KING ALFRED’S LANDSCAPE JOURNEY TO KINGSHIP
Report of research and pilgrimage in the Wessex Landscape Temple
Was King Alfred one of our ‘sun kings’ who established a kingdom and a language for the European diaspora into Britain? How does such a famous king become a wise ruler and effective educator as our cultural hero? Uncovering the rise and creation of ‘sovereignty’ of our culture in the landscape, has been subject of many books by authors who re-tell the stories and myths associated with the sanctuaries and star-maps in our British lands.
In the first decade of this millennium, I was a member of a small group of Gatekeeper Trust researchers who visited the Stonehenge/Avebury area around Upavon. We were testing the hypothesis that there was a pre-designed circular landscape temple or ‘zodiac’. The towns of Avebury, Marlborough, Ludgershal, Amesbury, the Lavingtons, and Devizes all seemed to be placed equisdistant from Upavon and Rushall. At the centre there was a bridge called ‘Scales Bridge’ as if serving the function of balancing this circular landscape in some way. This lead us to study the travels of the visionary King Alfred, and how he acceded to his role as ‘sun king’ eventually to revolutionise education, and Christianity. He translated Latin texts into Anglo Saxon, and built monastic centres, throughout Wessex, a foundation culture that would eventually bring a whole ‘British Isles’ nation together.
How he was inspired by his own generational traditions, is a mystery tale, one of the keys to which is in ‘King Alfred’s sundial’ on the wall of the Chapel of Corhampton built on top of a large barrow in the middle of the Meon Valley. As this has eight points, it is in essence a ‘wheel of life’ depicting the eight solar festivals or cycle of pre-Christian initiation in an earlier sun religion. Was Alfred therefore a ‘priest king’ initiated into the ancient wisdom traditions of old, marked by the passage of the sun through the land? Could this be symbolized in sculpture and art forms such as this sun wheel, or the ‘Tree of Life’ suggested in the ‘Alfred Jewel’ found near Athelney where Alfred built a palace, This was where summoned his men at arms to fight the Danish King Guthrum in based in Chippenham. He earned the right to be a great king by honoring the sacred symbolism of the ancient, pagan landscape.
The Alfred Jewel ‘Tree of Life’ with the inscription ‘Alfred ordered me made’ [From Project Gutenberg and Commons; adapted by me – File:Alfred Jewel – Project Gutenberg eText 16785.jpg cropped and reversed, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12805661
The Alfred Jewel was part of a manuscript pointer which Alfred sent to each Bishop’s See with a copy of his translation of Pope Gregory the Great’s book ’Pastoral Care’ – saying ‘…I command, in God’s name, that no man take the staff from the book, nor the book from the church.’
How did Alfred work with the ancient sacred sites of the Wessex landscape to earn his title ‘Alfred the Great’, and to reign in Winchester to establish a cultural foundation admired through the centuries?
His journeys were identified by a small group of researchers in the early part of this century, and in 2020 as part of the Wheel of Life Project, another group followed the chakric temple of the ‘Hampshire Highway’ running from the ‘wheel’ landscape of St Catherine’s Hill to the Meon Valley, highlighting the partial lunar eclipse and the ‘Wheely Down’ trail named after an Old English word for ‘temple or sanctuary’ at Corhampton.
THE WESSEX LANDSCAPE TEMPLE by Anthony Thorley
Here is the transcript of a talk at the annual conference ‘Myths in the Landscape’ November 2003 entitled ‘The Wessex Landscape Temple’ by Anthony Thorley(see Gatekeeper News No.21, 2004). It explores the notion of sovereignty in the land and ‘the patterning of religious houses over the chakras’, which were later reconstructed by William the Conqueror. The Wessex chakra landscape links two zodiac or ‘star map’ circles: Glastonbury (Aquarius) and Stonehenge-Avebury (Capricorn). These are connected to records of King Alfred’s travels through an energy line, building a powerful army, beating the Danes and converting their king Guthrum to Christianity.
