Sunday, 21 April 2013

300 years before Stonehenge at Avebury.

I first took an interest in what was going on in prehistoric Wiltshire when surfing the Internet, and was amazed to discover that people of about 4,400 years ago had built a pyramid-size hill with little more than their bare hands. One of my colleagues had been to this mini-mountain while on a day’s outing from London - when he also climbed up it. He also visited the henge at Avebury one kilometre to the north. I just had to see this mystery hill and henge, the purpose or purposes of which, no one could seem to solve.

And so it was on a fine August summers day that I set out with my dad - who moaned all the way of why anyone should want to visit such old relics - to see exactly what the mystery was all about.

So there we were, dad and I, looking up at the largest man-made mound in Europe, not believing that it could possibly have been built for no reason whatsoever. I felt very much challenged, to say the least: no bunch of half-shod barbarians was going to get the better of me. I wasn't brought up to give in so easily.

After spending 20 minutes or so viewing Silbury Hill and taking several photographs of it, we returned to our car and drove the short distance around the corner to take a look at the henge that I had heard so much about.

I soon became stunned by the enormity of it all: this so-called “Super-henge” a quarter of a mile across, contains standing stones equal in size; and some are even larger than those at Stonehenge itself. To say that something big had been going on here was an understatement. At 450 metres diameter, with stone monoliths weighing several tonnes, this henge is enormous, and I was absolutely determined to find out exactly what it was meant to be.

Although dad was normally tee-total, he waited with half of shandy in the car park of the Red Lion public house while I investigated the henge. When at last I returned to the pub, I said to dad that I reckoned some over-ambitious Stone Age people had been trying to catch the sun. Literally that is!

 And so started my quest to try to prove it.

Dad and I next paid a visit to Avebury’s Alexander Keiller museum to see the exhibits and to purchase some books so I could study these things later and in the quiet of my own home. From those books I learned that the oval monument on top of Windmill Hill was the first to be built; and because it overlooks both Silbury and Avebury; it seemed like a good place for me to start.

The 350-metre causewayed-enclosure on top of Windmill Hill poses archaeologists as much of a mystery as does any other Stone Age monument; because although it appears to have been an encampment of some kind, early men and women are known to have never lived permanently upon it. It is thought that Neolithic people occupied this hill during the summer months only, so all sorts of theories have been advanced for its possible use - none of which seemed to me to be very convincing.

Neolithic causewayed enclosures are among the earliest monuments of all, their perimeters marked out by several rings of discontinuous ditches and banks that someone once described as being like a string of badly-made sausages. Well, Windmill Hill is not a badly-made sausage but could be considered to be a badly made egg. It is, however, very unfortunate that other causewayed enclosures are not egg-shaped at all - although some of them are - but such a variety of individual shapes has hampered the search for a common denominator that links them all together, and this has allowed for any number of disagreements about their true purpose.

What we do know about Windmill Hill is that many things were placed on the bottom of its two-metre-deep ditches. These “things” ranged from stones obtained from a quarry near to the town of Bath, and other stones coming from as far away as Cornwall and the Lake district - as well as small chips of - surprise, surprise - the famous Stonehenge bluestones having come all the way from Wales. They might even have brought the honey-coloured Grand Pressigny flint from France.

Besides this collection of exotic stones, animal and human body-parts were also found at the bottom of its ditches, together with what might have been the sacrifice of a child. This child was found on a plinth that raised its tiny body off the bottom of the ditch, and he or she was buried for the same purpose or reason as the single burials found at Woodhenge and the Sanctuary. And as we now know, this menagerie of creature and human remains, along with exotic stones, flint arrow-heads, axes and broken pottery sherds was clearly trying to bring this massive prehistoric egg to life. For myself though, and before learning the meaning of all of this, I wanted to look south from this enclosure as people of the Neolithic did, to see just what it was that they saw in the place.

And so it was that a couple of weeks later, and after purchasing a second-hand single-lens-reflex-camera, that I could be seen heading back to Avebury in the middle of the night to see what all the fuss was about. I was so utterly convinced that I could solve these age-old mysteries.

Never having been to Windmill Hill before, and without knowing exactly how to get there - and in the middle of the night, to-boot - I duly set out from home. I knew that I would have to go up a dark country lane leading onto a country track that would eventually peter out, and at the end of the lane is where I parked my car.

