by Ashley Cowie
In 1945 a hyper-excentric catastrophist published the most bizarre conspiracy theory of all time. Plato’s legendary Atlantis thrived in Scotland before being destroyed by a comet impact, and in ancient times the capital city Edinburgh was the real Jerusalem.
Movies such as Armageddon and Deep Impact have engrained the concept of Earth being obliterated by rogue space rocks in the modern human psyche. But aside from being illustrated in medieval ecclesiastical art, before 1925 the thought of such cosmic catastrophes never really crossed people’s minds.
William Comyns Beaumont, also known as Comyns Beaumont, (1873–1956)
It was in this year one of Britain’s social and intellectual elite, the “super-eccentric” William Comyns Beaumont, published The Riddle of the Earth in which he associated mass extinctions with cosmic impact catastrophes. As a scientific lecturer and respected journalist for the British newspaper the Daily Mail, he antagonised both the astronomical and geological institutions by claiming:
a collection of bodies came from the direction of the present north-east, and fell mainly upon a certain position of the Northern Hemisphere, occasioned vast earthquakes, and deposited not only certain mountain ranges but also volcanoes, causing among other matters the sinking of some land and the uprising of others.
Although Beaumont’s idea met fierce resistance he spent the next two decades privatley developing his thesis and in 1946 he published a massive trilogy entitled The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain, the content of which which was nothing short of mind-blowing at the time. According to Beaumont, Plato’s ancient account of the Atlantis disaster about 9000 years ago reported a comet collision with earth “beyond the Pillars of Hercules” in the year 1322 B.C.E. He maintained the native Celts of Britain had colonised Europe, the Middle East, and South America and that all mythologies and religions were built around this catastrophic double-comet impact and resulting floods..
Using astronomical reasoning Beaumont managed to pinpoint where the massive double-comet collided with planet earth. Identifying the southern part of present day Scotland as the epicentre, he claimed it connected with so much force that earth was knocked further from the sun, cooling earths climate and lengthening its orbit from 360 to 365.25 days, implying ancient cultures observed a 360 day solar year.
Fuelled by underlying British Israeli tendencies, Beaumont’s trilogy breathlessly blended early history, mythology, geology and ancient astronomical records crafting an entirely revised history of the world, complete with its own complex cosmology.
the original paradise and cradle of the Aryan race by which civilisation was spread to all other lands” he proclaimed that prior to 584 B.C.E. Caledonia (Scotland) was the original holy land “the original domicile of the sons of Adam, who were the Titans or giants of classic fame as well as being the Atlanteans of Plato.” Beaumont asked his readers to visualise groups of survivors migrating southwards from Atlantis and founded colonies named after their homeland districts of Israel, Egypt and Greece, which to him were all originally located in Britain.
Beaumont’s reinterpretation of Biblical geography.
Strong similarities can be drawn between the creative writing styles of Comyns Beaumont and Dan Brown. They are both masters at knitting together comparative mythology from around the world to produce gripping alternative histories. At that time, Beaumont’s thesis was received much in same way as the modern concept of extra-terrestrials intervening in human culture, which was pioneered by Brinsley le Poer Trench and later commercialised by Erich von Däniken.
THE GREATEST CONSPIRACY OF ALL TIME
Beaumont searched maps of Scotland, Ireland, England and Scandinavia for for place names which sounded loosely Biblical. He then selected elements from myths which reflected the stories of the gods and heroes of ancient Israel, Babylonia and Greece, and concluded these cultures must have existed in Britain.
As he aged Beaumont appears to have consciously stepped away from concerns of academic approval and whole heartedly inhabited his own brave new world in which there were no bounds for his creative imagination. The Faroe Islands were originally the ‘Pharaoh’s Islands’ and the ancient Greek’s Mount Olympus, the throne of the gods, was actually Ben Nevis – Scotland’s Highest mountain. Ur of the Chaldees was located near the Stones of Stenness in the Orkneys and in England; York was Babylon, Lincoln was Antioch and London was Damascus.