The notes In Italics, are additional comments made by a small group of researchers with Anthony Thorley.
Embodying history and sovereignty in the landscape:
Sketch of the Wessex Landscape Temple depicting the historical battles and events in the life of King Alfred and his journey to take kingships from the Danish King Guthrum. The largest circle is the Capricorn zodiac. (sketch by Antony Thorley)
The Wessex Landscape Chakra Temple is slowly revealing itself to a persistent group of pilgrims and researchers and now is the time to share some of our basic findings. Our work in the South West of England has been in progress for almost four years, and mu ch has fallen into place only in the last year or so. Where to being? Best to go back in time because it has become apparent that this Temple is washed over by waves of history so relevant to the development of our country that its influence seems to reach out from the mists of prehistoric times, right into the present theatre of war in Iraq.
The Temple could have been so easily called the King Alfred Temple because it covers Alfred’s heartland of the West Saxons, and his own story suggests an uncanny knowledge of the chakras and the landscape, or reflects massive landscape energies driving history. Keep an eye on the map and hear this story.
For a whole generation in the ninth century, in order to protect the rich Wessex lands, Alfred’s father and his elder brother had fought against the Danes, who occupied much of England north of the Thames. One by one, Alfred’s older brothers fell in battle or disappeared from history, until 871, when the 22 year-old Alfred accompanied his elder brother King Aethelred on a campaign to hold the Danish leaders in the lowr Thames valley. At the Battle of Marten on the edge of their family lands, in Pewsey Vale, Aethelred, the remaining son, effectively assumed the crown of Wessex. It is remarkable that Marten is so close to Haydown Hill, the Crown chakra of the Wessex Temple.
After he was crowned King, Alfred managed to maintain peace for a number of years. Then in 878, at Christmas, whilst Alfred and his court were celebrating Twelfth Night in Chippenham, they were suddenly attacked by Kin Guthrum and his army. Alfred fled with a few retainers and made his way south and west through the ancient forest of Selwood, until he arrived at Athelney, a few acres of island above the Somerset marshes. Athelney was truly the ‘root’ Chakra of the starting place of Alfred’s great venture, which was to lead to a united England. Guthrum pressed down the Fosse Way and occupied North Somerset as far as the Abbey lands of Glastonbury. From his base at Athelney, safe within the marshes, Alfred could only harry Guthrum’s forces and wait for his opportunity. As the weeks went by Alfred called for the West Saxons of Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Hampshire to rally and meet him at Egbert’s Stone, a site probably near the modern village of Brixton Deverill in Wiltsthire. This was the traditional gathering point of all Wessex armies when they needed to protect their lands. It was the calling place, the Throat Chakra, of the Wessex heartland.
At around Easter, Alfred and his retainers secretly set out for Egbert’s Stone and at this Throat Chakra he waited one more day for his small army to assemble, and then by tradition he made his last holy communion at Monkton Deverill Church. Marching a few miles north he spent the night before the battle with the Danes at Eclear, now known as Cley Hill. This extraordinary, brooding hill, topped by a prominent cap and round barrow, is Alta Major Chakra. What more appropriate chakra energy for the last dreaming sleep of an army, which was to carry the ancient traditions of Englishmen past and present into their future destiny.
Meanwhile, Guthrum and his army had marched south out of Chippenham to occupy the heights at Bratton above the villages of Westbury and Edington. The two armies met the next day and against all the odds, Alfred’s smaller force prevailed and drove Guthrum north to take refuge in Chippenham. The battlefield is known as Edington and is traditionally commemorated by the chalk effigy of the White Horse of Westbury. However, historians recognise that Alfred’s success at the battle of Edington in 878 meant that English was to become the language of the future.
England rather than Scandinavia. It is quite a thought that from this point on the landscape temple at Edington the English language was to grow to be the ‘lingua franca’ of the World. Not surprisingly, Edington is the Brow Chakra, or command centre of the landscape temple.
