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).
David Hildebrandt is an American researcher, who has published two books, The first, Forbidden Fruit, is a 784-page tome  with the self-explanatory subtitle of The Evolution of Human Intelligence. He has also turned his attention to the subject of Plato’s Island in Atlantis – The Reawakening ,in which he offers a vigorous attempt to convince readers that Britain had been home to Atlantis, with Stonehenge as the Temple of Poseidon.
Many aspects of his hypothesis have already been expressed over past centuries, but his synthesis does offer some new perspectives. For me, his dating, location and identity of the Atlanteans does not ring true, particularly why Stone Age people in Southern Britain would want to launch an attack on Athens, over 2,000 miles away, a city-state which did not even exist at the time. Those early Britons did not have the wheel, yet Plato tells us that the Atlanteans had chariots!
Domingos Leite de Castro (1846-1916) was a Portuguese commentator who identified the Atlantic seaboard of Europe as Atlantean. The following is a poor machine translation of his original 1912 Portuguese article;
[“A Atlântida era apenas o litoral atlântico da Europa desde o Atlas até à Irlanda; “Atlantis was only the Atlantic coast of Europe from the Atlas to Ireland; O reino de Atlas, um The kingdom of Atlas, a dos dez reinos da Atlântida, foi o primeiro, o mais importante do grupo, e o que lhe deu o nome; of the ten kingdoms of Atlantis, was the first, the most important of the group, and what gave it the name; Os the outros eram: Cádis, Cartara ( Cartaya ?), o Sacrum (compreendendo S. Vicente e Santa Maria), os others were: Cadiz, Cartara ( Cartaya ?), The Sacrum (comprising S. Vicente and Santa Maria), the Saefes e Cempses ao sul da Arrábida, Oliusippo , Brigância, Grã-Bretanha e Irlanda; Saefes and Cempses to the south of the Arrábida, Oliusippo , Brigance, Great Britain and Ireland; A Grande Ilha da The Big Island of Atlântida não era nada mais que a Grã-Bretanha, isto é, um dos dez povos que ocupavam esse litoral; Atlantis was nothing more than Great Britain, that is to say, one of the ten peoples who occupied this coast; As Dez Ilhas Cassitérides eram muito provavelmente o mesmo que os Dez Reinos da Atlântida, The Ten Cassitérides Islands were very probably the same as the Ten Realms of Atlantis considered the tin entire market.”
John Wallis (1616-1703) was an English mathematician who is credited with the introduction of the symbol for infinity used today. It is also known that he took the story of Atlantis literally. Dr Renaud Morieux tells us[1262.42] that Wallis believed that over time the narrative became distorted but he concluded that the story of the sinking of Atlantis related to the destruction of the landbridge between Britain and France, isolating England, which was Atlantis(a) !
Philip Runggaldier (1963- ) “is a geography graduate with a keen interest in ancient archaeology, mythology and ancient texts.” He is also the author of Atlantis and the Biblical Flood in which he offers evidence of a megaflood around 14,700 years ago which devastated southwest Britain and southeast Ireland. He believes that this disasterous event caused the destruction of Atlantis and was the source of the biblical story of the Deluge.
He attributes this megadeluge to the breaching, on two occasions, of an ice dam that had contained a vast lake where the Irish Sea Basin now exists. This caused the catastrophic inundation of the plain on the then exposed Celtic Shelf to the south as well as the land east and west in Britain and Ireland.
Runggaldier should have stopped at this point as his research had possibly revealed new important information deserving of further investigation.
However, he went on to suggest, without any great enthusiasm, that Atlantis may have been situated on that Celtic Plain. In fact, I suspect that the introduction of Atlantis was just a marketing ploy – ‘Atlantis’ in a book title will always inflate sales!
Vittorio Calestani (1882-1949) was an Italian naturalist, ethnologist and meteorologist. A newspaper account(a) in May 1939 reported that Calestani considered Great Britain as Plato’s Atlantis. His opinion was based on rather flimsy arguments and is far from convincing. I also note that he gave a lecture entitled l’Atlantide in 1946 at the Università Popolare di Venezia.
^(Taken from the Christian Science Monitor, Boston)
Melville Nicholls is a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado where he studies atmospheric science, mainly relating to hurricanes. In May 2013, he published Children of the Sea God as a Kindle ebook. One of his main contentions is that Atlantis existed during the early Bronze Age at the time of the Bell Beaker culture, >which he claims originated in Portugal around 2800 BC.<
He also contends that Britain was the large island of Atlantis described by Plato. However he also proposes that the main port city of Atlantis, with the concentric rings of land and water was situated in southwest Spain near Gibraltar. He proposes that this port was destroyed by an event such as a tsunami.
