This page delivers the key points and findings reported on this site.
Suitable if you don't have much time and you just want the gist of it.
West Penwith is rich in prehistory and ancient sites. It's a good place for researching prehistory.
It is concise and distinct in its size and boundaries. Many people live here and visit here
who are interested in prehistory, so there has been a lot of thinking about ancient remains.
Penwith has a rather special magic atmosphere today - you can feel it - and the landscapes, cliffscapes and seascapes are uplifting and spectacular. At the far southwestern end of the isles of Britain and on Europe's Atlantic edge, it has a higher density of ancient sites than anywhere in Europe.
This website seeks to widen the evidential scope of archaeological research in Penwith by making use of the principles of megalithic science - ancient Europeanfeng shui - called geomancy. By this means we can understand more about the location and purpose of ancient sites.
Geomancers look at the patterns of ancient sites in the landscape, and at the astronomy, earth energy, underground water, mathematicsand landscape artistry involved, with a good dose of intelligent reasoning and testing of results. These cross-fertilise with archaeological findings to yield a wider range of evidential data than archaeology provides.
The people of prehistoric times left no records or instruction manuals, so this is a valuable way of finding out why they went to so much trouble heaving rocks and earth aroundto build ancient sites. They did it for what they saw to be practical reasons - otherwise, they wouldn't have done it.
Most archaeologists and academics reject geomancy, thereby overlooking an important body of evidence. This is a great loss to our understanding of prehistory. The location and design of ancient sites involved complex principles of megalithic science, and this site provides clues to understanding it.
About the Map of West Penwith
This is an online map showing the known ancient sites of West Penwith and the alignments that interlace them.
For reasons we do not yet fully understand, the ancients deliberately aligned their prehistoric sites to each other - not every site to every other site, but selectively. These alignments are exact. In making the map we used a three metre accuracy level in tracing alignment of sites.
Alignments are not lines across the landscape. They simply show that ancient sites are aligned with each other - like objects lined up on a table and nothing connecting them. Unlike in some parts of Britain, in Penwith alignments have no relation to ancient trackways or old roads.
We draw alignments as lines on maps only to indicate their presence and test their accuracy, but they aren't actual lines that can be seen or detected in the landscape.
Often called leylines - a much-maligned and inaccurate term - these alignments reveal a network of sites forming a complete system covering Penwith, with some alignments extending to the Scillies, the Lizard and the rest of Cornwall.
The discovery of an integrated system covering Penwith has major implications for our understanding of ancient sites and the megalithic era (3700ish and 1200ish BCE).
To demonstrate how alignments affect the location of ancient sites, let's look at three alignments in the map above. They define the positions of Lanyon Quoit, Boscawen-ûn and the Nine Maidens - three key sites in Penwith.
Staking down these alignments are several coastal cliff castles: St Michael's Mount, Treryn Dinas, Maen Castle and Pendeen Watch. Cliff castles are usually dated to the iron age, roughly around 400-100 BCE, on the basis of iron age 'ramparts' found at some of them.
Yet these alignments suggest that cliff castles were neolithic in first use, around 3700-3500 BCE. St Michael's Mount is recognised archaeologically as both a cliff castle and neolithictor enclosure dating from that time.
How can we say that cliff castles are neolithic in first use? They stand on natural coastal headlands, and the three 'backbone alignments' shown on the map above, plus others like them, pass between the cliff castles and neolithic tor enclosures, thus associating both with each other.
These alignments define the position of key sites such as the stone circles and Lanyon Quoit. Stone circles were built around 2600-2200 BCE, but Lanyon Quoit was built around 3700-3500 BCE. Thus the cliff castles are of a similar or greater antiquity to Lanyon Quoit, since their location defines its position.
On the map above, an alignment from St Michael's Mount to Boscawen-ûn continues through Maen Castle, extending to Chapel Downs cairns on St Martin's, Scilly, ending at the visually prominent Samson Hill on Bryher (Scilly map here).
Meanwhile, an alignment from Treryn Dinas to Boscawen-ûn continues through Lanyon Quoit and the neolithic chambered cairn of Bosiliack Barrow, ending at a menhir (now just a stump) only yards NW of Nine Maidens stone circle.
So Lanyon Quoit's position is defined by these alignments, and by another from Carn Brea near Camborne to Trencrom Hill, then to Lanyon Quoit, then to the Botallack Common neolithic chambered cairn near Tregeseal stone circle.
Thus we can demonstrate that the bronze age stone circles are positioned in relation to the neolithic tor enclosures and cliff castles. Backbone alignments are thus demonstrated to be neolithic in origin - Lanyon Quoit's location verifies this.
Summary of Findings
Now we'll look at some key observations arising from the research reported on this site.
These are more fully explained in other parts of this site, since this page is a summary only.
West Penwith's ancient sites are conglomerated in two main areas, north and south, with a gap between them running along an east-west corridor between St Michael's Mount and Cape Cornwall (roughly the course of the A3071 road), passing through Botrea Barrows.
There are differences between the two halves. The north is an upland area with tors, quoits and more chambered cairns than the south, while the south is a softer lowland area with far more menhirs. Of the four surviving stone circles (once there were around ten), two are in each half.
In the mid-3000s BCE in the neolithic period, most people lived in the uplands in the north. The climate was warmer than now and the lowlands were pretty densely forested. Things went on in the southern half of the peninsula, but it was properly colonised in the 2000s in the bronze age, later than in the north, which was the main area of activity in the 3000s during the neolithic.
But there's more. Look at the map here and you'll notice three relatively empty areas. One is in the far southwest, bottom-left on the map around Tol Pedn (aka. Gwennap Head). The other is in the northeast (top-right) near St Ives. Penzance and its vicinity has fewer ancient sites than the rest of Penwith too. It is difficult to tell whether only very few sites were built in these emptier areas, or whether they have been cleared by farmers or through town-building.
The eastern geomantic boundary of West Penwith is a nearly north-south alignment of St Michael's Mount, Trencrom Hill and St Ives Head - strangely, these three hills exactly align with each other. There is a distinct thinning of ancient sites east of this boundary, and this relative gap stretches all the way to Bodmin Moor, which has a similar density of ancient sites to West Penwith - as does Dartmoor in Devon. These three granite uplands were the main centres of megalithic activity in the southwest of Britain.
The necklace of cliff castles bounding Penwith's coast are far more important than previously understood. If you visit them in the landscape, this importance comes clear quite easily - they are special places. Their first use goes back at least to the mid-neolithic around 3700-3600 BCE, though they were probably in use in the mesolithic era before 4500 BCE.
The sites on this map with an asterisk* are possible cliff castles, as yet unrecognised
Most of the constructed remains on the cliff sanctuaries - boundary banks and occasional round huts - are iron age in origin (500 BCE-100 CE), so the cliff sanctuaries are normally ascribed to the iron age. Undoubtedly they were indeed in use during the iron age.
But this was unlikely to be their first time of use. The headlands on which cliff sanctuaries stand are prominent, and logicallythey will have been frequented since the very earliest occupants of the peninsula arrived here. They are inspiring, noticeable, liminal places, good to visit - today too.
Cliff castles' importance and their first major use in neolithic times are demonstrated by the backbone system of alignments, properly explained here. These alignments formed a framework determining the location of many key ancient sites in Penwith such as Lanyon Quoit, the stone circles and various other sites. The stone circles and menhirs were built between 2600 and 2000 BCE, though some sites on the backbone system, such as Lanyon Quoit and arguably the Botallack Common cairns at Tregeseal, were built further back around 3700-3500 BCE during the mid-neolithic.
The cliff sanctuaries are a far more significant kind of site than previously understood. In this research, the number of neolithic sites in West Penwith has been increased through the use of geomantic evidence such as this. Archaeology relies on unearthed physical evidence - and most cliff castles have not been seriously examined or excavated.
One problem in archaeology is that, if no physical evidence is found, it is presumed that no prehistoric activity took place at the site in question. This is sometimes true, sometimes incorrect, at times even illogical. Ascribing cliff castles to the iron age is one example: it is simple and obvious to see that these have been important sites throughout prehistory, from the very beginning.Geomancy widens the evidential base by looking at things in another way.