After Guthrum had surrendered in Chippenham, Alfred insisted that the Danish king and thirty of his retainers were baptised into Christianity. So why was this not done in the Church at Chippenham, or at Bruton in the Heart Chakra?
My answer would be that Alfred knew that it had to be done at the foot of the Temple in the Root Chakra. Here his victory and all that it promised for the future could be rooted in authority and in a united Christian people. At the centre of the Root Chakra, the marsh-bound Athelney had no abbey church at that time, and the nearer established church was a few miles away at Aller. So at Aller, Guthrum and his retainers were baptised at the Root and eventually withdrew their armies from the Wessex area never to provide a serious threat again.
Alfred went on to become one of the greatest Kings of Englaish history. Incidentally, although his statues in Winchester, Pewsey and Wantage all show him to be a big man, tradition has it that he was only five feet tall. Truly by English understatement Alfred the Great! He went on to found his capital of Wessex at Winchester, which just so happens to tap the crown energies of the Wessex Temple down the Roman road from Haydown Hill.
After the Norman conquest in 1066 King William I, another scholar-king evidently aware of the geomantic power points of his new kingdom, travelled on a journey deep into the Wessex heartland to Stourton in the Throat Chakra to receive a rendition or act of obeisance from the local Saxon families. It was as if William and his advisors knew that without acknowledging these key places, which were not just simply conquered Saxon lands but represented something more universally significant, he could never expect to have a secure hold over his newly-conquered kingdom. The Sovereignty of the land in those times was simply accepted as a larger matter than just armies, force of personality and fragile claims to rightful kingship. It is notable that the conquering Normans did not only build castles at key sites, so emphasising secular power, but also abbeys and monastic foundations which acknowledge the spiritual form of heaven on earth. These great Norman and gothic religious houses together with the motte and bailey castles, were the standing stones of the new geomantic order, an order which through our modern dioceses and county towns still plays a part in our spiritual and material lives today,
The patterning of religious houses over the chakras is most instructive and visiting the various sites provides a great insight into the way the pre-reformation spiritual consciousness seemed to strengthen and support the chakric energies. We have already mentioned the Root foundation at Athelney, but in the next Chakra, the Sacral centred on St Andrew’s Church at High Ham, we are on the edge of the deeper mystery of Joseph of Arimathea. In a local Somerset legend he came overland from the south and at High Ham held up the Cruets from the last supper, and as they blazed with light he could see his final destination of Glastonbury six miles away. There are Arimatheaic legends in the Langport and High Ham areas suggesting that this great sage-mystic initiate (as engraved by a young William Blake) began his blessed journey in Somerset in the Sacral Chakra. There is also a legend of a first wattle church, founded by Joseph not just at Glastonbury but also at Langport.
The great Saxon Abbeys of Glastonbury and Muchelney emphasise the key area of the Solar Plexus chakra, and the Glastonbury zodiac. This is truly the chakra visited by the solar energy of the Christ Child and the setting up of the Auld Church at Glastonbury Abbey that was recorded by William of Malmesbury in the twelfth century. Those who like their Solar Plexus Chakra to represent the energy of food will recall that Christ is the bread of life. Some authorities recognize that this seat of emotions reflects powerful raw energies, difficult and challenging and often psychic. Is this not a good description of the emotional complexity of the Glastonbury Zodiac area?
Crossing the Solar Plexus Zodiac, a Milky Way track-way (including distinctive stone slabs) from High Ham to Lamyatt links seven sacred pre-reformation churches, recalling the great pilgrimage Road of the Stars to Santiago. The references to the Milky Way and the pertinent reflection of ancient geomancy in the names of Saints along the Somerset route make one wonder again as to how ancient the knowledge of the Zodiac really is. An annual pilgrimage walks the twenty-one miles of the Milky Way divided over the first two Saturdays of each July.
