White Island on the Ocean (cont.)
Seven Landscape Mysteries of Bronze Age Britain, A Unified Theory
By William Glyn-Jones
One of the theories about the St Michael Line is that it aligns to the Cross-Quarter Day Sunrise, during May and August. Like the stream of Earth energy theory, this sunrise alignment theory seemed like one to drop lower down the list of possibilities. The line ranges across latitude as well as longitude, so sunrise angles are different along the line, and why cross-quarter day anyway? I felt that it was Michel's observation that the line goes approximately from the most easterly to westerly points that put us on a sound footing for further investigation. But this simple geodetic aspect itself wouldn't have been enough on its own to inspire vast construction projects. It must have coincided with something else, some dovetailing that caused the ancients to think of the line as a manifestation of cosmic order, the quality the Egyptians called Ma'at. If it wasn't an alignment on a particular sunrise, what was it? Cultures that understood the perennial philosophy had a feel for the way that intelligible, ordered, mathematically harmonious ideas resonate with a realm beyond the world of change, flux and chaos. The architects of the Greeks, Egyptians and other cultures had a feel for this Hermetic-Platonic wisdom. With the cardinal directions giving the reference, an alignment would thus ideally follow a bearing that has some geometric intelligibility. Had anyone considered this geodetic line in terms of Sacred Geometry? I was about to make the initial discovery which set me on the path towards all that has followed.
The angle in question is quoted as 27'. I realized this is close to the 26.6' diagonal angle (or more accurately 26.56) of the 2 by 1 rectangle that has been a favorite in Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Renaissance, after Vitruvius was rediscovered. Indeed, it is known as the Vitruvian Rectangle. The floor plan of the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid is an East-West aligned 2 by 1 rectangle, and this 26.6 degree angle is also the inclination angle of the Great Pyramid's passages, and further to this R.Cook, as detailed in an appendix of The Orion Mystery, has found key alignments at this same angle north of East in the Giza ground-plan.
So I posed a question: if I measured at this exact bearing from Glastonbury Tor, the feature that is basically natural and, though sculpted, essential unmovable, where would it take me? Would it still pass through the Avebury Complex, would it still pass near the Dorchester-on-Thames complex, and would it still end up near East Point?
The result was very satisfying indeed. Not only did the 2 by 1 bearing lead to the Avebury Complex, but it went exactly through Silbury Hill itself, which has the more obvious analogous resonance with the Tor, as can be seen from the image below.
In the above image, only the tower has been digitally removed. The Tor is otherwise un-altered - the flat top is genuine. This shape is not a natural formation, especial given the similarity to the man-made Silbury, to which it is placed in exact Vitruvian relation with respect to the cardinal directions.
Michel's 27' degree line had in fact passed a few miles to the north of the Dorchester complex, but this 2 by 1 bearing went straight through it. It also took in the Whiteleaf Cross and Barrows site in Bucks on the Ridgeway, and I was very pleased to note also that now it did not just go to an "approximate" most westerly point several miles to the north of West Point in Lowestoft, but it actually went to Lowestoft itself.
There is some clarification needed when we talk about the bearing of this line. With mapping, there is always the question of how to transpose from the curved surface of a sphere to a flat, two-dimensional map. The resulting Euclidian (flat geometry) world is therefore a conceptual, virtual world (call it Mapworld) but is one that accords with our experience of the landscape as being based on a flat surface. As the ancient geographer Ptolemy wrote, the intellect is able easily to transfer the shape and size seen by the sight on a planar surface to the curved and spherical surface, and, we might add, visa versa. When we look at something like our straight line from East Point to (roughly) West Point going through Glastonbury Tor and Silbury, this is a straight line on the landscape, in other words an extended line-of-sight, as the crow flies, as they say, as can be measured on Google Earth. Altitude variations aside, it follows the shortest route between points. Approximating the globe to a sphere, if extended it would go all the way around the World and return to the starting point. Such a full circle of the globe has the same radius as the Earth and is called a Great Circle. There are also types of map projection where the straightness of this type of line is quite well preserved over certain ranges of longitude. Our line can be very easily followed on a British road atlas, for example, where it remains dead straight. It is so easy to follow because it runs parallel to a line drawn diagonally across rectangles on the road atlas one grid square tall and two grid squares wide. In your own time you may like to repeat the process I have carried out, drawing this straight 2 by 1 line from page to page on a road atlas, going right through Glastonbury Tor and Silbury Hill, to Dorchester, and ending up in Lowestoft, always remaining parallel to the 2 by 1 rectangle diagonals on the atlas.
