A DIFFERENT STORY. From the beginning.

41.     WOODHENGE

They started at the beginning – who threw the first stone?

The Woodhenge/Cursus  complex consists of the ‘Durrington Walls’ circle representing the Gum Nebula which is just a convenient recognisable marker in the sky – alongside the ‘Woodhenge’ circle representing the Vela supernova remnant – which threw out the ‘Cuckoo stone’ – which entered into the long orbit of the ‘Cursus’ – which passed by the ‘Cursus Barrows’ representing our planets.

It looks like just a simple diagram but there are a couple of very subtle twists.

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The diagram was all carved in chalk, standing out vividly in white as if against the blackness of the night sky. Modern astronomers say the Vela supernova exploded about 12,000 years ago and would have been at least as bright as our moon, easily visible in daylight. A ‘daystar’.

Local folklore says while King Sol (the sun) was watching (in daylight) he let a pot of milk boil over – spewing out an effervescence of seething white froth in the sky. Persian poetry recorded it as ‘Morning in the bowl of night flung the stone that put the stars to flight’; ancient Egyptians inscribed in stone ‘the sky spat forth an egg’; while in Greek versions it was the white splash of the Vela (the sail) when Jason hoisted the mainsail of the Argo to sail through the constellations, or it was the cosmic egg hurled from the nest of Zeus and Hera on ‘Cuckoo Mountain’. [1]  That mythology has been endorsed by modern science which confirms that Vela did indeed eject solid debris at supersonic speed. [2]

The ground diagram starts at the top of the hill with what is now called ‘Durrington Walls’, earlier variously spelled ‘Dorrington’ or ‘Darrington’, derived from old-English derring or durren meaning ‘daring’ or posing danger. It is (was) a large irregular circle about 500 m in diameter, with a perimeter ditch-bank structure about 3 m high simulating an outer ‘shockwave’ feature. There were two internal small circular clusters of timber poles splayed outward in a simulated ‘starburst’ pattern. It is now ploughed flat and partially cut by the A345 road. This huge white circle represented the Gum Nebula which is a huge glowing cloud of emissions from an ancient supernova, still expanding and enclosing two distinct emerging new ‘starburst’ clusters called Westerlund 2. There good images at several public websites. [3]

Earlier, in ca 3000 BC, the Gum Nebula was smaller and more distinct – so it represented a visible ‘signpost’ in the sky. It was probably not a direct participant but just a pointer to the smaller Woodhenge.

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The Woodhenge circle represents the ‘Vela Supernova Remnant’, including the Vela Pulsar neutron star (PSR J0835-4510 or PSR B0833-45). At the time of construction, ca 3000 BC, Vela was separate and distinct, but now the larger Gum Nebula which is behind Vela (further away) has expanded so from our current view Vela appears to be within the Gum Nebula. Woodhenge is a smaller circle about 50 m in diameter now ploughed flat and featureless except for small round concrete post marking the original post holes. Originally it was slightly convex and had an outer ditch-bank structure indicative of the peripheral ‘shockwave’ of a supernova. While the interior was characterised by concentric rings of postholes, holding wooden posts that were splayed outward in an umbel inflorescence pattern. Collectively it evoked a brilliant chalk white ‘starburst’ motif.

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The internal post holes were not symmetrical but were arranged in six separate concentric rings in a distinct pattern of two outer rings of 60 + 33 (= 93); then four inner rings of 16+19+17+12 (= 64). That’s 93 plus 64 making a total of 157.  With a small single ‘grave’ at the centre. That visual and numerical arrangement of postholes is very suggestive of textbook presentations of atomic structure – where protons and neutrons are conventionally arranged in a series of ‘shells’.

It is astounding; 64 is the atomic number, and 157 the atomic mass of the element Gadolinium (Gd). The standard textbook listing reads: Gd, 64P, 93N, atomic mass 157.

Woodhenge presents the number and arrangement of posthole markers that is an exact, unique, unmistakable representation of the atomic structure of Gadolinium – identified to modern science only in 1886, and not isolated as a pure element until recently. It is characterised as an obscure silvery-white metallic element, highly magnetic, and oddly noted for having the highest thermal neutron capture property of any known element.  The portrayal of Gadolinium must surely have been intended as a very sophisticated symbol of a highly magnetic neutron star – the Vela Pulsar – a characteristic remnant of a supernova. When excavated Woodhenge was found to have at its centre the grave of a tiny child with its skull split. It represented a ‘child’ of the universe. The product of the union of nuclear fusion – and then the immediate fission as its core was split in a supernova, leaving behind the tiny ‘child’ of a neutron star. It was born and died to restore life, scattering its atoms into the universe. It was the alpha and the omega; the end of a star but the beginning of life.

