The Glastonbury Zodiac

A landscape zodiac (or terrestrial zodiac) is pattern of the twelve zodiacal constellations on a vast scale, allegedly formed by features in the landscape, such as roads, streams and rivers, ancient mounds, contour lines and field boundaries. In other words, it is astrology brought literally down to earth.

The most famous landscape zodiac is at Glastonbury in Somerset, England. In 1927 local sculptor and mystic Katherine Maltwood became the first to recognize this zodiac, and published her theories in her 1935 book A Guide to Glastonbury’s Temple of the Stars. Using a combination of ‘visionary experience’, discussions with astrologer friends, and research into local history Maltwood came to the conclusion that the landscape around Glastonbury had been sculpted around 5000 years ago into a vast astrological zodiac, with its hills, rivers, hedgerows and mounds representing astrological figures.

This enormous star map apparently measured around ten miles across and thirty miles around.

Maltwood’s Glastonbury Zodiac consisted of the twelve signs of the Zodiac in their correct order, with for example Glastonbury Tor and Chalice Hill in the sign of Aquarius, and Wearyall Hill (where legend has it Joseph of Arimathea planted the Holy Thorn) in Pisces.

However, there have been many objections to Maltwood’s terrestrial zodiac theory. Two independent studies of the supposed giant zodiac carried out in 1983 using historical research and landscape analysis, one by Ian Burrow and the other by archaeologists Tom Williamson and Liz Bellamy, concluded that there was no evidence whatsoever for the existence of a Temple of the Stars in the Glastonbury landscape. The researchers showed that Maltwood had included a number of modern features in her ‘prehistoric’ zodiac, for example roads and field boundaries that did not exist before the nineteenth century, and signs of agricultural activity from the time her photographs were taken.

Maltwood had also failed to take into account how the landscape around Glastonbury in Neolithic times (she dated it to around 2700 BC) was significantly different to that of the early 20th century, when she identified the Zodiac.


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