ISBN 978 1 84694 000 0
Following extensive research into the Avebury complex, Nicholas Mann offers a compelling view into the world of the Neolithic monument-builders in his latest work, Avebury Cosmos, producing a set of powerful insights into ancient cosmology with relevance today.
Avebury Cosmos takes a fresh look at the World Heritage Site that includes not just the Avebury henge, but also West Kennet long barrow and Silbury Hill. Nicholas Mann combines archaeology, astronomy and anthropology to offer an original and convincing account of the building of these extraordinary Neolithic monuments, revealing the reverence of the Neolithic people to Sun, Moon and stars, balancing archaeology with astronomy, offering the most complete perspective on Avebury yet published.
The ancient Britons were inspired by a profound knowledge of the heavens when they erected the monumental stones of Avebury. Mann throws light on the motive behind the creation of its awe-inspiring mounds and megaliths by demonstrating that they were aligned to the cycles of the Sun, Moon and stars.
This book will help visitors and readers to see Avebury in a wholly new light - the light of the heavenly bodies that guided its Neolithic builders. Avebury Cosmos claims to reawaken our ancient reverence for the stars and deepen our respect for the extraordinary abilities and forgotten knowledge of our prehistoric ancestors.
1. Neolithic Astronomy
A Relative Chronology
2.A Sky-Watcher's Paradise
Stones & Foresights
Inner Circles of the Moon
The Impact of Avebury
3. Windmill Hill & The Mystery of the Moving Stars
The First Settlers: Windmill Hill
The Midwinter Sky
West Kennet Long Barrow & Alpha Centauri
The Northern Pole
The Axial Centre
Sirius: Star of Fertility & the Winter Solstice Sun
Midwinter over Martinsell Hill
A Prologue to Precession
The Question of Precession
The Milky Way
4. Avebury: In the Image of the Milky Way
The Great Henge
Silbury Hill & the Southern Stars
Crux: a Southern Cross in the Northern Skies
A Bear Mother Cult?
The Fall of the Milky Way, 4000 - 2000 BCE
5. The Crux-Centaurus Stars
Alpha & Beta Centauri
Stars & Stones: The View from Avebury
Ancient Symbols of Fertility & Healing
The D Feature
The Changing Galaxy
6. Silbury Hill
Mound of the Ancestors
King Sil & Wayland's Smithy
Mound of the Stars
7. The Longstone Cove & Other Enclosures
Adam, Eve & the Beckhamptoon Avenue
Feasts & Games: the West Kennet Palisade Enclosures
8. The Sanctuary at the Crossroads
West Kennet Avenue
The Sanctuary & Capella
The Sanctuary & Silbury hill
'A Conspicous and Convenient Notch'
Crossroads of the Stars
The Horns of Taurus
9. Return to Avebury
Stars of Precession
A Place in the Cosmos
An astral Drama
Venerating Avebury; The Cosmic Crosses
Sex, Gender & the Avebury Stones
The Roots of the Land: The Two Dragons
10. In the Neolithic World
Self-consciousness in the New Stone Age
The World Tree
Sacred Stones: the Anima Mundi
Animism & Cosmoslogy
The Inner Sanctum
11. Monuments of Power: from Moon & Stars to Sun
The Rise of Theocracy
The Late Neolithic Elite
Merlin, Stonehenge & Avebury
Gender & Power
Great Ritual Centres
The Stonehenge Sun
Appendix 1: Precession
Appendix 2: The Crossroads of the Ecliptic & the Galaxy
Appendix 3: The Lunar Cycles & Eclipses
From the Introduction:
“Five thousand years ago, an extraordinary sight was visible in the night sky over the British Isles. Every winter night, over the course of several hours, the Neolithic people of Britain saw the galaxy form a complete circle around the horizon. At the same time, the brilliant stars of Crux, the Southern Cross, as well as alpha and beta Centauri, were visible in the southern sky. These first-magnitude giants were embedded like radiant jewels within the complete ring of the Milky Way. This awe-inspiring sight was due to a slow, 26,000-year rotation of the axis of the Earth, known as precession of the equinoxes. Those of us who live at this latitude today can no longer see these southern stars: only our distant ancestors were privileged to see the expanse of the galaxy extending around the horizon.
In this book I describe how the unique night skies of their time inspired and influenced the people who built Avebury henge, Windmill Hill, Silbury Hill the Longstones Cove, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow and other Neolithic monuments near the source of the River Kennet, in Wiltshire, Britain. I show that these awe-inspiring monuments were closely orientated to the sky, that their makers were familiar with not only the cycles of the Sun and the Moon but also those of the stars.
Extensive evidence assembled in the relatively new research field of archaeoastronomy has now confirmed beyond any doubt that when European prehistoric peoples began to build their first monuments they possessed considerable knowledge of the heavens. This knowledge had presumably been developed over tens of thousands of years, in the previous hunter-gatherer Mesolithic and Palaeolithic eras, as part of a rich, oral, mythic and spiritual tradition. Like all tribal peoples these people experienced the world as full of a purposeful and animating force, an anima mundi or world spirit. This power was present on the earth in all life forms, as well as in the sky: as thunder, lightning, fire, Sun, Moon and stars. The Neolithic Britons would have venerated these powers in their stories and traditions, as well as in their skilfully constructed structures of earth, wood, and finally stone.
Indeed, its builders conceived Avebury on such a scale that it seems their goal was to incorporate the spirit of everything into the fabric of their monument. The Neolithic people wanted Avebury to be a mirror of the cosmos, a place that honoured, told and retold all its stories, on earth and in the heavens. They pursued this objective with extraordinary hard work, dragging megaliths and carrying chalk over many centuries, until they had laid out a monumental centre that still moves us today. This place was a powerful expression of their identity, and of their relationship with the surrounding forces of nature and the cosmos.”
Nicholas R. Mann is an internationally respected speaker and author who has spent a lifetime exploring the wisdom of ancient peoples. Born on a farm in Sussex, his first job was as a herdsman. After studying at University College London he obtained a degree in anthropology and ancient history, then he settled in the high desert of the USA where he built and lived in a house made from wood cut from the forest, tended horses, tracked the wildlife and drew his water from a spring. This lifestyle helped Mann to develop an extraordinary sensitivity to the powers of nature, along with a deep respect for tribal culture. He befriended the Hopi elder White Bear, and was honoured by the Yavapai Apache for his research into their native traditions. As a result of these experiences he realised the importance of honouring his own distant cultural heritage. In 2000 Mann returned to Britain to promote greater understanding of its ancient sites and cosmology.
Mann is the author of many books on Earth Mysteries, sacred geometry and prehistoric wisdom including 'The Isle of Avalon'' & 'The Star Temple of Avalon'. His books have sold more than 100,000 copies, with editions appearing in many languages. He has written books on the Sacred Geometry of Washington, D.C., Power points in Sedona, energy secrets of Glastonbury Tor and a classic book on the Red & White springs of Glastonbury. He is a regular speaker and often appears at the Megalithomania conference.
Arthur's Hunting Path
Nicholas Mann has determined that the alignment of Arthur's Hunting Path, a Neolithic trackway from the summit of Glastonbury Tor to Queen Anne’s Well, South Cadbury, in Somerset, is orientated toward critical points in the moon's cycle. He found that when joining the sites of Glastonbury Tor, Cadbury Castle, Hamdon Hill and Barrow Mump it formed a parallelogram, or diamond, with equidistant sides of 11 miles each.
Nicholas Mann & Philipa Glasson's website: The British Mystery School of Avalon
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