The design of the twin towers of Chartres point to an extraordinary understanding of its designers, quite unlike pre or modern understandings of the outer planets and their harmonic ratios. We have already seen a propensity for using the ordinary English foot to indicate days-as-feet within the structure. The Façade hosts what is perhaps the most famous “rose window”, though it was only in later centuries that it would be termed thus, as the cult of the Virgin Mary became more widespread. But this cathedral was strongly dedicated to the Virgin, when built.
The two towers are separated by the same distance as the rose window is above the footings, namely 100 feet, while the façade is 150 feet wide. This has led me to rationalize the façade as being six units across of 25 feet, while the façade appears to end (and the towers begin) 200 feet above the footings.
Interpretation of the western Facade as composed as towers 4 apart, width 6 apart and height 8 units, all of 25 feet. The Rose Window is held within two 3,4,5 triangles within a wall of 2 units square.
That is the façade was therefore designed as a three by four rectangle, the rose window centrally located within a square of side length 50 feet.
In simplest units of 50 feet, 8 by 6 becomes the proportion 4 by 3, with diagonals that are 10 units (that is, 250 feet) where the rose is at the crossings of those diagonals, held between two 3,4,5 triangles.
This first Pythagorean triangle holds all of the ratios of regular musical harmony, having 4/3 (fourth), 5/4 (major third), 6/5 (minor third) between its sides, which multiplied together equal 60 and summed equal 12.
The marker stars within the circumpolar or arctic region of the sky have always included Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Great and Little Bear (arctic meaning “of the bears” in Greek), even though the location of the celestial North Pole circles systematically through the ages around the pole of the solar system, the ecliptic pole. In 4000 BC our pole star in Ursa Minor, called Polaris, was far away from the north pole and it reached a quite extreme azimuth to east and west each day, corresponding to the position of the sun (on the horizon in 4000 BCE at this latitude) at the midsummer solstice sunrise. This means angular alignments may be present to other important circumpolar stars in some of the stones initiating the Alignments at Le Menec, when these are viewed from the centre of the cromlech’s circle implicit in its egg-shaped perimeter.
This original “forming circle” of the cromlech could be used as an observatory circle, able to record angular alignments. Therefore the distinctive “table” stone which aligns to the cromlech’s centre at summer solstice sunrise, also marked the extreme angle (to the east) of Polaris, alpha Ursa Minor, our present northern polestar. That is, in 4000 BCE Polaris stood directly above the table stone, once per day – whether visible or not.
Such a maximum elongation of a circumpolar star is the extreme easterly or westerly movement of the star, during its anti-clockwise orbit around the north pole. Thus, if the northern horizon were raised (figure 5) until it passed through the north pole, the maximum circumpolar positions for a star to east and west would be equally spaced, either side of the north pole. If these extreme positions are brought down to the Horizon in azimuth, the angles between these extremes forms a unique range of azimuths on the ground between (a) the horizon (b) a foresight such as a menhir and (c) an observer at a backsight. Observations of these extreme elongations naturally enable the pole (true north) to be accurately established from the observing point as the point in the middle of that range. A marker stone can usefully locate a circumpolar star at one of these maximum elongations and come to symbolize that important star. A star’s location could have been brought down to the horizon using a vertical pole or plumb bob, between the elongated star and the horizon, at which point menhirs could later be placed, relative to a fixed viewing centre or backsight. This method of maximum elongations would have escaped the atmospheric effects associated with observing stars on the horizon which causes a variable angle of their visual extinction below which stars disappear before reaching the horizon.
Figure 5.The Maximum Elongation of Circumpolar Stars is a twice daily event when, looking at the horizon, the star’s circumpolar “orbit” momentarily stops moving east or west at maximum elongation in azimuth and reverses its motion.
At Le Menec the azimuths of the brightest circumpolar stars, at maximum elongation, appear to have been strongly associated with the leading stones of the western alignments (see figure 6). However, it is likely that only one of these circumpolar stars was used as a primary reference marker, for the purpose of measuring sidereal time at night when this star was visible.
Figure 6 Some of the associations between circumpolar stars and stones in the western alignments. These alignments are all to the maximum easterly elongations, perhaps established during the building of the sidereal observatory and only later formalized into leading stones at the start of different rows. Dubhe was then selected as the primary marker star for the Le Menec observatory.
To achieve continuous measurements of sidereal time from the circumpolar stars requires a simple geometrical arrangement that can draw down to earth the observed position of maximum elongation to east and west for one bright circumpolar star, the observatory’s marker star. A rectangle must then be constructed to the north of the cromlech’s east-west diameter and containing within it the observatory’s northern semicircle. The northern corners must align with, relative to the centre of the circle, the eastern and western elongations of the chosen marker star. For Le Menec the rectangle had to be extended northwards until it reached the first stone of row 6. This stone is aligned, from the centre, to the maximum eastern elongation of Dubhe or alpha Ursa Major. The first stone of row 6 is therefore the menhir marking Dubhe. To the south, the initial stones of further rows all stand on the eastern edge of this rectangle, so that any point on the rectangle’s north face could be brought down, unobstructed, to the circumference of the circle.
