Wood, stone and soil-Barrows and cursus in the ritual landscape

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  • Created on: 10-02-16 10:54
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  • Wood, stone and soil-Barrows and cursus in the ritual landscape
    • Long barrows
      • Concentrated in Wessex.
      • Usually 30 to 122m (except maiden castle which is 500m)
      • Smallish barrow takes around 10,000 man hours
        • Small community could do one in a agricultural slack season.
      • Usually located on chalk ridges
        • Markers of territory?
        • Burials inside usually at higher, broader eastern end.
          • Usually multiple burials-avg 6. Highest 50
            • Skeletons disarticulated-equality?
              • Clearly excarnated-Waylands smithy-rodent teeth marks and snail eggs on bones at Skendleby.
                • Cut marks on bones at Haddenham
                  • Evidence of partial defleshing and then being moved in madagascar.
                    • Danced with?
      • 2 types.
        • Parallel sided
        • Trapezoidal
      • Cenotaphs?
      • Hazleton North (c3800-3500BC)
        • Built over pre-existing Mesolithic structure-continuity?
        • Indicative of memory of somewhere else-migration?
        • Two chambers
        • Cellular structure-families?
          • Two chambers
        • Bones arranged communally but not very well sorted
          • Some evidence of excarnation-Freeing the soul
      • West Kennet Long barrow (c3700-3200BC)
        • 85% of bones come from one generation in 3625BC, then there is nothing for 1200 years.
          • Therefore is it a family or clan site?
            • Bones later extracted and used in ceremonies at Avebury 1000+ years later-idea of ancestral powers?
              • Specifically leg bones and skulls
        • Passage moved to in front of 'forecourt'
        • Originally open fronted and only in bronze age was barrier stone placed at entrance.
          • Shift in beliefs? seal off that which is no longer considered sacred.
        • 15,700 man hours roughly to build
        • At least 46 burials-ranging from babies to elderly persons
          • Bones are disarticulated and arranged. Some sorting and in three of the chambers are located in darker corners
            • Many bones show signs of arthritis.
        • Mound stretches for over 100m
          • Earth taken from trenches dug either side. Filled in now though with weathered mineral.
          • Actual chamber only stretches 10 m into mound.
        • Smaller stones appear to have been selected form 30 miles away.
          • Sarcen stones taken from nearby down.
            • Location would have made transportation of these difficult.
        • 5 separate chambers
          • 4 smaller on sides of passage
          • One larger chamber at end
    • Barrowing
      • Barrows before they were 'barrowed' Street house farm, Loftus Timber forecourt. Have Stone morturary tomb, stone kerbed enclosure.
        • Nutbane-evidence of timber structure being set alight and barrowing taking place whilst timbers burned.
          • Cleansing of area through burning?
            • Burning of trees (life) signifying death place?
      • Waylands smithy
        • Located in Ashford, Oxfordshire
          • Close to the Ridgeway, which is an ancient road.
        • Wooden mortuary house consists of paved stone floor and two posts at either end.
          • Single crouched burial at one end and largely disarticulated remains of 14 individuals in front of it.
            • Excarnated and deposited in 4 different stages.
          • Whole site covered by mound roughly 20m long. Used material from flanking ditches.
        • Post holes at  one end
          • Support timber facade
        • Later tomb consists of two opposite chambers and a terminal chamber.
          • Longer entrance chamber.
          • Cruciform
          • Four of six large sarcen stones at entrance remain.
          • Earth barrow erected over it
            • Stone kerb
          • Mixed remains of  seven adults and one child.
            • Carbon dating suggests it was being used similarly to West Kennet 200 years beforehand.
        • Illustrates change from timber-chambered barrrow to stone
        • Long barrows cont
      • Barrows only representa small proportion of dead?
        • Others placed in river (liminal?) to be transported onwards.
          • Washing away dead?
      • Short 'Long' Barrows
        • Middle Neolithic. Long barrows fade out and replaced by shorter barrows
          • Individual rather than communal burial?
