The Terrestrial Zodiac at Nowhere-in-the-Dale

Bob Forrest

The first figure to be discovered was a gigantic representation of two Flowerpot-Men (Gemini?), striding across the landscape towards what could be the point of midwinter sun-rise.  Of course, they might just be heading for the George and Dragon, a pub which lies just across the road.  (Dragon Pubs are frequently associated with terrestrial zodiacs: in fact, the author first stumbled upon the zodiac after coming out of this very establishment.)  Can it be simply coincidence that the Flowerpot-Men’s gaze passes directly through the front door of the pub, and thence out through the Gents towards the point of midwinter sun-rise? 

The second figure to be discovered was at first thought to be that of a crude Scorpio-type figure, but closer inspection proved it to be a Suet Pudding wearing a pointed hat and roller skates.  Many have objected that the traditional zodiac does not contain a suet pudding, but of course, it has to be remarked that our zodiac is a relatively recent affair in the annals of history, and some researchers have claimed that in fact the pre-Atlantean Zodiacal Representations were very different from our own. 

The third zodiacal figure, carved out of the landscape by a pre-1977 neo-motorway, the Mugwump-in-the-Marsh by-pass, and a curved section of the Bigglesdyke Canal, is that of a Dog, with its rear near-side leg raised, as if in some ritual gesture.  The Dog wears a monocle (sign of the disc?), and has three front legs, one of which sports a wellington boot. 

The fourth zodiacal sign is a sort of oval shape, with three spikes sticking out of either side.  Certain theorists have been tempted to see in this figure a hark-back to some prehistoric extraterrestrial visitation.  Certainly the resemblance to the traditional discoid UFO shape, with the spikes representing a luminous nature, is striking.  But then again, other theorists have put forward a theory of some kind of link with Insect Worship.  Indeed, my young daughter, upon first seeing a sketch of this figure, remarked that it looked a lot like something she trod on in the garden the other day. 

The fifth figure could be an elephant, or perhaps a fox carrying a sausage.  At any rate, this figure is being pursued by figure number six, the Hunter, who in fact appears (for reasons which I will not dwell upon) to be an hermaphrodite.  He/she carries a ritual mace-like object, which my daughter says is a frying pan.  (I asked her why she thought it was a frying pan, and she said it was because the Policeman was going to eat the fish (?) for his dinner.)

Figure number seven is a pair of army boots.  Again, I would remind the reader that our zodiac is not the only interpretation of the zodiacal star patterns, and it may well be that these boots symbolise both the daily journey of the stars about the pole, as well as the yearly march of the seasons.  Why one of the boots has a handle on it is a mystery. 

Figure number eight is a cross, surrounded by a circle, of which only part remains.  The cross, of course, is a symbol of pre-Christian origin, and its association with the surrounding circle (or disc?) is highly evocative.  My daughter says it looks like a hot-cross-bun, and her friend up the road says it looks like a bird’s-eye-view of a sticking plaster on a bald man’s head. 

The ninth figure is obviously a rabbit on stilts, reminding one very much of the Hare-in-the-Moon, though of course the hare is not a rabbit, and the one in the moon doesn’t have stilts.  It is a curious fact that the rabbit appears to have a banana balanced on his head.  Either that, or the rabbit has three ears (akin to the third eye in humans?).  Or again, perhaps the banana or third ear is a rocket ship, landing behind the rabbit, as it were.  Really a most interesting zodiacal figure. 

The final figure, the tenth, is a sort of hunch-backed sparrow, with a snake or serpent in its beak.  Why the sparrow is wearing water-skis is not at all clear, nor is the reason for the serpent or snake wearing what looks like a collar and tie. 

Of course, our zodiac has twelve signs, whereas this one has only ten signs.  I have no explanation to offer for this apart from the curious possibility suggested by a friend of mine that perhaps it was an ancient attempt to metricate the zodiac. 

Robert Forrest.  May 1977. 

Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish;
A vapour sometime like a bear or lion,
A tower’d citadel, a pendant rock,
A forked mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon’t, that nod unto the world
And mock our eyes with air; thou hast seen these signs;
They are black vesper’s pageants. 

Antony and Cleopatra.  Act IV, Scene 12. 

From Chambers’ “The Book of Days” (1864). 

On page 688 of volume 2 of this fascinating work there is an amusing tale of an Stone with strange inscription inscribed stone monument, fairly small, and pictured here.  One learned authority argued that it represented nothing less than a monument dedicated to Baal.  He gave proofs that the hieroglyphs were to be transcribed thus: “Beli Divose”, or, “To Belus, god of fire”.  The learned argument was deflated, however, when it was realised that the inscription had been carved by some passer by, who had paused to sit and rest on the stone.  The inscription, therefore, should properly be read upside down from the illustration, thus giving “E Conid 1731”.