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An essay donated by Susan Kay

Remarkable findings of historian Alan Gripton

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Comment by Susan Kay:

I’d heard the name Alan Gripton mentioned a couple of times by a friend of mine – she had gone as far as naming him as one of her “heroes" on a Myspace website.

“You should talk to him," she suggested, “You’re always looking for the weird and wonderful to write about." As a freelance I was mildly curious, but the meeting was arranged more to appease her than out of an interest in ancient history. However, I met Alan for a drink and a chat in a quiet pub on the outskirts of Norwich – it was to prove enlightening.

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Alan Gripton -- A history man:

Ask any archaeologist where the "cradle of civilization" is and they’ll drop their trowel, dust down their jeans and tell you emphatically that it's the area between modern Iraq and Iran, ancient Mesopotamia, between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

But if you ask the same question of Alan Gripton, an independent researcher from Norwich, he will tell you that the truth is much closer to home, and that when the Sumerians gathered round a camp fire for a tribal history lesson, the storyteller’s tales were of a place far away to the north, a place of giants, demi-gods, beasts and heroes - in fact the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire.

Alan believes he has deciphered the true origins and meaning of the oldest authored literature in the world, the 5000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient moralistic tale of life and death compiled from broken fragments of clay tablets engraved with the earliest form of writing in the world, Sumerian cuneiform text.

He explained his theory to me, "The story is a fantasy, a symbolic narrative of a journey around the zodiac - but not the same zodiac that we all know today, this one is far older, it’s the original zodiac and consequently the oldest star map in the world."

About three years ago he had sent a dossier containing his discovery to BBC Midlands and impressed them enough to include his research in a short broadcast, part of an early evening program called "World of the Strange" hosted by James McDonald. "James is a really nice bloke," said Alan, "We spent three hours filming around the Malvern Hills to produce about three minutes of edited film, but trying to rewrite the history of civilization in three minutes was asking just a bit too much."

Alan claims that the whole of Britain has been arranged in an accurate pattern of concentric circles, from the Isle of Wight in the south to Scottish highlands, from the flatlands of East Anglia to the green fields of Ireland, "There's a shadow of a national scheme, and it’s still visible if you know what to look for," he said, "Although due to the partial ice age that took place from 11,500 to 9600 BC, the picture down south is better preserved and so much easier to find."

"Tell me about Gilgamesh," I said, “Who was he?"

"There’s little doubt that he was a Sumerian king," replied Alan, "but the storyteller, or the ancient author, has purposely imposed his name onto the main character - the hero’s name probably changed according to who was in power at the time, which would be a pretty sensible move, don’t you think?"

"And the zodiac?" I asked.

He reached over and lifted up a large flip chart with hardboard backing that had been leaning against the wall behind his chair, “I’ll show you," he said holding it steady, “It begins here, with a plan of Stonehenge."

The drawing on the front sheet was very detailed and obviously accurate, all of the stones, fallen and standing, were clearly marked and over-drawn with circles and measurements. It had been produced on tracing paper and I could see through the image to the shape of southern Britain on the second sheet.

“You can use the measurements of Stonehenge to uncover the national scheme," he said, half flipping the top sheet so that I could see next image, “It’s a ratio of 6600 to 1."

“You’ve lost me there with the numbers," I said, “but never mind."

However, he did mind, he replaced the plan of Stonehenge to the front and smoothed it over with his hand, “I’ll explain," he said. “The measurements here, the distances between the circles, can be multiplied by the number 6600 and used to locate the concentric circles across England and Wales," and he lifted the top sheet again, this time wrapping it around to the back of the chart.

The map of southern Britain had been as carefully drawn and meticulously measured as the plan of Stonehenge. It too was covered in a series of concentric circles, but this time marked with hundreds of dots, many with place names written beside them, some of which were well known and others less so.