While all these features have been proposed individually as characteristics of Atlantis, Nicholls brings them together in a comprehensive theory, but not without indulging in a liberal amount of speculation.
He devotes a considerable amount of space attempting to link Stonehenge with the Atlanteans. While I was not won over by Nicholl’s book, it is worth a read and might best be studied along with Donald Ingram’s book, The Unlost Island.
In November 2013, Nicholls published a second ebook, The Real and Imaginary Atlantis, in which he revisits his theory of a British/Spanish Atlantis and its relationship to the Bell Beaker People. In conclusion, he seems to reluctantly write that “I still come down in favor of the theory that Plato invented the story as the one most likely to be correct.”
Homer (c. 8th cent. BC) is generally accepted as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, regarded as the two greatest epic poems of ancient Greece. A recent study of the Greek used by Homer has enabled scientists from the University of Reading to confirm that the language used is compatible with that used in the 8th century BC, in fact dating it to around 762 BC(i).
It should also be noted that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings(s). George Edwin Howes (1865-1942), an American classicist, produced a dissertation on Homeric quotations in Plato and Aristotle.
Almost nothing is known of his life. He has been variously described as mad, blind and even mythical. Andrew Dalby, the English linguist, has gone so far as to claim that the author of the two famed epics was in fact a woman! While in 1897 Samuel Butler, the novelist, was even more specific when he proposed that Homer was a Sicilian woman(j).
For centuries it was assumed that the content of these Homeric poems was the product of his imagination, just as the historical reality of Homer himself has been questioned. In 1795, F.A. Wolf, a German academic declared that ‘Homer’ was in fact a collective name applied to various poets whose works were finally combined into their present form in the 6th century BC. Wolf’s ideas sparked furious argument among Greek scholars that still resonates today. Now (2015), historian, Adam Nicholson has claimed that the author ‘Homer’ should not be thought of as a person but instead as a ‘culture’(o).
The identification of the site at Hissarlik in modern Turkey as Troy by Heinrich Schliemann led to a complete re-appraisal of Homer’s work and, of course, further controversy. Homer’s Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and it has been suggested that in fact he had compressed three or more Trojan wars into one narrative. What is not generally known is that there are also ancient non-Homeric accounts of the Trojan War(q).
Kenneth Wood and his wife Florence have built on the research of his mother-in-law, the late Edna Leigh, and produced, Homer’s Secret Iliad, a book that attempts to prove that the Iliad was written as an aide memoire for a wide range of astronomical data.
Allied to, but not directly comparable with, is the astronomical information identified in the Bible by the likes of E. W. Maunder (1851-1928).
Guy Gervis has adopted some of their work and specifies a date of around 2300 BC for the events described in the Iliad and Odyssey, based on an analysis of this astronomical data(n). Harald A.T. Reiche held similar views which followed some of the ideas expressed in Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana & Dechend who were colleagues of Reiche at M.I.T. They also claimed that “myths were vehicles for memorising and transmitting certain kinds of astronomical and cosmological information.”
Much has been written about the historicity of Homer’s epic accounts, including a good overview on Wikipedia(ab). Many have concluded that Homer did use real events, even if they were frequently dressed in mythological clothing compatible with the literary conventions of his day. I consider Plato to have treated the story of Atlantis in a similar manner.
A recent study of solar eclipses recorded in Odyssey using data from NASA has apparently confirmed that Odysseus returned to Ithaca on 25th of October 1207 BC(r).
Scholars have generally supported the idea that Homer’s works have a Mediterranean backdrop with regular attempts to reconcile his geography with modern locations, such as the claim in 2005 by Robert Brittlestone, a British investigator to have located the site of Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus, on the Greek island of Cephalonia. This popular idea should be put alongside the views of Zlatko Mandzuka who maintains that all the locations mentioned in the Odyssey can be identified in the Adriatic.
Nevertheless, there has been a growing body of opinion that insists that this Mediterranean identification is impossible. A range of alternative regions has been proposed(f) as the setting for the epics, which extend from Portugal as far northward as the Baltic.
In his Odyssey (VII: 80), Homer wrote about the island of Scheria in the western sea. His description of the island has been compared with Plato’s description of Atlantis and has led to the theory that they refer to the same place. There is little doubt that both the detailed geography and climatic descriptions given by Homer cannot be easily reconciled with that of the Mediterranean. Consequently, the Odyssey has had many interpretations, ranging from Tim Severin’s conclusion that it refers entirely to the Eastern Mediterranean to Iman Wilkens’ book, Where Troy Once Stood, that has the voyage include the west coast of Africa, then across to the West Indies and following the Gulf Stream returns to Troy which he locates in Britain. Location is not a problem exclusive to the writings of Plato. Wilkins views are a reflection of similar ideas expressed by Théophile Cailleux in the 19th century. Gilbert Pillot has also argued for voyages of Ulysses having taken him into the North Atlantic. In 1973, Ernst Gideon (? – 1975) wrote in a similar vein in Homerus Zanger der Kelten, reprinted later as Troje Lag in Engelan.
