This is my fourth annual presentation at Small World Theatre, Cardigan. If this looks like your kind of thing, then you’d be most welcome. Based on past presentations, it would probably be better to book well in advance.
For almost a century an often heated debate has rumbled on, following Dr H H Thomas’ discovery suggesting that many of the bluestones found at Stonehenge had originated in the Preseli Hills of West Wales. Various geologists and even some archaeologists (e.g. Burl) have suggested that these stones were not fetched to Stonehenge at ‘vast expense of toil’, but instead were transported by glacial action. They would tell you that the jury is still out on the matter of how the bluestones arrived at Stonehenge.
Some years ago, the quarry at Craig Rhos y Felin became the focus of work led by professor Mike Parker Pearson. The claim was made that some stones from this quarry petrologically matched a number of stones at Stonehenge. This work was duly written up in Antiquity, Volume 89 Issue 348 – contributors listed were Mike Parker Pearson, Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Joshua Pollard, Colin Richards, Kate Welham, Ben Chan, Kevan Edinborough, Derek Hamilton, Richard Macphail, Duncan Schlee, Jean-Luc Schwenninger, Ellen Simmons and Martin Smith. Continue reading
THE PRESELI CONNECTION
PART THREE of the STONEHENGE – WOODHENGE tryptych
Part One and Two of this tryptych revealed an unexpected geometrical relationship between the location of Stonehenge and that of its sister henge monument, Woodhenge. Part Three now expands this new evidence. By comparing data from the megalithic landscape around Stonehenge/ Woodhenge with that from the megalithic landscape in and around the Preseli Hills of West Wales a new type of connection emerges, one that links the ‘bluestone’ culture of the Preseli Hills of West Wales with that of the Wessex culture, specifically the Stonehenge landscape shown above (but perhaps even Avebury and elsewhere). Continue reading
PART TWO – A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
In Part One a single action began a process of investigation – I made a measurement of two physical realities. The first was the length of a line connecting Stonehenge centre to Woodhenge, centre, and the second was the angle of orientation that this line makes with respect to an east-west line, termed a co-azimuth angle. This second part of the article shows where that single action can lead a researcher into understanding presently unsuspected purposes within the designs of, in this case, Stonehenge and Woodhenge.
PART ONE – A LOST LEGACY
Soon after the distinguished Welsh archaeologist Maude Cunningham and her husband finished work excavating the site we now know as Woodhenge, in 1929, the locations of each of the site’s many revealed postholes were marked with grey concrete bollards. The best that can be said of this action was that it ensured their original exact positions were recorded for posterity (see Alexander Thom’s photograph below, from 1958, courtesy of Eoghann MacColl).
Visually, Woodhenge is neither a pretty nor an impressive site, unlike its nearest neighbour, Stonehenge, some 1.9 miles to the southwest. VIsitors to Woodhenge tend not to linger around this site, and soon slope off to nearby Durrington Walls, to the north, or Stonehenge, to the southwest. This article claims to lift the present Cinderella status afforded to this Neolithic class II henge and timber circle monument, by identifying a previously unrecognised significance in its geodetic placement with respect to Stonehenge.
An excerpt from Temple of the Hills – The Discovery of the Original Stonehenge
by Robin Heath, Bluestone Press, 2016
Long lodged in folklore and myth there runs an ancient Welsh tradition telling of an original bluestone circle in the Preseli region of west Wales. The matter was referred to in The White Goddess, a seminal work by the Irish academic historian and poet Robert Graves (Faber, 1948),
‘It has been suggested that the smaller (bluestones) stones, which are known to have been transported all the way from the Prescelly Mountains in Pembrokeshire, were originally disposed in another order there and rearranged by the people who erected the larger ones. This is likely, and it is remarkable that these imported stones were not dressed until they were re-erected at Stonehenge itself.’
However, this tradition goes back much further than recent times, in essence the tradition is about a bluestone circle being uprooted from Preseli and taken in antiquity to Stonehenge, then reassembled as part of the monument that has stood on Salisbury Plain for at least five millenia, mute, magnificent and yet, above all, mysterious. And despite centuries of attention from all manner of specialisms, the purpose of Stonehenge still remains unclear. This monument’s many secrets and its extant bluestone circle still tantalize and taunt those who attempt to understand the history and purpose of this unique monument.
Unexpectedly, one might think, professional archaeologists are presently taking this tradition seriously, as if it were a prehistoric fact, and are combing the Preseli Hills in an attempt to discover the original location of this alleged bluestone circle. Why would they do that?