The veil between the Solar Plexus and the Heart chakras sweeps down from Wells in the north to Sherborne in the south, both ancient Saxon cathedrals acting like great wings. The Heart Chakra [of the Wessex landscape temple] is entered at Lamyatt Beacon [at one end of the Glastonbury Zodiac Milky Way], a remarkable sacred site with a Roman Temple and a possible monastic cell occupied by tall women nuns who are buried in the adjacent eighth century graveyard. From this high point, sixteen miles to the west the church of High Ham is visible. Below to the south, lies the small town of Bruton, the centre of the Heart Chakra area [of the Wessex Temple:], like a beautiful cup surrounded by hills. Here there is a continuity of compassion shown in monastic sites, hospitals, almshouses and fine schools going back hundreds of years. Its double- towered parish church of St Mary the Virgin holds a feast for those interested in Rosicrucian imagery, and as you walk around this quite Somerset town its heart energy gently unfolds. [The Rosicrucians are believed to use one small additional tower attached to the larger tower for meditation and geomancy purposes].
Although not the centre of the Throat Chakra, the massive King Alfred’s tower, finished in 1772 with masonic precision by Henry Flitcroft, an assistant architect to a conversion at 10 Downing Street, is the natural calling place today. Here at Stourhead we enter an eighteenth-century world of nouveau-riche bankers, masonic links between key political families, and a rash of columns and obelisks at significant points across the chakras of the Wessex Temple.
[Picture: Jürgen Matern – own work (JMatern_060808_1518-1521_WC.jpg), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2702512]
Alfred’s Tower is near ‘Egbert’s Stone’ ‘where it is believed that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied the Saxons in May 878 before the important Battle of Edington.
Alfred was particularly remembered as the founder of the English and the source of the idea of national empire at a time when England was founding a new British Empire in India and North America. William Pitt the first Earl of Chatham, had lands at Burton Pynsent at the Root Chakra, the site of another massive column with a sight-line to Alfred’s Tower. Pitt was MP for the burgeoning masonic Bath of Architect John Wood, and the relationship between that city and the Wessex Temple calls for more research. Here great families with national influence in the capital London had their country houses and estate in the Wessex landscape. Their obelisks, often on sighting lines between themselves, constituted another set of geomantic acupuncture points which raise questions about their true purpose in the power struggles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Was the temple and its energy system known about by the eighteenth century grandees and did they seek to influence national matters in some esoteric means?
Before we all join Mr Dashwood’s Hell Fire Club to check these ideas out, best to press on via the Alta Major of Cley Hill and the Brown Centre of Edington to the other part of the Brow recognized by many as a chakra on its own, the Third Eye. This Chakra is a zodiacal circle eighteen miles across centred on a small obscure bridge, Scales Bridge [Rushall, derived from a word suggestively meaning ‘apex of a round house’], intriguingly always identified on all the large-scale maps of Wiltshire. Many nationally and locally significant sites run round the circumference like earls on a necklace: Devizes Castle [near the village of Roundway], Avebury Henge and Silbury Hill, Marlborough [and Merlin’s Mound, Marlborough College. CY], Savernake Forest, Ludgershall Castle, Amesbury Priory, Stonehenge [and Woodhenge, Durrington Walls henge], Rollestone Church and St Joan a Gores Cross. Two thirds of the enclosed circle is occupied by the inaccessible military installations of Salisbury Plain and a large part of our standing army. In the northern third is Pewsey Vale, peppered with many small parishes and pre- reformation Churches providing their own zodiacal mysteries.
[It has been demonstrated that when these churches are laid out in a map, it equates with the map of the major constellations of the Milky Way, with no spare churches. Thus Milk Hill overlooking the villages of Alton Bartnes and Alton Priors, also indicates the significance of the Pewsey Vale in this way, with Bishops Cannings at the position of the 13th sign of Arachne, believed to be a symbolic point for alchemical pilgrimage relating to the stars ‘as above so below’].
It is in this northern area over the last twenty years that more crop circles have appeared than in anywhere else in the world. [near Alton Barnes/Alton Priors, source of the River Avon, and where there are signs of there having been a Megalithic stone circle in the church foundations.]
