Geometry 7: Geometrical Expansion

above: the dolmen of Pentre Ifan (wiki tab)

In previous lessons, fixed lengths have been divided into any number of equal parts, to serve the notion of integer fractions in which the same length can then be reinterpreted as to its units or as a numerically different measurement. This allows all sorts of rescaling and exploitation of the properties of integer numbers.

Here we present a megalithic method which extended two or more fixed bearings (or alignments), usually based upon a simple geometrical form such as a triangle or a rectangle. This can be how the larger geometries came to be drawn on the landscape (here called landforms) of separated megaliths and natural features which appear to belong together. For example,

Outliers: Alexander Thom found that British stone circle were often associated with single outliers (standing stones) on a bearing that may correspond to horizon event but equally, appears to give clues to the metrology of the circle in the itinerary length to the outlier from the circle’s centre.

Figure 1 Stone circle plans often indicate nearby outliers and stone circles

Stone circles were also placed a significant distance and bearing away (figure 1), according to geometry or horizon events. This can be seen between Castle Rigg and Long Meg, two large flattened circles – the first Thom’s Type-A and the second his Type-B.

Figure 2 Two large megalithic circles appear linked in design and relative placement according to the geometry of the double square.

Expanding geometrically

The site plan of Castle Rigg (bottom left, fig. 1) can have the diagonal of a double square (in red) emerging between two stones which then bracket the chosen direction. This bearing could be maintained by expanding the double square so that west-to-east and south to north expand as the double and single length of a triangle while the hypotenuse then grows towards the desired spot according to a criteria such as, a latitude different to that of Castle Rigg. That is, at any expansion the eastings and northings are known as well as the distance between the two circles while the alignments, east and northeast in this example, are kept true by alignment to previous established points. Indeed, one sees that the small outlier circle of Long Meg, to Little Meg beyond, was again on the same diagonal bearing, according to the slope angle of the cardinal double square.*** One can call this a type of projective geometry.

***This extensive double square relation between megalithic sites was first developed by Howard Crowhurst, in Ireland between Newgrange and Douth in same orientation as figure 2, and by Robin Heath at https://robinheath.info/the-english-lake-district-stone-circles/.

It seems impossible for such arrangements to have been achieved without modern equipment and so the preference is to call these landforms co-incidental.  But, by embracing their intentionality, one can see a natural order between Castle Rigg and, only then, Long Meg’s outlying Little Meg circle, and through this find otherwise hidden evidence of the working methods in the form of erratics or outliers, whose purpose is otherwise unclear.

Equilateral Expansion

The work of Robin Heath in West Wales can be an interesting challenge since not all the key points on his Preseli Vesica are clearly megalithic, perhaps because megaliths can be displaced by settlements or be subsumed by churches, castles and so on. (see Bluestone Magic, chapter 8). First, for completeness, how is a vesica defined today? In his classic Sacred Geometry, Robert Lawlor explains the usual construction and properties of the vesica :

Drawing 2.3. Geometric proof of the √3 proportion within the Vesica Piscis. from Sacred Geometry by Robert Lawlor.

Draw the major and minor axes CD and AB. Draw CA, AD, DB and BC. By swinging arcs of our given radius from either centre A or B we trace along the vesica to points C and D, thus verifying that lines AB, BC, CA, BD and AD are equal to one another and to the radius common to both circles.

We now have two identical equilateral triangles emerging from within the Vesica Piscis. Extend lines CA and CB to intersect circles A and B at points G and F. Lines CG and CF are diameters of the two circles and thus twice the length of any of the sides of the triangles ABC and ABD. Draw FG passing through point D.

Sacred Geometry by Robert Lawlor

Primitive versus later geometry

Lawlor’s presentation have the triangles appearing as the conjuction of two circles and their centers. However, the points and lines of modern geometry translate, when interpreting the megalithic, into built structures or significant features, and the alignments which may join them. The alignments are environmental and in the sky or landscape.

  • A is Pentre Ifan, a dolmen dating from around 3500 BC.
  • B is located in the Carningli Hillfort, a mess of boulders below the peak Carningli (meaning angel mountain). Directly East,
  • C is the ancient village, church and castle of Nevern.
  • D is a recently excavated stone circle, third largest in Britain at around 360 feet diameter, but now ruinous, call Waun Mawn.

