Abstract. Valerie Brewster Willis queries Nexus Network Journal readers on an enigmatic geometrical symbol in Roncevalles.

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Query: What is this geometrical symbol in Roncesvalles?

Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2006 16:27:07 +0100
From: Valerie Brewster Willis <VBW@xtra.co.nz>

Have been an avid on-line reader of Nexus since I visited Roncesvalles several years ago & spotted a geometrical relief on a stone in a wall there. So far as I have been able to find, there has been no discussion of this geometry, which looks like a medieval mason's work. I can see the circle geometry and guess that there is square geometry there too. What seems to be a mason's square is carved beside the geometry.

This is an isolated relief photographed carved on one of the stones in the wall of the Augustinian abbey at Roncesvalles, Navarre. The first buildings on this site are twelfth century with additions and renovations up to the 1930s. The stone on which the relief is carved and the material immediately around it appears to be similar to that used in the oldest buildings at Roncesvalles, purposely built to service the pilgrim route to Santiago. This pilgrim route is of particular interest for the fluid movement of builders and designers between France and northern Spain as Romanesque architecture developed into Gothic. Does anyone have any ideas as to what it might mean?

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Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2006 21:33:30 +0000 (GMT)
From: María Cecilia Tomasini <tetraktys1234@yahoo.com.ar>

I´m researching about another subject and I have found, cassually, a possible explanation for the stone diagram you have sent. This diagram is THE HEXAD and has a lot of meaning. One of them is THE THUNDER STONE. (See K. S. Guthrie, The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, Phanes Press, 1987; p. 323). This interpretation arise from THE THEOLOGY OF NUMBERS, by Iamblichus (c. 250- c.325 C.E) , who wrote a biography of Pythagoras.

As you know, Santiago of Compostela is the saint of Thunder. So, this sign could have been a reference to Santiago.

Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2006 03:13:38 +0100
From: Claudia Westermann <media@ezaic.de>

Although not necessarily very reliable I want to mention that I found a source in the German Wikipedia, which may at least point to keywords for further research in a library.


Im Frühmittelalter erwarb das Hexagramm eine abwehrende Bedeutung und wurde gleichermaßen von Muslimen, Christen und Juden als Talisman gegen Dämonen und Feuergefahr verwendet. Man stattete weiterhin irchengebäude, Bibelmanuskripte sowie christliche und jüdische Unterschriften auf amtlichen Dokumenten mit diesem Symbol aus.

The German Wikipedia mentions that in the early middle ages the Star of David was used by Jewish, as well as Christians and Muslims as a talisman against demons and the danger of fire. Churches, Bible manuscripts as well as Christian and Jewish signatures on official documents were decorated with the symbol.

There is another link from the German Wikipedia to a lenghtly pdf.document on the history of the hexagram going much more in detail, yet in German as well: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexagramm --> http://www.boudicca.de/hexagramm.pdf

(Unfortunately the document lists no references, which makes it appear very questionable to me.)

Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2006 04:28:09 +0000
From: Michael McDermott <mikemackd@hotmail.com>

Thanks for the carving. It's very likely to be a sigil, and possibly of an individual medieval mason.

I shall look at it when I get home from work tonight from the perspective of my Star Key at:


It is likely to be interpretable within that framework.

Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2006 13:25:13 -0300
From: María Cecilia Tomasini <tetraktys1234@yahoo.com.ar>

I don´t know exactly the mean of this sign. But this kind of geometrical signs were employed by medieval constructor for identification. You can find information about this kind of signs in the following bibliography:

Ghyka, M.: Estética de las Proporciones en la naturaleza y en las Artes. Ed. Poseidón, Bs. As., 1953.

Ghyka, M.: El número de oro. Vol. I: "Los Ritmos". Vol. II.: "Los Ritos". Ed. Poseidón, Barcelona, 1992.

Gimpel, J.: Los constructores de catedrales. Biblioteca Fundamental del Hombre Moderno. Centro Editor de América Latina. Bs. As., 1971.

You could also see bibliography about iconography of Medieval Art, like

Lorente, J. F. E.: Tratado de iconografía. Ed. Istmo, Madrid, 2002.
Revilla, F.: Diccionario de iconografía y simbología, Ed. Cátedra, Madrid, 1995.

In particular, in Ghyka, El número de oro, Vol. II (Los ritos), cap. II (La lámpara debajo del almud), lámina I and III, there are shown some signs very similar to the one you have sent. One of them is lnked to the name of IEHOVA. Most of these diagrams have a Pythagorean source. Were employed by medieval masonry for identification, and were linked to some rituals of initation.

It´s a very complex subject to study.


Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 21:47:41 -0800
From: Mali <mali33@snowcrest.net>

I would refer the NNJ reader to John Michell's book The Dimensions of Paradise where the reader will find an extensive and in depth answer to the query.


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