Landscape zodiac

Landscape zodiac

A landscape zodiac (or terrestrial zodiac) is a map of the stars on a gigantic scale, formed by features in the landscape, such as roads, streams and field boundaries. Perhaps the best known alleged example is the Glastonbury Temple of the Stars, situated around Glastonbury in Somerset, England. The temple is thought by some to depict a colossal zodiac.

The theory was first put forward in 1935 by Katherine Maltwood, an artist who "discovered" the zodiac in a vision, and held that the "temple" was created by Sumerians about 2700 BC. Interest was re-ignited in 1969 by Mary Caine in an article in the magazine "Gandalf's Garden".

The landscape zodiac plays an important role in many occult theories. It has been associated with the Celtic Saints, Grail legend and King Arthur (according to some legends buried in Glastonbury).


The idea of a prehistoric landscape zodiac fell into disrepute when two independent studies examined the Glastonbury Zodiac in 1983; one by Ian Burrow and the other by Tom Williamson and Liz Bellamy. These both used standard methods of landscape historical research. Both studies concluded that the evidence contradicted the idea of an ancient zodiac. The eye of Capricorn identified by Maltwood was a haystack. The western wing of the Aquarius phoenix was a road laid in 1782 to run around Glastonbury, and older maps dating back to the 1620s show the road had no predecessors. The Cancer boat (not a crab as in conventional western astrology) consists of a network of eighteenth century drainage ditches and paths. There are some Neolithic paths preserved in the peat of the bog formerly comprising most of the area, but none of the known paths match the lines of the zodiac features. There is no support for this theory, or for the existence of the "temple" in any form, from conventional archaeologists.

Other landscape zodiacs

Despite scientific scepticism, further zodiacs have been “discovered” in Britain in following years including:

*Kingston on Thames Zodiac
*The Lizard Zodiac, Cornwall
*Bodmin Moor Zodiac
*The Pumpsaint Zodiac
*Nuthampstead Terrestrial Zodiac
*The Sheffield Zodiac, South Yorkshire

There is rarely a strong scientific case for these discoveries. Their nebulous existence is in many ways similar to urban myths, ufology, or ley lines. They seem to play a part in personal belief systems, possibly as fictional devices or even deliberate hoaxes or jokes.

Landscape zodiacs and psychogeography

In the walks around the M25 motorway documented in psychogeographer Iain Sinclair’s 2003 novel "London Orbital", the walkers trace the mythical Kingston on Thames Zodiac.

In 2006, artist Nigel Ayers began to develop the idea of the Bodmin Moor Zodiac as a form of spatial detournement. This was an idea derived from developments in Land Art and Locational Media, influenced however by urban-based Situationist and Letterist theory. Over the course of a year, Ayers carefully explored the outlines of zodiac figures perceived and plotted on large-scale maps and aerial photographs of the moor. The newly-drawn 2006 figures are remarkable and make a break from earlier mooted terrestrial zodiacs on Bodmin Moor and elsewhere as they actually resemble a conventional zodiac as outlined on a star map.


*Brinsley le Poer Trench(1962)" Temple of the Stars"
*Katherine E. Maltwood (1935) "A Guide to Glastonbury's Temple of the Stars"
*Peter James and Nick Thorpe (1999) "Ancient Mysteries", Ballantine Books, New York, pp 298-304
*Iain Sinclair (2005) "London Orbital", Penguin Books, London, ISBN-10: 0141014741
*Nigel Ayers (2007) "The Bodmin Moor Zodiac"
*Mary Caine(1978) "The Glastonbury Giants"
*Mary Caine (2001) "The Kingston Zodiac" Capall Barn Publishing ISBN 186163111-1
*Lewis Edwards, " The Welsh Temple of the Zodiac" (undated mimeographed pamphlet)
*Ian Hemming (2000) "The Pumpsaint Zodiac" Lampeter: Mindwarp Press
*John Michell (1975) "The Earth Spirit - Its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries"
*John Michell (1979) "Simulacra - with 196 Illustrations of Faces and Figures in Nature" London: Thames & Hudson
*Sheila Jeffries (1996) "Cornwall’s Landscape Zodiac" St.Keverne:Elderberry Books
*Robert Coon (1986) "Voyage to Avalon - An Immortalist’s Introduction to the Magick of Glastonbury" Glastonbury: Griffin Gold
*R. Nichols (1993)"Great Zodiac of Glastonbury" Mandrake Press, Thame England
*Oliver L. Reiser (1975) "This Holyest Erthe: Glastonbury Zodiac and King Arthur's Avalon" TRSP Publications ISBN-10: 0900588101

ee also


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