The two equilateral triangles have an average side length around 11,760 feet but, as drawn, each line is an alignment of azimuth 330, 0, 30, and 90 degrees and their antipodes. 

The Constructional Order

Relevant here is how one would lay out such a large landform and we will illustrate how this would be done using the method of expansion.

North can be deduced from the extreme elongation of the circumpolar stars in the north, since no pole star existed in 3200BC. At the same time it is possible to align to plus and minus 30 degrees using Ursa Major. This would give the geometry without the geometry so to speak, since ropes 11760 feet long are unfeasible. It seems likely that the Waun Mawn could function as a circumpolar observatory (as appears the case at Le Menec in Brittany, see my Lords of Time).

If the work was to start at Carningli fort, then the two alignments (a) east and (b) to Waun Mawn could be expanded in tandem until the sides were 11760 feet long, ending at the circle to the south and dolmen to the east. The third side between these sites should then be correct.

Figure 3 Proposed use of equilateral expansion from Carnigli fort to both what would become the dolmen of Pentre Ifan (az. 90 degrees) and Waun Mawn (azimuth 150 degrees).

The vesica has been formed to run alongside the mountain. The new eastern point is a dolmen that points north to another dolmen Llech-y-Drybedd on the raised horizon, itself a waypoint to Bardsey Island.

The reason for building the vesica appears wrapped up in the fact that its alignments are only three, tightly held within a fan of 60 degrees pointing north and back to the south. But the building of the double equilateral cannot be assumed to be related to the circular means of its construction given by Lawlor above. That is, megalithic geometry did not have the same roots as sacred geometry which has evolved over millennia since.

Geometry 6: the Geometrical AMY

By 2016 it was already obvious that the lunar month (in days) and the PMY, AMY and yard (in inches) had peculiar relationships involving the ratio 32/29, shown above. This can now be explained as a manifestation of day-inch counting and the unusual numerical properties of the solar and lunar year, when seen using day-inch counting.

It is hard to imagine that the English foot arose from any other process than day-inch counting; to resolve the excess of the solar year over the lunar year, in three years – the near-anniversary of sun and moon. This created the Proto Megalithic Yard (PMY) of 32.625 day-inches as the difference.

Figure 1 The three solar year count’s geometrical demonstration of the excess in length of 3 solar years over 3 lunar years as the 32.625 day-inch PMY.

A strange property of N:N+1 right triangles can then transform this PMY into the English foot, when counting over a single lunar and solar year using the PMY to count months.

The metrological explanation

If one divides the three-year excess (here, the PMY) into the base then N, the normalized base of the N:N+1 triangle. In the case of the sun and moon, N is very nearly 32.625, so that the lunar to solar years are closely in the ratio 32.625:33.625. Because of this, if one counts 

  • months instead of days,
  • using the three-year excess (i.e. the PMY) to stand for the lunar month,
  • over a single year,

the excess becomes, quite unexpectedly, the reciprocal of the PMY;

One has effectively normalized the solar year as 12.368 PMYs long. This single year difference, of 0.368 lunar months cancels with the PMY; the 0.36827 lunar months becoming 12.0147 inches. Were the true Astronomical Megalithic Yard (AMY of 32.585 inches) used, instead of the PMY, the foot of 12 inches would result. Indeed, this is the AMYs definition, as being the N (normalizing value) of 32.585 inches long, unique to the sun-moon cycle. The AMY only becomes clear, in feet, after completion of 19 solar years. This Metonic anniversary of sun and moon over 235 lunar months, is exactly 7 lunar months larger than 19 lunar years (228 months).

But this is all seen using the arithmetical methods of ancient metrology, which did not exist in the megalithic circa 4000BC. Our numeracy can divide the 1063.1 day-inches by 32.625 day-inches, to reveal the AMY as 32.585 inches long, but the megalithic could not. Any attempt to resolve the AMY in the megalithic, using a day-inch technology***, without arithmetical processes, could not resolve the AMY over 3 years as it is a mere 40 thousandths of an inch smaller than the PMY. So arithmetic provides us with an explanation, but prevents us from explaining how the megalithic came to have a value for the AMY; only visible over long itineraries requiring awkward processes to divide using factorization. However, by exploiting the coincidences of number built in to the lunar and solar years, geometry could oblige. 

