A DIFFERENT STORY. From the beginning.

39.    IMPACTS

A starburst (supernova) in a distant galaxy hurled solid debris in our direction. It was a glowing white comet/asteroid ‘child’ (son) of the celestial gods that neared our system and was first attracted by the gravitational pull of the gas-giant planets Saturn and Uranus. As the intruder object neared Saturn and Uranus it disintegrated due to the Roche Limit effect of competing gravitational pulls – ejecting substantial debris which remains as the Kuiper Belt in distant orbit around the outer planets. Some of this debris formed the twelve Titans – children of Uranus – who later returned (from orbit) to kill and castrate their grandfather, throwing the ‘balls’ and iron knife into the ocean [of space]. These three pieces of debris became Venus, Mercury and Mercury’s chariot/charioteer which went into extended 9-year orbit around distant Pluto. Three times they made the circuit until on the fourth occasion they were drawn too close to mighty Zeus (Jupiter) and turned the wrong way (widdershins) anticlockwise into descending orbit into the inner solar system. Venus was improperly attracted to Earth (as Aphrodite was to mortal Anchises, and Helen to Paris of Troy) and, gallantly following, white-knight Mercury plunged headlong into Mars. It was a violent physical collision which ‘scalped’ Mars leaving a massive crater on its upper hemisphere and scattered debris into the asteroid belt. As a result of the collision, Mercury’s iron-hearted chariot/charioteer lost its path and plunged into fatal impact with Earth, dying in a ‘flood’ of tears. It was the great iron sword of Excalibur thrust through the heart of the isle of man, turning Atlas on his head and leaving Anchises limping evermore around his course.

The architects sketched key features on the ground.

The primary intrusive comet/asteroid was known in Greek mythology as Phaethon Protogenus, ‘firstborn shiner’, son of Helios, the sun; remembered more prosaically in British folklore as the ‘bright-helm-stone’ (Brighton). That imagery entered collective memory. When the early Britons of Callanish in the Hebrides observed a comet they ritually exclaimed ‘The Shining One Comes’; while half a hemisphere away Josephus recorded that the people of Jerusalem, when subject to Roman bombardment by shining white stones, would shout in alarm ‘THE SON COMETH’. [1]

That imagery was captured on the ground at what we now call the mound of ‘Newgrange’ at Drogheda, Ireland, nearby the earth mounds of Knowth (Saturn) and Dowth (Uranus). Newgrange mound is uniquely composed entirely of stones, faced with brilliant shining white marble. Its Anglicised name is now ‘Newgrange’ but it was earlier known as New Grianan – the ‘new sun’ – which was the home of Aengus Mac Oc, the ‘young son’. It was the shining one, son of the sun. Kerbstones at the front and rear of the mound are inscribed with the Ogham letters for birth and death – signifying that ‘he’ was the firstborn son, the beginning and the ending, the alpha and the omega. [2]

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As the shining stone neared Saturn and Uranus it was torn apart by competing gravitational tides, scattering cosmic debris most of which was flung outward into what now remains as the Kuiper Belt – the outer asteroid belt. But some of the debris continued inward, portrayed in the diagram taking a course first northward then looping east and south into a ‘paperclip’ shaped orbit. The initial debris objects were ‘hybrids’ of stone and gas, characterized on the map as what we now call the ‘Hebrides’ – hundreds of rock islands surrounded by white foaming waves. Further along, the gas dissipated leaving behind characteristic black asteroids named as the killers – the ‘Orcas’, now known as the ‘Orkneys’. The black killer whales of the ocean of space.

This cosmic debris looped east, then arced south, leaving behind a trail of ‘breadcrumb’ white mounds on coastal western Europe – once known under variations of ‘Wodensberg’ or ‘Wodanimons’ (Devil’s mounds), now missing.