An interesting overview of the various attempts to transfer the Odyssey from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe is available(w). Damien Mackey has also endorsed the idea of a Northern European backdrop to Homer’s Odyssey(aa).
Another researcher who places all of Odysseus’ travels in the eastern Atlantic is Gerard. W.J. Janssen of Leiden University on the academia.edu website(v).
E.J. de Meester also argued(ac) for the British Isles as the location of many of Homer’s references. It struck me as quite remarkable that the level of debate regarding the date, source and geographical details of Homer’s works is rather similar to the controversy surrounding Plato’s Atlantis in Timaeus and Critias. The late Edo Nyland was another researcher who had also opted for a Scottish backdrop to the Odyssey and had recently published his views.
Felice Vinci also supports a Northern European background to the Iliad and Odyssey. However, in Vinci’s case, Scandinavia, and in particular the Baltic Sea, is identified as the location for the adventures in Homer’s classic. An English language synopsis of his book is available on the Internet. The persuasiveness of Vinci’s argument has recently renewed interest in the idea of a Baltic Atlantis. The assumption being that if Troy could be located in the Baltic, so might Atlantis. Vinci’s views are comparable with those of J. Rendel Harris expressed in a lecture delivered in 1924(p) in which he claims that “we are entitled to take Homer and his Odysseus out of the Mediterranean or the Black Sea, and to allow them excursions into Northern latitudes.”
However, a scathing review of Vinci’s book can be found on the Internet(d) and in issue 216 (2006) of Fortean Times written by Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs.
Further support for a Northern European Troy has come from the historian Edward Furlong, a former naval navigation officer, who has advocated for over twenty years that the journey of Odysseus went as far north as Norway. His particular views are outlined on the Internet(c) .
Other writers, such as the late Henrietta Mertz [0396/7], , have suggested that Homer’s epic refers to a trip to North America. Professor Enrico Mattievich Kucich of Lima University is also certain that the ancient Greeks discovered America America. However revolutionary this idea may seem it shows how this particular subject is growing and would probably justify a reference book of its own.
The idea of an Atlantic backdrop to the Homeric epics will not go away. The Dutch researcher, N.R. De Graaf, continues to write extensively on his Homeros Explorations website(x) regarding many of the specifics in Homer’s accounts.
In 1973, James Bailey proposed in his well-received The God-Kings and the Titans that the Odysseus recorded a trans-Atlantic trip. Evidence exists for large-scale mining in the Americas as early of the 5th millennium BC. Bailey maintained that the Europeans imported enormous quantities of copper and tin from Central and South America to feed the demands of the Old World Bronze Age, an idea that was later heavily promoted by Frank Joseph and in great, if overly speculative, detail by Reinoud de Jong(y).
Finally, the Atlantis connection with this entry is that if, as now appears to be at least a possibility, Homer’s Odyssey was about a journey to the North Sea then the possibility of a North Sea setting for the Atlantis story is somewhat reinforced.
A recent book by Steven Sora has developed the Atlantic notion further with the suggestion that not only was Troy located outside the Strait of Gibraltar but that both Homer’s Trojan war and Plato’s Atlantean war are two versions of the same war with the understandable distortions and embellishments that can occur with a narrative, probably involving some degree of oral transmission and then written down hundreds of years after the events concerned.
Ukraine is soon to be added to the growing list of alternative locations for the setting of Homer’s epics with the publication of Homer, The Immanent Biography, a book by A.I. Zolotukhin(g). He claims that Homer was born in Alibant (Mykolayiv, Ukraine) on September 14, 657 BC(t). He follows the views of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) who believed that most of Odysseus’s travels took place in the Black Sea rather than the Mediterranean. Additionally, he locates Atlantis in the western Crimean area of Evpatoria(l). His 60-page book is available on his website(m).
An interesting paper(e) by the German historian, Armin Wolf, relates how his research over 40 years unearthed 80 theories on the geography of the Odyssey, of which around 30 were accompanied by maps. One of the earliest maps of the travels of Odysseus was produced by Abraham Ortelius in 1597(u) , in which the adventures of Odysseus all take place within the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, arguably reflecting the maritime limits of Greek experience at the time of Homer or his sources! Another website(z) by Jonathan S. Burgess, Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto offers further information on this, including some informative bibliographical material.