***One can safely assume the early megalithic resolved
eighths or tenths of an inch when counting day-inches.

The geometrical explanation

In proposing the AMY was properly quantified, in the similarly early megalithic cultures of Carnac in France and the Preselis in Wales, one must turn to a geometrical method

  1. One clue is that the yard of 3 feet (36 inches) is exactly 32/29ths of the PMY. This shows itself in the fact that 32 PMYs equal 29 yards.
  2. Another clue is that the lunar month had been quantified (at Le Manio) by finding 32 months equalled 945 day-inches. By inference, the lunar month is therefore 945 day-inches divided by 32 or 945/32 (29.53125) day-inches – very close to our present knowledge of 29.53059 days.

From point 1, one can geometrically express any length that is 32 relative to another of 29, using the right triangle (29,32). And from point 2, since the 945 day period is 32 lunar months, as a length it will be in the ratio 29 to 32 to a length 32 PMYs long, the triangle’s hypotenuse.

Point 1 also means that 32 PMY (of 32.625 inches) will equal 1044 inches, which must also be 29 x 36 inches, and 29 yards hence handily divides the 32 side of the {29 32} right triangle into 29 portions equal to a yard on that side. One can then “mirror the right triangle about its 29-side so as to be able to draw 29 parallel lines between the two, mirrored, 32-sides, as shown in figure 1. The 945 day-inch 29-side which already equals 32 lunar months (in day-inches), now has 29 megalithic yards in that length, which are then an AMY of 945/29 day-inches!

Figure The 29:32 relationship of the PMY to the yard as 32 PMY = 29 yards whilst 32 lunar months (945 days) is 29 AMY.

Comparing the two AMYs and their necessary origins

Using a modern calculator, 945 divided by the PMY actually gives 28.9655 PMY and not 29, so that 945 inches requires a unit slightly smaller than the PMY and 945/29 gives the result as 32.586 inches, which length one could call the geometrical AMY. This AMY is 30625/30624 of the AMY in ancient metrology which is arrived at as 2.7 feet times 176/175 equal to 32.585142857 inches. By implication therefore, the ancient AMY is the root Drusian step whose formula is 19.008/7 feet whilst the first AMY was resolved by the megalithic to be 945/29 inches.

This geometrical AMY (gAMY?) obviously hailed from the world of day-inch counting, which proceeded the ancient arithmetical metrology which was based upon fractions of the English foot. The gAMY is 32/29 of the lunar month of 29.53125 (945/32) day-inches, since 945/32 inches × 32/29 is 945/29 inches.

Using ancient metrology to interpret the earliest megalithic monuments may be questionable in the absence of a highly civilised source which had, in an even greater antiquity, provided it; from an “Atlantis”. In contrast, the monumental record of the megalithic suggests that geometrical methods were in active development and involved less sophisticated metrology, on a step-by-step basis.  From this arose the English foot which, being twelve times larger than the inch, could provide the more versatile metrology of fractional feet, to provide a pre-arithmetical mechanism, to solve numerical problems through geometrical re-scaling. This foot based, fractional metrology then developed into the ancient metrology of Neal and Michell, which itself survived to become our historical metrology [Petrie and Berriman].

The two types of AMY, geometrical and the metrological, though not identical are practically indistinguishable; the AMY being just over one thousandths of an inch larger. The geometrical AMY (945/29 inches) is shown, by figure 2, to be geometrically resolvable, and so must have preceded the metrological AMY, itself only 40 thousandths of an inch less than the PMY.

The two AMYs, effectively identical, reveal a developmental history starting with day-inch counting, and division of 945 inches by 29 was made easy by exploiting the alternative factorisation of 32 PMV as 36 × 29 yards using geometry. The AMY of ancient metrology was the necessary rationalization of 945/29 inches into the foot- based system.

