130ft across (larger than Stonehenge). It was the terminal (entry) point of the West Kennet Avenue, and apart from the later Marlborough mount, was the nearest accessible construction to the river Kennet. It is also uniquely positioned at the end of the Ridgeway and the start of the West-Kennet River, in such a way that all the other important monuments in the local area (some built before, and some after) can be seen from it. Stuckley viewed the Sanctuary as the 'head' or 'Hakpen' of a huge ceremonial 'snake'.

The only surviving image with the original stones in place. (1723. W. Stuckeley)

This importance of this site has gone unnoticed for a long time, but its natural position as the entrance to the Avebury complex hides another startling fact, which is that its location places it at approximately 1/4 of a degree north of Stonehenge, and they both lie on the exact same longitude.  This revealing clue is one of several key facts which suggest that the monuments of the Salisbury complex were located at deliberately significant astronomical, geometric and geographic locations which united the landscape in the eyes of the builders.

(More about the Sanctuary)

 

Avebury: The Avebury monument is arguably the largest monument in Britain with estimates of around 1.5 million man-hours involved in its construction (11). It has four entrances, approximately orientated to the cardinal points and it houses both the second largest Henge and the largest stone circle in the world composed of 98 vast sarsen stones highlighting its importance in the Salisbury complex. There are 98 lunar cycles per 8 solar cycles, suggesting the possibility of a primitive alternative to the Metonic cycle. Construction started at around 3,000 BC with the Cove and finished at around 2,400 BC, with the placement of the west Kennet and Beckhampton avenues.

The two stone avenues (Kennet Avenue and Beckhampton Avenue) that meet at Avebury define two sides of triangle that is designated a World Heritage site and which includes The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill, Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow and Beckhampton Cove. Many of these sites were in existence before Avebury was constructed.

Avebury is situated half way along the St. Michael's Ley, (on the ancient path of the Iknield way), which was aligned to the sun on Beltane (A cross-quarter day marking the first day of Summer). The Avebury complex also represents the southern terminus of the Ridgeway. Avebury is located at the latitude (360/7 = 51.42857). (10) Empirically, not only does Avebury Henge straddle the latitude equalling one-seventh of the circumference of earth, but the orientation from Avebury to the Sanctuary (51.51°) is the same as both the latitude of Stonehenge and the orientation of the Avenue leading from Stonehenge (Aligned to the midsummer solstice). Avebury lies north of Stonehenge by exactly 1/4° latitude.

(More about Avebury)

 

Silbury Hill: Silbury was completed c. 2,500 BC, just a hundred years before the Avenues. It is the largest man-made construction in prehistoric Europe with estimates of man-hours in the range of 4 million man-hours (11). Apart from the vast amount of manpower required, the construction of Silbury demonstrates a high level of sophistication which begs the question: Where did the knowledge of building in this way arrive at Avebury? It has revealed no evidence of burials or incarnations, and as yet remains to be explained in terms of our traditional understanding of events in the Neolithic.

Silbury sits in the centre of the Avebury complex, almost hidden from view for the most part. The top of the hill has a way of lining up with the horizon level from several angles, and is inter-visible with both Avebury and the Sanctuary. The hill was originally thought to have been deliberately surrounded by water, being positioned over the source of the River Kennet. This design feature has led to suggestions of it representing the 'primal mound', or the belly of the pregnant 'earth mother'.

The flattened top of Silbury measures 100ft in diameter, the same as the exterior diameter of the Stonehenge sarsen stones.

(More about Silbury Hill)

 

The West-Kennet Avenue: Constructed c. 2,400 -2,200 BC to connect the pre-existing Sanctuary to Completed Avebury monument. Excavations by Stuart Piggott and Alexander Keiller in the 1930s indicated that around 100 pairs of standing stones had lined the avenue (at this time only 4 remained standing), and that they dated to around 2,200 BC based on finds of Beaker burials found beneath some of the stones. Running for a length of over half a mile, the 50ft wide avenue is often suggested to have been composed of alternating male/female (lozenge/phallic) shapes, however, only a sad few remain today.

