Every once in awhile one comes across a book that is simply the "cat's meow." For me, The Discovery of Middle Earth appears to be one such book.
I happened to see it in an obscure location on the very top shelf -- almost out of my reach -- in the corner of the museum bookstore at the Getty Museum, Santa Monica, California, yesterday. I was simply looking for a new book to read; there were several possibilities but then I saw this one, and that ended the search. I was only going to buy one book and this would be the book.
I am only a few pages into the book but I can already tell I am really, really, going to enjoy this book for so many reasons.
The premise is this: while planning a cross-European bicycle riding route, the author claims to have discovered the Via Heraklean to be the Celtic backbone of Europe. I do not know if this is an original thought with this author, but early on he met with his editor/publisher and swore them to secrecy, when asking their opinion whether it was worth pursuing as a publishable book.
If so, I put this book among the handful of books that opens up an entirely new world for me:
- Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
- The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, Brenda James
- Thh Discovery of Middle Earth, Graham Robb
while writing the book, author living in Oxford, England
Matthew Arnold's Scholar Gypsy
a spindle tree; it is interesting -- the author happening to mention this tree (see link)
Uffington White Horse -- Iron Age hill figure
Bablock Hythe, a ferry crossing; would have been much like the one described in The Lord of The Rings, no doubt; described in Matthew Arnold's Scholar Gypsy
flood plain of the Thames at Farmoor
Via Heraklea -- fabled route of Hercules
"Sacred Promontory" to the Alps
Roman Via Domitia, modern A9 autoroute
Alpine pass of Montgenevre (Matrona, Celtic)
Matrona: spring of the mother goddesses
ancient cultures -- Celts, Etruscans, occasionally the Romans -- angled temples, tombs, streets -- NE -- rising sun solstice
several days the sun appears to stand still (solstice) -- rising, setting exactly same spot
ancient cultures afraid sun would disappear forever if not worshipped
author noted two coincidences, and, later a third:
1) the diagonal of Via Heraklea
2) orientation of Celtic, Etruscan, Roman structures (NE)
3) Mediolanum -- an enigmatic name; Celts called about 60 locations between Britain and Black Sea: Mediolanum
our sacred sites on Middle Earth correlate to places in the upper and lower worlds
Midgard: the word for Middle Earth /Mediolanum in Norse and Germanic mythology
1974: Yves Vade -- scholar who noted a Celtic network of these "middle places" -- Mediolanum -- each site equidistant from two other sites; on the Via Heraklea there are no less than 6 places found to named Mediolanum
author started to connect the dots; finds ancient birth of modern Europe
the geography of the western world had been organized into a grid of "solstice lines"
the network was based on the Via Heraklea
much of this was lost; Romans destroyed so much
a solar-lunar calendar discovered near a lake in the Jura, the Coligny Calendar; 2 AD; considered the earliest map of the world; it is very, very possible, per this author, that the Via Heraklea is an even earlier map (it had its genesis around 700 - 600 BC) -- seven centuries before the Roman calendar/map of the world
author claims the Heraclean Way and all that follows from that is the earliest map of the world