Bibliography for Ancient Metrology

  1. Berriman, A. E. Historical Metrology. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1953.
  2. Heath, Robin, and John Michell. Lost Science of Measuring the Earth: Discovering the Sacred Geometry of the Ancients. Kempton, Ill.: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2006. Reprint edition of The Measure of Albion.
  3. Michell, John. Ancient Metrology. Bristol, England: Pentacle Press, 1981.
  4. Neal, John. All Done with Mirrors. London: Secret Academy, 2000.
  5. —-. Ancient Metrology. Vol. 1, A Numerical Code—Metrological Continuity in Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Age Europe. Glastonbury, England: Squeeze, 2016.
  6. —-. Ancient Metrology. Vol. 2, The Geographic Correlation—Arabian, Egyptian, and Chinese Metrology. Glastonbury, England: Squeeze, 2017.
  7. Petri, W. M. Flinders. Inductive Metrology. 1877. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Le Site Mégalithique du Manio à Carnac

by Howard Crowhurst

Perched on a hill in the forest north of the Carnac alignments, a megalithic site has escaped the fences that have littered the landscapes of the region for several years. These are the menhir and the quadrilateral of Manio. From the outset, the large menhir impresses with its dimensions. Nearly 5m50 high, it is the highest standing stone in the town.

More discreet, the quadrilateral caps the top. 90 upright and contiguous stones, varying in height between 10 cm and 1m60, make up an enclosure approximately 36 meters long and 8 meters wide on average, because the long sides converge. The stones at the ends draw a curve. Four stones to the northeast form the remains of a circle. Two menhirs, much larger than all the other stones in the quadrilateral, open a kind of door in the south file. This particular form questions us. What could she be used for? Was it a meeting place, maybe an enclosure for sheep? In fact, what we see today is probably only the outer skeleton of a larger monument, a mound of stone and earth that contained a chamber inside. Other remains complicate the whole, unless they help us solve our puzzle. Hidden in the brambles and brush, we can discover a stone on the ground of rounded shape. These curves are reminiscent of the belly of a pregnant woman. She is nicknamed the “Lady” of the Manio.

Use of foot ratios in Megalithic Astronomy

The ratios of ancient metrology emerged from the Megalithic innovations of count&compare: counting time as length and comparing lengths as the longest sides of right triangles. To compare two lengths in this way, one can take a longer rope length and lay it out (say East-West), starting at the beginning of the shorter rope length, using a stake in the ground to fix those ends together.

The longer rope end is then moved to form an angle to the shorter, on the ground, whilst keeping the longer rope straight. The Right triangle will be formed when the longer rope’s end points exactly to the North of the shorter rope end. But to do that one needs to be able to form a right angle at the shorter rope’s end. The classic proposal (from Robin Heath) is to form the simplest Pythagorean triangle with sides {3 4 5} at the rope’s end. One tool for this could then have been the romantic knotted belt of a Druid, whose 13 equally spaced knots could define 12 equal intervals. Holding the 5th knot, 8th knot and the starting and ending knots together automatically generates that triangle sides{3 4 5}.

Forming a square with the AMY is helped by the diagonals being rational at 140/99 of the AMY.
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Old Yard’s Mastery of the Square Root of 2

The old yard was almost identical to the yard of three feet, but just one hundredth part smaller at 2.87 feet. This gives its foot value as 99/100 feet, a value belonging to a module very close to the English/Greek which defines one relative to the rational ratios of the Historical modules.

So why was this foot and its yard important, in the Scottish megalithic and in later, historical monuments?

If one forms a square with side equal to the old yard, that square can be seen as containing 9 square feet, and each of those has side length 99/100 feet. This can be multiplied by the rough approximation to 1/√ 2 of 5/7 = 0.714285, to obtain a more accurate 1/√ 2 of 99/140 = 0.70714285.

Figure 1 Forming a Square with the Old Yard. The diagonal of the foot squares is then 7/5, the simplest approximation to √ 2.
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Palsson’s Sacred Image in Iceland

Extracted from The Structure of Metrology, its Classification and Application (2006) by John Neal and notes by Richard Heath for Bibal Group, a member of which, Petur Halldorsson, has taken this idea further with more similar patterns on the landscape, in Europe and beyond. Petur thinks Palsson’s enthusiasm for Pythagorean ideas competed with what was probably done to create this landform, as he quotes “Every pioneer has a pet theory that needs to be altered through dialogue.” Specifically, he “disputes the Pythagorean triangle in Einar’s theories. I doubt it appeared in the Icelandic C.I. [Cosmic Image] by design.” Caveat Emptor. So below is an example of what metrology might say about the design of this circular landform.


Figure 1 of Palsson’s (1993) Sacred Geometry in Pagan Iceland
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