above: Carreg Coetan Arthur portal dolmen in Newport, Pembrokeshire.
The prehistory of sacred geometry was the late stone age, when the stone circles, dolmens, and long alignments to astronomical events on the horizon, used megaliths (large stones) in geometrical ways. Their geometries served their quest to understand the heavens, without telescopes or arithmetic, by using counted time periods as geometrical lines, squares and circles. Geometry, supplemented by the days counted between alignment events, was therefore a prelude to sacred and then secular geometry.
By developing early geometrical methods, they forged an enduring cultural norm lasting millennia, as part (or not) of the more-familiar aspect of the neolithic, innovating an agricultural pastoralism, that could support settlements, cities and, only then, the great civilizations of the middle and far east. It was civilization that generated our earliest written histories; these still powering our historical context and leading the basic notion of economic progress and territorial expansion, as superior to all that went before.
Our surviving megaliths are hence deeply enigmatic, a mysterious and mute presence in a world far less mysterious. The megaliths may have something we have forgotten in a collective way, something pushed out by millennia of later ideas and now relatively recent ones too.
There seems little trace of the megalithic astronomers themselves, their geometricized landscape overlaid by our notions of a primitive Stone Age. And, as the prelude to world history, their geometry gave birth to sacred geometry and sacred buildings; pyramids, ziggurats, temples and religious complexes. In some way, therefore, geometry obtained its sacredness from the skies or the earth itself, as if these had been built from the harmonious organization of the solar system seen from Earth and given to it by one or more gods or angels.
Sacred geometry the became a secular and analytical geometry, which would become an encyclopedic exploration of all that geometry could do, rather than a set of techniques dreamt up by a band of roaming astronomers. In our schools, many lose interest in having to learn geometry in the abstract and so, in this, the megalithic had an advantage. They could learn geometry as and when they needed it, as their astronomy brought up new questions to solve, learning by finding methods to answer questions.
If one truly travels backwards in time, to discover what the megalithic astronomers had understood, I believe one has to decide which bits of your own skills have to be applied to solve the riddles of the megalithic mind. Each modern researcher must not assume the megalithic could calculate using numbers, use trigonometry, knew Pythagoras’ theorum, and so on. And yet, one can employ modern equipment to help investigate the megalithic. Google Earth, for example, can allow megalithic alignments to be studied, their azimuth, length and interrelation, whilst the context of sites can be seen that may provide clues not available in site plans, written descriptions and so on, which are sometimes difficult to obtain or require a personal expedition. The most basic tool for me has been the Casio scientific calculators, since the megalithic interaction with space (geometry) was blended with the interaction of numerical time counting, numbers which exist in the geocentric world of time.
Finally, one must realise the past is only in the present through our attention to it and, in the absence of much official interest in applied geometry, dimensionality and astronomical intent of the sites, it is left to non-specialists to become new specialists in the sense of recovering and conserving the true achievements of the megalithic, for our present age, while the monuments still exist as living mysteries. In this I advocate the path leading to what this website is about.