Figure 7 shows how the form of the circumpolar region, within the “orbit” of Dubhe, is repeated by the cromlech’s forming circle. It is also true that the “northern line” then has the same length as the diameter of the forming circle, which has therefore been metrologicallyharmonized with row 6’s initial stone and the alignment to Dubhe in the east.
This arrangement has the consequence that whereverDubhe is (above the northern line and when seen on a sightline passing through the centre of the cromlech) its east-west location in the sky can be brought down, directly south, to two points on the forming circle of the observatory – all due to the star observation having been made upon a length equal to the circle’s diameter (the Northern Line of figures 7 and 8). One of these two points, on the northern or southern semicircle of the observatory, must then correspond exactly to where Dubhe is in its “orbit” around the north pole, as in figure 8.
So, what is being measured here and what would be the significance of having such a capability? Whilst the movement ofall the stars is being accurately measured, using this northern line and forming circle combination, the monument also has a reciprocal meaning. The forming circle also represents the earth’s rotation towards the east, the cause ofthe star’s apparent motion. This is because, when looking north, thefamiliar direction of rotation of the stars, when looking south, is reversed from a rightwards motion to a leftwards, anticlockwise motion. Circumpolar motion therefore directly represents the rotation of the earth. The Dubhe marker star would have represented the movement of a point on the surface of the earth, moving forever to the east. Perhaps more to the point, the eastern and western horizon are moving as two opposed points on its circular path, each moving at about the same angular speedasDubhe. This deepens the view of the forming circle as representing those ecliptic longitudes in which the fixed stars, rising or setting on the eastern and western horizons, are fixed locations on the circle through which these horizons are moving as markers on the circle’s circumference.
These two views, of a moving earth and of a moving background of stars, could be interchangeable when understood and both viewpoints are equally useful and were probably relevant to the operation of this observatory. Whilst the circumpolar stars move around the pole, the eastern and western horizon move opposite each other, running along the ecliptic, as the Earth rotates. The first view enables an act of measurement which would have given astronomers access to sidereal time and the second view provided knowledge of where the eastern and western horizons were located viz a vis the equatorialstars and therefore knowledge of whichpart of the ecliptic was currently rising or setting.
Figure 8 Recreating the circumpolar region with marker star Dubhe at the correct angle on the forming circle of the western cromlech. The star’s alignment on the northern line is dropped to the south so as to touch the two points of the circumference corresponding to that location on the circle’s diameter: one of these will be the angle of Dubhe as seen within the circumpolar sky but now accurately locatable in angle, on the observatory circle.
Dubhe had, in 4000BCE, a fortunate relationship to the circumpolar sky and equatorial constellations which would have been very useful. When Dubhe reached its maximum eastern elongation (marked by the first stone in the sixth row) the ecliptic’s summer solstice point was rising in the east. However, Dubhe’s maximum western elongation did not correspond to the winter solstice, this due to the obliquity of the ecliptic relative to north. It is the Autumn Equinoctal point of the ecliptic that is rising to the east at Dubhe’s maximum western elongation. It was when Dubhe was closest to the northern horizon, that the other, winter solstice point was found rising on the ecliptic. It is important to realize that these observational facts were true every day, even when the sun was not at one of these points within the ecliptic’s year circle.
This paper proposes that an unfamiliar type of circumpolar astronomy was practiced by the time Le Menec was built, around 4000 BCE.
Today, an astronomer resorts to the calculation of where sun, moon or star should be according to equations of motion developed over the last four centuries. The time used in these equations requires a clock from which the object’s location within the celestial sphere is calculated. Such locations are part of an implicit sky map made using equatorial coordinates that mirror the lines of longitude and latitude. Our modern sky maps tell us what is above every part of the earth’s sphere when the primary north-south meridian (at Greenwich) passes beneath the point of spring equinox on the ecliptic. Neither a clock, a calculation nor a skymap was available to the megalithic astronomer and, because of this, it has been presumed that prehistoric astronomy was restricted to what could be gleaned from horizon observations of the sun, moon, and planets.
Even though megalithic people could not use a clock nor make our type of calculations, they couldusethe movement of the stars themselves, including the sun by day, to track sidereal (or stellar) time provided they could bring this stellar time down to the earth. This they appear to have done at Le Menec, using the cromlech’s defining circle, which was built into its design so as to become a natural sidereal clock synchronized to the circumpolar stars.
Figure 4 The Circumpolar Stars looking North from Le Menec in 4000 BCE, when the cromlech was probably built. There is no north star but marker stars travel anti-clockwise and these can align to foresights at their extreme azimuthal “elongation”, as explained below.
