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Friday, 22 February 2013

New Stonehenge book



Thanks to Jon Morris for sending a review copy of this book, which is now available both in printed and Kindle formats.  Below I have printed Jon's blurb for the book.  Having looked through it, I have to say that it is not exactly my sort of Stonehenge book -- but part of a long tradition of tomes (such as those of Robin Heath) concentrating on the mathematics, engineering and astronomy of the monument.  The central thesis is that the monument -- at least in  some of its idealized reconstructions -- was a model of a geocentric universe, used with poles, ropes and mirrors as a sort of planetarium for educational, research and entertainment purposes by rather a sophisticated society that must have had time on its hands.

Jon clearly subscribes to the "ancient wisdom" school of thought -- believing in a group of highly skilled and numerate individuals capable of conducting sophisticated observations and even controlled experiments related to star movements and solar movements from month to month and season to season.

I have major problems with this approach, for a number of reasons.

1.  I find it hard to know just how accurate all the stone settings and alignments really are.  Jon tells us that there is extraordinary accuracy involved here, but I am not so sure, and it appears that many archaeologists these days accept that there are too many "almosts" and "approximates" for comfort -- with authors like Jon referring over and again to theoretical or "desired" stone locations rather than actual surveyed locations.

2. I find it hard to believe that those who were responsible for the stone settings at Stonehenge had access to the technology capable of manufacturing and engineering arrays of highly polished and shaped solar reflectors located so as to create an artificial sun positioned on a moving system of timber arms........

3.  Why would these brilliant engineers want to do all of this anyway?  You don't need complicated gadgets and displays to tell you that the sun goes round in the sky, and up and down, and that the seasons follow one another in sequence.  The growing season comes, and goes, and comes again.  It all seems far too frivolous to me -- it provides Jon and others lots of innocent amusement, but in the Neolithic I don't see any evidence from anywhere that the inhabitants of Salisbury Plain would have been interested in things that might nowadays have occupied the minds of higher-level mathematics and engineering students.  Research and entertainment were, I assume, rather low on the list of priorities, when there was the little matter of surviving to cope with.

4.  I found the section on "the size of the world" very unconvincing, and I thought the arguments and "evidence" were highly selective and forced into a predetermined hypothesis.  Then I found the section of folklore even less convincing.......

So there 'tis then.  I'm nonetheless happy to give some space to the book, and to celebrate the rich diversity of views which keeps us all occupied and entertained!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stonehenge-Solving-Neolithic-Universe-ebook/dp/B00A25VWYG#reader_B00A25VWYG


The book blurb:

Current opinion of Neolithic times imposes medieval roles on men and women: Women as chattels, men as warriors and monuments as places of worship and human sacrifice. But what if such a patriarchal society did not exist before history was recorded?

This fully illustrated e-book, by a Fellow of two engineering institutions, puts forward a detailed and fully developed alternative interpretation for Stonehenge based on recent research into renewable energy: It shows how its plan layout is the same as an idealized geocentric (fixed world) description of the Universe; its inner stone monument is shown to be capable of creating a spectacular visual description of a the sun's movement around a fixed world.

Part 2 shows examples of where that early knowledge of the Universe could have been obtained. It also shows that, in all the locations needed, the monuments of that period appear to fit that which would be required.

Part 3 is about how the monuments would be perceived: It shows how mythological and Arthurian references all appear to fit this explanation of Stonehenge and other monuments. This offers an alternative explanation for the Grail and the Four Treasures of.the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Part 4 looks at the most recent evidence published in 2012 and part 5 summarizes the possibilities.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mirror, Mirror on the pole,
What's the point of this rotating ball?
Wilma says I should stop arcing around and go on a hunt,
Or its going to be findus horse-meat pie for my lunch!

Fred

myris of alexandia said...

Almost Omaresque in its execution
They eat much horse in Bukhara even now.
Our eponymous founder visited there 600 years ago.
M.

