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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.

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.

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.

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

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?


July 2019
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