The preservation of the straightness of the line has to do with the type of map projection used in this type of atlas, but what about the 2 by 1 business? On the landscape, rather than the atlas, through dead straight, the line is not a constant bearing with respect to the cardinal directions along its length, because the line changes latitude, and straight lines of sight do not maintain a constant bearing with respect to the cardinal directions at different latitudes. We do, however, find the 2 by 1 aspect showing up in other ways. The distance travelling between the East Point longitude and the West Point longitude at the more southerly latitude is close to being twice the distance travelling north from the more southerly to the more northerly latitude. This can be discovered quite easily using Google Earth’s distance measuring tool. But the Ancient Egyptians didn’t have Google Earth, so in what manner might the ancient surveyors have been aware of this 2 by 1 aspect? Having set out the straight line of sight on the landscape they could have measured the bearing at the centre of the line. To save having to go there, we can use Google Earth to work this out, where they would have used the stars on site. The bearing of the line at its central longitude (i.e. just outside Devises, Wiltshire) comes out as 26.8° (63.2° from North), which compares closely to the diagonal angle of a 2 by 1 rectangle, 26.6°. This is the bearing we find when drawing the line on a road atlas, all along the line, and there is a reason for this.
The AA motorist’s atlas uses the same coordinate system as the Ordnance Survey maps i.e., according to the OS website, ‘a type of projection known as the Transverse Mercator (TM).’ This is not the same as the normal Mercator. The normal Mercator Projection is one where all longitude and latitude lines are made to be straight, parallel / intersecting at right angles, so that a line of constant bearing shows up as a straight line on the map, but a straight line-of-sight/great circle shows as curved. With the TM however, such as on the OS maps, a line of constant bearing shows as curved, but, over areas not exceeding a few degrees in longitude, a line of sight (such as our line through Glastonbury, Silbury, Dorchester and East Point) will appear pretty straight, while the apparent bearing of that line with respect to the cardinal directions may be misleading. A TM projection uses a central meridian, and the angular bearings of direction on the map are only completely true at sites along that meridian of longitude. It so happens that the O.S. maps use a central meridian quite precisely at half way between British East Point and West Point, 2° West, and this is why the angle on the road atlas is the same all the way along the line we are dealing with as the true bearing of that line at the central longitude! I’m not suggesting, of course, that the ancient Egyptian surveyors were using a Transverse Mercator projection, but it is reasonable to picture them assigning a value of the bearing at this central longitude to the line as a variable of some significance; they might well have seen this as the angle of the line within their flattened Euclidian Mapworld conception. After all, why would you use the bearing at far west and east extremes, when these are also at the extremes of distortion? If you had to pick one angle, you’d pick the one at the middle. Using the central longitude seems sensible, and logical, and this after all is why 2° West was chosen as the longitude of the central meridian of the O.S. maps. In this virtual world, the British Mapworld, the Glast./Silb./Dorch./E.P. line really is the diagonal of a 2 by 1 rectangle, and as such the foundation of a geodetic scheme based on Sacred Geometry.
Encouraged by this, I did some further reasoning. This alignment was now looking like one based on Sacred Geometry. The reason why the 2 by 1 rectangle has been a favourite for geometers down through the millennia is that the diagonal minus the short side is the Golden Ratio - that perennially intriguing, harmonious, mystical proportion - of the long side of the rectangle. The short side length can be swung as an arc using compasses to the diagonal, and the longer length marked off on this diagonal, (the remainder of it) can then be swung down to the long side at its Golden Section.