“This is the national scheme," he explained, “A measurement of one foot at Stonehenge converts to 10 furlongs on the land – so a measurement of 50.4 feet at Stonehenge, like the radius of the sarsens, becomes a distance of 504 furlongs on the land, that’s 63 miles, a ratio of 6600 to one – get it?"

I think that I almost understood, but didn’t want to get bogged down into the mathematics of ancient Britain, I wanted to hear about his theory of Gilgamesh.

“So where is the Gilgamesh zodiac?" I asked.

“I call it the Malvern Zodiac," he said, correcting me, “It’s the central circle," he continued, tapping the map in the middle.

"Where exactly is that?" I asked, trying to read the small black print.

"Chase End Hill," he replied, "It’s the most southerly and smallest of the Malvern Hills. The hill itself is just the centre, the actual zodiac is 12.6 miles across and 39.6 miles around - here, I’ll show you."

He flipped over two or three more pages to a small cut down section of an old Ordnance Survey map taped at the corners to one of the sheets, “It’s here," he said smiling, “This is where history began."

Some of the roads, tracks and footpaths of the map had been used to form a number of recognizable shapes that he had lightly filled in with colored crayon, together they all fell within a large circle about a foot across. Because of the coloring, I immediately saw the shapes of some dogs, a goat, bulls and a lion, it was beginning to get interesting, “I’m a Gemini," I said, “Where’s Gemini?"

“Gemini didn’t exist," he replied, “It was added later, replacing the constellation of the Ship." He rotated the flip chart about 45 degrees and pointed to the map, “There’s the keel, there’s the rudder, the sails and the mast," he said, “and here’s the tiller – check out at the name of the village."

I leaned forward while he held the map steady and read the words “Tiller’s Green."

He smiled and moved his finger about an inch, “And where do you think they put the end of the tiller?" he asked, tapping the map again.

Again I looked closely, “Tilputsend? That’s interesting," I said.

“There’s a lot more," he said enthusiastically, “Argus Farm and Windcross on the sails and it’s moored at Moorecourt – so what do you think, a coincidence?"

“How many more place names are there?" I asked.

“Plenty," he replied, “but I haven’t finished telling you about the ship yet, if you place the positions of the stars over the zodiac it’s pretty accurate, and here …" he pointed to the keel of the ship, “is a mound called Mortimer’s Castle at Much Marcle, it’s also one of the brightest stars in the sky, Aldabaran, and then there’s the Pleiades, the seven sisters…"

I was feeling out of my depth again, I knew very little about astronomy, just enough to recognize The Plough and the North Star, so I interrupted hoping to re-direct the conversation, “And Gilgamesh?" I inquired.

He stopped and paused for a couple of seconds, it was though my words had stemmed the flow from a pre-prepared reservoir of information that was at bursting point and ready to pour into my untrained ears.

“As I said before," he said calmly, “the epic of Gilgamesh is just a fantasy, straight from the imagination of a Sumerian storyteller, it’s probably a few thousand years older than the clay tablets and was only written down to make it more accessible to others – if anything, it’s a tribal history lesson."

“Whose history?" I asked.

“Whoever lived here," he replied, tapping the map once again.

“Are you saying that the Sumerians came from central England?" I asked.

“I can’t say that," he replied, “but I can tell you that the epic of Gilgamesh was based upon the Malvern Zodiac and that it even contains an accurate geographical measurement within the text – so whoever’s responsible for the original story knew the area around the Malvern Hills like the back of his hands – I think I’ll let others draw their own conclusions."

He rotated the map 180 degrees and pointed to the well-defined shape of a centaur, “That’s Gilgamesh," he said, “not the whole centaur, just the front section, the human part, the hunter with the bow and arrow."

Then he covered over the archer with the palm of his hand, “And the other half of the centaur was treated as a separate being called Enkidu – he was covered in hair like a horse, standing in water and bending down in a subservient pose behind his all-powerful master – it’s almost like a shadow play on the wall."

