In a Nutshell | Key findings in Penwith - Ancient Penwith

Ancient Penwith

Ancient Penwith

The prehistoric landscape of the Land's End peninsula in Cornwall
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In a Nutshell | Key findings in Penwith

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 this kind of research. It is concise and distinct in its size and boundaries - we don't have to burn too much petrol or walk too many miles! Many people live here and visit here who are interested in prehistory, so there has been a lot of thinking about it. And it has a rather special magic atmosphere, today.
The Ancient Penwith project seeks to help widen the evidential parameters of archaeological research by making use of the principles of geomancy. Geomancy is the art of placing of ancient sites correctly in the landscape - megalithic European feng shui.

From the geomantic perspective, to understand Penwith's ancient sites we look at ancient site alignments, archaeoastronomy, geometry and mathematics, earth energies, underground water, landscape art, date-dowsing and intuitive information-sourcing, 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.

The people of prehistoric times left no records or instruction manuals, so geomancy is a valuable way of finding out why they went to so much trouble heaving rocks and earth around to build ancient sites. They did this for what they saw to be practical reasons - otherwise, they wouldn't have done it.

Archaeologists and academics customarily reject geomancy, and this is a great loss to our understanding of prehistory. It involves overlooking and rejecting an important body of evidence. The location and design of ancient sites involved complex principles of megalithic science, and geomancy is a key to understanding it.

About the Map

This is an online map of West Penwith. It shows all of the currently known ancient sites and the alignments interlacing them.

The easiest way to view it is by downloading this map (7Mb JPG). It's also here in detail on Google Maps.

To delve deeper into the map, its key is here, an explanation is here, and there is a full section of this site about alignments here.

About Alignments

For reasons we do not yet understand, the ancients deliberately aligned their prehistoric sites - not every site to every other site, but selectively. These alignments are exact. In making the map we use a three metre accuracy level in tracing alignment.

Alignments are not lines across the landscape. In West Penwith they have no relation to ancient trackways or old roads. They simply show that ancient sites are aligned with each other - like objects lined up across a table with nothing between them.

We draw alignments as lines on maps to indicate their presence and test their accuracy, but they aren't actual lines that can be seen or otherwise detected in the landscape.

Commonly called leylines, these alignments interrelate sites to each other so that they play a part in a larger system, covering Penwith, with some extending to Scilly, 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.
Three major ancient site alignments in West Penwith. Click to enlarge
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 400-200 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 as a cliff castle and neolithic tor 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 cliff castles and neolithic tor enclosures, thus associating both with each other.

These alignments define the positioning of key sites such as the stone circles and Lanyon Quoit. Stone circles come from around 2600-2200 BCE, but Lanyon Quoit comes from the mid-neolithic around 3700-3500 BCE.

Thus the cliff castles are of a similar age to Lanyon Quoit, since their placing defines its position.

On the map above, the alignment from St Michael's Mount to Boscawen-ûn continues through Maen Castle, extending out to Scilly, through Chapel Downs cairns on St Martin's and ending at the prominent beacon of Samson Hill on Bryher (find a Scilly map here).

Meanwhile, the alignment from Treryn Dinas to Boscawen-ûn continues exactly through Lanyon Quoit and then 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 going from Carn Brea near Camborne to Trencrom Hill, then to Lanyon Quoit, then to the main neolithic chambered cairn next door to 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.

1. Clustering

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.

Ancient site clustering in West PenwithThere are some differences between the two halves. The north has upland tors and quoits, with more chambered cairns than the south, while the south has 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, most people lived in the uplands in the north. The climate was warmer and the lowlands were pretty densely forested. With exceptions, the southern half of the peninsula was fully colonised in the 2000s, the bronze age, later than the north in the neolithic.

But there's more. Look at the map here and you'll notice two relatively empty areas. One is in the far southwest around Tol Pedn (Gwennap Head) and the other is in the northeast near St Ives. Penzance has fewer ancient sites than the rest of Penwith too. This is only partially explained by their likely destruction during the building of the town in recent centuries.

The 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 are in an exactly straight alignment. 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.
2. Cliff sanctuaries

The necklace of cliff castles (I prefer to call them cliff sanctuaries) bounding Penwith's coast are far more important than previously understood. If you visit them in the landscape, this importance makes a lot of sense. As mentioned earlier, their first use goes back to the mid-neolithic, probably around 3700-3600 BCE, though they probably go back into the mesolithic.
It is suggested that the sites on this map with an asterisk* are possible cliff castles, as yet unrecognised
Clif sanctuaries in West PenwithMost of the constructed remains on the cliff castles - boundary banks and occasional round huts - are usually accepted as iron age in origin (500 BCE-100 CE), so the cliff castles 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 very prominent in the landscape, and they will logically have been frequented since the very earliest occupants of the peninsula arrived here, during the mesolithic, before 4500 BCE. They are inspiring places.

Cliff castles' importance and their first major use in neolithic times are demonstrated by the backbone system of alignments, properly explained here, forming a framework for the location of key ancient sites in Penwith, such as Lanyon Quoit, the stone circles and other sites. The stone circles and menhirs were built largely between 2600 and 2000 BCE, though some sites on the backbone system, such as Lanyon Quoit and the Botallack Common cairns at Tregeseal, were built further back around 3700-3500 BCE during the mid-neolithic.

It seems that 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 excavated - while geomancy widens the evidential base - economically too - by looking at things in another way. One of the problems in archaeology is that, if no physical evidence is found for prehistoric activity, it is presumed that there was no activity. This is sometimes true, sometimes incorrect, even illogical.
3. The alignments system

The alignments network shown on the map was probably formed incrementally, in stages over more than two millennia. Its foundation was laid in the neolithic period around 3700 BCE. How can we say this? Well, Lanyon Quoit, built in the neolithic, was placed at the exact intersection of three long backbone alignments, all involving known neolithic sites, and the quoit comes from that time.

However, the much smaller quoit alignments seem to have appeared first, and it might well have been here that the principle of site alignment was first developed in this area. The quoits have a pattern of mutual alignments established at their building around 3700-3500 BCE. That is, the quoits were located and built in aligned locations - Sperris and Zennor Quoits were aligned with Lanyon Quoit, for example. In most cases, two quoits are aligned with another neolithic site such as the chambered cairn at Bosiliack Barrow (on an alignment between Mulfra and West Lanyon Quoits) or, in one case on an alignment between Lanyon and Chûn Quoits, the perimeter of Chûn Castle (which is both neolithic and iron age in antiquity). (By the way, the û sounds like 'oo'.)

Backbone alignments in West PenwithSoon after came the backbone alignments (see full map here). This signifies a cultural upswing or a burst of genius and big thinking at the time - it might have been brought from elsewhere, or there might have been one or a few philosophers in Penwith who started the idea.

Of all the quoits, only Lanyon Quoit is located on the backbone alignments. The backbones were staked out between hilltop neolithic tors and cliff castles. In mid-neolithic times around 4000-3500 BCE, these were the main centres of activity in the peninsula. They were a way of getting out of or above the forest - important when you live in such a shrouded, enclosed, wooded world. Then man-made sites such as Lanyon Quoit and the stone circles were subsequently placed on these alignments.

So these backbone alignments were a big idea. They form a neolithic substructure from which the more complex bronze age alignments system, involving stone circles, menhirs and barrows, was developed. Most bronze age sites, built over a thousand years after the mid-neolithic sites, were placed on an ever more complex array of alignments (marked on the Penwith map in red).

What changed was this: in the neolithic, most sites seem to have been located intuitively in the landscape. Intuitive doesn't just imply imagination: intuition is a way of garnering knowledge and information that isn't easy to find intellectually and, even in our times, great discoveries are made intuitively. Intuition sees things in wholenesses. Even so, some sites were located astronomically - Chûn Quoit was positioned so that the summer solstice sun set neatly behind a nick in the outline of Carn Kenidjack. So there was some advanced thinking there too. It wasn't just fancy that made the ancients locate their sites where they did.

