‘Shadowing’ is the apparent… and disputed… reproduction in the stone of many ancient monuments of prominent features in the landscape. A monolith in a stone circle that aligns with and captures the shape of a nearby peak… the capstone of a tomb that follows the contours of the horizon… and in some places, whole arrangements of stone that seem to mirror, in miniature, the skyline of the land in which it stands.
There are many who dismiss the idea as fanciful. There are many who speculate upon the unlikelihood of primitive man being able to envision or achieve such feats… regardless of the scale and precision of places like Stonehenge, Avebury or Silbury. Bearing in mind that these same primitive ancestors were contemporary with the pyramid builders of Egypt, we feel that there may be more than just the visible monument to understand at these ancient sites, but as their builders are long gone, only the silent stones remain to plead their case.
Over the past century or so, many theories have moved from precarious positions on the lunatic fringe into the accepted realms of archaeology. We cannot know all the answers to what was being built into the sites that remain, any more than it is possible to replicate the entire picture of a jigsaw puzzle when half the pieces are missing. However, the work of pioneers like Alexander Thom and John Michell, building upon the work of Aubrey Burl, William Stukeley and their ilk, has carried forward the notion of a knowledge of geometry, land and sky that is far in advance of that for which the ‘primitives’ were once given credit.
There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of books proposing theories about the sacred geometry that our ancestors used in constructing ancient sites of sanctity worldwide. The plethora of theories, some of them very far-fetched, often clouds the central agreement that there was an understanding of geometry in use, thousands of years before Pythagoras was born. It may not have been the intellectual application of degrees and angles that we know today. It may have been closer to an artistic vision that understood the rightness of harmony… but whatever it was, its mark on the landscape provides a fascinating study for the mathematically minded.
Pioneers of archaeoastronomy were also dismissed with their lunatic theories. It is now a part of mainstream archaeology. The idea is not that our ancestors had scientific knowledge that rivalled that acquired by NASA, but more that they understood the movement and cycles of the heavens. If all you have to look at when the fire flickers low is the vault of stars above, you are going to see more than we do, when the light of the stars is drowned by our cities, cars and televisions. What was learned through such observation was woven into symbolic stories and they learned how to use their understanding, creating structures to capture, record and predict the passing of the heavenly bodies through their cycles. For what reason? Again, we do not know for certain… but we know that they did.
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