 

The Beckhampton Avenue: Constructed c. 2,200 BC. A second avenue, called the Beckhampton Avenue led west from Avebury towards the existing Beckhampton Long Barrow, constructed c. 3,200 BC (7). The majority of stones have since fallen or are missing. Excavations by the University of Southampton in 2000 revealed the parallel rows of holes that held the stones of the Beckhampton Avenue. Approximately 120m of the avenue was uncovered and indicated that the avenue consisted of a double row of stones placed at 15m intervals in a similar pattern to those at the Kennet Avenue.

Stuckeley's view of the   formed across the landscape with the West Kennet and Beckhampton avenues.

 

Beckhampton Cove and Long-Barrow: Sitting at the end of the Beckhampton Avenue, and arguably the reason for its construction, lie the 'Longstones' or the 'Devil's Quoits' which are two large monolithic stones, suggested to bethe remains of what was once a prehistoric 'cove' of standing stones similar to the one in Avebury. The avenue probably terminated here although it may have extended further to the south west beyond the stones. The Beckhampton long barrow, dating from c. 3,200 BC runs in line with the Beckhampton Avenue to Avebury, and more importantly, along the axis of the St. Michaels Leyline, which means that it too was orientated to celebrate 'Beltane', a cross-quarter day, marking the first day of summer and the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

 

Marlborough Mound: Dated to 2,400 BC (8) The size and location of this mound make it a relevant addition to the ancient landscape. At two-thirds the height of Silbury Hill, it becomes the second largest mound in Britain and potentially all Europe and would have required at least a million man-hours to complete. It lies five miles distant, and exactly east of Avebury. Its construction at the same time as its larger relative (Silbury hill), and E-W orientation between sites suggest an astronomical significance.

(Map of the Salisbury Complex)

 

 

   The Connected Landscape:

The first modern astronomical observations of the monuments on the Salisbury landscape were recorded at the turn of the 20th century by Sir Norman Lockyer (then the Astronomer Royal), who noticed both that the avenue at Stonehenge was orientated along the path of the Summer Solstice sun,  and that Stonehenge, Grovely Castle and Old Sarum formed a near-perfect equilateral triangle, with each side 6 miles in length (All of these alignments are now known to extend onwards to other prehistoric sites). These connections, both astronomical and geometric set the foundation for future observations of the monuments in the area. Alfred Watkins 'stumbled' across the theory of Leylines, followed closely by Prof. A. Thom, who continued his research along the same lines as Lockyer, eventually revealing the (still controversial) common unit of measurement which he called the Megalithic Yard. He became convinced of the existence of skilled 'elite' group of people (i.e. astronomer/priests) who organised the design of many of the major European constructions - we are reminded of the suggestions of an emerging Neolithic 'elite' in the shape of the 'Grooved-ware' people.

Having taken a look at the individual sites, it is now worth looking closer at the connections between sites. Apart from the obvious connection between the Sanctuary, Avebury and Beckhampton in the shape of the West-kennet and Beckhampton avenues, other sites such as Silbury, which was not connected physically, can be seen to be integrally linked through their specific locations and inter-visibility with other noticeable sites. For example, Avebury, Silbury Hill, the West Kennet Avenue and both the East and West-Kennet long-barrows are all visible from the Sanctuary. From Avebury, Windmill Hill and  the Sanctuary, the top of Silbury hill lies in line with the horizon, while from the West Kennet Long-Barrow, the top of Silbury appears to be on the same level. These ground observations all add to the otherwise unseen aspects of the symmetry between the monuments and the landscape.

Of more fundamental importance but less visible to the naked eye, are the connections between sites through astronomy and geometry. The addition of these elements greatly adds to the significance of the monuments, reinforcing their symbolism and extending their presence beyond their physical footprint to unify the landscape, but it also reveals a system of measurements that suggests a higher level of knowledge to these builders than is normally accredited.  It is a particularly interesting fact for example, that apart from being positioned on the same line of longitude as Stonehenge, the Sanctuary, which was occupied at the same time is positioned exactly 1/4 degree north of Stonehenge. This remarkable fact connects both the Northern and Southern clusters of the Salisbury complex in a single earthly measurement (based on a 360 division of the globe). The same apparent recognition of earthly measurements is seen in the fact that Stonehenge was built on a latitude mirrored by the zenith of the summer solstice sun, while the Avebury monument was built on a latitude (51.428) which is the result of 360/7. Other important ancient sites such as Delphi in Greece and both Giza and Karnack in Egypt also conform to this system of geodetic placement. (More on this below).