The archaeologists are the latest activity that feeds the bluestone tradition, adding to it more stepping stones across the wide river that separates Stonehenge fact from Stonehenge fiction. As for many other traditions, their recent activity is neither new nor is it unexpected. This mythic territory and this sacred landscape have both been visited before. But there are several good reasons why the Preseli hills have become the hot spot for this bluestone circle treasure hunt, the most important being that this landscape’s connection with Stonehenge has been greatly reinforced during the past century.
In June 1903, a geology professor called William Judd scrutinised the implications of the tradition in an article for The Wiltshire Magazine His scientific account of that year listed the difficulties that could be expected in attempting to transport bluestones from ‘a distant locality’ to Stonehenge. He also noted that the bluestones had been shaped and polished at Stonehenge after having been transported, forming the so-called ‘bluestone layer’ of chippings around the monument. Judd made the following astute comment,
‘The old tradition concerning Stonehenge is that it consisted of a circle of ‘bluestones’ which had acquired a certain sanctity in a distant locality, and had been transported from the original home of the tribe. If so, the stones, brought from so far away, would have been reduced to something like half their bulk…
Is it conceivable that these skillful builders would have transported such blocks of stone in their rough state over mountains, hills and rivers (and possibly over seas) in order to shape them at the point of erection? ’
Professor Judd did not link the source of the bluestone circle as being in the Preseli region. In 1903, that source was not known for sure, and nobody then could be certain where the ‘distant locality’ of that original bluestone circle might have been. This remains essentially true today, although within two decades of Judd’s work, much stronger evidence was produced to support why the bluestone circle at Stonehenge might have once been located in the Preseli Hills, even where it might most likely be found.
In 1923, a bright light was shone on what had previously been a rather nebulous tradition. Another renowned geologist Dr Hubert Thomas wrote the first scientific paper that supported a connection between the Preselis and Stonehenge. Thomas undertook a petrological analysis of the bluestones found at Stonehenge, enabling a crucial breakthrough to be made. The evidence suggested that these bluestones had almost all originated from a small collection of outcrops along the main ridge of the Preseli Hills, most notably the outcrops around Carn Menyn, a mile or so from Foel Drygarn, at the eastern end of the main Preseli ridge.
If there had ever been a bluestone circle installed in the Preselis, as the tradition suggested, Thomas provided good evidence to back up that possibility, and indirectly identified its location. His work forged a geological link between the Preselis and Stonehenge and although Thomas’s work had not directly mentioned the location of any bluestone circle, his paper undoubtedly was suggesting that were there ever such a monument, it would likely have been located near to Carn Menyn. In other words, Thomas had confirmed scientifically that an original lost bluestone circle could certainly be a possibility, and indirectly had suggested where it might best be found.
Thomas’s work represented a major breakthrough in understanding the origins and purpose of Stonehenge. It carved through many of the Dark Age and medieval elaborations of the original tradition, but it left untouched another story, linked to the 6th century Merlin, who told that the bluestones arrived at Stonehenge from the Wicklow hills in Ireland, by giants, and had been shipped over the sea on rafts, by giants who assembled them into Stonehenge. This variant of the original tradition was made very popular by the twelfth century chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth. His popular fourteenth century romance was later embellished, this famous artwork showing a giant placing a lintel onto a waiting megalith in order to complete the sarsen circle at Stonehenge.
Unfortunately, the geology is all to pieces here, for these are sarsen stones being depicted in this cartoon illustration from the period, not bluestones from Ireland or from anywhere else. The bluestones at Stonehenge are all much smaller than the incredulous mortals shown here watching the giant’s superhuman (and mechanically impossible) feat. However Geoffrey of Monmouth’s story does at least involve a sea journey during the transport of the stones.
Allegedly born in Carmarthen, an old Roman sea-fort less than 15 miles from the Preseli Hills, Merlin was brought up in that part of Wales two centuries after it had become an Irish colony, within a large part of southern and western Wales that spoke Irish. Whoever created this story, perhaps it was the late fifth-sixth century wizard, Merlin, who may have thought west Wales was Ireland!
This all becomes rather irrelevant however, simply because this tall story is not referring to the bluestones, but instead to the much larger sarsen stones, else Merlin’s giants would have come over as wimps and his story unlikely to impress anyone, for the average bluestone is a tenth of the size and weight of the mighty sarsen stones found at Stonehenge. Then as now, most people visit Stonehenge to see the sarsen circle and the trilithon horseshoe, the central part of the monument. It has been the logo for Stonehenge for a very long time.
There is also the not insignificant factor that no one can be certain whether Merlin actually existed or was simply a legendary folk hero. The Merlin story thus fails to convince as a credible explanation of the source of the bluestones at Stonehenge. However the narrative does link Stonehenge to a source of megalithic stones to the north-west of the monument and suggests they were transported by ‘giants’ rather than glaciers, and that the journey involved a sea passage. Geoffrey’s yarn is part of Stonehenge’s history, but it’s foggy message is confusing and gets us very little nearer the source of the tradition of a bluestone circle being moved to Stonehenge.