But bronze age geomancers applied a more sophisticated science, locating some sites, such as many menhirs, not solely for the significance and spirit of the place itself, but because they connected or networked well with other places. Bronze-agers were creating more of an integrated system. Sites were located for sophisticated reasons with some sort of mathematical, geometric, astronomical or 'subtle energy' logic to them. So the neolithic was more like poetry while the bronze age was more like thought-out prose, a bit more formulaic and architectural.

Over the roughly 2,500 years of the megalithic era, between 3700ish and 1200ish BCE, a complex web of alignments evolved. This system suggests clues about the purpose of many sites. They were all related spatially to each other, in complex ways, yet following rules. Their landscape setting, as well as the sky above and the earth below, were significant as well.

Here's an idea for your consideration... It is just possible that the impetus for constructing this extensive system of ancient sites in the bronze age arose from a very human response to something called the Piora Oscillation that happened in the two centuries following 3200 BCE. This was a sudden climatic downturn and a setback for people in the area, and across at least the northern hemisphere, driving people down from the hills and seemingly causing them to stop building monuments for at least two centuries. Perhaps people were much reduced in their situation and times were hard.

The second megalithic period started around 2900 as things slowly warmed up again. It progressed through the centuries that followed, with a peak around 2600-2000. (I myself would date Penwith's stone circles to the 2600s, using date-dowsing, though archaeologists prefer the 2200s BCE. Dating such sites archaeologically, such as with radiocarbon dating, is tricky unless organic matter can be found with which to do the dating.)

Arguably the Piora crisis gave rise to a subsequent urge to engage in a kind of corrective geo-engineering, perhaps as a kind of atonement or appeasement. The people of the time didn't know it might have been triggered by a distant volcano or meteor strike (which is 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' about the hard times they had been through. Those trying times could have started with some years of famine, cold and hardship. It could therefore have given rise to an environmental impetus to address what had happened during Piora by using a kind of geo-engineering technology. This is just a theory, but it's interesting and quite conceivable.

The ancients sought to improve their fortunes, which they saw to be very much tied up with the fortunes of nature and the wider world, and they did their best to create encouraging conditions in nature - in a way 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. 'The gods' were more like forces in nature and the universe, to them, and more experiential and immanent rather than conceptual and transcendent.

They were very much affected by the earth and skies, dominated by and dependent on nature, and their beliefs, judging by the character of the ancient sites they left, seemed to represent a sympathetic magic or natural faith engaging with the forces within nature and the skies - what nowadays we might call 'shamanistic'. Yet they were well enough organised to do considerable engineering works and knowledgeable enough to incorporate sophisticated astronomy and mathematics into these works.

During this time, they were horticulturalists, hunters, fishers and gatherers, though they did not engage in such big-capital farming methods as the late bronze age people did after the megalithic period finally ended, from the 1200s BCE onwards and into the iron age. The megalith-builders lived relatively simply, materially speaking. Their big construction work went into their ancient sites, not so much into their villages and farmland. People like the Tibetans, the Touareg, the Bedouin and many native American tribes were like this: they had an advanced culture but a relatively simple civilisation.

The ancients of Penwith sought to impact on the landscape constructively, harmoniously and in a naturalesque fashion, through the monuments they built. This can be seen by the frequently remarkable placing of these sites in the landscape. They clearly saw these sites in quite functional terms - built to help improve their lives, as capital investments. Site design was technically sophisticated and construction was hard and time-consuming. Some stones were carried considerable distances - they chose their stones carefully and with clear intent. Stone circles and menhirs are not the kind of thing you would built on a whim, for silly reasons.
4. The neolithic and bronze ages
Carn Kenidjack, a neolithic tor
In mid-neolithic times in the mid-3000s BCE, the main population concentration was in the northern highlands. The whole population of Penwith might well have been one-to-two thousand - 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 Dordogne in SW France).

The changeable stream of Atlantic weather depressions we now know in Cornwall then went north of Britain, and the climate was much more pleasant. So people lived higher up, where there were fewer flies, wolves and bears, less mud, clearer air and views, trees that were easier to thin out, and a 'top of the world' feeling overlooking the forests.

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 an island then - it was an outcrop rising above a now-buried forest lying under Marazion beach.)

