The Megalithic Yard is a controversial unit of measurement originally proposed by Alex Thom following a study of hundreds of megalithic sites in Britain and Brittany. Very many attempts have been made to verify his conclusions, but to no avail. Wikipedia(d) offers an interesting overview of the wide-ranging theories that the controversy has thrown up.
Humans have used their body parts as measuring tools right up to the present day, e.g. foot, finger or hand, so it was not surprising that the human pace provided a unit of measurement which has been suggested by many as the original megalithic ‘yard’.
Not unexpectedly, some researchers, such as Ulf Erlingsson(a), Sylvain Tristan(b) and Jim Allen(c) have endeavoured to link the megalithic yard with their interpretation of Plato’s Atlantis, sometimes with convoluted associations with ancient Egyptian and/or Sumerian metrics!
>There is also an ancient unit of measurement known as the ‘long foot’ of 12.7 inches (32.2 cm). In early 2019, archaeologists from the University of Manchester and University College London concluded, after a study of three small carved chalk ‘drums’, that they “could be ancient replicas of measuring devices used for laying out prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge.” They found that “a string wound 10 times around the smallest of the drums would give a measure of exactly 10 long feet — a length used to lay out several ancient henge monuments“(e).<
The Bretons are a cultural grouping located in Brittany in northwest France, where the most outstanding megalithic monuments of Europe are situated. Today, the Bretons consider themselves a separate Celtic people, with a strong nationalist movement(c).
*It was in 1839 that the Rev. Algernon Herbert (1792-1855), Dean of Merton College, Oxford, was the first to use the term ‘megalithic’ in a paper describing the monuments of England and Brittany.*
Since the middle of the 19th century a number of commentators right up to the present have labelled the Bretons as Atlantean. These include R. Cedric Leonard(a), who In support of this idea cites both Stephen Oppenheimer and Herodotus, although he does so some reservations. Hank Harrison wrote Finding Atlantis in which, he supported the idea of a megalithic Atlantis with its centre of power probably located in the Morbihan area of Brittany.
In the 19th century, Ignatius Donnelly quoted Eugene Bodichon as expressing a similar view[021.389]. Bodichon’s opinion is simply based on the temperament and physical similarities between the Bretons and the Berbers of North Africa. Similarly, Gerry Forster refers to Bodichon’s opinion in his The Lost Continent Rediscovered(b). I do not think that the case is proven, even if the legendary kingdom of Ys, reputedly off the Brittany coast, is brought into the debate.
Mining as a human activity dates back many thousands of years in various parts of the world Recently, the earliest example of mining in the Americas was an iron oxide mine in Chile dating back to around 10,000 BC(a). However, metals, such as gold, silver, copper and tin were not the only material extracted in this way, pigments, flint and salt were also mined in ancient times. The silver mines of Lavrio in Greece employed 29,000 slaves at its peak.
In the Mediterranean itself, Cyprus was an important source of copper, giving the island its name. However, the most important mineral source was probably Sardinia, which for the Romans was one of the three most important sources of metals, along with Spain and Brittany. Although there was a limited amount of tin mined in the Mediterranean region, most came from Spain, Brittany as well as Devon and Cornwall.
Mining in Atlantis is recorded by Plato in Critias 114e where he states that there were many mines producing orichalcum as well as other metals. Mrs. Whishaw contended that the pre-Roman copper mines of Southern Spain was the source of the Atlantean orichalcum.
However, the most extensive ancient mines were probably those of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where copper mining was carried on between 3000 and 1200 BC. It has been guesstimated that up to 1.5 billion pounds of the metal was extracted. It is further speculated that much of this was used to feed the Bronze Age needs of Europe and the Mediterranean(b)(c). This is hotly disputed by local archaeologists(d).
(d) http://www.ramtops.co.uk/copper.html (offline Sept. 2017) (see Archive 2102)
Brittany in northwestern France is sometimes referred to as Little or Lesser Britain. It is one of the most exciting regions of Megalithic Europe. The stone rows of Carnac are unequalled, Le Grand Menhir Brisé was once the largest standing stone in Europe, while Morbihan contains a huge number of dolmens and standing stones.2019 saw a report that “Bettina Schulz Paulsson, an archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg, reexamined some 2,410 radiocarbon dating results that have been assigned to Europe’s megaliths and put them through a Bayesian statistical analysis. Based on the picture the data present, Schulz Paulsson believes that the megaliths were first constructed by dwellers of northwest France during the second half of the fifth millennium BC.” (b) Mike Parker Pearson, Stonehenge’s leading, authority, has endorsed this idea of a French origin for megalith building(c).