Along the long orbit around distant Pluto the debris consolidated into twelve major fragments – the twelve Titans – who on the next approach ganged up against their grandfather Uranus, castrating him and throwing his ‘balls’ and the knife into the ocean (of space). There were always three celestial culprits in the mythological accounts. At the outset, when the Titan Kronos castrated Uranus he threw the genitals and the ironstone sickle into the foaming ocean – from which Aphrodite (Venus) was ‘born of the foam’. [3] In Hesiod’s Classical version Venus was pursued by Herakles (Mercury) along with his charioteer, Iolaos; while in the Celtic version it was Venus (Olwen), pursued by  Mercury (Kilwych) accompanied by his faithful black manservant, Kai. [4] These three objects became the orbital comets of Venus, Mercury and Mercury’s chariot/charioteer.

According to the Celtic bard Taliesin ‘three times they made the circuit’; which corresponds to Homer’s ‘thrice furrowed field’; and to Hansel & Gretel’s three trips to the remote fire in the forest, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs or white pebbles behind them.

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Three times and you are out! On the fateful fourth circuit the cometary players were drawn off-course by the overpowering gravitational allure of the voracious giant Jupiter (Mt Tombe, now Mt St Michel). Drawn widdershins, anticlockwise, down into a fatal dance with the inner planets. That too was remembered in folklore. Irish legend said the goddess Boann (Venus) approached the forbidden well and ‘walked around it the wrong way’ – anticlockwise – at which the waters arose and drowned her; while similarly in the British ‘fairy tale’ of Childe Rowland the maiden Helen played ball with her brothers, but she too ran the wrong way widdershins and was captured by the dark kingdom of the green hills (Earth). [5]

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The architects sketched in the errant orbital positions of Venus and Mercury – of which one remnant remains of the ‘White Knight’ Mercury depicted as the man-made white gypsum hill of Mons Mercurii in Paris, now thoroughly Christianised as Montmartre. So thoroughly Christianised and urbanised that we don’t even recognise it as an artificial mound.

Three times the comets made the circuit but on the fourth orbit they came too close to mighty Zeus (Jupiter) at Mt St Michel and were drawn widdershins into an anticlockwise turn – into a descending spiral into the inner solar system to clash with the red warrior Mars. As the three cometary actors were led astray by Jupiter the architects portrayed the ‘comet tails’ on the ground as the diagrams of stone alignments at Carnac in Brittany. Each comet was portrayed with an ‘enceinte’ (pregnant) head, leaving its fantail ‘litter’ of white breadcrumbs or pebbles behind it. There were originally about 4000 standing stones of which 2745 survive.

Les Alignments de Carnac are located in southern Brittany in the Department of Morbihan (L. morbidus, gruesome or deathly) at the town of Carnac (L. carnaticum, slaughter), and not far from another town called Malestroit – the mal-estroit, the bad strait, the malevolent passage. There are three sets of alignments arranged nose-to-tail in a straggly line extending over about five km.  Each set is (was) headed by an ‘enceinte’ (pregnant) object followed by multiple linear ‘tails’ of standing stones starting with large stones about 2 m tall gradually tapering away to nothing. In order the first set is called Le Menec, the ‘Field of Stones’; the second Kermario, ‘The Place of the Dead’; and the third Kerlescan, ‘The Place of Burning’.

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In common with the planetary diagram as a whole, the Carnac alignments are very hard to appreciate from the ground. Visitors wander bemused amongst the stones, able to touch the trees but unable to see the forest. Fortunately, the visitors’ centre presents an excellent 3-D model which allows a birds-eye view of the characteristic ‘comet tail’ formation – of enceinte objects dropping their litter of breadcrumbs or pebbles behind them. In view of the ancient Celtic practice of whitewashing the stones annually at Beltane – marking the coming of Baal’s Fire – the perspective of comet tails is best appreciated in black and white, in reverse image.

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There was a leading ‘enceinte’ which is now obscured by village buildings. In the Celtic world it was customary to re-whitewash standing stones annually, at the festival of Beltane marking the coming of Baal’s fire.