Later, after about 2700 BCE, the southern half of West Penwith became more important, and forest clearance increased. This is probably because, during the Piora Oscillation, people had become accustomed to living in the lower-lying forests, 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 2600-2000 BCE.

Merry MaidensThe neolithic and bronze ages, as archaeological time-periods, relate to the stone or bronze materials used in tools. This interests archaeologists, but the evolution of ancient sites had a different evolution and timing, so using these material-technological time-periods isn't entirely helpful in megalithic research.

Megalithically, the big divide seems to be roughly 3200-3000, during the sudden two-century climatic downturn of the Piora Oscillation, caused possibly by a volcanic eruption or an 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 possible crop-failures and famine until people adapted and conditions eased. Megalith-building paused for at least ten generations or 200 years - 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 misnamed as hillforts, but they weren't defensive - they were more like ancient manor houses or they were ceremonial and geomantic. Examples of the latter 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 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. It was followed by a time of 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, but the mindset that gave them significance seems suddenly to have come to an end, within one decade.
Chûn Quoit
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 neolithic, pre-Piora and roughly between 3700 and 3200, and the second of 1700ish years crossing the neolithic and up to the end of the middle bronze age, post-Piora, 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.

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 and their landscape placing. But what people in the second phase built was more theoretically 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 (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 sightlines in the field),
  • landscape placing, regarding topography and visual impression,
  • sometimes mathematics 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 inherent 'presence' or 'soul' of a place, whether natural or invested with significance by people. An associated idea is that of 'place memory' - the memory stored at a place of significant events that have happened there, which you can sometimes feel, and which sensitives and psychometrists can pick up.

These factors all played a part in the location of prehistoric sites in Penwith. They apply differently at different sites - some factors are present and some not, at each site. 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 at a  crossing point of underground water lines, and it might also be placed in sight of two or three other sites (though nowadays field walls and trees can obscure this). The menhir's positioning was therefore determined by such factors as these.

A cairn might be on an alignment and above a blind spring (an upwelling underground water current that generates subtle energy at ground level), while also serving as the backsight - the place where you would stand for viewing an astronomical rising point on the horizon. It might also have had an ancestor's body or some of their bones buried there for good measure - though many cairns and barrows do not have burials.

That is to say, mounds were not built primarily for burial, as many archaeologists customarily believe, though people indeed were sometimes buried there because it was a special place, or perhaps because they were special people - revered ancestors, perhaps. For similar reasons, later on in medieval times churches were built as 'houses of God', and people were buried there for that reason, but churches weren't built specifically for burial.

Move fifteen paces from a site and its panorama or a sense of its intuitive placing can disappear. Move fifty or a hundred paces away from it and you might even wonder why indeed it is placed where it is. Yet its precise siting is clearly in exactly the right spot, perceptible only when you're right there at the site. An example of this is Boscawen-ûn stone circle, located in an apparently unremarkable place, but it is located on top of a blind spring and at the centre of a remarkable array of alignments stretching across Penwith and even to the Scillies, also with a view of Chapel Carn Brea and (over the hedges) you can see the Merry Maidens from there, and it is surrounded by a range of menhirs too - it is one of Britain's key stone circles.

At some sites there can be a subjective perception that you're standing at the centre of everything - there's a heightened sense of presence or centrality there. Ancient sites have a way of affecting awareness and our subjective sense of relationship with space and time - they seem to stake down consciousness-fields or reality-fields within physical space. If you are a meditator or inwardly-attuned, it is possible to change consciousness and have inner experiences at many ancient sites in quite remarkable ways - and this points to one of their key purposes.

This combination of reasons for building sites defies modern logic, yet it is evidentially observable and it needs more study. Something about it all makes a certain intuitive sense. Megalithic science was partially intellectual and partially intuitive, partly human-conceived and partly naturalesque.
6. Quantum entanglement

Alignments don't operate like wires or pipes that transmit energy, though the energy-lines that dowsers pick up in the landscape do. 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, and with no connecting medium between them, as long as they have a pre-existing relationship. Similar things happen to them at the same time, even if distant from each other. In other words, they have an inherent connection 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 might be a friend or a relative with whom you have little or no contact, whom nevertheless you have a closeness to - and sometimes you find yourself thinking of them, only to find out later that something important was happening to them at that moment.

