Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thornborough Henges as Astronomy - LexiLine Journal 405

The idea that the Thornborough Henges (also called Thornborough Circles) represented stars of the heavens was first presented by me in my book Stars Stones and Scholars which was published in the year 2003. It is thus rather strange now in the year 2006, to find a scholar promoting a report to be published in 2007 and - coincidentally? funded by English Heritage in 2003 coincident with my book publication - and claiming to be the first innovative one to see a specific star-oriented stellar connection at Thornoborough. That is incorrect. The innovation is mine, not anyone else's.

I have nothing against the archaeologists finally seeing that these ancient Neolithic structures are astronomical and mark the stars, but I do think that they should give credit where credit is due and honor the work of previous pioneer researchers such as myself, rather than claiming priority where none is present.

Here is a statement that I just sent to the BBC in the UK:

Your story at
relates to the following news release
which contains numerous inaccuracies, and thus, so does your story.

The innovation of relating the Thornborough Henges to specific stars in the sky belongs not to Dr Jan Harding in the year 2006, but rather to Andis Kaulins (J.D. Stanford University Law School, USA, 1971) and his book Stars Stones and Scholars: The Decipherment of the Megaliths (published by Trafford Publishing in the year 2003, ISBN 141201344-5), in which Kaulins writes at p. 161:
"The Thornborough Circles of Yorkshire north of Ripon calculate the position of the South Pole along the celestial meridian of the Equinoxes to the North Pole in ca. 3117 BC, i.e. a line running from the star alpha in Hydrus to the star alpha in the Southern Triangle to Antares or Dschubba in Scorpio and from there to kappa-Serpentis, the head of Serpens Caput and from there to the North Polar Star, dividing the meridian into four equal segments. The Cursus marks the edge of the Milky Way and the Mound Hill marks the Southern Pole Star. Tucana, Octans, Apus and Ara are also marked."
In addition to this book, Kaulins has numerous websites online, including [] where this material is presented and of which researchers such as Harding can certainly not claim to have no knowledge, if they have done any research of any kind. Yet credit is not given where credit is due. The innovation of relating the Thornborough Circles to the specific stars is mine and not Mr Harding's. Mr Harding can disagree with my conclusions but he can not ignore my work and claim to be first where he is at best second. I expect this to be corrected in your news publications forthwith. Please send me a copy of your correction when made. Thank you.

The Orion solution suggested by Harding, also considered by Kaulins when writing his book, by the way, does not stand up to close inspection and will not survive scrutiny. The Thornborough Henges do not, as claimed by Harding, have any relation to Orion and the stars of Orion's Belt whatsoever. Rather, all Neolithic sites in Ancient Britain are part of an interlocking hermetic astronomical system. The penchant of the non-astronomically inclined archaeologists to select isolated sites for scrutiny has a long history and is simply wrong.

The news release referred to is reproduced below.

Protecting, Preserving and Enhancing Our Cultural Landscape
14 February, 2006

New research on Neolithic Astronomy released:
Importance of Thornborough Henges confirmed

Few aspects of archaeology are as controversial as the debate over whether the Neolithic peoples of the British Isles, living between 4000 BC and 2000 BC, were astronomers. The famous site of Stonehenge has long been seen to demonstrate that celestial bodies like the sun were integral to the period's religious beliefs and practices, but it has always proved difficult to say whether Stonehenge was unique or actually part of a broader pattern of people observing the sky.

Now a new study recently completed by Dr Jan Harding, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Newcastle University, provides important new information, suggesting that the sky was fundamental to the Neolithic way of life. This innovative research focuses upon the spectacular monument complex of Thornborough, in North Yorkshire, described by English Heritage's Chief Archaeological Advisor, as 'the most important prehistoric site between Stonehenge and the Orkneys'.

The study used cutting-edge technology to consider whether the Neolithic monuments at Thornborough were aligned upon the sun, moon and stars. A three-dimensional virtual reality model was built by Glyn Goodrick of the Museum of Antiquities at Newcastle University. Over this was draped images, generated by the computer programme SkyMap Pro v6, of the sky as it would have appeared in Neolithic times. The result is a virtual world in which you can position yourself to consider the reconstructed view of both the monuments and the sky.

'This study', reports Dr Harding, 'provides detailed insights into Neolithic religion and the values placed on favoured celestial phenomena. The same objects in the sky are being picked out as important for a period of around 1500 years ~ a length of time equivalent to that between the end of Roman Britain and the present day. This tells us that religion was complex long before the arrival of beliefs like Christianity and Islam'.

