Alexander Thom and the Megalithic Yard
Alexander Thom was a man who spent several decades studying stone
circles across the country in an attempt to decipher their meaning.
He discovered that not all were perfect
circles - some were egg-shaped others elliptical - but whatever
the shape they all seemed to show remarkable geometric precision
long before the Age of Pythagoras.
Thom's conclusions were that the stone rings were
astronomical observatories, a theory that, at the time, was met
with some contempt. Even today his theories are not entirely accepted
although it is now more or less agreed that most of our megaliths
had some astronomical function - the level of complexity is still
As early as 1934, Thom had become interested
in prehistoric stone circles and their astronomical associations,
thereafter carrying out an ambitious project in which he accurately
surveyed and carefully measured a number of megalithic sites throughout
Professor Thom published his megalithic findings
in 1955 in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society and after
his retirement, published a further two articles that addressed
a unit of measurement he found employed consistently at many prehistoric
megalithic sites across Britain.
Thom's discovery was what he termed "the
megalithic yard" - a measurement of 2.72 feet, or 0.83 metres
- that suggests the megalithic builders of these stone circles had
an advanced understanding of geometry and mathematics as well as
Expanding on the ideas of Professor Thom is another
controversial scholar, Dr Robert Lomas, co-author of Uriel's Machine
- The Prehistoric Technology that Survived the Flood.
Dr Lomas is of the opinion that the Megalithic
Yard - or rather the Megalithic Half-Yard, a measurement he favours
- was developed in Orkney before spreading southwards through a
trading network used by the ancient Orcadians.