Jon Morris said...

Many thanks for the review Brian: It's dead useful to get views on it (whatever the views are).

ND Wiseman said...

Good Day, Brian,
I have been a watchful admirer of your work for some time now, and though I may not agree with all of your postulations, your erudite tenacity is impressive.

I have also followed Jon Morris's work for some time and, again ― I may not agree with the final product, if you will ― but I do have something of an Inside Track on his model.

My sense is that the only Stone which might be somewhat out-of-place is S-56 of the Great Trilithon, re-set by William Gowland in 1901. But whether it's 16-inches out, as some say, or up to a meter, as others claim, it's moot to Jon's thesis, as the GT plays only a small role in his schematic.

I know firsthand that all of the Stone's positions in Morris's concept were very carefully computed using, among several sources, both the updated Cleal and the 1919 OOW Ordinance Survey.

There can be little doubt as to accuracy represented in his depictions.

Additionally, there is some direct, some indirect, and lots of circumstantial evidence which supports the foundation of the concept.
The rather large body of information released in 2012 stood several previously ‘solid’ theories on end. But virtually all of the newly revealed points bolster his argument.

My own view is that among several of the functions of Stonehenge, it was a physical representation of the geo-centric cosmos. They apparently knew a great deal more about the workings of the natural world than we had previously given them credit.
On this point he and I agree in virtual tandem.

The Sun was almost certainly the chief ‘deity’ among those of that culture.
The technology of Tin-Making was widely available at the time in question.
The layout, alignment and positioning of both the two sets of Sarsens and their counterpart Bluestones lend themselves to his idea in a very elegant fashion.
And finally, the number of peculiarities associated with the South Trilithon ― some glaring, some subtle ― are compelling enough to invite a serious examination of the data-set.

If it proves to be valid, great. If it proves to be false, oh well.
But its failure wouldn't be due either to lack of study or based on whimsical daydream.

Solid skepticism is very healthy with regard to Stonehenge, as you are more than well aware.
Likewise, any scholarship associated with a new idea should withstand the inevitable onslaught of crushing peer-review.
Whether I believe Jon Morris's theory has legs or not, I can't find fault with his careful rationale.

I bid you my best wishes from this chair,
ND Wiseman

TonyH said...

Nice to read ND Wiseman's comments. I've seen his remarks on Dennis Price's Eternal Idol website from time to time, concerning Stonehenge, sometimes in relation to Jonathan's writings.

Tony

TonyH said...

Jonathan, do you have any observations to make on the gold lozenge found below the famous Bush Barrow near Stonehenge? Does it in any way back up your theory? It has been claimed to indicate that those who possessed it were aware of how to apply the principles of its design to the layout of Stonehenge, in particular to its solsticial alignments.

Jon Morris said...

It may be that the book gives the impression that it's only approximately correct and I'll take a look to see if the wording needs revising when I have a moment. Negative criticism of any sort can be great because it allows you to see where your writing is going astray. The book is based on surveys of Stonehenge and the 3-D AutoCAD models were created based on those surveys.

When I did the original fit, the model predicted that the Great Trilithon would be located slightly differently, which later proved to be the case: When Anthony Johnson originally published 'Solving Stonehenge', there were two conflicting descriptions of where the stone was originally located: One location on page 240 and one with a slightly different wording on page 244. I wrote to the publishers saying that there was an error and also told them which one was likely to be correct (though I didn't say why: They would have thought I was nuts). Received a note from Tony about a year ago saying that I was right and that he would be including it in the revision list.


Jonathan, do you have any observations to make on the gold lozenge found below the famous Bush Barrow near Stonehenge?

Yes, but I thought it too complex a reason to explain in a short book such as this and it doesn't add much to the overall gist: In the novel, I called it 'Mhyrdin's Template' and had one of the girls partly describe why it was important. There's illustrations of it in both its original and also its expanded form in the novel.

