A tribute to the remarkable research and findings of the late Tom Brooks (1927–2019) who discovered the grand plan of ancient British geometers — a vast integrated network of prehistoric sites
Tom Brooks looked out across the Dorset uplands with a countryman’s assured eye, but also with a frown. Here, near the village of Milborne St Andrew, the latest Ordnance Survey maps showed a prehistoric long barrow, or ‘chambered tomb’.
But the monument had long gone — only a slight rise in the field suggested its one-time location. ‘You wouldn’t know there had been one there at all,’ Tom said. ‘And along the hedgerow, there’s supposed to be a tumulus, but it’s not there either.’
Near Tom’s childhood home in Devon, the hill camp of Stockland Great Castle was under threat, reduced in size by half over the years by agricultural encroachment. Tom was deeply concerned about such losses because of a remarkable discovery he had made that decoded Britain’s prehistory.
After decades of meticulous research involving countless mathematical computations, based upon the true position of each ancient site relative to all others, according to the Ordnance Survey National Grid, Tom was sure he had proved that our ancestors, far from being barbaric, actually possessed sophisticated engineering and surveying skills.
He found that, across England and Wales, more than 2,000 prehistoric monuments — long barrows, hill camps, mounds, standing stones and stone circles — dating from 4,000–6,000 years ago, do not stand alone but are integrated geometrically in a vast network based on a system of isosceles triangles (those with two sides of equal length) and equidistance between sites aligned with precision over great distances.
And this — ‘one of the world’s biggest civil engineering undertakings’, as Tom described it admiringly — was created more than two millennia before the Greeks were supposed to have discovered such geometry, although many of its sites were now damaged or lost. ‘It was a breathtaking and complex undertaking by a people of profound industry and vision,’ he said. ‘We must revise our thinking on what’s gone before.’
A gentleman antiquarian of the ‘old school’, and a talented draughtsman and artist, Tom was born in London and attended East Sheen Grammar School before returning to his family home in Devon where he became a pupil at Colyton Grammar School. He served in the Royal Navy and later became marketing director with the former multi-national J Lyons & Co. He was a man of great integrity and an upholder of tradition.
In retirement, he self-published three limited-edition books, The Hand of Man: Britain’s Prehistory Decoded (2004), Prehistoric Geometry in Britain: the Discoveries of Tom Brooks (2009), and Seeing Around Corners: Geometry in Stone Age Britain — the Proof (2012), all now out of print, unfortunately.
I was privileged to get to know Tom well; I was keen to meet him after a copy of The Hand of Man arrived for review at the Western Daily Press, in Bristol, where, as a journalist, I was working at the time.
Over a period of seven years, I placed several articles about his discoveries in the UK national and regional press and, finding his research extremely convincing, I also helped him to create video and audio presentations of his work, and accompanied him on various field trips.
My wife Angie and I had many happy meetings with Tom and his wife Sue, first at their home at Heathstock in Devon and later after they’d moved to the Mendip Hills and Wells in Somerset. Often we met for lunch in traditional English tearooms or cottage restaurants, and these occasions were delightful experiences.
In 2007, Tom underwent serious heart bypass surgery but persevered with his research to publish his second book. We have learned that, from 2017, Tom’s health deteriorated and, after suffering a second stroke, he died last year at the age of 92.
Sadly, his work, despite his hopes, was left largely unrecognised. On the one side, he was beset by the dismissive attitude of mainstream archaeology and, on the other, by the ‘alternative history’ community, whose leading denizens all had their own rival theories and books to promote. Exasperated by the former and suspicious of the latter, Tom ploughed a lone furrow, uniquely his own.
Tom revealed that the hub of the geometric network, which he regarded as navigational, is the 5,000-year-old Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, offering a solution to the mystery of the purpose of this the largest man-made mound in Europe, but a solution, needless to say, that presented a challenge to established archaeological thinking.
Seeing Around Corners is Tom’s definitive work, providing the strongest evidence of a higher intelligence in Britain up to 6,000 years ago and reinforcing all the main strands of his momentous discovery.
‘It is the tale of my lifelong struggle to unravel what I always recognised as a genuine mystery, and then assemble the proof of that unravelling within an ambience of disregard, disbelief, disinterest and downright resistance,’ he told me at the time of publication.
He was seeking to silence the sceptics and detractors once and for all. Crammed with remarkable data, the sum and substance of his life’s work, this book includes hundreds of finely calculated examples of prehistoric sites linked together in the geometric network with extreme accuracy.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the book is the proof of geometry and allied mathematics being employed in mesolithic and neolithic Britain contrary to all modern belief: the isosceles triangle being used to ‘see around corners’ by calling up another ‘station’, and the sheer scale and accuracy of the survey with complex triangulation and alignments often linking a dozen sites over 300 miles coast to coast.
