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Friday, October 2, 2009

Prehistoric man 'used crude sat nav'

Prehistoric man 'used crude sat nav'
Prehistoric man navigated his way across England using a crude version
of sat nav based on stone circle markers, historians have claimed.


Published: 7:00AM BST 15 Sep 2009
Prehistoric man navigated his way across England using a crude version
of 'sat nav' based on stone circle markers, historians have claimed.
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire which may have been part of an ancient
navigational aid for prehistoric man Photo: SWNS


They were able to travel between settlements with pinpoint accuracy
thanks to a complex network of hilltop monuments.


These covered much of southern England and Wales and included now
famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Mount.


New research suggests that they were built on a connecting grid of
isosceles triangles that 'point' to the next site.


Many are 100 miles or more away, but GPS co-ordinates show all are
accurate to within 100 metres.


This provided a simple way for ancient Britons to navigate
successfully from A to B without the need for maps.


According to historian and writer Tom Brooks, the findings show that
Britain's Stone Age ancestors were ''sophisticated engineers'' and far
from a barbaric race.


Mr Brooks, from Honiton, Devon, studied all known prehistoric sites as
part of his research.


He said: ''To create these triangles with such accuracy would have
required a complex understanding of geometry.


''The sides of some of the triangles are over 100 miles across on each
side and yet the distances are accurate to within 100 metres. You
cannot do that by chance.


''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.


''Is sat-nav as recent as we believe; did they discover it first?''


Mr Brooks analysed 1,500 sites stretching from Norfolk to north Wales.
These included standing stones, hilltop forts, stone circles and hill
camps.


Each was built within eyeshot of the next.


Using GPS co-ordinates, he plotted a course between the monuments and
noted their positions to each other.


He found that they all lie on a vast geometric grid made up of
isosceles 'triangles'. Each triangle has two sides of the same length
and 'point' to the next settlement.


Thus, anyone standing on the site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire could
have navigated their way to Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall without a map.


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.''


Mr Brooks now hopes his findings will inspire further research into
the navigation methods of ancient Britons.


He said: ''Created more than 2,000 years before the Greeks were
supposed to have discovered such geometry, it remains one of the
world's biggest civil engineering projects.


''It was a breathtaking and complex undertaking by a people of
profound industry and vision. We must revise our thinking of what's
gone before.''


'Prehistoric Geometry in Britain: the Discoveries of Tom Brooks' is
now on sale priced £13.90.
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