Whenever I read books and articles by someone else, I do like to know something about the author, and I suppose that anyone reading this might feel the same. First, then, which Bob Forrest am I? There are quite a few of us, it seems, so I had better make it clear that I am not a rock singer or a bicycle thief; and nor do I write books about birds. But I have written or contributed to books and articles on ley lines, metrology and sacred geometry; on Immanuel Velikovsky and his book Worlds in Collision; on fakes of ancient coins, on amulets and, most particularly, on religious medals; and currently I am researching into and writing about The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. I’ve had four academic incarnations, as I call them, so, if your interest is in any of those four fields, then I’m your man; if not, well, you now know – and good luck in looking elsewhere!
As for a few personal details, I was born in Bury, Lancashire on October 21st 1949, and was educated at Bury Grammar School and Brasenose College, Oxford, where I got my degree in maths. On leaving Oxford I went into teaching maths, the nature of my particular job(s) affording me ample leisure time to pursue my outside interests, at the same time as paying the bills. I never did give up my day job until I retired in 2011. (As a friend of mine once pointed out, I do have a knack of writing about things which not many people actually want to know about. She is still a friend of mine, though.)
I currently live in Prestwich, north Manchester, UK, with my partner Vicky.
My interest in the odd and eccentric began in the mid 1960s with reading Leonard Cottrell’s book on ancient Egypt, The Mountains of Pharaoh, and in particular his chapter “The Great Pyramidiot”. Later, as a mathematician with an interest in probability and coincidences (the latter fostered by Arthur Koestler’s book The Roots of Coincidence (1972)), I was fascinated with the way a clever man like Charles Piazzi Smyth could invest numerical coincidences derived from the Great Pyramid with pseudo-scientific import and strange religious symbolism. Reading Leonard Cottrell’s book led me to read the original Smyth and the books of some of his followers. At about this time too (1973), a friend lent me a copy of John Michell’s book The View Over Atlantis, and that in turn led me into the field of ley lines and sacred geometry. This led to my meeting and becoming friends with John, a memoir of whom can be found on this site. It also led to my writing articles, mainly for The Ley Hunter, The Journal of Geomancy, Stonehenge Viewpoint, Fortean Times and INFO (the journal of the International Fortean Organisation), several of which are included on this site. It was these various articles which led in turn to my co-authoring an article with Paul Devereux in New Scientist (23/30 December 1982) and to working with Michael Behrend on what became the most revealing study of ley line statistics, The Coldrum Ley: Chance or Design?, published in 1985 following the BBC2 programme on ley lines, for which it was commissioned. The Coldrum study, along with related material (including the New Scientist article), can be found on Michael’s web-site, at:
Included on the present web-site, however, is my analysis of John Michell’s famous St. Michael Line. This analysis has never been published in full anywhere before. though it has been quoted in, for example, Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst’s book The Sun and the Serpent (1989), and in John Michell’s book with Christine Rhone, Twelve Tribe Nations and the Science of Enchanting the Landscape (1991). Both of these books, though, rather misrepresent my findings as in favour of this alignment, whereas in fact I regarded my analysis as showing it to be pure fancy! Likewise published here in full for the first time are my calculations relating to the trans-European line hypothesised by Lucien Richer, results again cited in an overly positive light in Twelve Tribe Nations, and in Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst’s later book The Dance of the Dragon (2000).
Also included on the present site are a couple of Great Pyramid related items, notably “That Damned Pyramid”, a study in comparative pyramidology originally published in Fortean Times issue 18. (As can be seen, this article led into the so-called Pyramid Folio. Extensive portions of this can now be found on Michael Behrend’s web-site at:
In particular, the articles “Control Theories” and “A Comparison of Pyramidology and the Shakespearean Authorship Problem” arose out of “That Damned Pyramid”.)
Also on Michael’s site are the spoof ‘new age geomantic’ papers collectively known as The Ulro Chronicle and Bugle, after some fiery correspondence with arch-mystical anarchist and devotee of John Michell, Tony Roberts. Extracts from that correspondence can also be found there. See:
At the moment the articles and booklets reproduced in this section of the site have to be accessed page by page from a thumbnail gallery. This is not ideal, I know, but I hope readers will bear with me. I do hope eventually to put things into a more user-friendly pdf format!
To enter the Pyramids and Ley Lines Section, click here: Pyramids and Ley Lines
For the use of material in this section of the site, my thanks are due to Paul Devereux for use of material from The Ley Hunter; to Annette Cyr for use of material from Stonehenge Viewpoint; to Bob Rickard for use of material from Fortean Times; and to the editors of INFO for the use of material from their back-issues. Copyright is retained by the respective journals. My thanks are also due to Stuart Greenwood for permission to reproduce his two articles on the Great Pyramid.
