(PhysOrg.com) -- A new theory based on studies of locations of large landmarks in Britain, such as stone structures, hill forts and earthworks, suggests they were part of a grid used for navigation around 5,000 years ago, which implies people at the time were not as primitive as previously thought.
The theory, put forward by Tom Brooks, a retired marketing executive turned amateur historian, claims landmarks such as Silbury Hill and Stonehenge were part of a navigation network that allowed people to travel long distances without maps.
Analyzing 1,500 sites in southern England and Wales, Brooks found that all the known sites could be connected to at least two others to make isosceles triangles, which have two equal sides. Some of the triangles have sides greater than 100 miles long, and the equal sides are accurate to +/- 110 yards, which Brooks says could not have happened by chance.
According to Brooks this finding means they were deliberately built landmarks intended to aid in navigation in the world before maps. For short journeys travelers were easily able to walk from one site to another, since many were within sight of each other. For traveling longer distances the routes could be broken up into an interconnected series of short steps.
Brooks said the navigation grid was so accurate and sophisticated that we need to either change our notions about how primitive Stone Age people were, or accept the proposal they received help from extraterrestrial sources, an idea that Brooks does not dismiss.
The editor of British Archaeology magazine, Mike Pitts, is not convinced by the theory, however. He pointed out that Britain was well-populated at the time and there were many earthworks and other archaeological landmarks. Finding patterns is not difficult, and the patterns therefore are not necessarily meaningful.
© 2009 PhysOrg.com
Explore further: New study shows South Africans using milk-based paint 49,000 years ago