One could ask “if I make a times table of 29.53059 days, what numbers of lunar months give a nearly whole number of days?”. In practice, the near anniversary of 37 lunar months and three solar years contains the number 32 which gives 945 days on a metrological photo study I made of Le Manio’s southern curb (kerb in UK) stones, where 32 lunar months in day-inches could be seen to be 944.97888 inches from the center of the sun gate. This finding would have allowed the lunar month to be approximated to high accuracy in the megalithic of 4000 BC as being 945/32 = 29.53125 days.

Silhouette of day-inch photo survey after 2010 Spring Equinox Quantification of the Quadrilateral.

One can see above that the stone numbered 32 from the Sun Gate is exactly 32/36 of the three lunar years of day-inch counting found indexed in the southern curb to the east (point X). The flat top of stone 36 hosts the end of 36 lunar months (point Q) while the end of stone 37 locates the end of three solar years (point Q’). If that point is the end of a rope fixed at point P, then arcing that point Q’ to the north will strike the dressed edge of point R, thus forming Robin Heath’s proposed Lunation Triangle within the quadrilateral as,

points P – Q – R !

In this way, the numerical signage of the Southern Curb matches the use of day-inch counting over three years while providing the geometrical form of the lunation triangle which is itself half of the simpler geometry of a 4 by 1 rectangle.

The key additional result shows that 32 lunar months were found to be, by the builders (and then myself), equal to 945 days (try searching this site for 945 and 32 to find more about this key discovery). Many important numerical results flow from this.

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[1]. 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.

NEXT:

CONTENTS

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.

This paper reviews the geometries proposed by Alexander Thom for a shape called a flattened circle, survivors of these being quite commonly found in the British Isles. Thom’s proposals appear to have been rejected through (a) disbelief that the Neolithic builders of megalithic monuments could have generated such sophistication using only ropes and stakes and (b) through assertions that real structures do not obey the geometry he overlaid upon his surveys.

Almost all of the different types of megalithic building[1] were evolved in the fifth millennium (5,000-4,000 BC), in the area around Carnac on southern Brittany’s Atlantic coast. This includes the many circles built later in the British Isles. When Alexander Thom surveyed these [2] he found them to be remarkably technical constructions, involving sophisticated geometrical ideas. It was only in the mid-seventies, when Thom came to Carnac, that the same geometries were found applied within Carnac’s stone circles which soon afterwards were found to precede those of Britain by at least a thousand years.

After an initial public and academic enthusiasm for Thom’s work[3] British archaeologists chose, with very few exceptions, to refute the entire notion that the Neolithic could have been constructing such technical geometries. As far as our History would have it, such geometries could only have been drawn after the development[4] of a functional mathematics which culminated in Euclid’s classical work on analytic geometry, Elements. Thom’s use of geometry was therefore anachronistic and Thom surely mistaken. For archaeologists to accept Thom’s geometries would have required a revolution in thinking about the megalithic; for which there was little appetite. It was easier to work instead to falsify Thom’s hypothesis with a new type work that argued against Thom’s arguments for geometry, a megalithic yard and astronomical alignments, concluding instead, for example, that “stone circles were distorted so that the audience could see all the rites; and the principals could occupy visually focal positions facing the spectators.”, clearly indicating the still current “comfort zone” within archaeology, in which unquestioned ideas about superstitious rites are used to supersede Thom’s accurate and well founded proposals, of a megalithic technical capability. The problem with inventing ancient rites as the primary purpose for stone circle building is that, whilst refuting Thom’s proposal, it cannot itself ever be proved in a scientific sense; Talk of rites as being the reason for stone circle construction is not delivering an evidence-based scientific proof and Thom’s proposals were not disproved by such ideas.

Figure 1 Thom’s site plans of two of Britain’s finest surviving Flattened Circles, above: Castle Rigg (Type A) and below: Long Meg (Type B). Castle Rigg’s axis of symmetry points (within a degree) to Long Meg, on a bearing which follows the diagonal of a two by one (east by north) rectangle, as if (despite some Lake District mountains in between) the two sites were related when built and hence contemporaneous. site plans by Alexander Thom.