Is it important do you think? It's not something I thought I should make a great play on.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

From prior discussions, Stonehenge was never “completed”. How does your theory account for this?

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

From prior discussions, Stonehenge was never “completed”. How does your theory account for this?

The outer ring of stones and lintels have recently been found to be incomplete in the south-west segment (though I understand that Professor Parker Pearson thinks the evidence isn't conclusive).

The mechanism does not require the south-west segment to exist at all. The only reason you would install it is for aesthetic reasons (to make it look nice). Back in 2010, when I did the original computer drawing renders for the novel, I decided to draw in most of the south-west segment (as if it were 'complete') so that it would be recognisable as 'Stonehenge'. However, I omitted Stones 17 and 18 from the published drawings because these were in a location where stones would be more of a hindrance than a help.

Since that time, I understand the evidence tends to support the idea that Stones 17 and 18 were left out by the original builders of Stonehenge. Whether in or out, the south-west section is an 'extra' to the design: Something which makes it look nicer but is not required for it to be considered 'finished'.

The reason for mentioning the novel again is that it was published well before any of the latest findings were made available.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

An “unfinished Stonehenge” may not make any difference to you, but why should highly sophisticated and technically very advanced Neolithic people not “complete the circle”? And why add more concentric circles to the construction? And why haul bluestones from Preseli? And why dig the outer ditch? And what explains all the empty pits? Brian thinks it was “indecision” on the part of the builders! What do you think?

Kostas

Lloyd Matthews said...

Although there is much debate regarding Stonehenge, I believe that one point is clear; the builders of this monument were part of an intelligent society as Jon Morris suggests. Perhaps there have been too many paradigm changes between the Age of Stone to the Age of the Computer for the links of intelligence to be categorised. Would a modern day neuro surgeon be able to conduct an operation involving the removing of one or more parts of the skull without damaging the blood vessels, the three membranes that envelope the brain – the dura matter, pia mater and arachnoid – or the actual brain; not surprisingly, it is a procedure that requires both skill and care on the part of the surgeon, and with just using a small flake of flint as a scalpel? (Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age - Richard Rudgley Page 126, 128)

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Lloyd Matthews,

Where is the evidence of such exceptionally advanced civilization that left no evidence behind? Or no need for evidence to make such claims.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

An “unfinished Stonehenge” may not make any difference to you, but why should highly sophisticated and technically very advanced Neolithic people not “complete the circle”? And why add more concentric circles to the construction? And why haul bluestones from Preseli? And why dig the outer ditch? And what explains all the empty pits? Brian thinks it was “indecision” on the part of the builders! What do you think?

Hi Kostas

There are a whole set of additional related coincidences concerning Stonehenge, but it is very time consuming to show what they are. The booklet was designed to be an easy read and to give the main ideas (especially Chapter 1). Though it may look short and have few references, it took an exceptionally long time to do (about 40 archaeological & other reference books were used to prepare it).

A much larger book could have been done by expanding on the detail, but I'm no expert on archaeology and I have no idea whether or not it would be of any immediate use to anyone to know what else there is. So I figured it would be better just to keep the initial booklet short and see how it does: It's probably not worth having a detailed discussion about stuff that's not in the book.

As to the bluestones & their transportation method: I have absolutely no idea.

ND Wiseman said...

Thank you for the kind words, TonyH,
I also appear with numerous essays concerning Stonehenge over at Andy Burnham's Megalithic Portal, Mike Pitts’ site, Tim Daw's blog and a couple of other places.

Anyway, I have always found the issue of Stone-Transport to be peripheral in the bigger scheme. Interesting to debate, but slightly tangential. The rocks didn’t just hop into place by themselves and that's good enough with me for most purposes. (It would also crowd the bounds of cheek to debate them on this blog!)
The real issue for me has always revolved around intent.