The Preseli Zodiac
During the 1970s an apparently new Preseli tradition concerning an ancient circle in the Preselis was placed into popular consciousness. This was a claim made by a group calling itself by the acronym IGR (Institute for Geomantic Research) for the existence of an ancient Preseli landscape zodiac. Just as was the case for the bluestone circle tradition, the idea of a prehistoric British landscape zodiac was anything but new, the concept permeating through the works of Taliesin and other great Bards. Welsh history does not go back much further than Taliesin.
Much more recently, in 1809, Welsh author Edward Davies published Mythology and Rites of the British Druids, which contained a powerful statement concerning the significance and purpose of landscape temples,
‘As the Britons distinguished the Zodiac, and the Temples or Sanctuaries of their Gods, by the same name of Caer Sidi, and as their great Bard Taliesin blends the heavenly and the terrestrial Sidi in one description, we may presume that they regarded the latter, as a type or representation of the former.’
The two component words that make up Caer Sidi, have a duplex meaning in Welsh, they refer to both the celestial zodiac and to temples consecrated to the ancient British gods. These two words are worthy of a better understanding. In Spurrell’s Welsh-English Dictionary of 1850, Caer is listed as meaning a wall, fortress, castle, fort, citadel, city. The milky way is cited as being Caer Gwydion, often known as Arianrhod.
The root sid- is clearly connected with spinning, weaving, rotation or wheels, and the list of words using this prefix is long. Sidell – fly-wheel; winder; whirl; whorl; rim of a wheel. Sidelliad – revolution; rotation. Sidellu – to whirl; to revolve; to rotate. Siddelydd – winder. Sidydd – zodiac. Sidyll – whirl; twirl; whorl; rim.
From this Welsh term to describe the celestial zodiac comes an important realisation. Any ancient British monumental circular structure is implicitly going to be a representation or reflection of the sky above, a celestial clock-face, a year-circle and a temple, a manifestation of As Above, so Below, as expressed in one of the tenets of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, which may date from the seventh century, of similar age to the period of Taliesin.
‘That which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above, working the miracles of one*.’
While it may be impossible to prove the veracity of that hoary tradition concerning the existence of a circle of bluestones once erected in the Preselis having been taken to Stonehenge, we can be a lot more confident that this circle, rim or wheel, had it ever existed, would have been understood by its builders to have represented a temple, and would have mirrored the zodiac or celestial sphere in some way.
To settle the matter would require that two things can be identified. Firstly, the site of the original (bluestone) circle must be located, a tall order, to put it mildly. Why? Because it would require that archaeologists find a stone circle somewhere in the Preselis where there are probably no longer any stones in situ, else it would have been identified a long time ago. By now it would be presumed to be solely defined by hidden but disturbed earth and in-fill debris where once there had been stones with socket holes. It would be like finding an empty packet of needles in a well-rotted haystack!
If and when located, their second task would be to understand the way that the zodiacal rim or circumference of this structure, the year-circle, was divided up. This cannot be undertaken by conventional archaeologists for they are not trained in, and do not have the required skills in recognising astronomical, geometrical or metrological patterns at prehistoric sites. And then there is the small matter that, for over a century, they have been trained to minimise the significance of prehistoric archaeoastronomy as a matter of course. To mention the father of modern archaeoastronomy, Alexander Thom, is to professionally fall on one’s megalithic rod (btw, that’s two and a half megalithic yards or 6.8 feet). So this second task, to understand the sky-circles, will have to be undertaken by someone who understands both megalithic science, zodiacs and year-circles. Guess who?
The 1970s quest for a Preseli zodiac can now be understood to be more obviously aligned with the present archaeological hunt for the original bluestone circle in Preseli. It is a shiny modern extension to the traditional ‘bluestone myth’, courtesy of Hubert Thomas’s petrological report from 1923, that originally impelled Lewis Edwards and later researchers of earth mysteries to visit the ‘Prescelly landscape’, in search of a landscape zodiac. And this same report almost certainly provided the initial impetus for the current archaeological froth of activity in Preseli.
From this short prologue a gambling man could reasonably predict that the Preseli bluestone myth may have a few more twists and turns left in the telling by the end of the twenty-first century.
Despite the Preseli zodiac remaining understood having become essentially a dismissed modern myth, it has been possible to demonstrate in only a few paragraphs that this modern myth has roots nourished by much older beliefs, and contains mythical elements that may go way back into the prehistoric period. In effect the myth of the Preseli Zodiac and the tradition of the bluestone circle collide and may be one and the same thing.