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From Carnac, the comets were pulled anticlockwise around Jupiter (Mt St Michel), into a downward spiral into the inner solar system where their paths were drawn in the diagram as giant earth ditches (dykes) on the landscape. According to Camden’s Britannia of 1596, pagan countrymen still called Wansdyke, ‘Wodenesdic, that is to say the ditch of Woden or Mercurie, made by the devil upon a Wednesday’

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Enough remnants of the ‘devil’s dykes’ (Grim’s ditches) remain on the ground to reconstruct a possible sequence of events.

The initial approach was marked by Ackling Dyke which runs from southwest to northeast in a straight line directly toward Saliis-bury (Mars Hill) – into a headlong clash with Mars, represented by Sarum Hill.  According to Hesiod, it was Mercury (and his charioteer) who clashed with Mars; corresponding to Grim’s folktale where it was Hansel (Mercury) who ate the red gingerbread roof of the ogre’s house.

The direct physical impact with Mars was represented by the enormous ‘shockwave’ trench dug around the peak of Mars – corresponding to the real enormous polar crater and peak of Olympus Mons on planet Mars.  In Hesiod’s account, Mercury ran his chariot full tilt into Mars with a crash that thundered and shook the heavens.

Debris from this impact – from Mars and from Mercury – mainly scattered outward into what is now the Asteroid Belt. But some fell to Earth for years afterwards as the wrath of the gods descended on man as stones falling from the sky. Homer had Apollo’s flaming arrows (meteorites) fall as … stones showered to Earth like snow driven by a storm-wind thick and fast until the earth ran dark with blood. Hapless, guiltless man was stoned to death by the gods.

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After the Mars impact, Venus carried on blithely, while ever-faithful Mercury ‘bounced off’ and followed her with their spiral trail marked on the ground by ‘Luguvallum’ – Lugh’s furrows, where Lugh was the demon Mercurie or Woden. Other remnants of the Luguvallum, one of Homer’s thrice ploughed furrows, remain as Grim’s Ditch, Wat’s Dyke, Offa’s Dyke and Wansdyke.

After the impact with Mars, the track of Venus and Mercury continued northeast along Grim’s Ditch (parallel to the Ridgeway); then looped west along what is now called Hadrian’s Wall … but long before, originally called Lugh’s Trench.  The track then turned south down Offa’s Dyke, with an offshoot into Wat’s Dyke; before swinging east again along Wansdyke to come to ‘home’ in close orbit around the sun. The cometic path along the Milky Way (the Ridgeway) through the constellations corresponds to Homer’s tortuous journey home for Odysseus – and when he did reach home ‘by the fireside’ (the sun) he looked like a humpbacked old man because his ‘flesh’ had been torn from him in the clash with Mars.  Likewise, when Hansel finished eating Mars’ red roof, he and Gretel escaped across the lake (of inner space) to live happily ever after at the foot of the Golden Castle (the sun).

Along the way, the remnants of Wat’s Dyke appear to suggest the architects chose to illustrate a small diversion, capturing the Classical story of Icarus who flew too near the sun – so his wings melted and he crashed and burned. As Venus and Mercury proceeded down Offa’s Dyke, a fragment of debris separated along the [remnant] trail of Wat’s Dyke – pointing directly at Avebury circle and Silbury Hill (the sun). Icarus, the fragment son, spun out of control and was seized by the overwhelming gravitation of the sun with an impact that was illustrated by the enormous ‘shockwave’ circular trench of white chalk at Avebury, about 350 m in diameter and up to 10 m deep. Interestingly, Icarus’ ‘wings’ at Avebury were also once illustrated as ‘avenues’ of stones by early antiquarian William Stuckeley in about 1730, but then lost until reconfirmed by survey in 1999.