For more on cliff castles or sanctuaries, click here.
3. The alignment of ancient sites
The complete alignments network shown on the Ancient Penwith map was formed in stages over two millennia. Its foundation was laid down in the mid-neolithic period around 3700 BCE.
How can we say this? Well, Lanyon Quoit, built around that time, was placed at the exact intersection of three long backbone alignments, all involving known neolithic sites. Lanyon Quoit would not have been located there without these alignments already having been established. It was placed there to act as a hub to them.
This might have started with much smaller quoit alignments. Penwith's quoits have a pattern of mutual alignments established at their building around 3700-3500 BCE.
But, as evidenced by Lanyon Quoit's key location, the backbone alignments were established around the same time. The backbones signify a burst of genius and big thinking at the time. The idea might have been brought from elsewhere, or there might have been people in Penwith who started the idea.
The backbones were staked out between hilltop neolithic tor sites and cliff castles. In mid-neolithic times around 3800-3500 BCE, these were the main centres of activity in the peninsula. They were places where people could get out of or above the forest - important when you live in an enclosed, wooded world. Man-made sites such as Lanyon Quoit and the stone circles were subsequently placed in alignment with cliff castles and neolithic tors.
So these backbone alignments were a big idea. They formed a neolithic substructure onto which the more complex bronze age alignments system, involving stone circles, menhirs and barrows, was grafted. Most bronze age sites, built over a thousand years later around 2600-1800BCE, were placed on an ever more complex array of local alignments (marked on the Penwith alignments map in red).
What changed was this: in the neolithic, most sites seem to have been located intuitively in the landscape. Intuition is a way of garnering knowledge and information that isn't easy to find intellectually and, even in our times, great scientific discoveries are made intuitively. Intuition finds solutions and answers that are not easily available to the thinking mind.
The location of Chûn Quoit on the slope below Chûn Castle is not logically understandable, yet it was placed on top of an upwelling energy-vortex of a blind spring (water dome) and positioned so that, as seen from the quoit, the summer solstice sun set neatly behind a nick in the outline of Carn Kenidjack a mile away. There was sophisticated thinking behind this, but it was not the kind of thinking you or I would do today if we ourselves happened to be building quoits. It wasn't just random fancy or the aesthetic sensibilities of an installation artist that made the ancients locate their sites where they did.
Bronze age geomancers applied a more sophisticated science, locating some sites, such as many of the menhirs, not solely because of the significance and spirit of the place itself, but because they networked well with other places. Bronze-agers created a more integrated, logical system - though it was their logic, not ours. Sites were located for carefully calculated reasons, with a mathematical, geometric, astronomical or subtle-energy logic to at least many of them. So the neolithic was more like poetry while the bronze age was more like prose, more formulaic and designed.
Over the two millennia of the megalithic era between 3700ish and 1500ish BCE, a complex web of alignments evolved. This system gives clues about the purpose of many sites. They were all related spatially to each other, in complex ways, yet following certain rules. Their landscape setting, as well as the sky above and the earth below, were significant as well.
The Piora Oscillation
Here's an idea for your consideration... It is possible that the impetus for constructing the extensive system of ancient sites in the 2000s arose from a very human response to something called the Piora Oscillation, which occurred in the 2-3 centuries following 3200 BCE. This was a sudden climatic downturn and probably a big setback for people in the area, driving people down from the hills and seemingly causing them to stop building monuments for a few centuries. Perhaps people were much reduced in their situation and times were hard.
The second megalithic period started around 2800 as things slowly warmed up again. The bronze age was not quite as equable as the neolithic, but it was more so than our climate is today. This second period progressed through the centuries that followed 2800, with a peak around 2600-2000. (I myself date Penwith's stone circles to the 2600s, using date-dowsing, though archaeologists prefer the 2200-1900s BCE. Dating such sites archaeologically is tricky unless reliable organic samples can be found for radiocarbondating.)
Arguably the Piora crisis gave rise to an urge to engage in a kind of corrective geo-engineering. The people of the time didn't know it might have been triggered by a distant volcano or meteor strike (the main theory about how Piora was triggered). Perhaps ancient people's interpretation of Piora, once things warmed up again, made them say 'never again'. Those trying times could have started with some years of famine, cold and hardship. It could thus have given rise to an environmentalist impetus to address what had happened by using a kind of geo-engineering technology. This is just an hypothesis, but it is interesting and conceivable.
