More about MAP | Mapping Ancient Penwith - Ancient Penwith | Cornwall

Ancient Penwith
Ancient Penwith
The prehistoric landscape of the Land's End peninsula
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More about MAP | Mapping Ancient Penwith

About MAP

This page explains what is meant by 'wide-spectrum' research, bridging archaeology and geomancy, and its relevance to understanding the way that the people of the neolithic and bronze ages thought and saw their world. It is suggested that this pertains to our situation in the 21st Century.

The Pipers - part of the Merry Maidens complex
The Pipers, West Penwith, Cornwall
This is a study of the relationship of subtle energies with the landscape and society and the way that the ancients carried out geo-engineering works to engage with the subtle energies of the earth, landscape, the heavens and time.

The first phase of this project has been the construction of an accurate map of the alignments of Penwith's ancient sites. It is probably the most authoritative, carefully verified and comprehensive map of its kind in Britain.

Archaeology and geomancy

Archaeology studies the artefacts and remains left behind by ancient peoples, interpreting them from field evidence. This has had enormous benefits in understanding our prehistory in Britain, and also it has some limitations. Conclusions can be drawn only when acceptable evidence is found, and if not found, substantial gaps occur and theories are thus based on incomplete evidene or interpretation.

Ancient sites tend to be looked at as single, isolated sites, not as part of a complete, integrated landscape. Archaeology is strong on understanding artefacts and material remains, and weak on understanding the sacred sites the ancients left to posterity - yet these were the highest and biggest expression of ancient cultures.

It is also rather conservative, sometimes weak on commonsense and imagination and sometimes distorted by interpretative bias. This bias is influenced by a modern worldview back-projecting onto the past ideas and values from our own time, particularly through a denial of the spiritual-magical aspect of the culture of ancient peoples. Thus, the findings of geomancers such as Prof Alexander Tom, John Michell, TC Lethbridge and other similar researchers is generally ignored or overly criticised.

Thus, 'cliff castles' and 'hill forts' are viewed primarily as defensive structures, and cairns and barrows are interpreted primarily as funerary sites. Menhirs and stone circles are regarded as interesting, incomprehensible items, and the possibility that the ancients possessed an advanced understanding of mathematics, astronomy, physics, time and metaphysical realities is regarded as a romantic idea without being seriously entertained.

Geomancy is the study of locational factors determining the placing of ancient sites in the landscape, drawing on evidence that is not generally scientifically or rationally accepted, except perhaps in the evening or at weekends and outside professional circles. This includes the study of ancient site alignments ('leylines'), sacred mathematics and geometry, archaeo-astronomy, underground water, subtle energy and landscape artistry, whole landscapes and the relationships between ancient sites.

The findings of geomancy are often regarded as weak or unacceptable for several reasons. First, there is a fundamental paradigm difference: archaeology regards humanity to have evolved from an ancient primitive state to an advanced state today, while geomancy regards the ancients to have been in some respects more advanced than today, seeking to reclaim lost knowledge and wisdom. Both disciplines tend therefore to fit their findings into these framworks.

Second, geomancy has had its fair share of fantasists, erroneous ideas and poor thinking, and also pioneering ideas ahead of their time. This has led to a wholesale rejection of all geomantic findings as flaky and unreliable. Third, geomancy includes a subjective component, including feelings and visions, which today are not trusted.

Fourth, subtle energy, difficult to measure using current scientific instrumentation, is unaccepted by science and academia, even when verified by multiple means or sensed by the personal experience of perfectly sane, intelligent people, including scientists themselves (or their wives).

Fifth, the repeatability and verifiability clauses inbuilt into scientific research are often difficult though not impossible to fulfil by geomancers - though this is also a matter of interpretation.

Finally, blanket rejection of geomancy and paraphysics leads to a lack of proper, verified, comprehensive research, since the research that is done is usually carried out by amateurs in their spare time and at personal expense, or by experts whose credentials are not accepted in mainstream circles.

The Ancient Penwith project has feet in both camps, seeking to bridge them.

Megalithic science

Over time dowsers and geomancers have shown that standing stones, stone circles, mounds and similar sites are located in carefully-chosen places, positions and orientations, for specific reasons that were clear and evident to ancient people.

Ancient site location seems to be related to:

  • alignments between different ancient sites;
  • patterns of underground water-flows (streams, seepages and blind springs);
  • patterns of subtle energy both underground and across the landscape (detected through dowsing);
  • a feel for landscape, topography, geology, visual interrelations with the surrounding environment, and the intervisibility of ancient sites;
  • the rising and setting points of sun and moon at critical times, and also of stars, implying that ancient sites have a strong relationship with time and its cycles;
  • mathematical and geometrical coherence - ancient feng-shui - that perceives space in ways that have their own logic;
  • the 'spirit of place', genius loci or spiritus loci, a subjective component that imbues imaginal and spiritual qualities to the feeling of specific locations and their effect on consciousness.

Remarkably, for each ancient site, several, though not all, of these factors enter into the equation. One purpose of this research project is to find out how much each factor plays a role in the location of specific ancient sites in West Penwith.

Alignments and energy-lines
The Merry Maidens stone circle (telephoto from Gun Rith menhir)
The Merry Maidens, CornwallAlignments as shown on the maps on this site are not exactly lines crossing the landscape - they are simply precise alignments of sites. The drawing of lines is slightly deceptive, though such is necessary in order to indicate an alignment on a map.

There are energy-lines and energy-flows across the landscape which dowsers detect, but these are not the same. What we're talking about here is the way that ancient sites are aligned with each other - as if one were aligning separated objects on a surface to give them some sort of coherence of layout.

It has sometimes been asserted that leylines are trackways established for ritual, trading or travel purposes but, with a few exceptions, this is not demonstrated, at least in Penwith. Sometimes, in other regions (such as Alfred Watkins' stamping ground of Herefordshire and Worcestershire), roads and pathways do follow alignments, but mostly they do not, especially in Cornwall. Ancient trackways in Penwith followed a more organic course through the landscape, without following straight lines.

Many people confuse energy lines (as detected by dowsers and sensitives) with ley alignments (detected on maps), but these are different and should not be confused. Their relationship is as yet unclear, though there are cases where an energy-line and an alignment are the same. At a guess, there might be a 20-30% overlap between the two. We hope to clarify this relationship in due course.

This website

This site is a repository of material arising from the MAP project as it proceeds. The site is run by Palden Jenkins, who lives near Sancreed. Palden has been involved in geomancy and related subjects for decades, also being an historian. He is the creator of the Map of the Ancient Landscape around Glastonbury and is privileged to have known many archaeologists, geomancers and dowsers.

Other collaborators with this project are mentioned on the next page.

Map of Ancient Penwith:
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