This is a film by me of John Michell before his death. It was made on Lundy Island at which time he was working on some of his last published ideas about the British Isles from the perspective of sacred geometry and metrology, both fields in which John made outstanding contributions including The View Over Atlantis, Dimensions of Paradise and Ancient Metrology. It is published here to enable those who did not to experience the unique presence of John Michell, itself conducive to understanding his work.
originally published Monday, 28 May 2012 at 10:58 It was read 478 times
Presenting important information clearly often requires the context be shown, within a greater whole. Map makers often provide an inset, showing a larger map at a smaller scaling (as below, of South America) within a detailed map (of Southern Mexico).
Megalithic astronomy generated maps of time periods, using lines, triangles, diameters and perimeters, in which units of measure represented one day to an inch or to a foot. To quantify these periods, alignments on the horizon pointing to sun and moon events were combined with time counting between these events,where days, accumulated as feet or inches per day, form a counted length. When one period was much longer than another, the shorter could be counted in feet per day and the smaller in inches per so that both counts could share the same monumental space. In this article we find the culture leading to megalithic astronomy and stone circles, previously building circular structures called henges, made of concentric banks and ditches.
Einar Palsson [1, at end] saw that the myths of foundation for Iceland’s settlement in 930 had Pythagorean roots. Since then Petur Halldorsson has identified patterns that could not have been influenced by Pythagoras (c. 600 BC) and Pythagoras was known to have adapted the existing number sciences found (according to his myth) from Egypt to China.
Such patterns, called Cosmic Images by Halldorsson , seek to establish a geometric connection between places on the landscape and on the horizon, here in the south-western region near Reykjavik, the only Icelandic city. The spirit of a region or island was integrated through organising space in this way, according to centers (Things) of circles and their radius and diameter as numbers of paces, circles punctuated with places and alignments to other places, horizon events or cardinal directions. John Michell provided a guide to some of the techniques in his books [2, at end].
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.
Perhaps as early as 4000 BC, there was a tradition of making chalk drums. Three highly decorated examples were found in a grave dated between 2600 and 2000 BC in Folkton, northern England and one undecorated chalk drum in southern England at Lavant in an upland downs known for a henge and many other neolithic features discovered in a recent community LIDAR project. The Lavant LIDAR project and the chalk drum found there are the first two articles in PAST, the Newsletter of The Prehistoric Society. (number 83. Summer 2016.) It gives the height and radius of both the Folkton drums 15, 16 and 17 and the Lavant drum, presenting these as a graph as below.
Around Carnac in Brittany the land is peppered with uniquely-formed megalithic designs. In contrast, Great Britain’s surviving monuments are largely standing stones and stone circles. One might explain this as early experimentation at Carnac followed by a well-organised set of methods and means in Britain. What these experiments near Carnac were concerned with is contentious, there being no appetite, in many parts of society, for a prehistory of high-achieving geometers and exact scientists. Part of the problem is that pioneers interpreting monuments are themselves hampered by their own preferences. Once Alexander Thom had found the megalithic yard as a likely building unit, he tended to use that measure to the exclusion of other known metrological systems (see A.E. Berriman’s Historical Metrology. Similarly, John Neal’s breakthrough in All Done With Mirrors, having found the foot we still use to be the cornerstone of ancient metrology, led to his ambivalent relationship to the megalithic yard. Neal’s interpretation of the Crucuno rectangle employs a highly variable set of megalithic yards, perhaps missing the simpler point, that his foot-based metrology is supported as present within the dimensions of the Crucuno rectangle; said by Thom to be a “symbolic observatory” of the sun: this monument was an educational device, in which Neal finds the geometry of “squaring the circle” which, as we see later, was probably the Rectangle’s main metrological meaning.