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As we continue our series, the drawn card this week is card XV of the Major Arcana, The Devil.

The Devil: “Anger, Jealousy and resentment, Self-delusion, Selfishness, Violence

This week’s site certainly covers most of the interpretations of the Devil card. Investigated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1930’s, Maiden Castle in Dorset was still in use at the time of the Roman conquest and was thought to have been the site of a major battle between the Romans and the inhabitants (the Durotriges).

Certainly, the site would have produced feelings of resentment and jealousy amongst any attackers, being the largest and most complex Iron Age hillfort in Britain.

Image Credit: © Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2015.

The site was actually begun in the Neolithic era as a simple enclosure, and over time was extended and expanded to the extent that we see today.

Wheeler’s findings have been revisited and further analysed over time, and it is now thought that many of the more than 52 bodies in the so-called ‘War Cemetery’ potentially pre-date the Roman conquest. But it is in no doubt is that many of the dead met violent deaths.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

News comes from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) that they are working closely with other (unspecified) organisations to find out if archaeological sites and monuments in our towns, cities and countryside are being carefully managed within the planning process. They are looking for good and bad examples of cases where archaeology has been (or should have been) considered as part of a development. They are particularly keen to hear about developers that have ‘gone the extra mile’ in helping local communities understand their heritage through excavation or conservation and those developers who seem disinterested.

Dealing sensitively with archaeology through the planning process is a standard requirement of developers and the local planning authority. The National Planning Policy Framework (recently revised) sets out clear requirements for Local Planning Authorities to follow. As a rule, damage or destruction of archaeological sites should be avoided. Where this is not possible, there is usually a requirement to ensure that archaeology is recorded, and the results made publicly available.

The CBA is working with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) on a project that will collect information on how the current planning system is – or isn’t working – for archaeology, and they’d like to hear from you.

  • Have you ever felt frustrated or angry that your local heritage has been treated poorly?
  • Have you ever benefited from increased knowledge of your heritage because of development?
  • Have you ever felt that no one is listening, and your community’s views have been ignored?
  • Have you ever felt the opposite?

If you have any examples with a story to tell, then please get in touch with them with outline details and they’ll get back to you.

You can find more information on the CIfA website together with a link to a survey that you can use to submit detailed information if you have been or are closely involved with the planning system.

Alternatively, contact the CBA directly with your story by 21 September 2018.

 

The Tarot Tuesday card this week is card XIII of the Major Arcana, Death.

Death: “End, New beginning, Loss, Dramatic change, Destruction

Our associated site this week is one that lay hidden for thousands of years, returned to the public eye and was controversially ‘saved’ from eventual destruction and now resides in a museum.

Seahenge (Holme I) has connotations of death, both in its structure and suggested use as a mortuary enclosure for excarnation before it was eventually lost to the encroaching sea. For more than 4000 years the waves did their work in producing a dramatic change in the structure of the site before it emerged once again to start a new ‘life’ as a museum exhibit.

The monument contained an uprooted and inverted oak tree stump (possibly used for excarnation) surrounded by close fitting planed posts forming an enclosure. a forked trunk provided a narrow opening to the interior. Theories about the site have focused on the idea of inversion, as represented by the upside-down central tree stump and a single post turned 180 degrees from the others within the circle itself.

The site was rediscovered in 1998, with a trial excavation the following year. This was soon followed by a full rescue excavation, which was the subject of a Time Team Special:

The recovered timbers were transported fifty miles away to the Fenland Archaeology Trust’s field centre at Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire, where it immediately underwent conservation by being immersed in fresh water. After cleaning and scanning the timbers then underwent a process of conservation, being continually soaked in wax-emulsified water to slowly (over years) replace the moisture in the wood with wax.

This process was continued at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth until the work was complete. The timbers were then returned to Kings Lynn museum, close to the original location, where a reconstruction was built in 2008.

Seahenge recreated. © Tim Clark

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

As the archaeological digging season comes to a close, so the lecture season begins. We’ve received notice of an upcoming series of talks which will be of interest to those in the NE of England.