(More about Egyptian Geodesy)

There has been a gradual recognition in recent times that certain stones at megalithic sites appear to have been carried long distance to their final destinations. There is a clear suggestion here that individual qualities of stone were a consideration in the construction of 'sacred' sites. The effort required to transport stone were presumably balanced by their importance. Several sites have now been recognised as being composed of 'pieces of places', something which would seem to play an important role in the development of the Salisbury monuments, especially in light of the famed 'Sarsen Stones' transported from Wales for the first phase of construction at Stonehenge. In all, at least 20 rock types have been identified at Stonehenge (21)

 

 

   The Salisbury Meridian:

The connection between these two prominent and contemporary Salisbury monuments in itself is a challenge, but to take matters further, it seems that these alignments extend onwards to other prominent Neolithic sites, also being separated by units of degrees, and/or the same Geodetic placement associated with astronomy and geometry. It can be seen, for example that the same line continued another 1 1/2 degrees north arrives at Arbor-Low 'The Stonehenge of the North', constructed at around 2,400 BC, but with activity extending back to c. 4.000 BC. Arbor Low is in return aligned geodetically with several other significant British monuments such as Bryn Celli Ddu and Callanish. The latitude of Arbor-Low (53° 10' N) is the same angle as that produced by the 3:4:5 Pythagorean Triangle. It is also coincidentally the same as the exterior angle of the Khafre Pyramid at Giza. These facts lend weight to the suggestion of a common underlying system of geodesy in operation through the placement of ancient and significant sacred sites.

(More about the St. Michaels Leyline)

Silbury shares a curious 'coincidental' geometric connection with the Great pyramid of Giza, in that the exterior angle of the great pyramid is mirrored in the latitude of Silbury, which in turn shares its exterior angle with the latitude of Giza. It is perhaps of interest in relation to this that the dimensions of the top of Silbury are the same as the circumference of Stonehenge (revealed to be a quarter-aurora in Egyptian measurements). The result of this circumference is that each degree on the horizon measures half a megalithic yard. This association between the exterior angles of pyramids and the latitude can be seen elsewhere in the Middle east, and as we have seen, the latitude of Arbor Low is associated with both fundamental geometry, and lies on the Salisbury meridian, exactly 2° north of Stonehenge, something which suggests a similar set of principles underlying the placement of European monuments.

We have seen that the earliest phase of construction at Salisbury involved both Stonehenge and the Sanctuary amongst others, both these monuments appear to be related through their longitudes and latitudes, being exactly 1/4 degree of latitude apart, while lying on the exact same longitude. The implication of a deliberate separation between sites, presumably working away from Stonehenge, offers a new perspective on the context behind the Salisbury complex. It is proposed in this context, that the Salisbury complex was the focal point for the creation of a prehistoric European Meridian, from which other relevant megalithic sites deliberately positioned, according to longitude/latitude and astronomic observation. The same has been suggested for the Giza complex in Egypt.

Julius Caesar, in describing the 'Druids' circa 56 B.C., makes a fascinating statement which leaves no doubt as to the practices at that time, the origin and length of their traditions however is still in debate:

'They do not think it proper to commit these utterances to writing, although in all other matters and in their public and private accounts they make use of Greek characters. I believe that they have adopted the practice for two reasons- that they do not wish the rule to become common property, nor those who learn the rule to rely on writing and so neglect the cultivation of memory; and, in fact, it does usually happen that the assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student and the action of memory...They also lecture on the stars in their motion, the magnitude of the Earth and its divisions, on natural history, on the power and government of God; and instruct the youth in these subjects' (see De Ballo Gallico, VII, 15, 16.).

 Stonehenge is Geodetically Aligned with Several other Important British Sites.

stonehenge geometry astronomy geodesy

  • The line extended from Stonehenge to Arbor-low extends exactly 2° north. (Avebury lies exactly 1/4 of a degree north of Stonehenge along the Sanctuary lies on the same line of longitude).

  • Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury form a right angled triangle, of which the Glastonbury-Avebury follows the azimuth of the sun on 'Beltane'. This triangle is accurate to within 1/1000th. Glastonbury lies exactly 1 degree east of Arbor Low.

  • Stonehenge is a part of the proposed Landscape 'Decagon', centred on Whiteleaved Oak and discovered by John Michell.

The same geometric connections can be seen to extend outwards to other sites across Britain.

 

The Lundy Triangle:

The Station-stones have been shown to have been a prominent part of the original Stonehenge monument. They define the extremes of the moons and suns cycles, and an association between them and the location of the Bluestones, from which the monument was originally composed has been determined in the shape of a Pythagorean triangle across the landscape. Lundy Island shows activity from both the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (17).

Robin Heath and John Mitchell suggested that Stonehenge, Lundy Island and Preseli  form together to make a 5:12:13 Triangle, the second in the Pythagorean set. The dimensions are 2,500 times the size of the 'Station Stone' rectangle. It is particularly noticeable that the Rollrights stone-circle is located at  (51° 58′ 20″ N, 1° 34′ 19″ W), which is almost exactly on the top right-hand corner of the rectangle, with both Glastonbury and Avebury lying on the same alignments.

The three Henge-circles of Stonehenge, Arbor Low and Bryn Celli Ddu form together to make a 3:4:5 Triangle.

(More about English Geodesy)

 

The Geodetic Relationship between British Complexes.

 Brodgar  59° 00' 07" N  03° 13' 43" W.

Significant lunar latitude (Moon rolls along horizon). (1° E Bryn Celli)

 Maes Howe  58° 59' 48"  03° 11' 17" W  
 Callanish  58° 12' 12" N  06° 45' 25" W (7° N, 4° W Glastonbury), (7° N, 5° W Stonehenge), (5° N, 2.5° W Bryn Celli)
 Thornborough  54° 12' 14" N  01° 33' 25" W (3° N Stonehenge), ( 4° S of Callanish), (1° N Bryn Celli and Arbor Low)
 Newgrange  53° 41' 40" N  06° 28' 30" W (2.5° N Stonehenge), Orientated to Avebury - 4
 Tara Hill  53° 35' N   06° 36' W  
 Bryn Celli Ddu  53° 12' 30" N.  04° 14' 20" W (5° S, 2.5° E Callanish), (2° N, 1.5° E Glastonbury)
 Arbor Low  53° 10' N,  01° 46' W (2° N, 1° E Glastonbury), (5° S, 5° E Callanish), (2.5° E Brynn Celli, same latitude)
 Rollrights  51° 58′ 20″ N  01° 34′ 19″ W (7° S Brodgar), (5° E Tara Hill), (Same longitude as Thornborough)
 Avebury  51° 25' 43'' N  01° 51' 15" W (Latitude 90/7 x4), (St. Michael's Ley)
 Silbury Hill  51° 24' 56" N  01° 51' 27" W (Latitude 90/7 x4), (St. Michael's Ley)
 The Sanctuary  51° 24' 36" N  01° 49' 54" W (1/4 North of Stonehenge - same longitude)
 Stonehenge  51° 10' 42'' N  01° 49' 34" W Significant solar/lunar Latitude: (0.25° S of Sanctuary), (7° S, 5° E Callanish)
 Glastonbury  51° 09' N  02° 45' W (Same latitude as Stonehenge), (7° S, 4° E Callanish), (2° S, 1.5° W Bryn Celli)

All the sites show separation by units of degrees (accurate within 3' of a degree or 95%)

(British Geodesy Homepage)

 

 
   Wiltshire and Beyond:

It is common knowledge that at the very time all this construction work was being carried out on Salisbury plains (c, 3,100 - 2,400 B), the Mediterranean was alive with activity, with the emergence of other cultures also beginning to  build astronomically orientated buildings on an unprecedented scale (most noticeably on Malta and in Egypt). While there is yet any evidence of direct contact between these Mediterranean cultures and those on the Western Atlantic, an argument is building in favour of this very idea and similarities between the underlying applications of geometry and astronomy (and art) in the constructions seems to favour this idea. Perhaps it is now worth exploring this proposition.