The earliest suggestion that Atlantis may have been the connected with the Armorican peninsula came from François Gidon in the 1930’s when he proposed that Atlantis had been situated on an exposed Celtic Shelf stretching from Brittany to Ireland. Unfortunately, he dates the submergence of this land to between 3000 and 1200 BC, which was millennia after that part of the Celtic Shelf had been inundated by the Flandrian Transgression.
Jean Markle was convinced that the Carnac stone were connected with Atlantis. Recently, Sylvain Tristan followed the work of Jean Deruelle in supporting a megalithic Atlantis. Further support has come from Alfred deGrazia and Helmut Tributsch who saw Megalithic Europe as Atlantis with the island of Gavrinis in Brittany as its capital.
The American researcher, Hank Harrison, considers the Morbihan départment as a significant Atlantean location if not the home of its capital.
(a) See: Archive 2501
Cro–Magnon Man, who emerged around 37,000 years ago, is often described as having a dome-shaped cranium and broad forehead and a brain capacity of 1,600 cc, which is greater than modern man. His skull has thick eyebrow projections and a bony protrusion at the back that is characteristic of both Neanderthal man and Homo erectus. Blavatsky(c), Sepehr(d) along with a number of investigators(e) have suggested that they may have been the original Atlanteans. They have pointed to the physical traits listed above together with blood grouping and linguistic similarities to be found in the same regions of Western Europe and North Africa.
Robert John Langdon also claims that “Cro-Magnon/Atlanteans colonised America” based on a study of blood group distribution(b).>R. Cedric Leonard is another supporter of the idea of Cro-Magnons in America(h), citing the work of Dennis Stanford & Bruce Bradley .<
Physical anthropology has identified the modern remnants of Cro-Magnon Man in the Berbers and Tuaregs of North Africa, the Basques of Northern Spain together with small population pockets in the Dordogne Valley and Brittany in France. The highest incidence of Rhesus-negative blood in the world is to be found among the Basques. Similar high levels of Rhesus-negative blood are to be found among the inhabitants of the Canaries and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco; areas where Cro-Magnons lived. This fact is seen as evidence for claiming that the Basques are directly descended from Cro-Magnon Man.
On the basis of skull shape, William Howells and Bertil Lundman have supported this view. The regions that were home to Cro-Magnon Man, in Upper Paleolithic times, were comparable with those occupied by their latter-day successors such as the now extinct Guanches of the Canaries and the Basques.
R. Cedric Leonard is probably the best known modern proponent of the Atlantean Cro-Magnon idea(f), he refers to the work of Oliviera Martins, who in the 1930’s, pointed out that many of the Cro-Magnon people have given themselves distinguishing names with the suffix ’tani’ from the Mauritani of North Africa to the Bretani of Brittany and Britain. Leonard also insists that an analysis of the languages of these groups of people points to a relationship with each other, while being quite different to the other languages of Europe or the Near East. He thinks that it is quite possible that these ancient languages date back to the cultures of the Ice Age. Leonard also refers to what he calls “an anomalous Cro-Magnon/Atlantis outpost” in northern Palestine(a).
Alexander Marshack (1918-2004) was an American journalist turned archaeologist, who, in the 1970’s, offered evidence that markings on a number of bones from the Upper Paleolithic were used as lunar calendars to mark the passage of time. Similar markings have been identified on the painted walls of the famous Cro-Magnon Lascaux caves in France(g).
This combination of date, geographical spread, language and physical similarities offers a reasonable basis for postulating the idea of a coherent civilisation along the European and North African Atlantic seaboards and in the Atlantic itself, at the end of the last Ice Age that could be accommodated by one interpretation of Plato’s Atlantis. Lewis Spence was a supporter of this possibility.
(a) http://www.atlantisquest.com/Outpost.html (offline March 2018) See Archive 2260