Robin Daniels of Tees Archaeology will be doing a short series of three talks on the Archaeology of the Area at Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees. Each talk will look in detail at one of the major excavated sites in the area and set it within its period.

The series of talks is headed ‘Meet the Neighbours’, and will cover three separate time periods: The Iron Age, The Romans, and the Saxons:

  • Tuesday 18 September 2018 – Noisy Neighbours (Horses, Dogs and Blacksmiths): The Iron Age settlement at Thorpe Thewles (Tomorrow! Free!)
  • Tuesday 16 October 2018 – Posh Neighbours (Central Heating, Baths and Wine): The Roman Villa at Ingleby Barwick
  • Tuesday 20 November 2018 – Quiet Neighbours (Bones, Bracelets and Burial Goods): The Saxon Cemetery at Norton

All talks take place from 10.00-11.00am in the Music Room. Please book in person or by ringing 01642 527375. £2.00, including refreshments (no charge for September talk).

We are now 2/3 through our Tarot Tuesday series, and entering the home straight. The drawn card this week is card III of the Major Arcana, The Empress.

The Empress: “Abundant creativity, Fertility, Fulfillment, Mother figure, Productivity

For today’s card, we visit a site in Cumbria, one of the largest stone circles in England. Imbued with the standard legend of dancers turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath. In this case the people involved were a mother witch, Long Meg, and her daughters.

Long Meg is of course the Mother figure of the monument, Fertility is displayed by the number of daughters – 59 stones at present, but possibly as many as 77 in the past – and the Abundant creativity aspect is apparent by the mysterious symbols, including cup and ring marks, a spiral, and rings of concentric circles carved into Long Meg herself.

Image © Moth Clark

The monument consists of 59 megalithic stones arranged in an oval shape measuring 100 meters on its long axis.

Long Meg is the tallest and most famous stone in the monument, measuring 12.5 feet (3.8) meters in height and situated 109 yards (25 meters) outside the circle positioned towards the southwest, where (when standing in the center of the circle) the midwinter sun would have set.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

by Alan S.

Regular readers will know that Heritage Action and the Heritage Journal have their origins in the online community attached to the Modern Antiquarian (TMA). But before TMA there was an earlier site dealing with the ancient monuments left by our remote ancestors – the Megalithic Portal (MP). TMA was born from the book of the same name by Julian Cope, but up until now, the Megalithic Portal has only had an online presence. That has now changed with the publication of “The Old Stones”. We purchased a copy to take a look.

Listing over 1000 sites across Great Britain, it certainly lives up to its strapline “A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland”. Andy Burnham, Founder of the website and Editor of the book, and his team have done a good job of putting this collaborative guide together, using contributions provided by visitors to the website dating back almost 20 years.

Description

There is a glowing foreword by Mike Parker-Pearson, and Introduction by Andy Burnham and a very useful introductory essay by Vicki Cummings which provides a “whistle-stop guide to a range of monuments” found in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain.

Following this beginning section, the bulk of the book takes the form of a gazetteer, interspersed with short articles archaeologists and other well-known contributors to the website. For instance, our own Sandy Gerrard writes about Stone Row monuments, and Joshua Pollard covers the Development of the Avebury Landscape. All of the expected sites are present, along with some surprises along the way. Care has obviously been taken in the selection process.

There is a map for each area of the country with colour coded pages, and each site includes location information with a descriptive paragraph or two. Complex monuments are broken down into their component parts, e.g there is an entry for the Rollright Stones, split into The King Stone, The King’s Men, and the Whispering Knights.

There is a good selection of photographs, all taken from the website and individually credited to the contributors concerned in a comprehensive index section at the back (sadly, none of mine were included).

Conclusions

It’s interesting reading a book where you know or recognise so many of the contributors. The book is extremely colourful and well-compiled, and well worth the money although I have some personal doubts as to its use as a practical ‘field guide’. This is due to its weight and size – I wouldn’t want to be carrying this on an extended walk. The size also brings another potential issue; at 416 pages on good quality full colour paper it is over 1″ thick, and I’m not entirely sure that the binding will stand up to rough usage without pages coming loose. However, a Megalithic Portal smartphone app is also available which can be used ‘on the road’, leaving the heavy tome to be used at home for armchair trip research.