            • Shift in importance of individuals?
              • Wealth and power?
              • Changing social relationships
              • New ritual and religious practices coming through?
      • Long barrows cont
    • Cursus
      • Replaced causewayed enclosures
        • Only used briefly-some filled in as soon as dug-special events?
        • Processional ways?
        • Given association with burial mounds. Perhaps extensions of long barrows
          • Maiden Castle, Dorchester
            • Causewayed enclosure+mini cursus+ritual burial
        • Ceremonial rivers?
          • Symbolic rivers-has been suggested that some might follow courses.
            • Delimits areas?
        • Structures on their own?
          • Ceremonial ends?
            • Collective works in progress?
            • Some have celestial alignments
              • Where have we seen that before?
              • But some bend and tend to deviate around existing monuments
          • Place for rights of passage?
        • Not necessarily all visible
          • Dorset cursus
            • Snail analysis shows some sections were wooded
    • Deposists
      • What were once considered rubbish heaps now being redined as ritual deposits of flint-0ffering tools
    • Wood and stone=Life and death
      • Wood represents life and stone =death. Buried stone is really dead
        • Stonehenge and Madagascar anthropological link.
      • Wooden monument (woodhenge) starts movement across divide
        • Wood represents life and stone =death. Buried stone is really dead
          • Stonehenge and Madagascar anthropological link.
        • Stone (Stonehenge) indicates arrival on other side
      • Monuments rebuilt in stone 'hardended'
        • Wooden monument (woodhenge) starts movement across divide
          • Stone (Stonehenge) indicates arrival on other side
        • Supported by the fact that continental Neolithic houses  were long and trapezoidal-living place converted to place of dead?
    • Ritual landscpae
      • Landscape might represent movement of dead from living realm to realm of the dead
        • Examples: Stonehenge, Avebury, Bend of the Boyne
      • Ritual objects
        • Handaxes often considered to be ritual offerning due to time investment
          • Deposited rather than lost-rather stupid thing to do if lost by carelessness
            • Placed beyond liminal and therefore out of reach-Flag Fen etc.
          • Often quarried by the sea
            • Land running out symbolism?
          • Often associated with causewayed enclosures-idea of meeting and trading places.
    • Western Britain
      • Pembrokeshire-Stone available so bizarre number of stone (sometimes megallithic) monumnets
        • 'Propped rocks'
        • Boulders ringed with stones-Carn Alw
        • Cairns over springs-Carn Menyn
        • Rock art
        • Stone circles-Meinr Gwyr/Gors Fawr
        • Stone ovals-Bedd Arthur
        • Rock pairs-Gors Fawrs
      • Respect for Preseli mountains-spotted blue dolerite-healing powers. Stonehenge
      • Banc DU-Causewayed enclosure, stone faced ditch , evidence of some timber
        • 3630-3360. Reoccupied 2860-2490BC.
    • Northern Britain
      • Unusual burial site of inhumation in burial mounds
        • Duggleby Howe
          • Combination of cremations and inhumations with grave goods
            • Leaders being treated differently?
          • Round barrow
            • Base is 37m in diameter
              • Top of mound believed to have been truncated at some point. Left level top at 14m diameter.
                • Post mill of medieval type constructed on top later
                  • Association or ignorance?
                • Barrow lies within circular enclosure of aprox 370m in diameter.
                  • Formed of interrupted ditches and open to south
                  • Two ring ditches of bronze age located to East.
                • Deep grave pit containing remains of 10 adults and child skeletons.
                  • Associated finds: bone pins, flint knife, flint axe, antler mace head and Grimston ware bowl
                    • Above burial are reamisn of 53 cremations
                      • Idea of leaders being treated differently?
      • Willerby Wold
        • Facade with evidence of cremations behind
        • Not much left due to ploughing
        • 50m long by 13m wide
          • Orientated east-west. Half a metre higher at east end
        • 3 burials, collection of bones and cremations.
        • Sherds and flint shards found
        • 3000BC

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