Having found several old descriptions and maps of religious buildings and landscape features in and around Jerusalem, Beaumont discovered that they matched the geography of Edinburgh far better than the city in Palestine. This observation became the cornerstone of Beaumont’s revised history – Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh was the real/original Jerusalem and that Jesus was crucified in Scotland, not the city in Palestine.
Beaumont presented detailed maps of Edinburgh overlaying Biblical locations, for example: The Dung Gate in Edinburgh was the King’s Stables Gate in Jerusalem. Edinburgh Castle, on an impregnable rock of 3 precipitous sides, was he Citadel. Both cities had streets called Water Gate and The Mount of Olives was actually Arthur’s Seat a hill outside of Edinburgh. St. Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile was once the location of Solomon’s Temple and Edinburgh’s port of Joppa shared the same name as the ancient port in Jerusalem.
Reconstruction of Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire, England:
Plato’s account of the destruction of Atlantis and the Biblical flood were one and the same event to Beaumont, and he shamelessly transplanted Biblical characters and events from the middle east to Britain. For example, Abraham became a former Atlantean who migrated to and settled near the Avebury Stone Circle in England, which Beaumont identified as “Mizpah, Thebes, the dragon’s teeth sown by Cadmus, an astronomical temple to Saturn and the image of a destructive comet.”
In the second and third parts of his trilogy Beaumont closely identified the geography of Somerset with that of the Holy Land. Glastonbury was Bethel, the birthplace of Christianity and the location of the ancient Garden of Eden. Glastonbury Tor hill was formerly known as Mount Tabor, and it was to here that Joseph of Arimathaea sailed from Jerusalem (Edinburgh).
Between 1946 and 1949, Beaumont astonished the world with a range of extraordinary revelations besides Jesus of Nazareth having been crucified just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland – the site of the ancient city of Jerusalem. The comet that collided with Earth in 1322 B.C.E and caused Noah’s flood, was actually Satan. The ancient Egyptians were in fact from Ireland. Hell is located in western Scotland. Ancient Athens was in reality, Bath, England. The Greek hero Achilles was brought up on the Isle of Skye. And he also famously believed Shakespeare’s plays were written by Francis Bacon and accepted the existence of giants based on British folklore.
WHO EXECUTED THE WORLD’S GREATEST CONSPIRACY AND WHY?
<< Constantine the Great.
Beaumont was convinced the evil genius behind the greatest conspiracy of all time was Constantine the Great, a Yorkshireman whose mother Helena was the daughter of the British ruler Old King Cole. Beaumont wrote that Constantine “had definite motives for transferring the arena of Jewish history and that of Christ to another region altogether. He used Christianity as a valuable political asset, selected the East as his Empire, and with the aid of Eusebius, Jerome and others, invented the present Palestine. Constantine had tricked his mother into thinking she found the True Cross in Palestine, then actively censored all the writings of every ancient and contemporary chronicler and destroyed all texts that placed the sacred geography of the Holy Land in Britain.
THE GOLSPIE STONE AND NOAH’S FLOOD
In his trilogy Beaumont decoded the symbols on a Pictish symbol stone recovered from a churchyard in Golspie, Sutherland on the north east coast of Scotland – The Golspie Stone. He was convinced the pair of linked circles represented the double-comet impact event of 1322 B.C.E.. To Beaumont the Golspie stone was: “a zodiacal record of the Flood and the period when Hercules cast down his pillars, is a stele of archaic design… Its engraved symbols were erected by survivors, doubtless Caledonian Druids, in order to convey the story of the tenebrous event…the Golspie Stone is probably more than 3,200 years old.”
Nobody knows for sure how to read Pictish symbols accurately. This being the case, Beamont steamed ahead with his wild interpretation safe in the knowledge that until somebody actually cracked the Pictish code, his ideas were as valid as the next persons.
- At the top of the stone a stylised rectangle decorated with spirals represented the concept of Par-Ammon, or Ptah, dividing the heavens into four quarters and thus forming the Square of Heaven.
