Age of the Longstone Builders | The Bronze Age 2300-800 BCE
The Megalithic Inheritance
Trevean 2 menhir, at Roskestal
Around 3700-3500 BCE the system of backbone alignments associating Penwith’s major base sites had been established. Anchored in the tors and cliff sanctuaries, it formed a geomantic foundation that was then bequeathed to the Bronze Age. Menhirs, barrows, stones and enclosures were erected to extrapolate the system, all plugged into the network and installed for a variety of terrestrial, astronomical and geomantic purposes.
They were located where they were for intricate reasons, using a megalithic science that was both intellectual and intuitive in method. Geomancy was a core subject: megalithic feng shui. Another was astronomy-astrology, studying the nature and passage of time, its interpretation and its effects on land, sea, wildlife and the welfare of tribes. Another was mathematics and geometry, built into the design, proportions and positioning of ancient sites. The physical and the metaphysical were interdependent, co-engineered.
In designing megalithic structures with astronomical orientations and sophisticated geometry, megalith builders sought to lock time and change into space, embodying the periodicities of the sun, moon and movement of the planets. They used a coherent terrestrial framework – the backbone alignments – to create an integrated system of sacred sites.
The Neolithics intuitively located their sites on energy vortices, also using astronomical, landscape and other factors. Astronomical and geomantic knowledge was well developed by the mid-3000s and, despite the seven century late Neolithic gap when seemingly no new sites were built in Penwith, somehow this knowledge survived. How it survived is an open question – some posit a group of knowledge-holders who persisted through time, or perhaps the knowhow survived elsewhere, in Brittany, Ireland or Scotland, later to be re-seeded in Cornwall. Arguably it could be rediscovered in the Bronze Age by studying Neolithic sites, but this would have encountered deciphering problems not dissimilar to those we face – we can deduce many things, but we can only imagine, not know, the thinking-processes the megalith-builders had.
As sacred site location and design turned into a science, Penwith morphed into a kind of megalithic national park, a scaled-up geoengineering project that eventually covered the peninsula. It reached into the earth by being plugged into underground water and subtle earth energy, into the heavens with astronomical orientations, across the land through alignments and subtle energy-lines, and beyond it through alignments stretching through Cornwall, Devon and further. Whatever Bronze Age people were really seeking to achieve, this was big. But the thinking behind it had started at least a thousand years before.