One of the earliest monuments, a giant elongated enclosure or cursus, about half of which has been destroyed by quarrying, was most likely built between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. This appears to have been deliberately orientated towards the midsummer solstice sunrise, to the east, and towards the setting of the three stars which make up the well known constellation of Orion's Belt, to the west. This early monument was replaced after 3000 BC by three giant circular earthwork enclosures or henges, each around 240 metres in diameter. All three henges are interrupted by a pair of entrances, all on a shared axis and aligned on the midwinter solstice sunrise. The entrances also frame the rising of Sirius, the sky's brightest star, and again, the associated constellation of Orion's Belt.

The study argues that these results make sense if considered alongside the possible roles of the Thornborough monument complex. As Jan Harding explains, 'Thornborough was a sacred landscape, a place of religious worship, and we should try to interpret these astronomical orientations within that context. People congregating within the henges would have been segregated from the outside world by the monument's imposing banks. These huge earthworks mask any view of the surrounding landscape, channelling people's attention to the sky above. This astronomical association was emphasised by the banks being coated in gypsum, a locally available substance whose whiteness added an unnatural brilliance. The drama of this scenario must have been intense. People surely felt they were at the centre of the very cosmos as they worshipped the heavens above.'

The Thornborough monument complex is also sited on what is thought to have been an important routeway linking Cumbria, the central Pennines and eastern Yorkshire. 'It is known that polished stone axes from Langdale and flints from the Yorkshire Wolds were transported along this routeway on a regular basis. Accordingly, it may be appropriate to see Thornborough as a pilgrimage centre ~ a place where people sought spiritual salvation. Importantly, the movement across the heavens of celestial bodies like the sun and Orion's Belt could be used to determine the most propitious times for seasonal festivals or celebrations. In such a way, the skyscape and people's life cycles would be in harmony.' This recently completed research, which was funded by Newcastle University, will be included in a major new report to be published on the Thornborough monument complex in 2007.

Much of this sacred landscape has already been lost to open-cast gravel mining and Tarmac now owns the land upon which two of the henges were constructed by our ancestors. Indeed, on 21 February, North Yorkshire County Council is due to decide whether to permit Tarmac to extend its quarrying operations on to Ladybridge Farm, where the remains of a Neolithic settlement used by the henge builders and users is located.


For further information, contact:

Mike Sanders, Press Officer, The Friends of Thornborough Henges (01609-777480)
Dr Jan Harding, School of Historical Studies, University Of Newcastle (0191-222-7966)

Two days later I wrote:

"There is an old saw about the acceptance of new ideas and mainstream science. It goes like this:

first ideas are ridiculed,
then, if they will not go away, those ideas are strongly opposed,
if all that fails, and if the evidence is overwhelming (as it is in the things that I write about)
with time, however, such ideas are accepted as if they were something everyone knew all along,
indeed and especially, known by those very same mainstream scientists
who had opposed these same ideas the entire time beforehand,
and lastly
those who did not develop those ideas at all in fact then claim those ideas as their own.

I have been deciphering ancient documents and ancient sites - without remuneration - for about 30 years now and my astronomical decipherment of the Etruscan Bronze Liver of Piacenza e.g. was published 26 years ago in 1980 as The Etruscan Bronze Liver of Piacenza: An Ancient Starfinder and Calendar (a monograph found in libraries throughout the world, including the British Public Library, mentioned in a Harvard/Smithsonian/NASA catalogue entry, etc.)

My recent book, Stars Stones and Scholars: Decipherment of the Megaliths as an Ancient Survey of the Earth by Astronomy, sent to English Heritage for review in 2003, did not just materialize out of thin air, but was the product of years and years of research in this field. Moreover, I was not funded by hundreds of thousands of pounds from the English Heritage, but in fact have always funded my own research. My thanks in the world of mainstream science has thus far consisted of stupid comments by ignorant stuffed-shirt academics who are lucky to walk and chew gum at the same time.

The 2003 Thornborough Project is described here, with no mention of the astronomical significance of the Thornborough Circles. The appreciation of their possible astronomical significance by mainstream archaeologists in the UK has happened only recently, after the publication of my book, and after the sending of that book to places such as English Heritage.

I trust it is then understandable that I am somewhat displeased if new researchers, heavily funded by English Heritage, suddenly begin popping out of the woodwork to claim that they are the innovators in matching ancient Neolithic sites with stars in the sky, which is simply not true. They are followers, not innovators.

My effort in this field can not be ignored and any mainstream scientists or organizations doing that are going to hear about it."

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