It was pitch black when I arrived and I was in the middle of no-where. I thought perhaps that I should wait for the sky to lighten up a tad before leaving my car to walk the rest of the way, but that would only defeat the object. I somehow plucked up enough courage to set off up that very spooky track; after all, should anyone or anything jump out at me, I could always give them a hefty whack with my torch.

I had parked my car on what clearly seemed to be someone's prohibited land, so did not dare flash my torch for any longer than was necessary to ensure my safe footing. All of a sudden, and by complete surprise, I saw a flash of light coming from some distance up ahead - did I imagine it - surely not. Am I heading into danger of some kind? I walked on. There it was again. This time I was sure the light was coming from another torch. Too late to turn back now, I had no choice but to see just what it was that I was walking into.

As I approached still closer, I could see that several vehicles had driven further along and to where the track ended, and I was rapidly entering a “New Age” traveller’s camp who thought me to be a colleague who had come to join them. Why on earth they were still awake at four o'clock in the morning I shall never know, but I bade them good morning and asked for directions. They told me that I did not have much farther to go, and pointed the way.

Ave2: Windmill Hill and its round-barrow burial mounds, seen behind the incorrectly named ‘Longstone’ known as Adam that actually should have been called ‘Eve.’ Also note the Christian influence on pagan stones!

Dawn was breaking by the time I arrived at the top, and that gave me enough time to spend a couple of minutes to look around. I have to say that it didn’t look much like the photographs that Cambridge University had taken of it from the air, and the Bronze Age burial mounds, known as ‘round barrows’ came as a complete surprise; for with my being new to the area, I hadn't expected them to be there. Even more surprising was a tent pitched, hidden from view between the barrows by someone who advertised with a banner to have travelled all the way from somewhere inside Europe to get there. Bavaria, I think; if my memory serves me correctly.

Although the solstice had passed by some weeks ago, I had come to Windmill Hill to watch the sunrise in the hope that I too might see what Stone Age people had seen in the place. I stood irreverently on top of the largest barrow and looked towards the south. I hadn't chosen a very good day - but suddenly, there she was - the ‘Lady Silhouette.’

So this, I thought, was it: this was the way in which Stone Age men and women had hoped to attract the sun; a giant image of a woman lying down formed by the combination of Waden and Silbury Hill together. Obviously - or so I thought - those early guys and gals had built a female breast to go with what they considered to be the Waden Hill belly.  I was sure that I had cracked the mystery: so sure in fact that I simply had to start writing a story about it. I didn't know it at the time, but this beautiful idea was to become just one further theory that I would eventually come to drop.

Ave3: The “Lady Silhouette”

I was also looking in the wrong direction. Because the causewayed enclosure on top of Windmill Hill that I have just described, points at Cherhill Hill some 4.5 kilometres away.

Long before Avebury and Stonehenge: The Causewayed Enclosure on top of Windmill Hill.
 Ave4: built to give birth to a baby sun or moon.

The outer ring, Ring A, points to the southern end of Cherhill Hill where the sun sets at winter solstice, whilst Ring B points to Cherhill’s northern horizon, seemingly to track the suns approach. However, the innermost ring, Ring C, “The yolk” was designed to complement our real luminaries by aiming to light up the dark area of northern sky that neither of them ever gets to visit.

Ave5. Ring A, Windmill Hill’s outer ring is similar to Avebury’s outer ring in as much as it is not based on any kind of geometry but was simply a collection of large arcs.

No one can claim utter accuracy when all we have to go on is a rough-cut bank and ditch. Nevertheless, a start does have to be made, as I have here; and as always I began by making folded tracings to ascertain all three major axes. I then proceeded to evaluate their underlying geometry working in megalithic yards as we know early people did when laying out their many and varied monuments.

Having proved the hypothesis of Woodhenge by GPS survey, we can now assume Ring A to represent a womb, which at 447Megalithic yards is almost as big as Avebury itself. I favour its azimuth to aim it quite nicely at the setting winter sun as it disappears beneath the horizon at the southern end of Cherhill Hill.

The official plan of the monument, seen in Ave4, and from which I worked, was found to need a small correction to make it respect north. That is what the four small red circles seen in the image were introduced for. They were positioned over real round barrows seen on aerial photographs from Multimap that correctly pinpoints them, and the plan was rotated to suit.

The metric scale of the original plan was then converted into Professor Alexander Thom’s megalithic yards before producing the monuments profiles in CAD.

Ave6. Ring B: Based on an arrow-head. I make the length of its major axis 264 My.

Ave7: Closer detail of the founding triangles of Ring B. Once again, all measurements are in megalithic yards.

