A String of Ideas Continued...
To my surprise and delight out popped the following set of numbers. 100, 200, 300,
400, 500, 600, 700. So 12 ½ MY = 100 M Hands. That looked like a more rational
and intentional sequence and unexpectedly showed a use of a decimal system. So,
despite the fact that the MY seemed to be divided into eighths (MH) and thirty two
M Inches, some of the calculations were done in tens and hundreds. It looked as if
the measuring system was based on halving and rehalving a basic unit but the
calculating system was different.
However this was not the end of my journey of discovery. A few years previously I
had met Martin Brennan with John Michell at the Leyhunter Moot in Hereford and
had become very interested in the work Martin had done in the Boyne Valley in
Ireland.
Part of his work led him to propose, in his first book Boyne Valley Vision, that the
builders and carvers of the beautiful and enigmatic designs on the stones of the
mounds and chambers at New Grange, Knowth and Dowth had used two short and
interrelated measures which he called A and B.
A measured 1.0125” and B was 1.4464”. Both subdivisions of a larger “C” measure
of 20.25”. Now, because his A measure was quite close to my MI or “thumb” of
1.02” and the ratio between that and Thom’s MI of .816” was exactly 5:4 perhaps
there was a similar relationship between the ancient Irish measures that Martin had
identified and the British ones.
As I examined a series of Pythagorean triangles some interesting figures began to
appear. If a 3,4,5 triangle is drawn with an hypotenuse of one MY the opposite side
is 20.4”. Not far from Martin’s C and exactly twenty of my M Thumbs. If the C
measure was really 20.4” and the A was 1.02 then, by the root 2 calculation that
Martin used B would be
1.4425”. Pretty close to
the value that he
proposed. However the
two important common
dimensions remain the
“thumb” of 1.02” and
the “cubit” of 20.4”
which relates through
the 3,4,5 triangle to the
Megalithic Yard.
Alexander Thom has also suggested that a
length of 2.5 MY, which he called the
Megalithic Rod, was used by the builders of the
rings, mounds and dolmens of the Neolithic and
early Bronze age. Two and a half MY is 6’ 9
1/2”, a handy size for a surveyors rod. It would
look like the ones seen in the hands of the Long
Man of Wilmington and is also 20 M Hands
long. I can clearly visualize such a staff or rod,
marked with hands, subdivided into thumbs
being carried and used by one of the “wise”
women or men four or five thousand years ago.
© Jon Appleton 2010
under construction
Cubit Yard (Ell)
Jon Appleton
This site brings together
a kaleidoscope of ideas
derived from 60 years of
enquiry: it shares insights
into fields as disparate
as:- Archaeology,
Landscape alignments,
Megaliths, Henges,
Prehistoric measurement,
Astronomy, Mythology,
Calendars of the past and
Seasonal celebration.
thumb inch
Click here to contact Jon