So here is the nub of the matter. Ancient traditions are rarely lacking in some core truth, however gaudy, evanescent and flimsy the wrapping paper may appear to suggest otherwise. Open up the package and this particular box is found to contain a tenacious legend about a sky-circle or zodiac or stone circle once built in the Preseli hills. Once the box has been opened up, the quest should then be to locate this hoary monument and try to work out who built it and why, and in so doing reveal its original purpose. It was identifying this task that originally impelled me to write Temple in the Hills, a project led me to the discover the original Stonehenge.
If you want to purchase a copy of Temple of the Hills by Robin Heath, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name and shipping address, and whether or not you will want the book signed.
This will be acknowledged and the options of payment methods made available. Currently, these are £10 inclusive of P&P, in the UK, £12 in EU and £15 in US.
Other countries will require an appropriate shipping charge). The book contains over 80 original colour illustrations, including many of the Preseli landscape and its monuments.
Prehistoric archaeologists are currently focussing their attention on the Preseli region of West Wales. Why are they here, and what are they looking for?
The answer has to do with Stonehenge, 140 miles away in Wiltshire. Some of this mighty monument was constructed using bluestones that originated here in the Preselis. A fiery debate is raging about how they got there, whether they were taken by human toil or arrived on Salisbury Plain through glacial action.
So archaeologists are now looking for evidence of an original bluestone circle here in the Preseli hills, looking for surviving stones which, if they geologically match those at Stonehenge, will prove that human intent moved them there.
Robin claims to have recently discovered the original design for Stonehenge here in the Preselis, and has surveyed it using a theodolite. He will show this design has more to do with the Caer Sidi of Welsh legend, and the motions of sun, moon and stars, than it has with how a few bluestones ever found their way to Salisbury Plain.
In his illustrated and not too technical presentation he will also reveal that Stonehenge was a derivative taken from an original design conceived here in Wales, so how good is that?!
A graduate of UCNW, Bangor, Robin Heath was previously a research and development engineer with Ferranti, then a college head of technology department, late of Coleg Ceredigion. Since 1990, local author and presenter Robin Heath has been finding the prehistoric science embedded within the surviving megalithic monuments in Britain, Ireland and France. In 1993 Robin founded Megalithic Tours and has written ten books revealing evidence of high culture to be found in the astronomy, geometry and metrology of ancient artifacts. This material has been presented to students at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, John Ruskin College, Brasenose College, Oxford, the British School of Dowsing, The Gatekeeper Trust, RILKO (Research into Lost Knowledge Organisation), and the Royal Institute of Mathematics.
A launch copy of Robin’s latest book, The Temple in the Hills, will be available at £10.
For more information and to make a booking contact Castell Henllys on 01239 891319
PRESS: Please contact Robin Heath by email (mail AT skyhenge.plus.com) for interviews or further information,
Whether you were there or not here you can now read the transcript of my talk at the Crop Circle based Summer Lectures 2015. My thanks to Karen Alexander for taking the trouble to make this available.
An Illustrated Presentation given at Castle Henllys centre
on the 18th November 2015 at 7:30pm
by Robin Heath
What were megalithic monuments for?
Despite centuries of inquiry by archaeologists and prehistorians the key question remains unanswered. Why were so many massive stone structures erected across the ancient and sacred landscapes of the world, including the Preseli region?
One answer to this innocent question lies in the fact that some stone circles employ the same geometrical techniques as do surveyors and navigators. This fully illustrated talk shows how geometrical atterns became imprinted on the local and wider landscape of Britain, revealing a remarkable purpose for the megaliths, a purpose based on the importance of location ‐‑ the right place.
Just how did they determine the right place?
Come along and find out, and have your present model of history recalibrated, as we also discover that the later Celtic and Roman Church reapplied the ‘ʹpagan’ʹ techniques of the megalith builders to suit the requirements of the new Christian era, ultimately using them to locate Gothic cathedrals.
BOOKING IN ADVANCE ADVISABLE 01239 891319
For over thirty years, Robin Heath has looked for evidence of the science underpinning the culture of the megalithic monument builders. Over this period Robin has written ten books on ancient astronomy and geometry, and most recently has been engaged in research looking for evidence of larger geometrical patterns across the landscape, based on the location and placement of networks of ancient monuments. Previously having worked with John Michell and local antiquarian, the late John Sharkey, Robin has presented some of this material on TV documentaries, to megalithic tour groups, and also to students at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, John Ruskin College, Brasenose College, Oxford, the British School of Dowsing and the Faculty of Astrological Studies. He lives in the Preseli National Park, in Pembrokeshire.