 

The Primal Mound:

The 'World Hill' (Mount Meru) or the 'Primal Mound' is a concept that appears in several ancient traditions (Most noticeably Indus Valley, Sumerian and Egyptian) in which it was  considered to be the centre of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universe. The Surya Siddhanta, one of the earliest Hindu doctrines (siddhanta) in archeo-astronomy, describes that Mt Meru lies in 'the middle of the Earth' ("Bhugol-madhya") (18). Evidence of cultural exchange between these contemporary cultures opens the way for debate over the original symbology of the Ziggurat/Pyramid form itself. There is plenty of room for suggestion that the Great pyramid was built as a representation of the Primal Mound in the Egyptian mythology of creation. The ancient Egyptians all believed that the world had arisen out of the lifeless waters of chaos, called Nu. They also included a pyramid-shaped mound, called the Benben, which was the first thing to emerge from the waters. (25) Perhaps in Silbury hill we see echoes of this theme, as it is now commonly accepted that it was carved out of the surrounding chalk for exactly this reason. Silbury hill was built  in a hollow in the land alongside the source of the River Kennet and has several blind-springs opening in the area of its base. This results in it still being surrounded by water for part of the year, although it is likely that it was permanently surrounded by water when it was first built. Of all the candidates for man-made 'primal mounds' both Silbury and the Great pyramid are at the top of the list, being the largest examples of their kind, and it is a curious coincidence that both have exterior angles that mirror the others latitude.

The theme of a combination of a prominent Mound being built beside a stone-circle (often surrounded by water) can be seen to be repeated at the same time in history and across Europe and the Mediterranean, for example: Maes-Howe in the Orkneys, Gavrinis in France, Boyne Valley, Ireland and Ggigantija in Malta to name but a few. The complex at Evora is not surrounded by water but Zambujeira is the largest passage mound in Europe and sits within view of one the oldest stone stone-circles in Europe - Almendres. While this theme is suggestive of a male-female balance in structures, it can also been seen as an extension of the mythological 'Primal Mound'. The theme of aligning 'Mounds' or 'Beacon Hills' is commonly seen across Britain and beyond, with the primary example being the St. Michael's Ley which runs across England From St. Michaels mount in Cornwall through several distinct, natural and man-made beacon hills (Most noticeably Glastonbury and Silbury Hill), along the alignment with the path of the sun on St. Michael's day (Beltane), evidence of the intrinsic connectivity between the builders, the monuments, the landscape and the cyclic motion of the heavens at this time.

(More about Passage Mounds)

We have seen that two of the earliest megalithic sites on the Salisbury complex (Stonehenge and the Sanctuary) have associations that appear to be based on earthly measurements: Most significantly, the placement of the Sanctuary exactly 1/4 degree north of Stonehenge, and Arbor Low a further 1.5° north on the same longitude. The association of other significant sites such as Glastonbury, Bryn Celli Ddu, Callanish and the Orkneys with the same geodetic fingerprint clearly begins to suggest a means of calculating the longitude/latitude of one site in relation to another. Something which even today, is not officially recognised before the Greeks. There are however, several stubborn facts which require answers in order to dismiss them from the possibility of such a scheme:

 

Newgrange - Avebury

Newgrange was constructed c. 3,200 - 2,900 BC (Wiki), In early Irish mythology, Newgrange was not only the alleged burial place of the prehistoric kings of Tara, but also the home of a race of Irish supernatural beings, known as 'Tuatha de Danann': The people of the goddess Danu. If the archaeology is correct, these same people are now rather ignominiously referred to as the 'Grooved Ware' people.

Apart from being built at the same time, Newgrange shares other similarities with the monuments at Salisbury. It is noticeable for example that the Newgrange monument originally consisted of a stone circle beside a cursus, as at Stonehenge. The passage mound itself is orientated along the path of the Midwinter sun, while Stonehenge was orientated with the Midsummer sun. These two major monument complexes are not only situated at one one-hundredth of the earth's circumference apart, but it has been calculated that at Avebury (when obliquity equalled precisely 24 degrees), the level summer solstice sunset pointed precisely to Newgrange (22). Burl notes that the diameter of the bank at Brodgar is almost exactly 175 megalithic yards, the same as the inner circles of the Avebury and Newgrange monuments in England and Ireland respectively. (16)

There is another curious similarity between Newgrange and Avebury in that original Stone circle at Newgrange had 97 stones (rather than 98 at Avebury), which suggests the possibility of a primitive alternative to the Metonic Cycle, as 98 lunar months is the same as 8 solar years.  The number 97 has another astronomical significance, as it is a relevant number in the calculation for leap years. We know that there are either 366 or 365 days in the solar year. The Gregorian calendar, which was designed to subvert the necessity for adding random days repeats completely every 146,097 days, which fill 400 solar years. Of these 400 years, 303 common years have 365 days leaving a need for 97 'leap' years, each with 366 days. This yields a calendar mean year of exactly 365+97/400. days = 365.2425 days.

 

The Orion Connection:

The Orion constellation held a fascination for many ancient cultures and featured strongly in mythology and we can say with a pretty good measure of confidence, that it is also associated through the design in several prehistoric monuments. Apart from the obvious association with the Giza pyramids, it is noticeable that there are a large number of Triple-Henges and Stone circles in the British Isles which appear to have the same 'Dog-leg' in the angle between them. The most prominent of these is the three Thornborough Henges for which Prof. Clive Ruggles has made a clear connection to Orion, both in physical design and in orientation, but other prominent sites such as The Hurlers and Avebury are also suggested.

Although largely dismissed today, the third circle at Avebury was originally discovered in 1937 by 'A. Keiller', who found three 'unrecorded stone holes, eleven metres apart on the arc of a circle about 103m in diameter, much the same as the 'North' and 'South' inner circles. The centre of this third circle was on the same North-north-west to South-south-east axis as the others and Keiller concluded that "it seems impossible therefore not to conclude that what one may term as 'Avebury I' consisted of three settings of stones...unaccompanied by banks or ditches".

Of additional interest is the dimensions of these Henges, as there are other Henges in UK with similar measurements. The three Henges at the Thornborough complex are exactly double the size of Stonehenge and the Dorchester Henge (Which lies along the St. Michael's ley). It has been calculated that the particular circumference of Stonehenge would allow for 1/2° of horizon every 1 MY (using a division of 366°)(26). This means that from the centre of the Henges at Thornborough (Which is exactly double the size), each 1° of horizon would measure 1 MY along the flattened top of the surrounding banks.

(Orion in Prehistory)

 

Stonehenge-Giza.

There have been several suggestions of similarities between Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Apart from the fact that they were both started at approximately the same time, the most noticeable similarity is in the exterior angle of the Great pyramid, the latitude of Stonehenge and the orientation of the avenue (along the summer solstice), all of which are 51° 51', both of which were noticed by Sir Norman Lockyer at the turn of the 20th century. We have already seen that Avebury is located at exactly the latitude 360/7, and it seems relevant that the Giza complex is located at latitude 360/12.

(Stonehenge lies 33° to the West of Giza - within 95% accuracy)

(Stonehenge  - 1° 49′ 34.28″ W)                            (Great Pyramid - 31° 7′ 52″ E)

According to Peter Le Mesurier, the Sarsen-ring (whose official inner diameter is 97ft or 1162.8 primitive inches), has a circumference of 3652.4 primitive inches, which he suggested as indicating a knowledge of the Solar year, it is also exactly one 'quarter-aroura', as measured in ancient Egypt (26), and the same dimension that was used for the top of Silbury hill. 

 

The Quarter Aroura.

According to Peter Le Mesurier (The Stone Measurer), the Sarsen-ring (whose official inner diameter is 97ft or 1162.8 primitive inches), has a circumference of 3652.4 primitive inches, which he suggested as indicating a knowledge of the Solar year, as it is also exactly one 'quarter-aroura', as measured in ancient Egypt (26) and the same dimension as the top of Silbury Hill. 

Flinders Petrie calculated the diameter at 1167.9 (+/- 0.7 British inches) (13), which works out at 1166.6 Primitive inches (giving a circumference of 3663.1 primitive inches), which although still accurate to within .03%, is not as exact as Le Mesurier suggested.

It has also been calculated by Martin Doutré (27) that the diameter of the outermost perimeter of the site measures 378 ft: Exactly half of the 756 ft that the base of the sides of the Great pyramid.

 

 

The Geodetic Relationship between European Complexes.

 Giza  29° 58' 45" N  31° 08' 03" E. (Latitude 360/6), (33° East of Stonehenge).
 Orkneys  58° 59' 56" N  03° 11' 20" E.

Significant lunar latitude (Moon 'roll's' along the horizon)

 Newgrange  53° 41' 40" N  06° 28' 30" W Inter-visible with Tara Hill, (Sacred heart of Ireland)
 Tara Hill  53° 35' N   06° 36' W (6° N, 3.5° W of Carnac), (15° N, 1.5° E of Evora)
 Arbor Low  53° 10' N,  01° 46' W (2° N, 1° E Glastonbury), (2° N, Stonehenge)
 Avebury  51° 25' 43'' N  01° 51' 15" W (Latitude 90/7 x4 or 360/7), (1/100th circumference from Newgrange/Tara)
 The Sanctuary  51° 24' 36" N  01° 49' 54" W 1/4° North of Stonehenge on same longitude.
 Silbury Hill  51° 24' 56" N  01° 51' 27" W (Shares mutually reciprocated latitudes and exterior angles with Great Pyramid).
 Stonehenge  51° 10' 42'' N  01° 49' 34" W Significant solar/lunar Latitude: (1/4° S of Sanctuary), ( South Arbor Low)
 Carnac  47° 35' 52" N  03° 03' 47" W Significant solar/lunar Latitude: (9° N, 5° E of Evora), (6° S, 3.5° E Tara Hill)
 Evora  38° 33′ 28″ N  08° 03′ 41″ W (Latitude 90/7 x3), (9° S and 5° W of Carnac), (15° S, 1.5° W of Tara Hill)
 Malta (Hypogeum)  35° 52' 05" N  14° 05' 45" E (6° N, 17 W° of Giza - only 90% accuracy)

All the sites show separation by units of degrees (accurate within 3' of a degree or  95%)

 

(European Megalithic Complexes)

(Sacred Places- The Living Landscape)

(Altered Landscapes)

(Prehistoric British Geodesy)

(Egyptian Geodesy)

(Geodesy Homepage)

 

 

References:

1). http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/the-beckhampton-longbarrow/
2). http://www.avebury-web.co.uk/longstones.html
3). http://www.avebury-web.co.uk/chalk_effect.html
4). "Stonehenge Riverside Project- 2007 Excavations"
5). Old Sarum, English Heritage (guidebook) London (2003) p.22.
6). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge
7). http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/the-beckhampton-longbarrow/
8). http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/31/malborough-mound-wiltshire-silbury-neolithic
9). C. Knight; A. Butler. Before The Pyramids. 2009. Watkins Publishing.
10). R. Heath, J. Michell. The Lost Science of Measuring the Earth: Discovering the Sacred Geometry of Britain)
11). http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/leisure/outabout/tourism/thingstoseeanddo/wtaveburystonecircle/
12). http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/silbury-hill/history-and-research/
13). The New York Times 30 January 2007
14). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durrington_Walls
15). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaker_culture
16). Burl, Aubrey (1976). The Stone Circles of the British Isles. London: Yale University Press. 
17). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lundy
18). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Meru
19). http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/2tribes.htm
20). http://www.thanetarch.co.uk/Virtual Museum/3_Displays/G3 Displays/Gallery3_Display4.htm
21). http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/stonehenges-mysterious-stones
22). http://www.jqjacobs.net/astro/aegeo_4.html
23). http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-stone-henge6-2009oct06,0,6567607.story
24). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sanctuary
25). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_creation_myths
26). Peter Lemesurier. The great pyramid, your personal guide. Element books. 1987.
27). http://www.celticnz.co.nz/
 
 
 

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