It could have been much heavier! Several categories of monuments included on the website have been deliberately excluded from the book, such as Mesolithic and Iron Age sites, Holy Wells and Springs, Early Christan Crosses etc. Hopefully, this means we’ll be able to look forward to a Volume 2 in the future: “The Old Other Stuff” maybe?

The Old Stones is available direct from the Megalithic Portal Shop now for £27.99+p&p, and will be available from Amazon from September 20th.

The 14th card in our Tarot Tuesday draw is card IXX of the Major Arcana, The Sun.

The Sun: “Abundance, Achievement, Joy, Productivity, Success

The Sun is a card full of life, joy, and energy. It reveals positive achievements, successful endeavors, and an overall manifestation of good fortune in your life.

Creation of a stone circle back in prehistory would certainly have been considered an achievement. So how much more of an achievement would a multiple circle be considered?

Photo courtesy of Mark Camp

Yellowmead on Dartmoor consists of not one, two or three, but four circles, one within the other, which were identified and restored in 1921 after a fire had destroyed the heather which hid the stones. A survey and small excavation in 2008 determined that the restoration had indeed been performed accurately.

Of course, it could be argued that any circle will reflect the shape of the sun, but in this case, the multiple circles accentuate the effect, and would doubt have bought joy to the builders for their successful endeavours.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Let us know in the comments.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Our Tarot Tuesday card this week is card IX of the Major Arcana, The Hermit.

The Hermit: “Detachment, Guidance, Solitude, Soul-searching and introspection, Thinking and reflection

Our site for this card dates only from the 18th century, although it lies close to several ancient monuments, so qualifies for inclusion here.

Daniel Gumb created a cavehouse on Bodmin Moor, close to the Cheesewring and the Hurlers stone circles. He was no hermit, but a stoneworker who lived on the moors with his wife and children. He was also a stargazer and mathematician. He used the reclusive environment he lived in to further his studies in these subjects, using the roof of his cave as an observatory. The rocks around his home were carved with his calculations. Many still survive.

Sadly, with the expansion of the Cheesewring quarry his excavated cave is no longer in its original location, but has been reconstructed nearby and this can be visited today.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Our latest video from a tour of Cornish antiquities shows Zennor Quoit, famously saved from demolition in 1861, by William Borlase (a great grandson of Dr. William Borlase and vicar at Zennor). A local farmer proposed to convert the monument into a cattle–shed, but the Reverend intervened and successfully offered a financial incentive of five shillings to the farmer to build it elsewhere. The farmer had already built stone posts on the site ready to erect it, and these can still be seen today.

Watch this space for more videos to come. Previous videos in the series can be found here.

Our Tarot Tuesday card this week is card IV of the Major Arcana, The Emperor.

The Emperor: “Authority, Father figure, Masculine influence, Rational, Stable

Counterpart to the Empress, the Emperor signifies a powerful influence, generally male in nature.

It is generally acknowledged that there are two main authorities in any civilisation: Church and State. Looking at the first of these, there are many examples where the Christian church has subsumed earlier important sites. A famous letter from Pope Gregory to Mellitus in June 601 is quoted (by Bede) encouraging the use of pagan temples by converts to Christianity:

Tell Augustine that he should be no means destroy the temples of the gods but rather the idols within those temples. Let him, after he has purified them with holy water, place altars and relics of the saints in them. For, if those temples are well built, they should be converted from the worship of demons to the service of the true God.

Looking at the ‘male’ aspect of this card, there is one site that has been subverted by the church from its original purpose that stands literally head and shoulders above all others. The tallest monolith in the UK, the mighty Rudston Monolith.

Image by Moth Clark

Standing nearly 8m tall (and reputed to be as deep below as above ground) the stone stands in the churchyard and has been capped with a metal ‘hat’ – the stone was originally as much as a metre taller. The stone is part of a wider complex of monuments which includes cursii and barrows and is seen as a phallic focal point for rituals in local folklore. The current church is Norman in date, although it’s possible that an earlier Saxon church occupied the same site (see the Bede quote above).

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

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