THE BOOK
Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Bluestone Magic -- book review (2)



Finally, dear reader, I got to the end of Robin Heath's new book.  At the beginning of chapter 5 (on the (Bluestones and Stonehenge) (which is where I left off) there is the statement "from the melting of the last Ice Age" -- and when I read it, my heart sank.  Ice Ages don't melt -- glaciers do.  But I carried on manfully, and actually Robin's chapter is pretty well balanced and quite informative, in spite of a large number of inaccuracies and geological and other misunderstandings.  He talks about Merlin and Ireland, and the glacial transport and human transport theories, and it appears that he is not terribly worried how the bluestones got from west Wales to Stonehenge -- he dips out of that argument and stresses over and again that the bluestones were USED at Stonehenge because its precise location was highly auspicious.  And that's where the trouble starts, in Chapter 6.  From this point on, Robin is preoccupied with circles, triangles, rectangles and points. The text becomes a strange mixture of numerology, astronomy, and "beautiful geometry."  Not content with fixing the "astonishingly accurate" Preseli - Lundy - Stonehenge "lunation triangle" (which turns out not to be very accurate at all), he goes on to connect up assorted other points such as Arbor Low, Bry Celli Ddu, and Morte Point, with straight lines running on many different compass orientations, adding points to these lines wherever it is convenient, even if the points actually lie some way off to the right or left.  Where sacred points like old churches or convenient place-names fall off the lines by too great a distance, he invents a few circles instead, and miraculously finds that some of them lie on the circumferences of those.  He has right-angles triangles and equilateral triangles, joining up places which are "almost exactly" where they ought to be.  Then he moves on to intersecting circles and "vesicas" and finds that there are auspicious points on those too -- conveniently forgetting that there are also thousands of other auspicious points in the landscape that don't conveniently fit onto anything.  Some of his auspicious points look to me (as somebody who lives locally and knows all of them) as extremely inauspicious -- but there you go.....

After a while he gets so enthusiastic about vesicas (there's one at Glastonbury too, apparently) that he starts relating them to male/female issues, universal consciousness, and even the local "alternative movement" in the Cilgwyn - Newport area, where I happen to live.   There are intersecting triangles and circles everywhere, and even inscribed stones from the Christian era are said to have been designed according to the impulses of "sacred geometry."

Robin's reference list says quite a lot about the author and his expected readership.  Robin HAS obviously read quite widely, but the only things he points his reader towards, in his "bibliography" are those designed to reinforce the myth that he himself is creating and developing.  It's almost as if he is rather frightened of his readers ever encountering anything inconvenient -- for example, written by the "archaeology establishment" (for whom he has no respect at all) or for sceptics like me.



Worth reading?  Well, yes, because it's actually quite fascinating to see how different people view the landscape and the manner in which it is organized.  Robin's training is in engineering and mathematics, and he is also a very accomplished musician -- so he sees beauty and spirituality in things that others might find mundane.  That's fine by me.  But his central thesis -- that the landscape is full of sacred points which are organized according to strict astronomical and geometric principles -- falls flat on its face because he never, at any stage in the book, tries to explain HOW human beings (whether in the Neolithic or in the Age of the Saints, or at any other time) placed their megaliths, cromlechs and Celtic crosses on all these supposedly predetermined or predestined sacred sites that pepper the pages of the book.  Did they all have surveying or map-making skills which were far in excess of those of the early Ordnance Survey surveyors?  Did they do it all by reading the stars, the sun and the moon?    Did they do it all by mental arithmetic, long before the invention of writing or mathematics?  Did they "just know" about aligned points tens or even hundreds of miles away, beyond mountain ranges or across seas?  Or did they just "know" that some points were auspicious and others not, and were somehow just guided by some Ancient Wisdom to put up their stones, or build their churches, here rather than there?  And if they put up their erections slightly away from where Ancient Wisdom intended, does that mean they were not sufficiently attuned, having not reached the required high level of intuition or enlightenment?

Oh dear -- this is all getting too much for me.  I'd better go and do some weeding in the garden.

6 comments:

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Wikipaedia currently tells us: "Robin Heath is now an Honorary Research Fellow within the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Wales Lampeter". He also taught 'Sacred Geography' at Bath Spa University College, Wikipaedia tells us. Worth a look more generally.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I think I read somewhere (on one of Robin's sites) that the Lampeter course has been "discontinued" for reasons best known to the University. Robin was not, by the sound of it, best pleased.

Not sure about the Bath connection -- but all universities these days have summer schools and other private enterprise events, and this might just have been slotted into one of those?

Tony Hinchliffe said...

I think you have received comments on "Stonehenge Thoughts" blogsite in the past from Ned Pegler, who has his own blogsite at:-

http://armchairprehistory.com

Ned has some broad background similarities with Robin Heath, insofar as he has no formal training in Archaeology. He says he was trained as a Geologist, but currently teaches Electronics and Astonomy in a Further Education College in Swindon. I met him in the last year at a prehistory lecture at Devizes Museum.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I have had a few chats with Ned, and have looked at his site occasionally...

sem said...

I'd suggest Robin is more interested in searching than arguing. "Cracking the Stone Age Code" about Alexander Thom is a perfect example.

Madan said...

I think it's worth mentioning that mainstream archaeology has not conclusively proven the popular theory that man was progressively less intelligent the further we look back into the past. A cyclical understanding of time reconciles many of the glaring anomalies in our predominant scientific worldview. I would highly recommend 'Forbidden Archaeology' for 900-pages of scholarly insight into both commonly accepted and rejected evidence for the vast antiquity of the human race:
http://www.mcremo.com/fa.htm