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19 September 2009
British monuments part of an ancient navigational aid?

According to a new theory, prehistoric man found his way across England using a navigation system based on stone circles and other markers. The complex network of stones, hill forts and earthworks allowed travellers to trek hundreds of miles with 'pinpoint accuracy' more than 5,000 years ago, amateur historian Tom Brooks says. The grid covered much of southern England and Wales and included landmarks such as Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, claims historian and writer Mr Brooks.
     Mr Brooks 1,500 prehistoric sites in England and Wales and was able to connect all of them to at least two other sites using isosceles triangles¬†- these are triangles with two sides the same length. This, he says, is proof that the landmarks were deliberately created as navigational aides. Many were built within sight of each other and provided a simple way to get from A to B. For more complex journeys, they would have broken up the route into a series of easy to navigate steps. Anyone starting at Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, for instance, could have used the grid to get to Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall without a map.
     Mr Brooks added: "The sides of some of the triangles are over 100 miles across, yet the distances are accurate to within 100 metres. You cannot do that by chance." One of the monuments was on Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. It was part of a giant geometric grid used for navigating. "So advanced, sophisticated and accurate is the geometrical surveying now discovered, that we must review fundamentally the perception of our Stone Age forebears as primitive, or conclude that they received some form of external guidance."
     Mr Brooks believes many of the Stone Age sites were created 5,000 years ago by an expanding population recovering from the trauma of the Ice Age. Lower ground and valleys would have been reduced to bog and marshes, and people would have naturally sought higher ground to settle. He said: "After the Ice Age, the territory would have been pretty daunting for everyone. There was an expanding population and people were beginning to explore. They would have sought sanctuary on high ground and these positions would also have given clear vantage points across the land with clear visibility untarnished by pollution. The triangle navigation system may have been used for trading routes among the expanding population and also been used by workers to create social paths back to their families while they were working on these new sites."
     Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, said: "The landscape of southern Britain was intensively settled and there are many earth works and archaeological finds. It is very easy to find patterns in the landscape, but it doesn't mean that they are real."

Sources: Telegraph.co.uk, Daily Mail (15 September 2009), Physorg (19 September 2009)

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