Nicholas Cope (RCA)


Master Geometer, Artist and Author


Résumé of talk by Nicholas Cope for the R.I.L.K.O. conference 2016.



Nicholas gave a presentation on the subject of his recent book entitled 'The Knap of Howar and the Origins of Geometry'.


Due to its remote location, The Knap of Howar is a is a relatively lesser known and much less frequently visited site than the well known Skara Brae on Orkney Mainland, which was built around 400 years after The Knap of Howar.


Nicholas demonstrated with precise and exhaustive analysis that the architecture of the Knap of Howar is governed by geometric proportions and ratios that are not considered to have been known about before the time of Euclid, Pythagoras and Plato, around 300-500 BC in ancient Greece. His research described a flowering of symbolic geometry 3,000 years earlier than this date, as evidenced by the traditional culture flourishing on Orkney in the early Neolithic.


Beyond this understanding, what is arguably more significant is how Nicholas developed this further with an analysis of the Knap of Howar from a 'perennial' non-Darwinian perspective. He described various geometric principles in the context of the Knap of Howar such as the golden mean ratio, Prof. Alexander Thom's megalithic yard theories, Neolithic Scottish geometric stone balls, and even an example of a Renaissance painting. He also demonstrated how a recently discovered Neolithic stone 'tablet' found on Orkney could have influenced the architecture of the Knap of Howar.  

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Nicholas gave a talk at the R.I.L.K.O. (Research Into Lost Knowledge Organisation) conference, October 2016.

Previous presentations

Nicholas Cope, artist and geometer, is available to speak at events and conferences.


Nicholas's next planned public presentation will be at the 'Megalithomania' conference on 20th May at Glastonbury town hall.


His extensively illustrated presentation is based on many years of research for his book, 'The Knap of Howar and The Origins of Geometry'. The Knap of Howar is a remarkably well-preserved Neolithic 'dwelling' constructed about 3,500 BC on the remote Scottish island of Papa Westray, Orkney.


Nicholas demonstrates that geometry informs the design of this 'crude' building and describes this within a symbolic context. His talk of just over one hour encompasses wide-ranging ideas from Indian philosophical concepts to Renaissance paintings, always referring back to the inherent geometric symbolism seen at this exquisitely preserved  site. The Knap of Howar is by consequence considered from a non-Darwinian perspective.  


Nicholas also offers an extended presentation covering the proportional geometry proposed as inherent in Mughal paintings. The miniatures he describes are from the height of the Mughal Empire in the Indian sub-continent, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. Although not studied from an art-historical perspective, he highlights the symbolism of certain geometric concepts of proportion and ratio hidden within these artworks.  


Nicholas gave an illustrated presentation on Sunday 11th March 2018

at the Mysterious Earth Conference 2018.

Copyright © N. Cope 2021

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