- Horus (or Apollo) was the mythical Greek guide of the Northern horizon and was depicted in the form of a pole, or pillar (i.e, the North Pole). surmounted by a hawk as the Guardian of Set. Horus-Apollo is symbolised here by two hawks’ heads woven into the design, and the Pole is shown on either side.
- Each symbol below the square of heaven represented a constellation, reading from top to bottom he identified; Cetus, Taurus, Orion, Pisces and Aquarius.
- The double comet “in effect twin circles representing a twin comet or one subdivided in two parts” and the accompanying zig-zag symbol was “the lightning pursuing the two comets.”
- At the bottom of the stone two entwined serpents were linked with the constellation Eridanus, “in flames”.
The Golspie Stone is currently on display in the Dunrobin Castle Museum, Golspie, Sutherland.
Pictish carved stones certainly had astronomical connotations but even using computers and technology nobody has conclusively proven any such astronomical interpretation. Furthermore, there exists a fundamental problem in the way he derived his cataclysmic date of 1322 B.C.E. from the Golspie Stone. This was his reasoning:
according to the indications of the Golspie Stone, 46 degrees of the precessional movement have since succeeded one another, and as each individual degree necessitates 71.74 years, according to astronomical lore, this gives us the period of the event as approximately 3,300 years ago, or, from the present time calculating backwards as BC 1350. As the 46th degree has yet to be completed, the probable date was circa BC 1322.
Beaumont failed to explain to explain exactly how the Gospie Stone “indicated 46 degrees of precessional movement”. This is either sloppy writing or an act of deceit to bluff the casual reader because without this key piece of information it can be assumed that he simply made everything up to suit his pre-determined conclusion. Either way, he undermines his readers in a way similar to Dan Brown, in that they both lean of the fact that ‘most readers wont check the technical stuff anyway‘.
My grandmother lives 6 miles from Golspie and I was brought up in the hills and rivers where the Golspie Stone was discovered. Over the years I have found its real messages to be infinatley more intriguing than Beaumont’s pop-cultural version. But too understand the extent of there Golspie Stone’s whispers, we must first place it in the correct context.
A PICTISH RIDDLE
When the Romans invaded Britain in the third century the indigenous inhabitants of Scotland were already a formidable force of tattooed warriors so called the Picts, meaning the painted ones. Having converted to Christianity in the 6th century the Picts endured two centuries of Viking invasions and after about 850 C.E. they were slowly incorporated into the Scots Kingdom of Alba under King Kenneth MacAlpin and their indigenous identity was lost.
The Golspie Stone was first recorded in 1776 in the graveyard at Golspie, where it had been re-used as a graveslab for a seventeenth-century burial. In 1868 it was taken to the Dunrobin Castle Museum where it can be seen today. It is argued whether this cross-slab stone marked an ecclesiastical site in Pictish times or whether it stood alone in the landscape. An inscription has defaced the front of the slab reading “Heir is the burial place to Robert Gordon, eldest son to Alex Gordon of Sutherland” referring to the Sutherland family of Dunrobin between 1514 and 1766.
Pictish symbol stones are generally found in the north-east of Scotland into the Highlands. Nobody knows exactly what these symbols meant to the Picts, but in the academic world there are three classes of Pictish symbol stone: Class I are incised with Pictish geometrical symbols, class II depict Pictish imaginary together with Christian and class III symbols are purely Christian.
The symbols are repeated on jewellery, small stone discs and bones and on the walls of coastal caves at East Wemyss, Fife and Covesea, Moray. This suggests the Picts applied their symbols to items which have since rotten away such as clothing, sail cloths, banners, flags and tattoos.
Pictish stones feature geometric symbols which experts have given wildly descriptive terms such as: “V-rod”, “double disc and Z-rod”, “notched rectangle and Z-rod” or “crescent and Z-rod”, “mirror and comb” and “triple disc”. In addition to the geometric forms are styalised representations of animals such as the stag, wolf, adder, salmon, eagle, as well as the mythical Pictish beast which resembles and elephant, but to some it is a dolphin or a dragon and to others it is the Loch Ness monster! The following chart depicts the Picts main symbols in the centre, and regional styalised variations at the sides.