Unlike many of his detractors, Thom surveyed stone circles and through this activity was to create the first (and only) extensive corpus of stone circle site plans. Through this he left a vitally important legacy by preserving their layout against further natural and man-made degradation. The geometrical overlays and typology found within Thom’s site plans have been dismissed as unlikely, on spurious technical grounds [*], usually by people with insufficient technical background in the technical issues within his work. Thom’s later work in Carnac has proven critical in providing further alternative explanations as to how the megalithic actually constructed these stone circle geometries without Euclidian geometrical methods, using instead the system of multiple squares found to be in use in the megalithic structures around Carnac[5]; this in the late 1970’s and after Thom’s surveying seasons earlier in that decade[6].

We will later show that such a system of multiple squares would have eliminated the use of a “compass” or arcing of ropes which Thom proposed to explain how different stone geometries were achieved. Instead, a grid of squares can locate the few key points on the perimeter of a flattened circle. A design method based upon a grid of multiple squares would eliminate the main objection to Thom’s proposal of: Euclid-like geometrical process was used to build stone circle geometries.

Figure 2 the geometries of Flattened Circles (left to right) called Types A, B and D

In the case of the Type A (flattened) stone circles proposed by Thom, I demonstrate below that accepting Thom’s interpretation of its shape is a necessary stepping stone to understanding how this could be achieved by a pre-arithmetic megalithic of the fifth millennium BC.

The monuments of Carnac demonstrate the use of multiple squares and, because of their antiquity –one to two thousand years before the Pyramid Age – it appears likely that the later use of multiple squares in Dynastic Egypt demonstrates how such a technique could function as a pre-arithmetical geometrical framework. By the Middle Kingdom, the Egyptians had put stylus to papyrus to describe their mathematics in a document called the Rhind Manuscript. This recorded a system of geometry based around pre-Ptolemaic ideas, which included the use of a grid of multiple squares.

At Carnac, the angular extremes of sunrise and sunset, on the horizon during the year, followed the lesser angle of a 3-4-5 triangle whilst in the Rhind Manuscript one finds a “canevas” [*] or grid-based diagram, in which both of the acute angles of this 3-4-5 triangle, held primary to the Egyptians, are shown to be generated by the summed diagonal angles of either; two double squares or two triple squares. The resulting grid is then 14 squares by 14 squares, and this is exactly the grid upon which the Type A stone circles can most easily be constructed, if one excludes the use of ropes and stakes to achieve this design.

Figure 3 of a Rhind diagram showing evolution of a 3-4-5 triangle within a 14 by 14 grid of squares

Such a use of multiple squares, as a template on which to construct a stone circle geometry, raises the question of the side length used, since they all need to be identical and so the ability to create identical lengths would certainly suggest an accurate system of measures, or metrology, was in use. This leads into another bitter dispute, concerning the existence of Alexander Thom’s found measure, the megalithic yard, as being a primary unit of measure maintained accurately by the megalithic builders throughout the British Isles and Brittany. Thom did not know enough about historical metrology to see that the megalithic yard might well have been accompanied by systematic variations applied to its length or indeed, that other measures might also have been evolved. His proposal of an accurate megalithic yard, like that of exact stone circle geometries, also came to be rejected by archaeologists, who themselves knew very little about historical metrology[7] [*], pointed to cases where Alexander Thom’s hypothesis of a singular measure in use within megalithic Britain was muddied by the presence also of other standard units of measure.

One of the key objections for the megalithic concerning ropes to construct flattened circles is the necessity for measured radii and their centres. If Thom’s Type A or Type B flattened circles were instead constructed using a grid of squares, then some of the key points where a flattened circle’sradius of curvature changes (of which there are only four) must be points of intersection within the grid . This became clear through considering the Type A geometry and specifically its implicit double triangles, as possible right triangles.