He circled the whole centaur with his forefinger, “Gilgamesh and Enkidu, inseparable, and together they make the complete constellation of the centaur – hang on, I’ll make things a little easier."

He placed the cumbersome flip chart on the floor and lifted up an old green canvas rucksack that had been lying by his feet. Unbuckling the straps he reached inside and pulled out a large metallic plate. “The storyteller would have used something like this," he said offering it to me.

I had never seen anything like it before, the plate was made from heavy, polished copper and just over a foot wide, it had been beautifully engraved with Alan’s zodiac and reflected lights from all around the room. The outside rim was decorated by small pearls and large gemstones encased in brass mountings and the zodiac itself was surrounded by a crazy paving design of blue lapis lazuli, each individual piece held in place by brass rods, it was a remarkable piece of artwork.
It was now possible for me to clearly see the complete zodiac, there was a fire-breathing dragon above a central bear, a whale, a goat, a water maiden and a scorpion, “It’s gorgeous, where on earth did you get it from?" I asked, hoping that I had just stumbled upon an ancient artifact that would confound the experts.

He didn’t answer the question, “Hold it up to the window," he said, smiling.

As I raised the plate up to face level tiny beams of light shone through small holes spread throughout the engraved image, “That’s the star map," he continued, “Pretty cool, don’t you think?"

Pretty cool was an understatement, and I’m sure he knew that.

“The stones are real," he said, “real topaz, real sapphire, real emerald – and all the pearls – it’s amazing what you can buy on Ebay, and they’re not that expensive."

“So you made this?" I asked.

“Yeah, it something I felt I had to do - a box I had to tick," he said, “And it’s also a helpful tool, a way of explaining the past and where this and other stories came from. I can’t guarantee that it’s perfectly accurate, but somewhere in this world, hidden in a locked vault, is another plate remarkably similar to this one."

“Why would anyone want to hide something like this?" I asked.

“That’s another story," he said, and paused for a couple of seconds to collect his thoughts. “Gilgamesh," he said, “The text is really about the journey of the sun along the ecliptic circle throughout the year. I don’t suppose you’ve ever read the story, not many people have – but I’ll quickly run through it."

He was right of course about not having read the book, but what followed in the next ten minutes was a riveting and amazing stream of narrative that left me momentarily lost for words and totally convinced of his claim. He moved his hands and fingers around the various constellations, pointing and covering, showing me how they were interpreted into the twists and turns of the story; it was as though for a few minutes he became the ancient storyteller from 5000 years ago. A dragon called Humbaba, dreams, the death of Enkidu, the bull of heaven, a tavern keeper and a scorpion man, it was all there in the images – even minor details that to others would probably seem unimportant, like a garden of jewels or an arrow landing onto a hillside – became as clear as day.

As he came to the end of the tale, he knew that I’d been convinced, and I think he always knew I would be. He gently put the plate on the table and took a sip from his orange juice. “Have you shown this to many people?" I asked.

“Nobody wants to know," he replied, “I’ve lost count of the emails I’ve sent to the media and eminent archaeologists, universities, astrological and astronomical organizations, historians, etc. – according to those wonderful people in academia the Malvern Zodiac does not exist, it’s just a figment of my imagination, an exercise in ink-blot theory. The truth is that It doesn’t fit nicely into their mutually agreed consensus of history - it shouldn’t exist, and therefore it doesn’t, frustrating heh?"

We finished our drinks, shook hands and I left.

Alan Gripton, working alone with no financial backing, has spent the last 20 years researching the prehistoric past. He has made an incredible discovery that can and will eventually rewrite the history of Britain and force academia to rethink its views on the origins of the civilized world – he knows it, and now so do I.

PS - To see the Malvern Zodiac visit Alan’s website and play video. See:

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Originally posted: 2008-FEB-
Latest update: 2008-FEB-
Author: Susan Kay ([email protected])

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