In the late 1970s, my interest in Smyth’s pyramid theories led to my teaming up with TV astronomer, Patrick Moore. It came about like this. Patrick had written a book about eccentric scientific theories entitled Can You Speak Venusian? First published in 1972, he had written, at end of its chapter 13:
“During the present century, Pyramidology seems to have declined, and when I cast around for an enthusiast to discuss the matter with me, I met with utter failure. Perhaps the truth is that nobody could possibly hope to out-Smyth Smyth.”
I wrote to tell Patrick of the existence of the Institute of Pyramidology, based in Harpenden (I knew its founder, Adam Rutherford), and that led to a lengthy correspondence about a variety of eccentric theories. Eventually Patrick suggested we collaborate on a follow-up to Can You Speak Venusian?, and to lay plans for that, we met up at the end of December 1979. Part of the plan was that I should research some more material about Velikovsky via The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, whose Secretary happened to live near me, and it was this which led, eventually, to my writing A Guide to Velikovsky’s Sources, published in the USA by Donald Cyr’s Stonehenge Viewpoint in 1987. As for the follow-up to Can You Speak Venusian?, for which Patrick chose the title More Things in Heaven and Earth, unfortunately, for one reason and another, it remained unpublished at the time of Patrick’s death in December 2012, but an e–book version of it, prepared by Michael Behrend, is now available for free download from his website at:
Or, to read More Things in Heaven and Earth online on this website, click here.
Having finished A Guide to Velikovsky’s Sources, and crossed swords with a large number of Velikovsky’s supporters in the process, I dropped out of the catastrophist scene, mostly because I had said everything I wanted to say, and if the Velikovskians chose to ignore me, well, that was their prerogative. I did not drop out, as some thought, because I had had a blinding revelation that Velikovsky was right and I was wrong, but was too ashamed to admit it. On the contrary, I believe to this day that Velikovsky was spectacularly wrong.
In fact, there is no Velikovsky material on this site for the simple reason that it is all included in A Guide to Velikovsky’s Sources, copies of which are still available through the internet or direct from me. [The series of seven booklets privately published and circulated under the title Velikovsky’s Sources, between 1980 and 1983, and from which the Guide was distilled, are, however, no longer available.]
I would take this opportunity, however, to refute a theory proposed by some of my Velikovskian opponents: namely, that the 8 blank pages headed “Notes” at the end of A Guide to Velikovsky’s Sources are blank because some former text on them had to be dropped, this being because I had been confronted some unanswerable arguments from Velikovsky’s supporters, and I didn’t want to admit it. If the man who started this silly theory had taken the trouble to check the book against the serialised version of it previously published in the journal Stonehenge Viewpoint (issues 63 to 75 inclusive), he would have seen that nothing whatever had been dropped, and the pages for “Notes” were exactly that – pages for notes!
Another spin-off from the book with Patrick Moore was Barren Tracts?, a short book based mainly on some of the more eccentric tracts I found in the wonderful collection of such things housed at Manchester Central Library. As I say in the Introduction to it, I couldn’t even interest a publisher in looking at this one, let alone publishing it, and it appears here for the first time. I would be interested to hear from anyone who knows of similar literary delights, as there must be thousands of them out there!
To enter the "Barren Tracts?" section, click here: Barren Tracts ?
Another reason for my dropping out of the Velikovsky scene was that by the time of the appearance of my book in 1987, I had developed an interest in numismatics, and it was this that led, in the early 1990s, to my writing articles, mainly for the American journal Numismatics International Bulletin and the English magazine Coin News. Even here, the appeal of all things eccentric showed through, and my favourite series of articles, “Strange Shores”, written for NI Bulletin and published there between July 1996 and October 1997, is available on this web-site. I also developed an interest in amulets and talismans, some articles devoted to which are also available here, in the hope that someone reading them may be able to help with the questions they raise. Linked to the subject of amulets is the subject of religious medals, though many religious people will deny any such link. I am not at all religious myself, and my interest was purely academic, sparked off by a chance encounter with some 17th century metal detector finds which had been unearthed in a ruined monastery in Spain in about 1995, and were being offered for sale by a coin dealer in Coruña. That led me into a lengthy series of articles for NI Bulletin (too lengthy for one particular reader from Northern Ireland, who complained that the journal was becoming like a parish magazine!), these in turn becoming the basis for my book An Introduction to Religious Medals, which finally appeared, after a number of delays, in 2006 (this is why it bear the copyright date 2004.) Because the book is available, I have put little material about religious medals on this website, the one exception being the article “Of Virgins and Oak Trees”, which I have put on not so much because of the medals as for the curious connection between Oak Trees and images of the Virgin Mary which it entails. I am hoping that re-publication of it here will prompt some feedback on the connection.
As in the "Pyramids and Ley Lines" section, at the moment the articles and booklets reproduced in this section of the site have to be accessed page by page from a thumbnail gallery. Again, my apologies for this, but I do hope eventually to put things into a more user-friendly pdf format.