Key features of the network are the equidistant spacing of aligned sites either side of a third, as with Silbury Hill and a standing stone on Lundy Island, off the coast of Devon (never previously uncovered), and at the Stoney Littleton long barrow in north-east Somerset, the significance of which, as a major locus, was a dramatic new finding.
‘Indeed, given the space, I could produce a map of southern Britain with every prehistoric location linked to others exclusively by this system,’ Tom said. ‘Of similar importance is the fact that much of the geometry described can still be traced on the countryside today in the form of footpaths, tracks, boundaries and even trunk roads.’
The coding of tumuli and the significance of standing stones, such as Hautevilles Quoit, Somerset, was also important, as was a triangulated pattern radiating from Silbury and the Marlborough Downs which eventually reached all parts of the country.
It was as a child that Tom’s fascination with prehistoric Britain began, as he explored hill camps in Devon’s Blackdown Hills. At 14, he spent three days sketching all he could see through 360 degrees from Hawkesdown Camp above the Axe estuary, and wondering if the landmarks on the skyline were part of some grand scheme.
Then, on his cycling trips, he found that the great camps of Musbury, Blackbury and Sidbury were aligned. To prove the alignment mathematically, he overlaid a grid on a one-inch map — and his life’s work had begun.
What drove him? ‘I hope to get some recognition for my work, not just personally, but for the geometry I have discovered which indicates we had an intelligence here 5,000 years ago which is way beyond expectation,’ he said.
‘Much of the accurate triangulation with two equal sides would have been surveyed by line of sight from the highest point available. It’s still possible today to see 25 miles across country but more in prehistoric times with no high-level tree cover nor intervening buildings and a totally unpolluted atmosphere.
‘As the large hill stations were created for permanent living, long barrows for overnight rest or shelter by workforces, and mounds with standing stones as waymark signposts, so would the constructors be joined by families and thus able to help with agriculture and mineral extraction to develop trading across the network.
‘We have been led to believe that long barrows were pagan ritual burial sites, yet with no evidence of formal respectful arrangement, as in the Pyramids. Even today, they make quite comfortable overnight shelters. They are found on isolated high ground, close to major construction work, as at Silbury, Stonehenge and Winklebury Camp, Basingstoke, and without exception are key nodes in the triangulated network.’
Back then, says Tom, Britain was unbroken territory, just rolling, bare countryside with a hostile environment after the Ice Age. To expand from warmer southern climes for a growing population called for a controlled system for planners to know where workforces were heading and navigators to know how to return or cross-connect with others. Trading and social inter-connection would have come later.
Tom fought a one-man rearguard action to preserve the legacy of the Stone Age geometers, fearing neglect of these archaeological treasures.
‘Planning authorities pay scant regard to our prehistoric heritage as do farmers who, in most recent times, still plough flat the long barrow and earth mound that is actually shown as extant on the latest Ordnance Survey sheets,’ he said.
‘We must take all our antiquities into enhanced care and apply severe sanctions to the offender. No other country in the world can boast so many jewels from the distant past which, together with the geometric connotation, represents wealth untold.
‘Every such item is a node in the only example of prehistoric geometry to have been unearthed anywhere in the world. Imagine the advantage to the British economy when it’s finally recognised overseas that here, at one time in earlier centuries, superior minds were being applied to leave a message across our landscape-to-be — a positive magnet for tourism.’
Despite the ‘breathtaking scale’ of prehistoric monuments, and the unexplained nature of their construction by supposedly primitive men, the respect of British people today fell very short of what should be expected.
‘My research travels have taken me to key mounds in the geometric layout being hidden in private gardens where permission to review is so often refused, or to modern soulless housing schemes were Tarmac roads and drives completely encircle a treasured but deformed representative of the past.’
Ruefully, Tom recalled an encounter with a pig farmer in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, who had allowed his animals gradually to destroy a long barrow: ‘He threatened me with dire consequences if I approached his land again and I reported him to English Heritage who did nothing.’
Tom’s opinion was that antiquities should be ‘rescued’ from private ownership and returned to the public whose heritage they represented.
‘Stern measures must be taken against those who today still willfully destroy and vandalise these unique representations from our veiled and distant past, and that where an ancient unit is known to have existed in recent time, either a permanent labelled marker be installed or a replica feature introduced,’ he said.
‘So advanced, sophisticated and accurate is the geometrical surveying now discovered that we must review fundamentally the perception of our Stone Age forebears as primitive, or conclude that they received some form of external guidance.’ Tom Brooks