Except for a few signs, there is nothing that polices access to Flattop Tor, a hill in the near-exact centre of Ceaen Moor, with a large, flat stone on its top, hence the name. Nevertheless, please take heed of the signs and do not sit atop the flat stone. At first glance there appears to be little to tell the Tor from those that surround it, but according to extensive archaeological study, it is likely that the hill was artificially heightened, and that the stone, a frankly enormous piece of masonry, was moved there by human hands.
It was a long time before anyone realised that the Tor was anything but naturally strange, and the flat top was thought by many as an excellent place to have picnics or look out on the surrounding lands. On every side of the Tor there are river valleys (a small river splits in two around the Tor and then reforms), although there are several other taller tors and hills which stop the view extending very far. This also has the effect of sheltering the area from the wind, again making it the perfect place to picnic. Unfortunately, whilst few stand atop the Tor nowadays, years of this kind of activity have somewhat marred the spectacle that many will travel there today to see.
For the purpose of scientific study, artificial lights have been used, but the only other way to see the Flattop Map is to view the Tor at dawn today, when the sun rises exactly at the right angle, appearing between two hills to the east for a few glorious minutes. The raking light cast over the Tor illuminates a complex map of the surrounding area, etched into the rock so lightly that it cannot normally be discerned with the human eye. There are roads, topographic lines, buildings, a cacophony of symbols and markings.
Last night a scaffold tower was built on the western side of the hill, to enable better viewing conditions. Obviously, there can be nobody standing atop the Tor or the effect is ruined where their shadow is cast, and they run the risk of further eroding the granite. The need for this viewing tower points to the essential strangeness of the monument; why would ancient people make a map that can only be read on one day of the year, from high in the air above it? There are no signs of a similar viewing tower built in ancient times, although like its modern counterpart, they could have removed such a tower on other days of the year.
Several things are implied by the strange placement of the stone: firstly it would have taken an enormous amount of work to get it atop the hill intact, it weighing many many tons. Secondly, the height of the hill beneath it was modified, and therefore the exact position was chosen so that today, rather than any other day or most of the year (as could have been achieved with a higher hill) would be the day on which it was properly lit. This implies that there was some great significance these ancient people had to the 12th of July, although quite what it meant to them has been long lost. Some have proposed that it was on this day that some great leader or mystic died or was born, but this is mere conjecture. Others have proposed that the fact it is best viewed from above means that it must have been made for flying aliens to see, but again there is no scientific basis to these theories.
The Map is quite obviously a study of the surrounding area to Flattop Tor, with the Tor being positioned centrally; the topographic lines (a very sophisticated mapping technique for ancient peoples) can attest to this. In terms of the additional elements, the roads and buildings, some match up with what we know to be real, others are oddly absent. A large dwelling indicated to the south, for example, was unearthed after study of the Map, but there is no trace of the quarry shown beside it. Similarly, there is absolutely no evidence of several large towers besides their inclusion on the Map. Archaeologists have explained this by suggesting that the Map shows either a plan for the area, or some kind of alternate fantasy land envisioned by its creators. Perhaps most strangely, there are rivers shown on the Map which are known to have changed their course since the Map was created, but are depicted with extreme accuracy to their modern course.
This realisation has led many to believe that the Map is a prophecy or prediction of what the area should look like in the future, an interpretation which is supported by Professor Gene Willfern, head of esoteric studies at Yerbai Noon University. Willfern recently published a study claiming that the Map is only readable due to erosion on its surface, and that before the markings would have been too deep to cast the correct shadows in raked sunlight, but still to shallow to be made out properly in other lights. This implies that firstly whoever made the Map had a complex understanding of the process of natural erosion (but did not factor in the erosion caused by human footprints, as can be seen by the erasure of the Map in certain places), and secondly that they had designed the Map to be read far in the future. Whilst this is a striking prospect it is important to remember that Willfern’s study has been criticised from many quarters, and that the methodology through which she reached these conclusions has been declared unsound.
Whatever the truth of this enormous hilltop artefact, many people, scientists and laypeople alike, will travel across the moor before dawn to watch the glorious morning light strike the rock just right. We can only hope that it’s not cloudy.
Other festivals happening today:
- The festival of Brearth’s Bounty
- Sandpaper Day