Why build ancient sites?
The ancients sought to improve their fortunes, which they saw to be tied up with the fluctuations of nature and the wider universe. They did their best to create encouraging conditions in nature - perhaps to 'please the gods', even though it is unlikely they had the concept of 'gods' and pantheons that later peoples developed in the 'axial age' around 1000 BCE. To them, 'gods' were more like forces in nature and the universe, experiential and immanent rather than conceptual and transcendent, as became the case in the axial age - the period when many of the world's religions took shape.
Ancient people were very much affected by the earth and skies, dominated by and dependent on nature and its cycles. They had not by then developed the land-improvement, fertilisation, drainage, stock-rearing and other farming techniques that came later. Their beliefs seemed instead to represent a sympathetic magic or a natural faith engaging with the hidden forces within nature and the skies - what nowadays we'd call shamanistic beliefs. Yet they were well enough organised to do considerable engineering works and knowledgeable enough to incorporate astronomy and mathematics into these works.
They were semi-nomadic horticulturalists, hunters, fishers and gatherers, following an annual round of movement around their home territories, without engaging in the big-capital farming methods that the late bronze age people did after the megalithic period ended around 1200 BCE and into the iron age.
The megalith-builders lived relatively simply, materially speaking. Their construction work went into ancient sites, not so much into villages and farmland. People like the Tibetans, the Tuareg, the Bedouin and many native Americans were similar, with an advanced culture and a relatively simple material civilisation.
Ancients Penwithians sought to impact on the landscape constructively, minimally and in a naturalesque fashion. This can be seen by the placing of their ancient sites in the landscape - many of them with remarkable locations with noticeable views. They clearly saw these sites in functional terms, building them as capital investments to help improve their lives - yet there was a certain artistry, love and magical side to it too.
Site design was technically sophisticated and construction was hard and time-consuming. Some stones were carried some distance - they chose stones carefully and with clear intent. Stone circles and menhirs are not the kind of thing you would build on a whim - they involved hard work, carried out for definite reasons which must have been seen as practical and economic.
4. The neolithic and bronze ages
Carn Kenidjack, a neolithic tor
In mid-neolithic times around 3500 BCE, the main population concentration in West Penwith was in the northern highlands. The whole population might well have numbered just a thousand or two - quite sparse by later standards. Much of lowland Penwith was covered in forest with small clearings, and the climate was warmer and more equable than today (rather like today's Bordeaux in SW France).
The changeable stream of wet, windy Atlantic weather depressions we now know in Cornwall then passed north of Britain, and the climate was thus more pleasant than now. So people lived higher up, where there were fewer flies, wolves and bears, less mud, clearer air and views, and trees that were easier to thin out, and a 'top of the world' feeling overlooking the wildwoods.
Carn Galva, Zennor Hill, Carn Kenidjack, Chûn Castle, Trencrom Hill and St Michael's Mount, rising above the woods, were the main centres of human activity. (The Mount was not then an island - it was an outcrop rising above a now-buried forest lying under today's Marazion beach.)
Later, after about 2700 BCE, the southern half of West Penwith grew in importance, and forest clearance increased. During the cold Piora Oscillation people had become accustomed to living in the lower-lying woods, where they sheltered in the bad times. Boscawen-ûn (pronounced boscaw-noon) and the Merry Maidens complex, and the many menhirs in the south, were built around 2600-2200 BCE.
The neolithic and bronze ages are so named because of the stone or bronze materials used in tools of the time. This interests archaeologists, but the ancient sites had a different evolution and timing, unrelated to tool technologies, so using these time-periods isn't entirely helpful when looking at ancient sacred sites. They are more useful when looking at villages, farming and material conditions.
Megalithically, the big divide seems to be roughly 3200-2900, during the sudden climatic downturnof the Piora Oscillation, caused possiblyby a volcanic eruption or asteroid impact somewhere in the world, throwing vast quantities of dust and gases into the atmosphere, dimming the sun and cooling the planet. Life became difficult, with likely crop-failures and famine until people adapted and conditions eased. Megalith-building paused - they probably didn't have time for that, since life had become far more difficult.
