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Many years ago, vast tracts of land were laid out so that they may be explored using maps of the Constellations - these are the Terrestrial Zodiacs. So far a total of thirteen Terrestrial Zodiacs have been discovered in 'Britain'; they include the Zodiacs at the Lizard, Bodmin Moor, Ffarmers in Wales, Glastonbury, Althorp Park, Kingston-on-Thames, Cambridge and Hebden Bridge. They have as their centre the stone circle at Arbor Low, Derbyshire.

computer enhanced satellite image

The Bodmin Moor Zodiac Revealed

In today's lesson we examine the meanings of some of these Zodiacs, in particular the one on Bodmin Moor, and the psychogeographic mysteries of the land that surrounds it.

"Wheel-tracks in Old Cornwall there were none,
but there were strange and narrow paths across the moorlands,
which the forefathers said in their simplicity,
were first traced by Angels' feet."
RS Hawker, visionary poet, mystic and Vicar of Morwenstow, 1870.


The Glastonbury Zodiac is a complex topographical structure discovered by Katherine Maltwood in the 1920s. By aerial survey and by patient identification with local place names with Celtic-Arthurian myth, Ms Maltwood traced a ten-mile diameter zodiac in the Somerset landscape. Massive zodiac figures may be traced in the outlines of old field boundaries, stone walls and footpaths.

The zodiac in its familiar "western" form of newspaper horoscopes is said to have its roots in ancient Babylon - what we now call Iraq. Maltwood's zodiac however substitutes a ship for the Cancer crab, a dove for the Libra scales, and a unicorn for the Capricorn goat; she also adds an extra Dog outside the circle.

This genetically engineered symbol-shifting is in line with a proposal made by JG Ballard sixty years later in an article in Re/search magazine. Ballard notes that "an updating, however modest, of the signs of the zodiac seems much overdue. The houses of our psychological sky are no longer tenanted by rams, goats and crabs but by helicopters, cruise missiles and intra-uterine coils". He proposes twelve substitute signs: the Polaroid, the Computer, the Radar Bowl, the Clones, the Stripper, the Psychiatrist, the Psychopath, the Hypodermic, the Vibrator, the Calculator, the Cruise Missile and the Astronaut.


It has been said that this landscape zodiac-spotting is akin to the Rorschach ink-blot test, or to seeing pictures in the coals of an open fire. In terms of Jungian psychology those who see the figures may be projecting images of the Unconscious onto the landscape.

Mary Caine writes of the Glastonbury Giants
"Some have derided the Somerset Zodiac as the product of an overheated imagination, saying that such figures could be found, given sufficient misdirected ingenuity, on any map; but let us first consider some of the evidence for design before we join the scoffers. Can we reasonably expect Chance to provide us with twelve figures in a circle, all heads dovetailing in towards the centre, all facing West and all in proportion to each other? . . . Not only are these signs in correct order, but the corresponding constellations of the Zodiac fit over them when the planisphere is superimposed upon the map to scale."

Caine does not provide us with a diagram of the planispheric evidence. In the diagram she provides, some of the heads are arranged towards the centre, others aren't, they face a variety of directions. The lion and the bull's head face each other and a scorpion is drawn roughly the same size as a lion. In the conventions of renaissance perspective, this proportion would imply that the lion was either very tiny, or the scorpion was disproportionately large; or the lion was further away than the scorpion, which implies the constellations are not in fact planispheric.

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