It's as if aligning specific ancient sites tunes them to each other so that they cross-resonate in harmony with each other at a distance. Since alignments intersect with other alignments, it then follows that Penwith's ancient sites were evolved as a complete, integral system, but within that system there was a detailed circuitry or set of relationships between particular 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, which should not be confused.

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. There is a possibility that they had a kind of 'psychic GPS' ability, where they could intuitively identify a location exactly aligned with other locations, even without the surveying techniques we are nowadays familiar with. This sounds far-fetched and improbable to modern thinking - 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 quite sophisticated without necessarily being 'advanced' materially. Up to about 1500 BCE, at the end of the megalith-building period, the people of Penwith seemed content to live a relatively simple sufficiency-oriented life - this is observed archaeologically. They lived 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 like the Bretons or the Irish, even though they exported unwrought tin to both places after about 2200 BCE. Yet they invested enormous effort in their ancient sites.

Bronze items were initially imported from places like Brittany and Ireland, while tin and copper were exported to those places for some centuries. Bronze smelting and craftwork were not adopted in Penwith until around 1800 BCE, around the end of the zenith of the megalithic period. In other words, increasing bronze forging in Cornwall was coincident with the slow decline of the megalithic age - it might even have been one of several causes of it.

Bronze enabled an increasingly 'maximiser' or growth-based economy, and a fundamental shift of attitude came with it. Using bronze, people could fell trees, fashion items, shape the earth, amass wealth and adorn themselves. They could stamp their mark on the world as dominators of nature more than as subjects of it. This relative wealth and physical capability brought with it a psycho-social shift which might well have contributed to the decline of the megalithic period around 1500-1200 BCE. Hardly any new bronze age ancient sites were built after 1500 BCE - though the iron age, about 800 years later, brought new building.
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 Outer 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 a lot of complex consideration and calculation went on. The thinking behind megalithic construction in Penwith was sophisticated.

Penwith has more ancient sites per square mile than any area in Britain or Ireland, 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 to all of them, across the isles of Britain and in Portugal, Brittany and Ireland.

Penwith's four surviving stone circles each had a different purpose, judging by their design, setting and surrounding complexes of standing stones and mounds. They weren't just local tribes' stone circles built to suit their own private needs - they were part of something bigger and more organised. Although they conformed to a system of thinking and architecture, they were all pretty unique - people didn't think in standardised, uniform terms as we tend to do.

The 'quantum entanglement' of Penwith's  sites, quite precisely patterned, 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, atmospheric and astronomical environment, presumably with a view to improving their lives and that of 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 cross-quarters of the year, or the motions of the Moon (such as the so-called lunar maxima and minima). Yet it 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 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 time.

Not just the tick-tock time we are nowadays rather enslaved to, but a subjective, elastic, perceptual time, as suggested in the notion of 'the nature of the times'. The ancients were not only astronomers but astrologers too.

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 I know of, and the matter is customarily dealt with by avoiding it and regarding it as hocus-pocus.

The aim seems to have been to harmonise the energy cycles and fluctuations of the heavens with those of the Earth, through the agency of humanity and its technologies and beliefs. This suggests an ancient western kind of Taoism, seeking to bring heaven, earth and humanity into harmony, two to three millennia before the sage Lao Tzu ever came along over in China.

Yet it probably had practical outcomes in terms of climate regulation, fertilising of the land, genetic upgrading of seeds, improving the lives of people and pleasing or reflecting the intelligence within nature. This kind of geo-engineering entrained existing energy-patterns in nature, tweaking and funnelling 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 the bronze age people, since there is a growing practical relevance to this today. Our advanced technologies are having a destructive and unsustainable effect on the world, eating up its natural capital and the 'ecosystem services' of the Earth, while it could be that the technology of the megalith-builders increased natural capital in an holistic, psychobiodynamic manner - and perhaps we need to learn something from this.

This means that archaeology and geomancy aren't just fascinating subjects, perhaps with a romantic or sentimental element to them, but they could contribute something vital to the future. They could help us figure out nature-emulating technologies 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.

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