Ancient sites built before and after this time are quite different. Before Piora we have chambered cairns, quoits and natural sites such as tors, cliff castles and carns (outcrops). After Piora we have menhirs, barrows, stone circles and a number of round banked structures. These structures are often misidentified as hillforts, but they weren't defensive - they were more probably ceremonial and geomantic. Examples are at Caer Brân, Bartinney Castle and Castle-an-Dinas.
Following Piora there was a gradual cultural ascendancy through the late neolithic to the bronze age - the cusp of these two archaeological ages was around 2300 BCE. The growth period from the end of Piora around 2900 BCE to the zenith of the bronze age in 2200-1800 can be taken as one period spanning these ages. This period of ascendancy was followed by a time of decline and diminished megalith building up to around 1500, though the sites continued in use until a final collapse around 1200 BCE (it date-dowses precisely to the 1170s BCE at multiple sites, according to my own research). The sites remained - rather like the increasingly empty churches of today's largely secular Britain - but the mindset that gave them significance seems suddenly to have come to an end.
The bronze age, commonly taken to last from around 2300 to 600 BCE, is out of sync with the post-Piora megalithic phase between 2900 and 1200.
So we can identify two megalithic periods, the first of 500ish years in the mid-neolithic, roughly between 3700 and 3200, and the second of 1700ish years from the late neolithic to the end of the middle bronze age, between roughly 2900 and 1200. At the peak of this second period around 2200-1800, Megalithic Britain was one of the world's leading cultures, along with places such as Minoan Crete, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Harappa (Pakistan), north China and Mexico.
There was clearly a carry-over of knowledge from the earlier to the later megalithic phase, as evidenced in the similarity of patterns in the location of ancient sites. But what people in the second phase built was more calculated and sophisticated - more mathematical and astronomical - even though the principles they used derived from the first megalithic phase.
5. Locational factors
Ancient sites are located where they are for a range of reasons, and these reasons seem to vary from site to site. These include a range of factors such as:
ancient site alignments,
astronomical orientations (particularly to the rising and setting points of sun and moon),
underground water flows (blind springs or 'water domes' and intersecting water veins),
subtle energy patterns and lines, both underground and overground (these can be dowsed),
intervisibility between sites (visible sites as seen in the field),
landscape placing, regarding topography and visual impression,
mathematics, proportion and geometry (this needs a lot more research),
sagas, narratives and myths of the time (some of which survive today as folk-tales) and,
spirit of place or genius loci, the 'presence' or 'soul' of a place.
These all play a part in the location of prehistoric sites in Penwith. They apply differently at different sites. How this worked is a subject of future research. We don't understand how the megalith-builders' thinking went, but we can see signs of it in the monuments they left.
The Drift menhirs
Thus a menhir might be located at an alignment intersection and also at the crossing point of two or three underground water lines. It might be placed in sight of two or three other sites.
A cairn might be on an alignment and above a blind spring (an upwelling underground water-generated vortex). It might also serve as a backsight, a place where you would stand if viewing an astronomical rising point on the horizon. It might also have had an ancestor's body or some of their bones buried there.
Move fifteen paces from a site and its panorama or a sense of its intuitive placing can disappear. Yet its precise siting is perceptible when you're right there at the site. Boscawen-ûn stone circle, apparently unremarkably placed when you visit it, sits on top of a blind spring and at the centre of an array of alignments stretching across Penwith and further. You can see Chapel Carn Brea and the Merry Maidens, and it is surrounded by a complex of menhirs. One of Britain's key stone circles, it has various reasons for being where it is.
At some sites there can be a subjective perception that you're standing at the centre of everything - this heightened sense of presence orcentrality is called genius loci or 'spirit of place'. Ancient sites affect awareness and our relationship with space and time - they seem to stake down consciousness-fields within physical space. If you are a meditator or sensitive to your feelings and mood, you will feel different at many ancient sites - and this points to one of their key purposes, the changing of consciousness.
