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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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Continuing the Tarot Tuesday theme, this week we look at card XX of the Major Arcana, Judgment.

Judgment: “Change, Decisions, Success, Transformation, Upheaval

Judgment tells a story of transition, but unlike Death or the Tower, it is not sudden change, or born of luck or intuition, but change that springs from reason.

Today’s site, the Devil’s Quoits at Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire has featured on the Heritage Journal before.

The Time Team dug here in the mid 1990’s and identified that the site had been used in the Mesolithic era. The henge was built in the late Neolithic, transforming the site. The stone circle was added in the Bronze Age for a further transformation. Sadly, only two stones remained before major upheaval of the site to create a wartime airfield. The site was successfully restored in the 2000’s.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Our next Tarot Tuesday card is card XII of the Major Arcana, The Hanged Man.

The Hanged Man: “A period of transition, Gaining for a sacrifice, Suspending, Restricting, Discontinued

Our highlighted site this week came into prominence in the media during the mid-1980’s, due to a find made on the site.

The site in question is not scheduled, it is not even a monument in the true sense of the world. It’s a bog.

Lindow Moss in Wilmslow, Cheshire is where the “body in the bog”, Lindow Man ‘Pete Marsh’ was found in 1984.

Photograph by Mike Peel via Wikipedia

All change is a small kind of death, as the old must die to create the new, and it may simply indicate upheaval or change in your future (…) The other interpretation is one of sacrifice, although whether this sacrifice is small or great may not be easily interpreted. 1

As many readers will know, Lindow Man (or more properly ‘Lindow II’2, as a woman’s body was retrieved from the same area in the previous year) was found to have been killed in a particularly grotesque way. His head and neck both displayed heavy blunt instrument trauma, either of which may have killed him, and a possible (Restricting) garotte was found around his neck. It is possible that the killing was ritualistic in nature (Gaining for a sacrifice) which fits neatly with the card interpretation.

1: See Trusted Tarot

2: An article describing the discovery of the bog body can be viewed on JSTOR

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Our Tarot Tuesday card this week is card XIV of the Major Arcana, Temperance.

Temperance: “Capable, Control, Harmony and balance, Moderation, Self-confidence

An optimistic card, Temperance encourages you to find balance in your life and approach problems with a calm demeanour. It recognizes that opposing forces need not be at war within you. Tread carefully in any major decisions you make, with confidence that good decisions will lead to a good resolution for you.1.

The site type that comes to mind when considering ‘balance‘ and ‘treading carefully‘ is that of a double stone row.

One site which immediately springs to mind which meets this description consists of not one, but two double stone rows: Merrivale on Dartmoor.

Merrivale Stone Row. © AlanS

The two stone rows run roughly parallel, E-W and each consist of pairs of stones. There are blocking stones at the end of the rows, and the southern row is bisected by a cist. A small leat runs between the two rows. The pairs of stones that make up the rows are set 3-4 feet apart allowing a visitor, should one choose, to walk carefully between the stones along each row. If you decide to attempt this, please be careful to not step directly on the stones, which are small and could be easily damaged.

1: Trusted Tarot.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

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.

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