The word sidereal means relating to stars and, more usually, to their rotation around the earth observer as if these stars were fixed to a rotating celestial sphere. This rotation is completely reliable as a measure of time since it is stabilized by the great mass of the spinning earth. However, in a modern observatory this sidereal time must be measured indirectly using an accurate mechanical or electronic clock. These clocks can only parallel the rotation of the earth in a sidereal day, which is just under four minutes less than our normal day. Nonetheless, a sidereal day is again given 24 ‘hours’ in our sky maps and it is these hours which are then projected upon the celestial sphere as hours (minutes and seconds) of Right Ascension, hours in the rotation of the earth during one sidereal day.
In the previous post, the difference in height of the two towers was seen to have an exoteric and an esoteric meaning. Exoterically, the taller tower is sometimes called the sun tower, probably because the globe at its top (below its cross) is about 365 feet-as-days (hence representing the sun and its year). From this fact, the lower tower was considered lunar , since the lunar year is “not as long” and so less high. However, one must go to the top of the cross on the lower tower to achieve the height of 354.367 feet-as-days (hence representing the moon and its year).
This article presents a deeper meaning, that the difference in the full heights of the two towers represents the musical intervals of the synods of Saturn and Jupiter, relative to the lunar year: cunningly encoded within the full height of the solar tower as the Saturn synod of 378 feet-as-days, which is 16/15 of the lunar year. To have made the taller tower higher, to achieve the Jupiter synod, was impractical so that, instead, Jupiter was symbolized by the lunar year of 12 lunar months while Saturn was 12 “months” of 28 days, the 336-foot high globe of the moon tower, as shown below.
The two towers have a deeper meaning regarding the two gas planets Jupiter and Saturn, representing their synods to the lunar year. These musical intervals of 9/8 (tone = Jupiter) and 16/15 (semitone = Saturn), are different by 132/128, the ratio of the cross relative to the lunar tower.
To achieve this, the lunar tower had to be built shorter by 135/128 so that the top of its cross could ride 354.367 feet-as-days (of the lunar year), from the base, and the cross could then represent the ratio, 135/128 in height, between the two intervals the synods make with the lunar year.
The globe is at 336 feet-as-days, which is 12 times 28 days, a month belonging to the Saturnian year of the Goddess culture recorded in Greek Myth, whilst we know the Cathedral was a major shrine to the Goddess and Child found in the Crypt beneath this rebuilt upper form of the Cathedral. In Hesiod’s cosmogony, from the Archaic period, Saturn was the previous ruler over the sky, a culture which kept patriarchal cultural norms at bay*. Zeus-Jupiter was suppressed by the Goddess culture’s view of time and its year of 364 days, of exactly 52 (7-day) weeks.
That the archaic month of 28 days, times 135/128, is accurately the lunar month of 29.53 days, suggests a combined influence of the outer planets on the Moon’s synodic period with the Sun of 29.53 days.
Chartres, in north-west France, is a very special version of the Gothic transcept cathedral design. Having burnt down more than once, due to wooden ceilings, its reconstruction over many building seasons and different masonic teams, as funds permitted, would have needed strong organizing ideas to inform the work (as per Master Masons of Chartres by John James).
As shown below, Chartres main towers are unequal in height and the “western” facade itself does not align to east-west, as normal Christian churches do. The left tower is also higher than the right tower and, it has been said, the left represents the Sun and the right the Moon. The height of the left tower, to its globe below its cross, is indeed the solar year of 365 days in feet. But the height of the shorter right tower, to its own globe, is not the 354.367 days of the lunar year (of 12 months); rather, it is the top of its cross, sporting a crescent moon suggesting it is a moon tower, that is 354 and a third feet high.
The cosmic time coding of the two towers as solar year->lunar year between the globe’s height (on left in red) and the top of the cross (on right in blue). But the left tower also indicates the Saturn synod of 378 days to the top of its cross. The for-square rectangle, geometrically relating the solar (diagonal) and lunar years, is shown.
That is, the height of the lunar year in feet, from the same starting point as the solar tower’s height as the solar year, the lunar year would be to the top of the lunar cross, where the crescent is attached, and not to its globe. There is then a reasonable connection between the solar and lunar years and the two towers. However, it is also interesting to see the number of days, as feet, of the left tower to its own cross. It is exactly 378 feet, the synodic period of Saturn in days. Readers of my books and this site will remember that the ratio between the lunar year and Saturn synod is exactly 16/15: a musical semitone within the ancient tuning system called Just intonation.
This arrangement suggests Chartres was built to be a time-factored monument, which may be why the cathedral was aligned to midsummer sunrise (which was a megalithic norm) rather than being aligned east-west. Built on top of a solitary promontory, horizon events would have been clear across the flat fertile plains.