Dialogue: Archaeology and Geomancy - Ancient Penwith | Cornwall

West Penwith, Cornwall
Ancient Penwith
The prehistoric landscape of the Land's End peninsula
Ancient Penwith
Ancient Penwith
The prehistoric landscape of the Land's End Peninsula
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Dialogue: Archaeology and Geomancy

Since around 1970 there has been a long-running debate and argument between archaeologists and geomancers. They have very different ways of seeing things.


Carn Galva, as seen from the Pipers (telephoto shot)
Tregiffian chambered cairn, near the Merry MaidensMany sites are aligned exactly and there was a definite reason for this. This is evidential and indisputable. People who claim that any random distribution of points will yield similar results are incorrect. They have not researched the matter rigorously enough. Alignments are not random - they link certain kinds of sites and they have characteristics, patterns and uniquenesses that randomly drawn alignments wouldn't have.

If one accepts the number one working hypothesis of modern geomancy, that ancient sites were constructed to reflect, create or modify natural subtle energy-flows, then we have a way of understanding why ancient people went to so much trouble to heave around big stones and volumes of earth, building temples and shrines made to last millennia, when their own homes weren't. This energy function is now proven and accepted amongst geomancers, and quietly accepted too by a few independent-thinking archaeologists. As yet insufficient research has been done to show how this works in a wider landscape, and why exactly such locational accuracy was considered important. And sadly or gladly, this important research has been left to 'amateurs'.

The information and interpretations created by modern geomancers are not included in mainstream archaeology and ancient history, and research grants and academic posts in this subject are simply not available. For most academics, geomancy is a career-destroying, hocus-pocus subject, best never touched. This belief is held supposedly for rational reasons though actually it is irrational, counterfactual and ideological.

Science and archaeology have achieved great things, and their methodology is valid. What is mistaken is that they are held to constitute the only valid way of investigating prehistoric remains. They contain blind spots, miss a lot of valuable data and also at times interpret archaeological data in ways that geomancers can improve on.

This project sets out to amass evidence not to appease sceptics already indisposed to persuasion, but to further the study of geomancy and 'deep archaeology', if only to provide groundwork for a time and generation when its value will become more fully recognised.

Archaeology and geomancy

Archaeology, focusing on physical evidence interpreted from a physical viewpoint, has discovered many wonderful details about ancient sites, but there are enormous gaps in understanding and interpreting them, and they fail to see ancient sites as integrated systems spanning whole areas - such as West Penwith.
Tregiffian chambered mound, part of the Merry Maidens complex
There is also a tendency to back-project the norms and values of today on the evidence surviving from many thousands of years ago. In Cornwall, this arises in two main areas: the assumption that 'hill forts' and 'cliff castles' were built for defensive and security reasons, and the assumption that 'burial chambers' were built for the purpose of burying the dead. These notions persist despite being weak, unimaginative and at times clearly disproven. Only a minority of forts and castles are really defensible or defensively strategic. Only a proportion of 'tombs' have detectable funerary remains.

Geomancy works on the basis that ancient sites were built primarily for earth-energy engineering and related purposes, and that the fact that there were instances of fighting and instances of burial around some sites is a secondary issue. We need to re-think certain key archaeological notions in the light of a broader spectrum of evidence.

Archaeology has developed ways of classifying and dating sites, though they are based solely on evidence that is discovered, relying on the unproven likelihood that evidence found gives a true read-out of the dating and purpose of the site. Meanwhile, forms of evidence that don't fit the accepted archaeological picture are overlooked or rejected, and evidence that is found is often interpreted conservatively. Archaeology has dug up large amounts of evidence helping in the understanding of ancient remains, but there are serious interpretational problems.

With the advent since the 1980s of geophysical technology and non-intrusive detection of underground evidence much new progress has been made, but dowsers and sensitives can also contribute much to archaeologists in locating, dating and contextualising sites and artefacts, and also in interpreting them. Geophysical equipment is expensive whereas a dowser's tools are simple - it is his or her psyche that is doing the detection, with the help of some simple tools. A metal detectorist must laboriously and systematically scan a whole field, while a dowser can often go straight to what is sought. This is economical and effective.

In a sense both archaeology and geomancy both hop on one foot each, for different reasons. Archaeology denies the role of subtle energy as detected by dowsers and sensitives, branding this as lacking in value and plain irrational. Yet there are mountains of evidence that subtle-energy engineering was a key factor for ancient peoples. This is a worldview and perspective problem. It also reflects fear of loss of reputation and employment.

Geomancers can be guilty of misinterpretation too, or of projecting their beliefs on reality, but since they are not subject to professional pressures, they have less to protect. Geomancers' main problem is mainstream non-acceptance, which constrains some possibilities, removing research funding and institutional support and unduly undermining their credibility. Geomancers nevertheless listen to archaeologists more than archaeologists listen to geomancers.

Geomantic research over the last fifty or so years, seeded particularly by ley-hunter John Michell, dowser Guy Underwood and archaeoastronomer Prof Alexander Thom, and followed up by many others, has revealed mathematical, geometric, sonic, magnetic, geomantic, astronomical, subtle-energy and further forms of evidence. This, when combined with studying anthropology, mythology and traditions as well as subjective impressions (psychometry), adds up to a broad and deep spectrum of understanding of ancient sites and their builders. What is very much needed now is a collation and review of research findings of the last fifty years. This website attempts this in the West Penwith arena.

The purpose of the Ancient Penwith project is to bring together a wide spectrum of evidence from geomancy and archaeology, even when it is contradictory, aiming to improve our understanding of the knowledge and psychology of the ancients. Why? Because we suspect that they knew things we do not, and that this knowledge might be useful today and in future.

This concerns major issues such as biosustainability, agriculture, food and ecological security, landscape management, climate change and the relationship of modern civilisation to the living planet on which it sits. That's rather big, yet big ideas are nowadays needed. A working hypothesis of geomancers is that we seek today something that the ancients also sought and found. The ancients developed technologies to work with it, and we need to rediscover them.

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