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We are now 1/3 through our Tarot Tuesday journey, and the drawn card this week is card V of the Major Arcana, The Hierophant.

The Hierophant: “Approval, Conformity, Consent, Good advice, Marriage or Union

Interpreting the Tarot can be a very conflicting process. An initial response to the drawing of any card can often be the correct one, but then again meditation upon a card may find other, more subtle meanings.

For this card, we are sticking with our initial reaction and taking the Marriage or Union aspect as the one to follow. In Somerset, the village of Stanton Drew is home to a complex of megalithic sites known collectively as The Weddings, which seems an appropriate match for this card.

Aerial photo copyright JJ Evendon (from the Megalithic Portal)

The complex includes the second largest stone circle in England (after Avebury), two further stone circles, an avenue, a cove and the remains of a nearby quoit. We have previously covered many of the folklore stories associated with the Stanton Drew sites here on the Heritage Journal.

Geophysics work in 2004 and 2009 (PDF link) evidenced much more complexity to the site than can be seen at face value. The results demonstrated that the site is a ruin of a much more elaborate and important site than had previously been dreamed of, with a series of nine concentric circles of pits being discovered. Could the concentricity of the circles of pits be considered as the Conformity aspect of the card?

Do you agree with our interpretations so far? Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a message in the comments

Previous articles in this series are listed here.

Our Tarot Tuesday card this week is card XVII of the Major Arcana, The Star.

The Star: “Calm and serenity, Destiny, Hope, Opportunity, Renewal

Many Tarot deck designs show a Star with either 7 or 8 points, above a woman pouring water from two pitchers. Our site for this card is certainly star-shaped, though with only 5 points, and lies between two branches of a stream which converge some 3-400m to the north, to empty into Newport Bay on the Pembrokeshire coast a further .5km away.

Aerial view of Cerrig y Gof, Newport, taken by C.R. Musson, 1993

Cerrig Y Gof is a megalithic tomb some 2km west of Newport. It consists of a badly damaged central mound with five rectangular cists or chambers placed around its edge, giving the star-shape.

At the western end of the Cerrig y Gof field is a stream, and the road bridge over it has an interesting name: Pont Heb Wybod (“bridge without knowledge”). Dyfed HER pages mention that it was recorded earlier as Pont y Wibod (“bridge of knowledge”).

Four of the five chambered tombs are aligned on local landmarks – Carningli, Dinas Head, Mynydd Dinas and Mynydd Melyn.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

See our other subjective Tarot associations here.

Another Tarot Tuesday, and another card. This week, we look at The High Priestess, card II of the Major Arcana.

The High Priestess: “Feminine influences, Insightful, Mystery, Understanding, Wisdom

This week we turn our attention to landscape mysteries, and a beauty sleeping in the landscape of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland; “Cailleach na Mointeach”, or the Old Woman of the Moors.

Visible from the stones at the Callanish III stone circle, every 18.5 years, the moon rises between the two stones of the circle which frame the ‘face’ of the Old Woman of the Moors. This surely displays the wisdom of the ancients in siting the circle so precisely aligned to the Lunar movements. Much more can be read about the monument and its alignments here.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

See our other subjective Tarot associations here.

By Alan S.

Another stop on our video tour of Cornish antiquities sees us climb up onto Chun Downs to visit the Neolithic burial cairn of Chun Quoit.

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

The next card drawn for Tarot Tuesday is The Tower, card XVI of the Major Arcana.

The Tower: “Destruction, Dramatic change, Loss and ruin, New start, Unexpected events

An ominous card. Portraying disruption, conflict, unforeseen and traumatic events.

When thinking of a tower, the first monuments that come to mind are the Scottish brochs, all of which are now in a ruinous state, and whose function is still not fully understood. But this does not fit the ‘destruction and dramatic change’ aspect of the card. Thus we must look elsewhere for an interpretation.

It has been suggested that the coming of the Romans was a factor in the building of the brochs as fortified strongholds. Whether this is the case or no, the Roman period was certainly a time of dramatic change in Britain, and for at least two major settlements, a time of unexpected loss and ruin, and a new start.

I’m talking of course of the destruction wrought by the Queen of the Iceni, Boudicca, upon the towns of Camulodonum (Colchester) and Verulamium (modern day St Albans).

A section of Roman Wall, alongside the River Ver.

We have reported in the past on a project to geo-survey the area within and around Verulamium, which provides a good indication of the extent of the town at the time of the attack. The town, of course, had a new start and was later rebuilt to become an important centre for the church. St Albans Abbey, the remains of the Roman town in nearby Verulamium Park and the associated museum are all well worth a visit.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

See our other subjective Tarot interpretations here.

Several years ago (May 2012 to be precise), we posited a mobile app that would allow visitors to heritage sites to report any damage or details of other heritage crimes direct to the appropriate authorities. Heritage crime is any offence which targets the historic environment.

We spent some time thinking about the design of such an app, and how it could work in practice; what functionality would be necessary or desirable, how the lines of reporting would work, and so on. We received a couple of feedback comments to say that a couple of groups were also researching such a thing, but sadly we did not have the resources (or the skills and experience) to take the idea any further ourselves. And we never heard back from those commenters about any progress on their work.