Robin Heath has already noted[8] that these triangles are close to the invariant ratio, in their longest sides, of the (lengths of) time found between the eclipse year and the solar year, and this ratio is also to be found between the solar year and the thirteen lunar month year.

The baseline of such a right triangle is found to be 6/7 of the diameter MN of the Type A flattened circle and this implies, given the left-right symmetry of this form, that this key point at the end of the hypotenuse (where the radius of curvature changes) would sit on the corner of a grid point within a 14 by 14 square grid as a length equal to twelve grid units. The forming circle used by Thom, of diameter MN, would then inscribe the grid square.

Figure 4 Type A drawn on a 14 square grid

We also know, from Carnac, that the astronomers used a triple square to frame this right triangle which then relates the periods of eclipse and solar year. Since the vertical position of the key point is 12 units, then to left and right the key points either end of the central flattened arc are 4 units, either side of the central axis. To right and left of these triple squares can be found two four squares, that express with perfect accuracy the relationship of the lunar year to the solar year, as diagonal. These four squares have a baseline of twelve grid squares which exactly matches the number of lunar months within the lunar year.

One can then see within the 14 square grid that many multiple squares can be found, for example the triple squares either side of the vertical centreline have two four-square rectangles to the right and left (shown in red below, the ripple-squares being blue). These leave a row of 14 by 2 squares at the top which can be seen as a seven-square, the rectangle whose diagonal to side alignment is found between a double and a triple square.

Conclusions

Clearly there are alternative ways of generating a flattened circle geometry that using stakes and ropes (geometry as we know it). We know that the Egyptians used grids within square grids of constant unit size and that multiple square rectangles were clearly used at Carnac in the megalithic (c. 4000 BC) before dynastic Egypt began, and by the time of the Rhind papyrus (Middle Kingdom) a system for containing irrationality of numbers had developed a school using grids, and what could be done with them. Ever since the Ancient world, this practice of “modularizing” buildings along rectangular or triangular “lines” became a key practical method outside of algebraic maths. It is therefore highly likely that grids gave the megalithic and later builders a canvas upon which to design and achieve accurate geometries not then rectalinear.

[7] Historical metrology is a scattered remnant of the metrological system employed within the British stone circles and also within the Egyptian pyramids. It is this latter application of metrology in the ancient near east which spread metrology, though such an idea has also been opposed by archaeologists working in the near east.

above: counting 37 lunar months six times to reach 222, one month short of 223: the strong Saros eclipse period.

There is an interesting relationship between the multiple interpretations of a number as to its meaning, and the modern concept of namespace. In a namespace, one declares a space in which no two names will be identical and therefore each name is unique and this has to be so that, in computer namespaces such as web domain names, the routes to a domain can be variable but the destination needs to be a unique URL.

If sacred numbers had unique meanings then they would be like a namespace. Instead, being far more limited in variety, sacred numbers have more meanings, or interpretations, just as one might say that London has many linkages to other cities. In an ordinal number set, there are many relationships of a number to all the other numbers. This means whilst their are infinite numbers in the set of positive whole numbers, there are more than an infinity of relationships between the members of that set, such as shared number factors or squares, cubes, etc. of a number.

The mathematician Georg Cantor saw “doubly infinite” sets. Sets of relationships between members of an already infinite set, must themselves be more than infinite. He called infinite sets as aleph-zero and the sets of relationships within an infinite set (worlds of networking), he called aleph-one.

Originally, Cantor’s theory of transfinite numbers was regarded as counter-intuitive – even shocking.

However, in the world of sacred numbers, although there can be large numbers, in the megalithic the numbers were quite small; partly due to the difficulty that numbers-as-lengths were physically real while later numeracy abstracted numbers into symbols and, using powers of ten, modern integers are a series of place ordered numbers (not factors) in base 10, as with 12,960,000 – possible for the ancient Babylonians but, I believe, not expected for the early megalithic.