In 2009, Wolf published, Homers Reise: Auf den Spuren des Odysseus a German language book that expands on the subject, also locating all the travels of Odysseus within Central and Eastern Mediterranean.
Wolf’s ideas were enthusiastically adopted by Wolfgang Geisthövel in his Homer’s Mediterranean, who also concurs with the opinion of J.V. Luce , who proposed that Homer was “describing fictional events against authentic backgrounds.” This would be comparable to a James Bond movie, which has an invented storyline set in actual exotic locations around the world.
Perhaps the most radical suggestion has come from the Italian writer, Michele Manher, who has proposed(h) that Homer’s Iliad originated in India where elements of it can be identified in the Mahabharata!
In August 2015, a fifteen hour reading of the Iliad was performed in London.
(k) https://web.archive.org/web/20180320072706/https://www.nwepexplore.com (see ‘n’)
Survivors of the Atlantean destruction are a reasonable expectation given the extent of its influence as described by Plato. The fact that its rulers only met every few years suggests a geographical spread that must have left some, if not most, of the confederation intact, irrespective of the location of the earthquake’s epicentre. Some writers have proposed that survivors migrated to an extensive range of locations such as Egypt, the Middle East and the Americas, but offer little to substantiate their claims apart from the widely dispersed flood myths that are most likely to have arisen following the melting of glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.
*All the suggestions put forward are either pure speculation, invention or allegedly derived from some psychic source. W. Scott-Eliot claimed  that refugees from an Atlantic Atlantis fled westward to Mexico and became the Toltecs and eastward and built Stonehenge ln Britain! While other European cultures have also had Atlantean roots attributed to them, the most frequently named are the great civilisations of Central and South America – Aztec, Mayan and Incan. Posnansky went as far as to suggest that Tiwanaku in the Andes was built by Nordic refugees from Atlantis! Proof, however, is lacking in all cases.*
James Lewis Thomas Chalmers Spence (1874-1955) attended Edinburgh University, after which he began a career in journalism that included a stint as sub-editor of The Scotsman. His book publishing began in 1908 with the first English translation of the sacred Mayan book Popul Vuh, followed by A Dictionary of Mythology, so that eventually he had over forty works to his name. He was a keen Scottish Nationalist and stood for parliament in 1929. He was a founder member of the political movement that later evolved into today’s Scottish National Party (SNP).
Among his literary output, which included mythology, occultism and poetry, were five books relating to Atlantis[256,258,259,260 262]. In 1932 he was editor of the Atlantis Quarterly magazine. He corresponded with Percy Fawcett and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, advising the latter on the subject of Atlantis preceding the writing of The Maracot Deep and recently republished as Atlantis – Discovering the Lost City , another example of cynical publishing!
Spence at one point became the Chosen Chief of British Druidism and there is a claim that he was a member of at least one continental Rosicrucian organisation, although this report may be the result of confusion with H. Spencer Lewis, an American Rosicrucian. In 1941 he wrote about the occult and the war, then raging in Europe. In that book he argued that the war was the result of a satanic conspiracy centred in Munich and the Baltic States. The following year he wrote of his view that Atlantis had been destroyed as a form of divine retribution and that Europe was in danger of a similar fate.
His books were very popular with the general public but scorned by the scientific establishment, whom Spence mockingly referred to as “The Tape Measure School”. In truth his theories relating to Atlantis were highly speculative and often based on rather tenuous links. Spence believed that Atlantis was situated in the Atlantic and linked by a land bridge with the Yucatan Peninsula and that after the destruction of Atlantis, 13,000 years ago, the Atlantean refugees fled across this landbridge and are now recognised as the ancient Maya. A recent website(d) supports the idea of a landbridge from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula.
*In The Problem of Atlantis[258.205] Spence quoted a report that allegedly came from the Western Union Telegraph Company, which claimed that while searching in the Atlantic for a lost cable in 1923 that when taking soundings at the exact same spot where it had been laid twenty-five years before they found that the ocean bed had risen nearly two and a quarter miles. The account was quoted widely; however, not long afterwards, Robert B. Stacy-Judd made direct enquiries of his own to Western Union and the U.S. Navy, who denied knowledge of any such report[607.47]! It would be interesting to know the source of this ‘fake news’.*
Spence’s The History of Atlantis can now be downloaded or read online(c). In this book Spence offers his own composite translation of the Atlantis texts based on the English and French translation of Jowett, Archer-Hind, Jolibois and Negris.
A 2005 edition of the book from Barnes & Noble has an introduction by Professor Trevor Palmer.
It appears that among others Spence’s work inspired the backdrop to the a number of works by the pulp fiction writer, Robert E. Howard(e), who is perhaps best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian.