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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Recumbent stones, arrows and no moon.

Through the gate to the Sanctuary.
I see the catch no longer works, but there are never any animals in this field.

Except moles.
I see at least two arrow heads in the mole-mound, sticking out of the mud.

I turn the flints over with my boot, but I don't bend to pick them up. I would want to keep them. There must be so many arrows here.

The last arrow I found was slightly chisel ended, probably Neolithic. Chisel ended means that the tip was knocked off to make a blunt arrow.

You can tell the difference between a bit of flint and an arrow by the tiny, regular dents on the edges, where someone has spent time carefully chipping at it.


The reason why arrows were made blunt is hard to understand without reference to other cultures. The Egyptians used chisel-ended arrows; there is a painting on the north wall of the tomb of Antefoker vizier of Sesostris 1, showing such arrows being fired at a 'heap' of animals trapped in a net.

Perhaps such arrows were used to stun rather than to kill?

In Finland up until the nineteenth century, blunt arrows were used so that the pelts of small animals such as squirrel would not be damaged. Birds in particular could have been captured in this way, especially if their feathers were valued to fletch the arrows; attached to the shaft of the arrow to make it fly.

Or if birds had to be captured for some other reason.

Sometimes swans are linked to Silbury, but Silbury is quite a long walk from here....The Kennet flows some distance away.

Perhaps swans used to come up to the Sanctuary?
I freely admit to knowing nothing at all about swans.

What is the link between Apollo and swans?

...Apollo flew on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans, where he would spend the winter months among them.

Hyperborea was identified with Britain first by Hecataeus of Abdera in the 4th century BC, as in a preserved fragment by Diodorus Siculus:
In the regions beyond the land of the Celts there lies in the ocean an island no smaller than Sicily. This island, the account continues, is situated in the north and is inhabited by the Hyperboreans, who are called by that name because their home is beyond the point whence the north wind (Boreas) blows; and the island is both fertile and productive of every crop, and has an unusually temperate climate.
The star Cygnus flies in the river of stars, the Milky Way, and Apollo left his arrows for me to find, for sure...


As I walk through the rings over to the recumbent stone there is little evidence of birds at the Sanctuary; no significant heaps of bird bones have been found.

Oh, hang on, in the records of excavation of the post holes, all is recorded in the phrase 'small animal bones' and there is no way to know what that even meant!

The sun was over the recumbent stone when I arrived. Two crows had been watching me earlier, but they were now long gone.

The sun was beginning to sink...
The cloud rolling in.
The occasional helicopter...




I lay out the string -in the film- to show the corridors, yellow- in the image.




At the Sanctuary, a recumbent stone faces south west at an azimuth of around 210 degrees, or rather, it used to. Clearly the sun isn't going to be seen to set directly over it, from a view pointr at the centre of the ring..Nor would the full moon set over it- just before sun rise, at an azimuth of 302 or around 318 when the moon is at the other end of its 'lunistice' period.

At the Sanctuary I have only a concrete post...nor can I find the measurements of the hole.

The records of the first excavation also miss out the quantities of arrows latter excavations found. Nevertheless, hats off to Maud Cunnington for all her work, without her we would not have the Sanctuary or Woodhenge.

Maud Cunnington.
Clive Ruggles notes that recumbent stones in Scottish stone circles were usually oriented SSE.

The one I satnd by is in the SSW quadrant.

The Scottish stones, still in place, were positioned so that the top was flat and only a few degrees off the horizon...I have no way of knowing how big this one was.

In Scotland recumbent stone circles are placed on well drained, fertile soil, in a conspicuous position and often on the south eastern side of hill tops... likewise at the Sanctuary.

Clive Ruggles suggest that the midsummer full moon may be significant here, just shining its light into the circles over the recumbent stone.

Meanwhile the Irish stone circles with a recumbent stone (found in Cork and Kerry) have a single recumbent stone facing SSW. Aubrey Burl has suggested that the Irish circles represent a forgetting of the Scottish tradition; in other words, the people couldn't remember exactly why the recumbent stone was in the south..

I'm tempted to suggest that as the direction is south south west, it could be the sunset crescent moon at midwinter, and perhaps Venus too...



So much cloud.

Too much rain!