The human viewpoint is from the day being lived through and, as weeks and months pass, the larger phenomenon of the year moves the sun in the sky causing seasons. Time to us is stored as a calendar or year diary, and the human present moment conceives of a whole week, a whole month or a whole year. Initially, the stone age had a very rudimentary calendar, the early megalith builders counting the moon over two months as taking around 59 days, giving them the beginning of an astronomy based upon time events on the horizon, at the rising or setting of the moon or sun. Having counted time, only then could formerly unnoticed facts start to emerge, for example the variation of (a) sun rise and setting in the year on the horizon (b) the similar variations in moon rise and set over many years, (c) the geocentric periods of the planets between oppositions to the sun, and (d) the regularity between the periods when eclipses take place. These were the major types of time measured by megalithic astronomy.

The categories of astronomical time most visible to the megalithic were also four-fold as: 1. the day, 2. the month, 3. the year, and 4. cycles longer than the year (long counts).

The day therefore became the first megalithic counter, and there is evidence that the inch was the first unit of length ever used to count days.

In the stone age the month was counted using a tally of uneven strokes or signs, sometimes representing the lunar phase as a symbol, on a bone or stone, and without using a constant unit of measure to represent the day.

Once the tally ran on, into one or more lunar or solar years, then the problem of what numbers were would become central as was, how to read numbers within a length. The innovation of a standard inch (or digit) large numbers, such as the solar year of 365 days, became storable on a non-elastic rope that could then be further studied.

The 365 days in he solar year was daunting, but counting months in pairs, as 59 day-inch lengths of rope, allowed the astronomers to more easily visualize six of these ropes end-to-end, leaving a bit left over, on the solar year rope, of 10 to 11 days. Another way to look at the year would then be as 12 full months and a fraction of a month. This new way of seeing months was crucial in seeing the year of 365 days as also, a smaller number of about 12 and one third months.

And this is where it would have become obvious that, one third of a month in one year adds up, visually, to a full month after three years. This was the beginning of their numerical thinking, or rationality, based upon counting lengths of time; and this involved all the four types of time:

the day to count,

the month length to reduce the number of days in the day count,

the solar year as something which leaves a fraction of a month over and finally,

the visual insight that three of those fractions will become a whole month after three full solar years, that is, within a long count greater than the year.

To help one understand this form of astronomy, these four types of time can be organized using the systematic structure called a tetrad, to show how the activity of megalithic astronomy was an organization of will around these four types of time.

The vertical pair of terms gives the context for astronomical time on a rotating planet, the GROUND of night and a day, for which there is a sky with visible planetary cycles which only the tetrad can reveal as the GOAL. The horizontal pair of terms make it possible to comprehend the cosmic patterns of time through the mediation of the lunar month (the INSTRUMENT), created by a combination of the lunar orbit illuminated by the Sun during the year, which gave DIRECTION. Arguably, a stone age culture could never have studied astronomical time without Moon and Sun offering this early aggregate unit of the month, then enabling insights of long periods, longer than the solar year.

The Manio Quadrilateral near Carnac demonstrates day-inch counting so well that it may itself have been a teaching object or “stone textbook” for the megalithic culture there, since it must have been an oral culture with no writing or numeracy like our own. After more than a decade, the case for this and many further megalithic innovations, in how they could calculate using rational fractions of a foot, allowed my latest book to attempt a first historical account of megalithic influences upon later history including sacred building design and the use of numbers as sacred within ancient literature.

The “output” of the solar count over three years is seen at the Manio Quadrilateral as a new aggregate measure called the Megalithic Yard (MY) of 32.625 (“32 and five eighths”), the solar excess over three lunar years (of 36 months). Repeating the count using the new MY unit, to count in months-per-megalithic yard, gave a longer excess of three feet (36 inches), so that the excess of the solar year over the lunar could then be known as a new unit in the history of the world, exactly one English foot. It was probably the creation of the English foot, that became the root of metrology throughout the ancient and historical world, up until the present.

This theme will be continued in this way to explore how the long counts of Sun, Moon, and Planets, were resolved by the megalithic once this activity of counting was applied, the story told in my latest book.