The violent explosion of the Vela supernova, about 12,000 BC, ejected solid debris  – a fragment of which is represented in the ground diagram as the ‘Cuckoo Stone’.  It is an ordinary, nondescript, common-garden boulder sitting unheralded in the green fields of Amesbury – unnoticed now but once the object of the collective memory of man. This was the alpha object of which the ancient Egyptians inscribed ‘the sky spat forth an egg’; the cosmic egg of Classical myth, thrown out of the Cuckoo’s nest; also called Phaethon Protogenus, ‘firstborn shiner’; the Persian stone that was flung to put the stars to flight.

The Cuckoo Stone was ejected from the Vela supernova and entered into an elongated orbit represented by the ‘Cursus’ – now visible as two distinct linear grooves or shallow trenches running East-West down the gently sloping hill for about 3 km.

The ‘Cursus’ (L. course) is now just two open-ended lines, but originally it had rounded ends – like a paperclip – when observed and illustrated by antiquarian William Stuckeley in 1723. He illustrated it with closed ends and had no hesitation in describing it as a racecourse for horses – which was common in antiquity.

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About two-thirds of the way down the Cursus it passes close-by a linear arrangement of five (or six) round ‘Barrows’, representing our planets. These ‘barrows’ are weathered now and impacted by farming, but well enough preserved to recognise in order (east to west) – Earth & Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Of course, Mercury and Venus did not yet exist at this stage.

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Subtly, the Cursus lines are not quite parallel. The northern orbit (downhill) is an exact straight line but the southern leg (returning uphill) is slightly bent out of shape as it passes the barrows (our planets) – as the orbiting object was slightly pulled off-course by the gravitational attraction of our solar system. That fatal attraction to our solar system was well known in ancient mythology – recorded vividly in Ovid’s instructions to the ‘young son’ Phaethon driving his father’s chariot across the sky … Medio tutissimus ibis …the middle way is best, and when you return … you are not to take the straight road directly between the five circles [spheres], but turn off to the left. [4] Cautions that were echoed a little later by Virgil … Facilis descensus Averni; Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis; Sed revocare adum, superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est.[5] The descent [down] to Avernus is easy; the gate of Pluto stands open night and day; but to retrace one’s steps and return to upper (inner) space – that is the toil, that the difficulty. But Phaethon did not heed the warnings, and crashed and burned.

The Woodhenge / Cursus diagram is elegantly simple – clear, concise, unmistakable. A supernova ejected debris into cometary orbit which veered off-course into collision with our outer planets. But it is also astoundingly subtle, showing the six ‘old’ planets – of which Uranus and Neptune were not known to us until 1781 and 1846 respectively. And representing the Vela supernova remnant as a characteristic ‘neutron pulsar’ (symbolised by Gadolinium) – a technicality that was not known to us until the 20th-century. And it showed graphically how the cometary object veered off-course into collision with our planets.

That latter aspect – veering off-course – was known to us, or was at least available for us if we cared to look. It was clearly recorded by Ovid and Virgil in the 1st century AD yet it is unlikely they could have visited Britain at that time. They must have had access to prior sources and an understanding of context – they knew what it meant.

We have had all that available to us. We have had Ovid and Virgil on our library shelves, unread … and we have had the diagram on the fields of Amesbury, unobserved. Millions flock to Stonehenge every year but ignore Woodhenge in their droves. We didn’t see and we didn’t understand. We have been conditioned by nearly 2000 years of Christian conceit that we are superior beings created by our God in his likeness … and everything before that was pagan superstitious nonsense. Ironically, the reverse is the case.

That was the beginning of things. Now the only thing left was the ending, at Stonehenge.

[1] Respectively – Anon, Celtic myths; Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; Baines et al, The Khonsu Cosmogony, inscribed texts from the walls of the Khonsu Temple at Karnak; Graves, The Greek Myths

[2] Loeb, Rasio & Shaham, Ejection of fragments in Supernova Explosions. Astrophysical Jl, 486, 1996.

[3] http://www.orionsarm.com/im_store/gumnebula2.jpg http://cs.astronomy.com/asy/m/nebulae/468135.aspx  http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso0837a

[4] Ovid, Metamorphoses

[5] Virgil, Aeneid

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