Most academics agree the earliest symbol stones were most probably territorial markers for tribal territories for clans, lineages or kindreds. This idea finds support in the discovery of six stones each with a single bull symbol found at Burghead Fort, suggesting the bull represented the place or its inhabitants. The symbols are invariably arranged in pairs, or groups of pairs, hence the thinking that they represent names or lineages such as two parents/clans or matrilineal marriage alliances.
- The Golspie Stone was carved in relief on three faces and in incision on one. One face bears knot-work forming a cross and the shaft featured several embedded crosses. Below the arms of the cross are panels of zoomorphic interlace, diagonal key pattern and spiral pattern, and the base of the shaft sinks into a large panel of diagonal key pattern.
- The opposite face is incised with four large and four small symbols, with the addition of a pair of entwined serpents at the foot of the stone. At the top is a large and ornate rectangle, with spirals extending from the corners. There is a small gap between the rectangle and the Pictish beast below it, whereas all the other designs are firmly touching one another.
- A formidable bearded figure dressed in a short belted tunic with long sleeves grasps a knife in his left hand, ready to stab, and in his right hand he holds a battle-axe ready to strike. The blade of the axe touches the snout of an animal, whose tail curves over its back and the joints at the top of its legs are shown with spirals. It stands on a fish, which touches the flower symbol below, and there is a small crescent and V-rod symbol to the right of the flower. A large double disc, each disc formed of three concentric circles, and at the bottom of the slab two horizontal entwined serpents, each biting the other’s fish-like tails.
- An ogham inscription up the right hand edge and paling the top reads ALL HALLORREDD M[E]QQ N[IA] V[ARRCERR], of which a likely interpretation is ‘the monument of Alored son of NiaFercar’ (Forsyth 1996, 318).
The Golspie Stone is unique in that it displays almost every Pictish Symbol, an observation which opens up a range of new considerations about the Picts sacred geography. My home county of Caithness in northern Scotland derives its name from Cait or Cat, one of the Pictish kingdoms during the Early Middle Ages. It was, according to Pictish legend, founded by Caitt (or Cat), one of the seven sons of the ancestor figure Cruithne, who had been given one seventh of the north of Scotland.
For a period of time Cait was the largest of the northern Pictish kingdoms, but after the death of its last king, Taran mac Entifidich in 697 B.C.E. it was absorbed into the broader Pictish kingdom.The name Cat is preserved in the modern placename Caithness and also in the Gaelic name for the adjoining county, Sutherland (Cataibh), where the Golspie Stone was situated.
Considering Golspie beach was a focus of Viking invaders, and that almost all the Pictish symbols are featured on the Golspie Stone, might Golspie have been a sacred area used in ceremonies by all of the Pictish tribes? Might it have been a designated meeting area where the southern and northern Picts gathered to discuss military strategies and guerrilla tactics in their fight to defend their kingdom from the Vikings?
I think we have to accept and forgive Beaumont for having gone off-piste with his whole Atlantis and Holy Britain concept, and his interpretation of the Golspie Stone. But we should not let these indescressions get in the way of our appreciation for one of the most colourful esoteric scientists that has ever lived and accompanied with a pinch of salt, you will do your imagination no injustice in reading these further works of William Comyns Beaumont.
- Britain the key to world history 1879
- The riddle of the earth,1925
- The Mysterious Comet 1932
- The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain 1946
- Britain: the key to World history 1948
References: Cordiner 1780, 72; Stuart 1856, 12; ECMS pt 3, 48-50; Thomas 1994; Forsyth 1996, 299-320; Henderson & Henderson 2004, 70; Fraser 2008, no 140.
Copyright 2016 Ashley Cowie
Presented with author’s permission
Don’t miss the other articles in this Series…
Author’s Blog >>
Exploring the world making films, writing books and blogging about lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and arts, the origins of legends and myths, architecture, symbols, artefacts and treasures.