To enter the Numismatics Section, click here: Numismatics
For the use material in this section of the site I am particularly grateful to Marvin L. Fraley for the extensive use of the material from NI Bulletin and to John Mussell for the use of the material from Coin News. I must also thank the editors of Oriental Numismatic Society Newsletter for the use of "Notes on a Talismanic Magic Square". Copyright of the various articles is retained by the respective journals.
My interest in The Rubaiyat stems from about 1963, when I was young teenager with a keen interest in astronomy and maths, and, knowing that Omar Khayyam was both an astronomer and a mathematician, I ordered a copy of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of The Rubaiyat without really knowing what it was. (In those days, you couldn’t just check things out on the internet, of course!) I recall being a bit disappointed that my new acquisition wasn’t about either astronomy or maths, but I was intrigued by the verses nonetheless. Indeed, my copy came in very handy in a debate at school, I remember, at which – much to the horror of my poor mother, who seemed to fear a family scandal of mammoth proportions – I quoted Omar in a fiery denunciation of religion. (With the brash confidence of youth, I proposed the motion “Atheism is the Regrettable Truth”. I was supposed to be seconded by someone from the girls’ grammar school next door, but my second failed to appear. I was told later that the headmistress had refused to allow any of her girls to take part in such blasphemous proceedings!)
My present interest, though, stems not from denouncing religion but from explaining some of the more obscure corners of the poem for the benefit of two ex-students of mine, one Vietnamese and the other Chinese, both of whose English was very good, but not quite up to the likes of “Jesus from the ground suspires”! It was from those slender beginnings, then, that the present archive arose, my interest continuing in its own right long after I had finished explaining some of its finer points to my two students.
The archive contains extensive notes and appendices about all manner of Rubaiyat-related issues that caught my attention over time, and which therefore might well catch the attention of other students of FitzGerald’s masterpiece. If this was a book, it would have to be drastically edited, but as an internet archive, I can happily leave it as it is and invite readers’ feedback on any part of it. In particular, I am hoping that someone out there will be able to help with, for example, locating the review which Rupert Brooke is said to have written about Mera K. Sett’s illustrated edition of the Rubaiyat; or with establishing the identity of “de C”.
To enter the Rubaiyat Archive click here: Index of the Rubaiyat Archive.
Many people have helped in the assembly of the Rubaiyat archive, and mostly they are named in the text. One person named in the text but who deserves my special thanks is my old friend Michael Behrend, who has done much research for me at Cambridge University Library, frequently supplying me with photocopies from sources which I could not otherwise have obtained.
Not named in the text are the many librarians who have helped in the course of the research, and I must says a special thanks to those at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, at the main University Library in Manchester, and at the Manchester Central Library, but also to various librarians at the British Library, the Library of Trinity College Dublin, and the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In accordance with a suggestion made by my partner, Vicky, who knows well the story of my mother being horrified at my Rubaiyat-supported atheistic debate, I would like to dedicate this particular archive to the memory of my mother, Joan, who died at the very early age of 46 in 1966.
This section contains various odds and ends that don't really fit in elsewhere on this site, including some priceless material relating to the Flat Earth Society and the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy. To enter this section, click here: Miscellaneous Section.
As I've said a couple of times my main reason in setting up this web-site is to gather further information in the various fields covered, so for that reason contact is encouraged. In the first instance please use the postal address below:
53 Bannerman Avenue
People are free to quote from this web-site for academic or non-commercial purposes, subject to the usual credit(s) being given.
The Ley Hunter is presently incarnated at: http://www.leyhunters.co.uk/
Nigel Pennick’s Journal of Geomancy ceased publication in 1983, but Nigel’s website can be found at: http://nigelpennick.co/.
Stonehenge Viewpoint, alas, folded with the death of Donald Cyr in 1999, but a tribute to him can be found at: http://www.anomalist.com/milestones/cyr.html. My own memoir of him, written at his own request shortly before his death, and published in Midwestern Epigraphic Journal, vol.12/13, 1998-9, can be found on the present site
Fortean Times is presently at: http://www.forteantimes.com/
INFO Journal is presently at: http://www.forteans.com/
Numismatics International Bulletin is presently at: http://www.numis.org/
Coin News is presently at: http://www.tokenpublishing.com/coins.asp
As regards The Rubaiyat, a useful link is that of Omariana, the online Bulletin of the Dutch Omar Khayyam Society (but conducted mostly in English) at:
Though this site is still operative as an archive, as of December 2013 its Bulletin has been changed to a weblog:
Also useful is the site run by Bill Martin and Sandra Mason at:
Bill and Sandra also run the useful Rubaiyat-related blog at:
A useful source of background information for Rubaiyat studies is the online Encyclopaedia Iranica, which can be accessed at:
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