However, an app has recently come to our attention that would appear to meet many of our suggested requirements. Historic England in partnership with Country Eye has made reporting heritage crime quick and easy with a free app. The app looks to be potentially useful according to the introductory video:

After downloading, the app requires the user to register, with the usual details; name, email address, postcode and mobile phone number. Sadly, we were unable to progress beyond this point as every attempt to register was met with a 404 error. This may be due to the app’s one serious shortcoming: it is (currently?) only valid for users in the county of Kent. As we tried to register with a non-Kent postcode, this may have led to the error.

Despite our failure to be able to give the app a tryout for review, it’s encouraging to finally see an attempt by the market to provide something which we first envisaged six years ago. We can only hope that the wider Kentish population becomes aware of the app and that its use is successful in reducing heritage crime in the area.

But dare we hope that this app, or something very similar, will become available on a nationwide basis in the not too distant future?

As we continue drawing the cards from our Tarot deck, in hopes of using the cards’ meanings to subjectively identify suitable prehistoric monuments, the next card drawn is The World, card XXI of the Major Arcana.

The World: “Certainty, Completion, Positive, Reward, Satisfaction

What better illustrates the world than a circle? A circular horizon, encompassing all that can be seen, the whole world from a single point. There are so many wonderful stone circles to choose from but in this instance, we head north to Cumbria, and the Sunkenkirk circle at Swinside.

Image © George Hopkins via http://www.geograph.co.uk

Walking the track for a mile or so from the nearest road is certainly satisfying as the circle comes into view and grows larger as you approach it.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

Via Twitter, our attention was recently drawn to a project that looks to be of interest, primarily to those in the north of the UK, but also to anyone with an interest in the cultural overlap between Britain and Scandinavia.

The NATUR: North Atlantic Tales project is:

looking for people, projects and institutions who would be interested in working with an artist from overseas and who have stories to tell that connect Northern English and Scottish cultural heritage with any of Iceland/Norway/Denmark (and vice versa) including:

  • Professional museums and archives
  • Personal collections and archives
  • Music, moving image and photography collections (both catalogued and hoarded)
  • Societies, groups and communities that can trace those connections
  • Researchers working across our partnering countries
  • Academics and academic departments connecting our partnering countries
  • Personal Testimony

It seems to us to be a worthwhile project, and the highlighted item above could well be a chance for our metal detecting friends (responsible or otherwise) to share some of the knowledge of what they’ve found or otherwise obtained. From our own perspective, we’re thinking primarily of ‘Viking’ related materials but the project’s scope seems to far beyond just the physical artefact connections:

The first NATUR project will broadly interrogate 7 themes through the archives of each country that shaped and continue to forge a shared Northern identity – folklore and language, merchants, fisheries, industrialisation, conflict, oil, and women’s history.

Cuerdale hoard viking silver british museum

So if you have any collections or other input which may fit the scope of the project, why not contact them through their website and offer to share your knowledge?

The next Tarot Tuesday card drawn in our series is Justice, card XI of the Major Arcana.

Justice: “Balance, Equality, Fairness, Justice, Law and legal matters

The important aspects of this card imply a positive resolution for victims, whilst for perpetrators, it can be a warning to change your ways before retribution is wrought.

Once again we can turn to the current situation at Stonehenge, and consider the fairness of the tunnel, from the perspective of the site itself. How would the ancestors who developed the landscape over so many years feel about what can be seen as a desecration of their work? Would they see it as a desecration, and what retribution would they bring upon those who are involved in the decision making?

Only time will tell if there will be a legal challenge to the tunnel, or maybe even a protest encampment similar to that seen in the past at Newbury and Winchester…

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

Tarot Tuesday! The next card drawn in our series is The Lovers, card VI of the Major Arcana.

The Lovers: “Attachment or combination, Conflicting choices, Partners, Relationships, Union

The important aspects of this card all seem to point to the fact that the Lovers represent perfection, harmony and mutual attractiveness.

The obvious linkage to a heritage site is one that has both male and female aspects, and the obvious choice in this respect must be the West Kennet Avenue stones in Wiltshire.

West Kennet Avenue

The Avenue winds its way across the landscape for a distance of about 2.3 km., linking the henge enclosure and stone circle at Avebury to the site known as the Sanctuary on Overton Hill. It runs approximately south-east from the from the henge to the Sanctuary, following a somewhat sinuous course. In the best preserved 800 metre section there are 27 upright stones with heights ranging from 1.6 metres to 3.3 metres.

The stones of the avenue are of male and female types and have been deliberately erected in pairs with a male stone facing a female stone and vice versa along the length of the avenue. The female stones are crudely diamond shaped, whilst the male stones are more pillar-like.

But the Lovers has another interpretation, indicating a choice between two conflicting paths. As Plant and Page put it so eloquently:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

Sticking with the Avenue at West Kennet, if we follow it through to the Avebury circle, could this choice be depicted by the two avenues which used to exist, starting from the circle?

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

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