Ave8: Ring C. What did people think might emerge from this yolk? Would it be a boy or a girl? I.e. - a baby sun or a baby moon?

The three views that follow were taken around the largest round-barrow that stands on top and in the middle of the monument. Whilst these pictures show the enclosures primary alignments, it soon becomes clear to any visitor looking around a full 360-degree of this landscape that the monument had a plethora of horizontal horizons to choose from.

Ave9: Cherhill Hill, with its uninterrupted view going deep into South Wales, Cherhill is and always was a superb look-out point. It was from the top of Cherhill that people would watch their cherished Welsh Bluestones arrive home.

It seems to me that the enclosure was designed to place - not simply observe - the sun as it approached the winter solstice on a day to day basis. From the top of W/Hill the sun could be seen before, during, and after the solstice had passed. However, we should never forget that the moon would also, and at times, disappear or appear, from beneath these same horizons.

Ave10 This view looks in the exactly the opposite direction and gave a day to day, or rather, a morning by morning visual as the  sun approached the summer solstice and back again.

Ave11 and this view looks towards Avebury and the Avebury henge. Here can be seen the very long and flat horizon of the Marlborough Downs. The Downs were later used by Avebury’s builders to produce even more alignments, e.g. its Cove and West Kennet Avenue of stones that after leaving Avebury ran largely parallel to it.

Many causewayed enclosures were built during the Neolithic, but Windmill Hill had a twin called “Robin Hoods Ball” situated near Stonehenge that almost certainly operated in a similar way.


 Ave12. Intimately bonded to the ground, and looking like some great long slug - the West Kennet long barrow. Five or six times longer than necessary, this over-the-top monument was built for something more than simply burying the dead. It also has an equally long twin some two kilometres away, known as the East Kennet long barrow.

Copyright © T W Flowers 2013

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Analysing Stonehenge Gold found in the Bush Barrow.

Few artefacts have been studied more than the large lozenge of gold found on the chest of a man interred in a round barrow one kilometre to the south of Stonehenge. But it cannot be based on a hexagon as Johnson claims in Wikipedia - because the angles so produced would be different to that of the actual artefact.
       The lozenge was restored to its domed state in 1985 and the results were published in Antiquity 62 1988 when Keith Critchlow measured and found its sharp angles to be within half a degree of 80. T. R. Burrows also measured its sharp angles, but found each end to be slightly different. He found one side to be 80.25 and the other to be 80.89, thus producing an average sharp angle of 80.57-degrees.
       However, whether measuring angles or attempting to produce linear measurements over a semi-domed form is difficult if not almost impossible to do. Especially if all we have to go on is a photograph that is by its very nature, essentially flat. The red lines in the picture above, drawn to exact scale, demonstrates what happens when the lozenge’s true measurements are placed over a flat image - The outer rhomboids can be seen to render with an overlap!
       Thankfully, over such a small area of dome, and for what it matters, the central rhombus can be regarded as virtually flat.
       Here then, are the sharp angles that I find to be forming the central rhombus - they are 79.86 and 80.53, thus giving an average of 80.2 degrees. 
       If the lozenge had been founded on a hexagon as Johnson suggests, its sharp angles would be 81.79-degrees, and would differ from the actual by at least 1.22-degrees. So Johnson’s hexagon theory cannot be correct.
Ample evidence gathered from elsewhere proves that the large lozenge embodied the Sun and Moon in its design by simulating their astronomical azimuths. These highly polished mirror-like artefacts of gold were taken into Stonehenge for the purpose of reflecting sun and moonlight onto the internal faces of the monument’s stones.
According to the recently deceased astronomer Professor John North, the first glint of the sun in 2,500 BC was close to 41.6-degrees north of east on solstice morning and 39.2-degrees south of east in winter, therefore totalling 80.8. (I presume that John’s figures are taken from equinoctial east) His published azimuths for full orb are similar. These two angles were added together by the person who designed the lozenge when he or she gave it its 80.5-degree average angle.
Deducting 80.5 from 180 we get 99.5, which is very nearly but slightly smaller than the angle made by the extreme positions of the moon. Compromises therefore had to be made. For if the ‘Beaker person’ who made the large lozenge had made both sharp angles a true 80.8, the resulting complement would have squashed still further the 100-degree angle made by the major moon. This had the danger of forcing our night-time luminary out of the equation. Perhaps that is why one of the sharp ends was made 80.25 and the other 80.89. AND - why one of the angles in the central rhombus is even less than 80.
The Bush Barrow Lozenge and the Megalithic Inch.
This is a view of the innermost rhombus of scribed lines that measures two megalithic inches, as can be seen by the two megalithic inch circle imposed on it in this picture. We know early people had an interest in pairs of things from the several pairs of lines spaced two megalithic inches apart that were scribed on the chalk wall of Grimes Graves prehistoric flint mines of Norfolk.
       Note also that the 2 MI dimension is taken over its sharp angles. This is opposite to the way in which the Clandon lozenge was treated; that lozenge will be dealt with later.