Ruth White identifies the Third Eye Chakra not as a psychic centre (for her that is more the Solar Plexus) but one characterized by Beauty, Justice, Guardianship and Transformation. Beauty, as in sacred geometry (Stonehenge, Avebury and the twelve- fold Zodiacal Pattern); Justice, as in the Zodiac around the appositely named Scales Bridge; Balance between church and castle, modern army and sacred site, war and peace; guardianship as in the army today, but also the ancient abbeys and priories of Avebury, Upavon and Amesbury, and the castle s of Devizes, Ludgershall and Marlborough [with Merlin’s Mound at Marlborough College]; and Transformation, as in the deep ‘insights’ of crop circles and their increasing relevance as beacons for changing world consciousness. This has been Third Eye country for a very long time.
Aware that the great priory church of Edington on one side of the Third Eye Chakra must have its sacred balance on the other side of the Zodiac, we identify that site as the area around the Chute Causeway known as Haydown Hill. Here the straight Roman road connecting Cirencester and Winchester takes an uncharacteristic eight mile detour to skirt around this sacred site. Haydown Hill is a huge Iron Age camp [Fosbury Camp] as large as any in the Wessex region but almost totally unknown. The views across the deep dry valleys around the hill south toward Winchester and east toward Newbury are magnificent. Standing o the huge ramparts of the camp on the west side are whispering groves of beech and pines. There is no higher land anywhere around and it truly feels like one of those ‘taking off’ places. And so it should, because this is not only the Crown Chakra of our Temple but also the centre of the Galaxy between the signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius on the Scales Bridge Zodiac: truly a ‘stargate’, one of the gates to Heaven.
In this account I have only sketched out some of the riches of the Wessex Temple and I have not attempted to be systematic, hoping that hints of mysteries still to discover will encourage you to explore for yourself or join us on our walks. Uncovering the Temple would not have been possible without help and insights from a number of people, but especially I would like to thank charlotte Yonge, Alex Boswell, Tamayra Hayman (who first recognized the chakric pattern), David and Susan Hatfield and my wife Celia Gunn for their special contributions and persistent enthusiasm.
Anthony Thorley 2004.
A further examination of the map shows that through this landscape runs a ley line from Ogbourne St George, Ogborne St Andrew and Ogborne Maisey, Merlin’s Mound to Wilton. In Wilton House, the Sydney family are believed to belong to the ‘Areopagus of Poets’, meeting in the family home of Philip and Mary Sydney, both associated with the secret authors of Shakespeare’s Works. Wilton House is remarkable for its geometric proportions which relate to those of Solomon’s Temple, a Masonic template for future religious or ‘sacred’ architecture. Was this a building conductive to tapping into higher realms of inspiration that lead to the creation of Shakespeare’s Plays, and intimated as the outworking of Francis Bacons ’Advancement of Learning’?
Current discoveries in the Wiltshire landscape and area within the ‘Capricorn Zodiac’ being researched: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/22/vast-neolithic- circle-of-deep-shafts-found-near-stonehenge:
‘A circle of deep shafts has been discovered near the world heritage site of Stonehenge, to the astonishment of archaeologists, who have described it as the largest prehistoric structure ever found in Britain….The shafts are vast, each more than 5 metres deep and 10 metres in diameter. Approximately 20 have been found and there may have been more than 30. About 40% of the circle is no longer available for study as a consequence of modern development….. While Stonehenge was positioned in relation to the solstices, or the extreme limits of the sun’s movement, Gaffney said the newly discovered circular shape suggests a “huge cosmological statement and the need to inscribe it into the earth itself”.
As Amesbury nearby has been named as part of one of the circles of ‘Perpetual Choirs’, this is all the more significant, in that the widening context connected to ancient lore and practice, shows that the Durrington Walls shafts would have been part of a much larger ritual complex, linking with Stonehenge, Marden Henge and Avebury and Merlin’s Mound, Marlborough. Oriented to the sun’s movement, we have a ‘wheel of life’ imprinted on the landscape with very large stone casements, which would have formed a sort of ‘resonnating’ chamber for earth energies. I suspect that the deeper symbology of the Capricorn zodiac has more to reveal.