Constantinos Ragazas makes the point about 'finished' or 'unfinished'. Either one would tell us a great deal about intent. Finished would mean that they meant business so to speak, and that the nature of their belief-system was happily intact throughout the entire thousand-year project. Unfinished would tell us that they no longer practiced the rituals of whatever Sun-Based belief they adhered to, with the presumption that they very quickly moved on to something different.
(There's lots more to say about that.)

Personally, I believe it was as finished as they intended it to be. As we now know, the craftsmanship of the Circle falls off starkly the further toward the Southwest we go, as seen from the Avenue. Our host Brian has long and rightly noted this aspect of the construct. Therefore, not having S-17 & -18 in place fits their needs, in addition to leaving what I like to think of as a 'Service Entrance'.

Punky S-11 is explained by being a required 'exit turnstile' for the Dead. (But don't get me started on that one either!)
Since we know S-13 was there, it leaves only one convenient gap in a clever Circle of 28 Sarsens.
(56/28/14/7)

Lloyd Matthews talks about how intelligent the People must have been.
I couldn't agree more.
At that point the Culture had been in place with a few modifications for several thousand years. We can surmise indirectly that they were well aware of their natural surroundings - both Terran as well as Cosmological. With the advent of a knowledge-breakthrough in regard to the Central Nature of both Earth and themselves, it then becomes absolutely imperative that they build Stonehenge.

The degree of their sophistication can be debated, but I think the basic ethic speaks for itself. The argument really then becomes: 'What did they know, and when did they know it'.
If Mr Morris' theory turns out to be correct in the end, it tells us that they knew quite a lot a long time ago.
With regard to the Earth-Centric nature of the Universe, bear in mind that our own adolescent culture believed exactly the same thing until only a brief 400 years ago.

In composite, most of the latest information is telling us that they were well organized, highly skilled, and pretty bright overall. But what it actually says is: we have consistently underestimated a very sophisticated Culture for a very long time.

ND Wiseman

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,
“As to the bluestones & their transportation method: I have absolutely no idea.”

I appreciate your honest admission. But that was not the question. What I ask is not how bluestones from Preseli were transported. But WHY? Why bring these stones from such great distance for the purpose of building a “planetarium” at Stonehenge? Couldn't smaller stones (or even tree trunks)taken from the immediate area do just fine for shiny shields to lean against?

The problem for you Jon is once you propose a purpose to the construction of Stonehenge then all the other pieces of that puzzle have to fit the theory. And as I see it, too many pieces just don't fit. But then again, none of the archeologists made-up stories do any better in this regard. And if I had to choose who I prefer make money on Stonehenge, I would pick you and Brian over all the erudite and pompous archeologists.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

The problem for you Jon is once you propose a purpose to the construction of Stonehenge then all the other pieces of that puzzle have to fit the theory. And as I see it, too many pieces just don't fit. But then again, none of the archeologists made-up stories do any better in this regard. And if I had to choose who I prefer make money on Stonehenge, I would pick you and Brian over all the erudite and pompous archeologists.

It's always useful to get views: Perhaps you'll consider reading the booklet to find out what it is about?

Jon Morris said...

But what it actually says is: we have consistently underestimated a very sophisticated Culture for a very long time.

Brilliant summary.

Anonymous said...

Jon,
Very much looking forward to reading your book.

Currently embedded in John North's "Stonehenge: Neolithic Man and the Cosmos" which lends a lot of weight to the theory of a long tradition of star gazing.
A regular contributor here recommended the book and thanks for that!

@Kostas. In my own mind there is a long tradition preceding the later stages of Stonehenge and it probably evolved from an interest in particular bright star clusters, to solar focus in the late stages. We don't know when Bluestones were first used at Stonehenge - maybe even in the Long Barrow times (Boles) - but we do know that they were reused more than once as the monument developed. By the time Jon's idea was constructed the Bluestones may very well have been "standing around" in a manner of speaking.