The published length of the large lozenge is misleading. Instead of being measured linearly, it was measured over its domed form, which gives a greater figure than it actually is.
Despite Professor John North’s contradiction of the report in Antiquity, the large lozenge, originally, was not flat but domed by about 8mm.
       The large lozenge proved difficult to measure prior to 1985 because it had been flattened by pressure of earth, (chalk blocks, actually) whilst placed on the chest of the Bush Barrow man for 4,000 years. The lozenge was therefore necessarily restored to its domed state so it could be properly measured.
       The actual sizes of the lozenge’s scribed lines above, are based on flatted measurements that were taken over its ‘dome’ by Kinnes and Longworth et al, and were therefore ‘developed measurements’ that were found by placing flexible paper card over the lozenge’s curved form, which was then laid flat to give linear dimensions. None of the other golden artefacts has been measured with such precision as this, which makes it very difficult for modern scholars to conduct researches on the rest of the gold artefacts.
       Importantly, across the curvature of the dome is how the incised lines decorating the face of the lozenge were produced in the first place. And by producing a bar graph of them - seen above right - makes it very clear that from a 2 megalithic-inch start, something was expected to grow. 
The Bush Barrow ‘Belt Hook’ of Gold
With arc sizes difficult to determine, the ‘Belt-Hook’ seems to be based on a 24-megalithic-inch lozenge built on four large circles of differing diameters. (24 MI = 0.6 MY = 0.498 Metres.)
This close-up of the ‘Belt Hook’ shows where the lines cross when placing developed arcs onto a flat plane. Having to deal with such large radii meant that the Belt Hook was not the most accurately made gold item.
       It’s my belief that this artefact was not a Belt Hook but a depository for fertile material such as barley seeds. Then, again, perhaps as a container for something altogether different…
       NB. One of Avebury’s Cove stones in the middle of Avebury’s northern circle was restored to the vertical for reasons of safety and securely cemented in place in 2006. It was during those operations that Barley seed was found to have been placed around the base of the stones, some 5,000 years ago.

The small lozenge has a maximum overall size that equates to 1.52 megalithic inches - its slightly oversized base due to being wrapped around an organic former, such as wood.
       So, one-point-five megalithic inches overall on its top face, it has incised lozenge’s that increase in size from one third of a megalithic inch to a full megalithic inch.
       Being given 30, 60, and 120-degree angles, this lozenge represents the minor moon alone. And; as is demonstrated by the bar-graph alongside it - it also represents growth.
Research is more difficult when considering the Clandon Barrow lozenge found south of Dorchester; because - The angles are in any case very difficult to establish in the case of the Clandon Barrow lozenge, which has been badly crumpled in the course of its long history. Professor John North.
According to Pro North, Critchlow measured the blunt angle of the Clandon lozenge and arrived at a figure of 102.75-degrees. That would make the sharp 77.25-degrees, and is not what I find it to be! I make the sharp angles 70.42 and 69.13, thus producing an average of 69.78.
       So, founding the Clandon Lozenge on a ten-sided figure, as again wrongly suggested by Johnson, would make it 72-degrees with angles more than 2-degrees out.
The bar graph of the Clandon lozenge again proves growth by increasing in size from 1.5 megalithic inches by no less than five 0.5 MI incremental steps up to a maximum of 4 MI.
       As previously mentioned, comparing one lozenge against the other shows that whilst the Bush Barrow lozenge was measured across its sharp angles, the Clandon lozenge takes its measurements from across the blunt.
 Copyright © T. W. Flowers 2013
Stonehenge, Neolithic Man and the Cosmos. John North 1996.
Antiquity 62 1988: p24-39: Bush Barrow gold I.A.Kinnes, I.H.Longworth, I.M.McIntyre, S.P.Needham & W.A.Oddy.
Excavations at the Cove 2006. Mark Gillings, Joshua Pollard et al
Avebury’s Cove in 2005,  it looks safe enough to me!