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These two curved ‘wings’ extended symmetrically about 1500 m and fanned out with decreasing sized stones at the tips, suggesting they were flung out by rotation. That visual imagery corresponds to frequent mythological accounts of ‘spinning’ meteorites like the Egyptian ‘Typhon’ which was a ‘coiled ball’ of fire; the Greek Strophades which were ‘rotating islands’ of fire; and the Celtic Caer Sidi or Arianrod (silver wheel) which revolved rapidly throwing out its arms of fire and stony debris known as devil’s Coyts. Tellingly, when a pub was first built at Avebury it was called eponymously the ‘Catherine Wheel Inn’. The story of Icarus (and similarly Phaethon) was told as late as Ovid’s Metamorphoses (about 8 AD), indicating that the old knowledge survived until immediately pre-Christian times. Albeit Emperor Augustus did not favour the story and banished Ovid from Rome. And it wasn’t just superficial knowledge. In the same era, Virgil in his Aeneid showed a deeper understanding, remarking that it was easy [for the comets] to descend to distant Pluto but much harder to return through the paths of the planets.

But all that was a digression. According to Hesiod’s accounts when Mercury clashed with Mars his chariot/charioteer (or some versions say a ‘son’ of Mars) fell to Earth … implicitly directly. The fatal blow followed directly from the clash with Mars; the fragment object fell [directly] to Earth where it landed amongst ‘a huge gathering of people’ and Apollo sent a ‘flood’ and washed everything away.

That’s it, that’s all there is; Hesiod’s account ended in an anticlimax. After chapters of lurid humanised conflicts between the planets his story ends in a whimper. A fragment of debris fell to Earth amongst a crowd of people, then a flood swept everything away. His Theogony adds another flourish of human anguish but still nothing of the physical dynamics … The Earth gave a loud groan … with the fury of fire, the fury of storm … boulders sprung loose … shattering great numbers of towering oaks … and the din that arose was deafening … death demons, war-grim and fierce, gutlusty and dripping, crimson with blood, fought over the fallen corpses.

Likewise, so it was with the ground diagram – the ending is an anticlimax. There is nothing [now] on the ground between Salisbury and Hatfield (Marden) to indicate a celestial pathway, and the Hatfield mounds themselves have long been destroyed in the 19th-century. However, surviving ground plans of the Hatfield barrows show the ‘shockwave’ ditch-bank structure extending in an arc in the northern quadrant – implying an impact from the south which is consistent with the real crater in the Pacific. There was enough known or remembered for ‘someone’ to later record the spirals and impacts in ancient rock inscriptions (doodlings) still found in many parts of Britain.

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All that would imply that after impact with Mars the fatal object continued in a looping orbit with Mercury and only separated to collide with Earth at the very end.

In a sense it’s a disappointing end. After such a magnificent sculpture, awesome in its scale and sophistication, it fails to detail the ultimate impact event. The architects must have sensed something was not quite right. For one thing, we mortal humans could not ‘see’ the grand diagram, extending as it did from Carnac to Kildare to Callanish – and beyond. Even in Hesiod’s time – about 700 BC – he or someone of his time must have had a first-hand view of the ‘silver bosses’ (chalk mounds) and other features carved in white chalk against a background of green fields. But how could they possibly ‘see’ and understand the overall perspective? How could they get an aerial view? Even now we can plot the diagram on a map and we could even view it from a plane if we cared to – but our blinkered mind still struggles to accept that this map of history was made by men around 3000-2500 BC. It just doesn’t seem possible, yet it’s real – most of the key pieces are still there.

Intuitively the architects must have felt something was wrong. As grand as the diagram was, the scale did not allow details of the beginning and the ending. So they tried again, leaving us yet another ground sculpture … of Woodhenge and Stonehenge … detailing on a smaller scale the beginning and ending, the alpha and the omega.

[1] Westwood, Albion. A Guide to Legendary Britain; Josephus, The Wars of the Jews

[2] Graves, The White Goddess

[3] Graves, Greek Myths, The Castration of Uranus

[4] Hesiod, Shield; Anon, Mabiginion (Kilhwch and Olwen (or) Twrch Trwyth). (C. Guest trans)

[5] Rolleston, Celtic Myths and Legends; Jacobs, English Fairy Tales

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