This combination of reasons for building sites defies modern logic, yet it is evidentially observable and it needs more study. Megalithic science was partially intellectual and partially intuitive, partly human-conceived and partly derived from ancient people's experience of nature.
6. Quantum entanglement
Alignments don't operate like wires or pipes that transmit energy. The energy-lines that dowsers and sensitives pick up in the landscape do transmit energy, but energy-lines are different from alignments. As yet no dowsers have comprehensively mapped the energy-lines in Penwith, so we cannot yet find out the extent to which alignments and energy-lines coincide - at a guess it might be 20-30%. But an energy-line is like a 'pipe', with observable energy-flows that are directional or alternating over time in connection with the season and the phases of the moon.
Chûn Quoit as seen from Boswens menhir
Not so with alignments. These conform more closely with what Einstein called 'spooky action at a distance', otherwise known in physics as non-local quantum entanglement.
That is, two separate entities can resonate with each other simultaneously even when far apart, with no connecting medium between them. Similar things happen to them at the same time, even if distant from each other. In other words, they have an inherent resonance while having no medium of connection.
This was first observed in physics with particles resulting from smashing the atom, which would shoot off in different directions and dimensions, subsequently behaving similarly to each other even if not connected. A further analogy is that of human twins parted at birth and growing up separately without even knowing they have a twin - yet their lives take on similar turns of events and they share characteristics with each other. Another analogy is two walkie-talkie radios tuned to the same frequency.
It's as if aligning specific ancient sites tunes them to each other so that they cross-resonate with each other at a distance. Penwith's ancient sites were evolved as a complete, integral system, but within that system there was a detailed set of relationships between particular sites that does not apply directly to other sites.
Whether or not there was a master-plan to this when a site was established, it was, in effect, plugged into this complex resonant network. Except that, with alignments, this was done without a medium of connection such as an energy-line. It follows from this that alignments and dowsable energy-lines signify different energy-frequencies and relationships, and they should not be confused.
An advanced culture
This raises questions about the surveying methods ancient people used. They could accurately establish aligned sites over a significant distance without satellite photos or theodolites. Possibly they had a kind of 'intuitive GPS' capacity where they could identify a location exactly aligned with other locations, without the surveying techniques we are nowadays familiar with. This sounds far-fetched, but then, in megalithic research there are many instances of this.
All this implies a level of prehistoric thinking and social organisation far more advanced than we customarily understand. People were culturally sophisticated without necessarily being 'advanced' materially. Up to about 1500 BCE, when the megalith-building period dwindled, the people of Penwith seemed content to live a relatively simple, self-sufficient life - this is observed in archaeological remains. They lived for part of the year in simple dwellings in family hamlets, moving around their territory on an annual round, and seemingly choosing not to engage with some of the innovative technologies that were becoming available at the time. Penwithians weren't early adopters of bronze smelting and crafting like the Bretons or the Irish, though they exported unwrought tin to both places after about 2200 BCE. Yet they invested enormous effort in their ancient sites.
Bronze items were imported from places like Brittany and Ireland, while tin and copper were exported to those places for some centuries. Bronze smelting and craftwork were adopted in Penwith around 1800 BCE, as the zenith of the megalithic period drew to a close. That is, adoption of bronze forging in Cornwall coincided with the slow decline of the megalithic age - it might even have been one cause of it.
Bronze enabled an increasingly 'maximiser' or growth-based economy to arise, and a fundamental shift of attitude came with it. Using bronze, people could fell trees, fashion items, dig the earth, amass wealth and adorn themselves stylishly. They could stamp their mark on the world as dominators of nature more than as participants in it. They started to make weapons. This brought with it a psycho-social shift which might have contributed to the decline of the megalithic period around 1500-1200 BCE. Hardly any new sacred sites were built after 1500BCE - mainly we see settlements and field systems instead - though the iron age, 800ish years later, brought new building, mainly of hill camps and rounds.
Men Scryfa with Carn Galva behind
Penwithians' ancient sites were quite simple and undramatic compared with the big megalithic sites of Stonehenge, Avebury, Carnac and the Boyne valley sites in Ireland. Even compared with sites in the Orkneys and Hebrides in Scotland, such as the Ring of Brodgar and Callanish, Penwith's megaliths were modest.
