Parallel Alignments - 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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Parallel Alignments

Some alignments in and around West Penwith are parallel to each other. This is presumably intentional, though what it means is an open question.

Parallel alignments
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Alignments in PenwithTwo examples of parallel alignments are 124 and 90, two long-distance alignments starting on the Penwith coast at the Brisons near Cape Cornwall and Pendeen Watch and progressing eastwards into Cornwall as far as Pendennis Point and Nare Head, possibly further, oriented just north of east - see right.

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The Michael Line

Then there is alignment 54, running exactly parallel to the Michael Line. On the left, the white line is the Michael Line and the yellow is alignment 54. It runs from Cape Cornwall through Pen Dinas (St Ives Head) to St Agnes Head. This alignment links a few prominent headlands, and it might go further upcountry.

You can also see these alignments on the full backbone alignments map.

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Parallel alignments in the Scillies

There are parallel and near-parallel alignments on the Isles of Scilly, and also passing between the mainland and the Scillies. See the map on the right.

If they are not precisely parallel, they are less than one degree out of true. This might be intentional or fortuitous - we cannot tell - but they are worth observing and they might have meaning in themselves.

Near-parallel alignments could possibly imply that the alignments from both starting sites actually align with sunrise or moonrise on a certain date, but the relative heights of the backsight (where you're viewing from) and the foresight (the visible horizon you're looking at) can orient such an alignment slightly differently.

Within the Scillies, the parallel and near-parallel alignments are:

  • SC18. Gweal Hill cairns, Bryher - Hillside Farm cairn, Bryher - Halangy Down cairn - Maypole cairn, St Mary's.  AZ=120.4°
  • SC06. Innisidgen - Tresco Abbey - Bryher cairnfield.  AZ=118.44°

  • SC15. Great Ganilly - Gun Hill - White Island cairn.  AZ=139.1°
  • SC17. Great Arthur cairns - Middle Arthur cairns - Cruther's Hill cairns - Knackyboy cairn. AZ=138.9°

  • SC10. Obadiah's Barrow, Gugh - Buzza Hill cairn, St Mary's - Middle Arthur - Great Ganilly. AZ=40.6°
  • SC24. Periglis Stone, St Agnes - Carn Morval Down cairn, St Mary's - Porthloo W cairn, St Mary's - Chapel Downs cairns, St Martin's. AZ=37.7°

  • SC09. Carn of Works, Gugh - North Hill cairns, Samson - Gweal Hill cairns, Bryher. AZ=161.2°
  • SC27. Porth Hellick cairn - Helvear Farm cairn - Innisidgen SE cairn - Great Hill A cairn. AZ=159.6°

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Parallel alignments between the mainland and Scilly
These parallel alignments to the Isles of Scilly might be intentionally laid down, though it is yet to be discovered why or for what purpose - astronomical orientations are possible. They might also simply be fortuitous. Nevertheless, this question needs further research.

The Lizard-Penwith alignments
Click to enlarge - look for the orange lines from SE to NW
Parallels - click to enlargeFour alignments have been discovered, passing roughly SE-NW between the Lizard and the Penwith peninsula. These are near-parallel, yet there is an interesting and potentially significant apparent inaccuracy to them.

157. Pendeen Watch - Chûn Castle - Trewern Round - Lesingey Round - Lizard Point; azimuth 124.3°
107. Bosigran Castle - Carn Galva - St Michael's Mount - Treveddon cairn, Lizard; azimuth 123.7°
117. Gurnard's Head - Kerrowe menhir - Castle an Dinas - Perran Barrow -  Porthleven Head - Tumulus - Carrick Luz cliff sanctuary; azimuth 122.0°
126. Godolphin Hill - Trencrom Hill - Trink Hill cairn - Trendrine Cairns; azimuth 120.7°

Notice how the azimuths are reducing slightly and consecutively with each alignment, going west-to-east. These four alignments seem to be convincingly deliberate. It is worth noting the sites and patterns involved too: 157 connects rounds and cliff headlands; 107 connects two neolithic tor enclosures; 117 connects two cliff sanctuaries and 126 connects prominent hills.

In all cases of parallel alignments shown on this page these observations are significant, yet their interpretation and understanding is yet to come.
Maps on this page courtesy of Google Maps and Terrametrics
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