The real interesting part to me is the intent. When you start to realise that they made big efforts to link the earth with the heavens in building physical works over a big area then it might indeed have made sense to link to the sun in the very physical way Jon tells.

Chris

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris Anon,

No point rehashing old arguments! I am convinced in your mind everything is as you say! True mark of committed intellect.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Very much looking forward to reading your book.

Thanks Chris, Brian, Neil and all.

Following Brian's comments, I looked quickly through the booklet to see if it is too light on detail. For example, the precise reason for the Trilithons height and locations is described but not in any detail (one or two sentences each), so it would be difficult for anyone to work out why the GT has to be slightly nearer the centre for it to work.

Brian may be right, but I was wary of making it too long. To keep it short, I didn't describe other coincidences that are pertinent. For example, the Altar Stone isn't even mentioned and other features in the stones, landscape, barrows and so on are also omitted: Just the main ideas are put forward. I touched on a few of the secondary things in the novel, but didn't know if there would really be any archaeological interest in a vast tome describing all of the detail.

I'd really value opinion: If you think there are any glaring omissions which aren't covered but really should be (bearing in mind it's supposed to be a short booklet), could you ping me an email?

Jon Morris said...

John

This post (which will form part of a series) explains the strange connection to the Bush Barrow Lozenge:

Making Spherical Mirrors (part 1 of 4)

Wasn't going to do this yet, but they're planning to build it in Wiltshire as well so I thought I should get some explanation posts up.

TonyH said...

Chris
Did you know that the then Curator of the Devizes Museum, Paul Robinson, was furious with the British Museum for the damage they'd done to the Bush Barrow Lozenge when they had it in their possession on loan? Big article in the Wiltshire Times back then, and no doubt lots of other places.
Tony

chris johnson said...

Thanks TonyH for bringing my attention to the lozenges (Clandon and Bush Barrow). I had not spent time on these and a universe of new speculation opens up.

I do not know enough mathematics or navigation theory or about ancient measurements, but several people who do know are convinced by the symbolic interpretation and the profound mathematical understanding

Might be interesting to know what Kostas thinks as he is a mathematician, if his can suspend disbelief sufficiently to pay attention to some of the theories.

I agree that curators should be careful about restoring things until they are 100% convinced they understand what they are doing or can record the previous state with total accuracy.

Apparently the distance between the heel stone and the centre of the circle at Stonehenge has a direct relation with the time taken for precession ??? Curiouser and curiouser.

In the little research I did it seems British Museum polished their lozenge although there is no indication that is was polished originally. Nor do I see an immediate link to Jon's theory - though I still need to read his book. (Too busy trying to sort out modern day macro-economic theories for something completely different).

Jon Morris said...

Nor do I see an immediate link to Jon's theory - though I still need to read his book. (Too busy trying to sort out modern day macro-economic theories for something completely different).

The link to the Bush Barrow isn't a big deal. It's rather like having found a model T Ford and also finding a scrap of a model T maintenance manual in a nearby shed: The pages aren't relevant if you're not sure that you have found a model T.

Also there are two of these rhombus shaped plaques: One has everything, every line is correct; even down to the triangulated pattern at the edge. The other "Clandon Barrow" rhombus (called a 'lozenge' by archaeologists for some odd reason) has none of the features: Nothing; not one single corresponding feature. So though I partly described the BB lozenge in the novel, I didn't think it should be included elsewhere.

Enjoy the book when you get round to it. All the best!

Jon Morris said...

Hi Brian:

Just in case of interest: The updated version of the book is available below. This one's got 156 pages, 114 illustrations and 243 notes cross-referencing to 46 reference works on Stonehenge (it's much more heavyweight than the original booklet version).

The price currently says £3.99, but that's been arranged to only apply over equinox. After that it'll go up to normal.

Stonehenge: Solving the Neolithic (expanded)

More here: http://heavenshenge.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/stonehenge-solving-neolithic-universe.html