Yet, by examining the complex alignment patterns shown on the Map of Ancient Sites and Alignments in West Penwith, it is clear that much complex consideration and calculation went on. The thinking behind megalithic construction in Penwith was sophisticated.
Penwith has a greater density of ancient sites than anywhere in Europe, yet they have a thoughtful subtlety to their design and location, and their individual uniquenesses are noteworthy. The ancients did not have a standardised approach to megalith-building, yet common principles apply across the isles of Britain and in Portugal, Galicia (NW Spain), Brittany, Ireland and southern Scandinavia.
Penwith's four surviving stone circles each had a unique and different purpose, judging by their design, setting and their surrounding complexes of standing stones and mounds - each have 19 standing stones but they are not uniform. They weren't just local tribes' stone circles - they were clearly part of something bigger and more organised. Although they conformed to a system of thinking and architecture, they were all unique - people didn't think in standardised, uniform terms as we nowadays do.
The 'quantum entanglement' of Penwith's sites shows that Penwithians were thinking big. The best and, to me, only really plausible hypothesis for this is that they were engaging in a kind of geo-engineering - an attempt to participate proactively in the fluctuating energies of their terrestrial, climatic and astronomical environment, presumably with a view to improving their lives and the world around them.
'Turning the wheel of time' (as the Tibetans call it) was a key ingredient in their spiritual life - since the placing and orientation of many ancient sites highlighted the solstices, equinoxes and the motions of the Moon (such as the so-called lunar maxima and minima). Yet building these sites was obviously seen to be a fruitful thing to do, otherwise they would not have done the extensive engineering work they did, as if to pin down and stake out time in the dimension of physical space.
7. Megalithic geoengineering
Mulfra Quoit with St Michael's Mount behind
So the primary reason for building the ancient sites of West Penwith seems to have been to harness, enhance and shape subtle energy and to work with the nature of time.
Not just the tick-tock, mechanical time we are nowadays attached to, but a subjective, elastic, perceptual kind of time - it makes time seem to move faster or slower, deeper and shallower in our own lives. The ancients were not only astronomers but astrologers too, interested in interpreting the movement of time and season and how to pitch their responses to it.
There seems to be no other viable way of explaining the existence, characteristics and distribution of the wide variety of stone circles, cairns, menhirs and other ancient sites of West Penwith. No one has a better answer that the author knows of. Archaeologists customarily deal with this by avoiding it or regarding it as hocus-pocus. But ancient sites from China to Egypt to Britain to Mexico all variously embodied this - not necessarily because of cultural diffusion but because they all independently sought a similar understanding.
The aim seems to have been to connect and harmonise the fluctuations of the heavens with those of nature on Earth. This suggests an ancient western kind of Taoism, seeking to bring heaven, earth and humanity into harmony, a few millennia before the Chinese sage Lao Tzu expressed similar ideas in his Tao Teh Ching.
Yet it probably had practical outcomes in terms of climate regulation, fertilising the land, genetic upgrading of seeds, improving the lives of people and penetrating the intelligence within nature. This kind of geoengineering entrained the energy-patterns in nature, seeking to tweak and funnel them according to the megalithic principles of the time.
Perhaps we need to learn more about this today. This website seeks to make some progress in researching how this works, from the patchy evidence we have. It's an attempt to figure out what went on in the minds of neolithic and bronze age people, since there is a growing practical relevance to this today. Our advanced technologies, with their destructive and unsustainable effects on the world, eat up its natural capital and ecosystem services. Meanwhile it could be argued that the technology of the megalith-builders increased natural capital and sustainability and, since we today are in increasingly dire straits climatically, environmentally and in the nature of our civilisation, perhaps we need to give our ancestors' efforts more attention.
Archaeology and geomancy aren't just fascinating subjects, but they could contribute something vital to the future. They could help us figure out nature-emulating technologies and patterns of operation that reinforce our world environment, balance our planetary climatic system and make our lives more meaningful than they are today.
This page serves as a summary of the contents of this site. Further details are covered across the site - follow the links on the left or below. To contact the site's author, Palden Jenkins, click here.