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 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 here in detail on Google Maps too.

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.

We draw alignments as lines on maps to indicate their presence and to test their accuracy, but they don't represent 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 and connecting also with 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.
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 on the map above. They define the positioning of Lanyon Quoit, Boscawen-ûn and the Nine Maidens - three key sites in West 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.

These alignments suggest that cliff castles were actually neolithic in first use, around 3700-3500 BCE. St Michael's Mount is already 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 the Isles of Scilly, through the 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 just yards northwest of the Nine Maidens stone circle.

So Lanyon Quoit's position is defined by these alignments, and by another that goes from Carn Brea near Camborne to Trencrom Hill, 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. The backbone alignments are thus demonstrated to be neolithic in their foundation - 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 a roughly east-west corridor between St Michael's Mount and Cape Cornwall (roughly the course of the A3071 road), passing through the 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, rather later than the north, in the late neolithic and bronze age.

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 can be 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 alignment, 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 castles

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 more sense. As  mentioned earlier, their first use goes back to the mid-neolithic,  probably around 3700-3600 BCE.
It is suggested that the sites on this map with an asterisk* were 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 not their first time of use. The headlands on which cliff castles stand are very prominent in the landscape, and they will logically have been frequented since the earliest occupants of the peninsula arrived here, during the mesolithic, before 4500 BCE. And 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.

So it seems that the cliff castles are a far more significant class of site than previously understood. As a result of 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 physical evidence discovered at ancient sites - and most of the 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 also 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.
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 might have first, and it might well have been here that the principle of site alignment was first developed. 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 sytarted 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, even claustrophobic 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 out 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. 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 around 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.

They 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 or 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 in the hundreds or at most 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 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 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 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- 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 do not 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 brought a psycho-social shift which  might have contributed to the decline of the  megalithic period around 1500-1200 BCE.
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  Brittany and Ireland too.

Penwith's four  surviving stone circles each had a different purpose, judging by their  design, their setting and their 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 much  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 actively 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 geo-engineering
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 woowoo 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 for academics and eccentrics, 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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