by John Michell from The Measure of Albion. Bluestone: Cardigan 2004.
Westward from Stonehenge runs the line to the site of the old church at Glastonbury Abbey - the traditional site of the first Christian foundation in England. The length of this line is 204,120 ft (38.66 miles). It is divided into two parts, relating as 11 to 9, by the site of St Michael's chapel at Gare Hill on the Wiltshire-Somerset border.
This line forms one side of the great decagon whose points mark the sites of the ancient Perpetual Choirs. Three of them are mentioned in Welsh bardic records - at Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Llantwit major in South Wales, the famous Celtic college of St Illtydd, with a mystical foundation legend similar to Glastonbury's. A fourth, north-east from Stonehenge, is at Goring-on-Thames. Another site, further round the circle, is Croft Hill outside Leicester, a spot where open-air assemblies were held into historical times. Paul Devereux identifies Croft Hill as a central site of old England. Lines between these sites make angles of 144 degrees, the angle of a regular ten-sided polygon.
The Ten Sites of the Decagon. The five sites clockwise from Goring to Llandovery have enjoyed a long history of monastic settlement and learning. The line running through the decagon from Llantwit Major to Croft Hill near Leicester, follows the path of midsummer sunrise and is parallel to the Stonehenge midsummer line along the Avenue towards Goring on Thames. (The theoretical coordinates of each point on the decagon are listed opposite).
The central point of the figure is at Whiteleafed Oak, a spot where the three counties of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester have their meeting-place. It is an apt coincidence that the cathedral cities of these three counties hold an annual Three Choirs festival. The legends of Whiteleafed Oak identify it as a former Druid grove with the sacred oak at its centre. Today it is an obscure, unmarked spot, hidden among the most ancient hills of England, but geographically and atmospherically it has the attributes of a natural sanctuary.
Perpetual choirs were a Celtic institution, from pagan into early Christian times. In Iola Morganwg's Triads of Britain, translated from Welsh, it is stated that 'in each of these three choirs there were 24,000 saints; that is, there were a hundred for every hour of the day and the night in rotation, perpetuating the praise and service of God without rest or intermission.'
The function of these choirs was to maintain the enchantment of Britain by chanting. Their song was a constant religious chant, varying with the cycles and seasons and, like time itself, never ending. It was reflected in popular mode by the music that was heard at festivals around the country. In that way, everyone was held under the same musical spell that maintained harmony in their relationships and surroundings.
The line from Glastonbury makes an angle of 144 degrees at Stonehenge, and continues thence to the next choir site 204,120 ft further on. This takes it to a spot on the Thames at Goring which, as gar-ting, means a meeting-place of choirs. The actual spot is on the east bank of the river at Cleeve Wharf, another spot with a resonance of sanctity. A house there is appropriately called the Temple. From Stonehenge the line to Goring passes directly down the Avenue and is orientated to the point of sunrise at the summer solstice.
The dimensions of the Perpetual Choir circle are of great beauty and interest. The principal unit in the scheme is indicated by an obscure and controversial monument located on the summer solstice line from Stonehenge to Goring. Named Peter's mound after C.A. 'Peter' Newham who discovered it, it is a small earthwork visible on the horizon from Stonehenge and marking the point of sunrise on the longest day. Alexander Thom made a careful survey of it in 1978, and established its distance from the centre of Stonehenge, 8,981 ft. Adjusted by about three inches to 8,981.28 ft, this distance is equal to 4,400 units of 2.0412 ft. A hundred thousand of the latter make 204,120 ft, the distance from Stonehenge to Glastonbury's old church or, in the other direction, from Stonehenge to Goring. The significance of this measure is that 20,412 ft, multiplied by 1024, or 210, is 20,901,888 ft, the canonical figure for the earth's mean radius.
Peter's mound was investigated by archaeologists who dismissed it as a modern structure. That has since been disputed. Its key position and metrological relationship to Stonehenge and the perpetual choir circle give evidence of its basic antiquity.