ALFRED REIGNS AT WINCHESTER:
Historical activities seemed to follow a trail of magnetic ‘earth energy centres’ that lie behind the success of our greatest cultural heroes. Before the Elizabethan Rennaisance revival, the trail connected Alfred to his destiny.
After beating the Danes, King Alfred was crowned in Bath, and travelled the Roman road past Haydown Hill/Fosbury Camp, through the ‘third eye’ to Winchester where he set up his palace. There he proceeded to translate Latin texts and establish a new colleges using this educational ‘language of the people’. Beneath the site of Winchester College there is purported to be the site of a Temple of Apollo, and this is connected to the sacred site of St Catherine’s Hill across the water meadows. Near the East End of the Cathedral there was reported the site of a ‘Temple of Concordia’. Great Sarsen stones are found throughout the city, most of the up St Giles Hill ‘the hill of the masters’, and beneath houses in the Cathedral Close. A Celtic altar stone was found dedicated to the ‘Matronae’ or Mother Goddesses of Europe, now resting in the British Museum.
Overlooking Winchester is St Catherine’s Hill, where in the landscape surrounding this ancient prehistoric settlement there are sacred sites at the eight points of a ‘wheel’ oriented North at St Giles Hill. The Cathedral is situated at the NW point of this directional wheel, said to be the sacred direction starting point for pilgrimage.
For some people, St Catherine is associated with the Ophalos as she represents an axis around which the world – her wheel – can spin.
William Rufus, a ‘devout pagan’ frequented the hill in readiness for the crusades. It is believed that the ‘Miz Maze’ carved in the turf relates to Pagan myth of initiation. It is still frequented by scholars of Winchester College who trim its lines, when they ‘go to hills’. When Rufus was killed, his body was brough in a cart to the city, along ‘Kings Lane’ from the New Forest, still dripping blood. This suggests the symbolic nature of his death which connects with the myth of a sacrificial spilling of the blood of the priest-king. This was believed to be to enhance the fertility of the land and protection of the people. Records speak of a great mourning throughout the land, and his body buried in a tombe in front of the high altar.
The Rufus Line – was the king’s death symbolic? Hugh Ross Williamson author of ‘The Arrow and the Sword, considers the deaths of both Rufus and Thomas a Becket to be initiatory dramas played out in the landscape between Winchester and Canterbury, and that these related to issues of sovereignty. This line connects with Lulworth Cove and Chertsey Abbey, London.
[Read more about the Giant in the landscape of Portland in ‘The Spirit of Portland’ by Gary Biltcliffe, 2009.]
Uri Leitch, ‘The Melkart Line’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQdgNwXtZkw‘ and ‘Signs and Secrets of the Glastonbury Zodiac’
Sarsen stones in Abbey Gardens, founded by King Alfred’s widow Ealhswith. There are over 100 Sarsen stones in the city, some believe they formed two great stone circles where the cathedral now stands on two ancient springs.
Wikipedia: St. Mary’s Abbey, also known as the Nunnaminster, was a Benedictine nunnery in Winchester, Hampshire. It was founded between 899 and 902 by Alfred the Great’s widow Ealhswith, who was described as the ‘builder’ of the Nunnaminster in the New Minster Liber Vitae. The first buildings were completed by their son, Edward the Elder. Among the house’s early members was Edward’s daughter Edburga.
The Silver Wheel Pilgrimage: In 2020 a small group pilgrimaged through the Hampshire countryside to the South Downs, along the Hampshire Highway. This route conducted a linked ‘river blessing’ for the Itchen Canal at the bottom of St Catherine’s Hill, and the Meon River at Corhampton: [LINK TO ‘Silver Wheel’ pilgrimage].
If you would like to contribute to the research in the Wessex landscapes, please contact us through the Secretary@gatekeeper.org.uk.
Charlotte Yonge, 2020.