This is an important find. I had not heard of this before and I can only find this one article that references it but if the scant figures are to be believed, this is extraordinary. The article – from the County Times is a s follows:
WHAT look like just a few fields close to Presteigne, in fact cover up an ‘exceptional’ and significant historical site which maps around 5,000 years of Welsh history.
The Walton Basin has been an area of interest to Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT), who have been carrying out significant excavation work over the last few years to try and uncover the wonders of Welsh history.
One of their earliest findings is from the Neolithic period, where archaeologists believe they have found something that could be as significant as the word famous Stonehenge, on the Salisbury plains.
Chris Martin, regional architect at CPAT, explained that what has been found in the Walton Basin is thought to be a rare Neolithic ’causewayed’ enclosure.
Having used some 1,400 mature oak trees in its construction, which has been dated to around 2700 BC, to date this is the largest Neolithic enclosure in Britain, making its finding quite significant.
“It’s really quite an impressive structure when you consider that it was 5,000 years ago or so,” said Chris.
“We don’t actually know what it is for. It seems to be some kind of ceremonial enclosure that was significant to the local population, a religious structure, a meeting place for the community.”
Will Adams, curator at the Radnorshire Museum in Llandrindod Wells speculated that one of the enclosures could be as bit as four Millennium Stadiums.
“This could be as important as Stonehenge,” he said.
The enclosures may be significant if they are the only ones, however archaeologists are unsure as to whether or not these enclosures exist elsewhere in the country.
Despite this, the site’s significance is not in question because of all the other era that can be found there from the Bronze Age, to the Romans.
Mr Martin said: “There is a riot of stuff in a relatively small space, you’ve got almost an entire Welsh history in this small area.
“It’s a mind blowing area and has something for everyone, and there is almost too much to say about the basin. It really is exceptional.”
There is currently an exhibition at the Radnorshire Museum on the Walton Basin, and people can watch an interactive video which explains the significance of the site, or it can be viewed at www.cpat.org.uk/vr/llandod/index.htm
A new technique lets archaeologists reconstruct the past in greater detail
THAT economic expansion leads to building booms seems to have been as true 6,000 years ago as it is now. When agriculture came to Britain, it led to a surge of construction as impressive—and rapid—as the one that followed the industrial revolution.
Which is all a bit of a surprise to archaeologists, who had previously seen the arrival of the Neolithic as a rather gentle thing. But that may be because of the tools they use. Radiocarbon dating provides a range, often spanning 200 years or more, rather than an exact date for a site. Stratigraphy, which looks at the soil layers in which artefacts are found, tells you only which ones are older and which younger. None of these data is precise. They do, however, limit the possible range of dates. And by using a statistical technique called Bayesian analysis it is possible to combine such disparate pieces of information to produce a consolidated estimate that is more accurate than any of its components. That results in a range that spans decades, not centuries.
A team led by Alex Bayliss, from English Heritage, a British government agency, has just used this technique to examine digs from hundreds of sites around Britain. The results have caused them to reinterpret the Neolithic past quite radically.
Agriculture seems to have arrived fully formed in what is now Kent, in the south-east, around 4050BC. The new culture spread slowly at first, taking 200 years to reach modern-day Cheltenham, in the west, but over the following five decades it penetrated as far north as Aberdeen. Soon afterwards, causewayed enclosures (circular arrangements of banks and ditches hundreds of metres across—see picture) began springing up all over the country.
Until now, archaeologists had assumed that these were built over the course of centuries. Dr Bayliss’s work suggests they were the product of two booms, each just a few decades long—for the Neolithic seems to have seen its share of busts, too.
The team’s work offers such a sharp picture of the past that it is possible to trace the histories even of individual communities, such as one in Essex whose inhabitants built, used and then abandoned an enclosure within the span of a single generation.
English Heritage now plans to apply the technique to another murky era of British history, the early Anglo-Saxon period between 400AD and 700AD. In principle, the method can be applied to any archaeological site, and several groups of researchers around the world are working on similar projects. But, fittingly for a discipline that deals in centuries and millennia, the revolution will be a slow one. Unlike traditional radiocarbon dating, which can be bought off the shelf, Dr Bayliss reckons it takes between three and four years to train a graduate researcher to use the new technique properly.
Hill in Wiltshire school grounds nicknamed Silbury’s little sister revealed as important neolithic monument
For generations, it has been scrambled up with pride by students at Marlborough College. But the mysterious, pudding-shaped mound in the grounds of the Wiltshire public school now looks set to gain far wider acclaim as scientists have revealed it is a prehistoric monument of international importance.
After thorough excavations, the Marlborough mound is now thought to be around 4,400 years old, making it roughly contemporary with the nearby, and far more renowned, Silbury Hill.
The new evidence was described by one archeologist, an expert on ancient ritual sites in the area, as “an astonishing discovery”. Both neolithic structures are likely to have been constructed over many generations.
The Marlborough mound had been thought to date back to Norman times. It was believed to be the base of a castle built 50 years after the Norman invasion and later landscaped as a 17th-century garden feature. But it has now been dated to around 2400BC from four samples of charcoal taken from the core of the 19 metre-high hill.
The samples prove it was built at a time when British tribes were combining labour on ritual monuments in the chalk downlands of Wiltshire, including Stonehenge and the huge ditches and stone circle of Avebury.
History students at the college will now have the chance to study an extraordinary example just a stone’s throw from their classroom windows. Malborough’s Master Nicholas Sampson said: “We are thrilled at this discovery, which confirms the long and dramatic history of this beautiful site and offers opportunity for tremendous educational enrichment.”
Suddenly, I want to go to Portugal.
I had not really looked at the area before but stumbling across Cromeleque dos Almendres, I am really taken by these. Here are some photos and the entry from WIKIPEDIA.
The Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex, located 38°33?28?N 08°3?41?WCoordinates: 38°33?28?N 08°3?41?W near Guadalupe, Évora, Portugal, is one of the earliest public monuments. It is the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe.
This megalithic monument originally consisted of more than one hundred monoliths, some of which have been taken away for other uses. A recent dig showed that the complex had undergone several building phases during the neolithic period (5000 – 4000 BC).
It was found rather late, in 1964.
92 menhirs of different sizes currently form two grounds that were built oriented to different equinox directions. Several of them were put back in place.
The axis of the ovals is oriented along an east-west direction. The complex’s position latitude is about the same as the maximum moon elongation (38.55 degrees for 1500 BC); the other latitude at which that happens is that of Stonehenge, 51.18 degrees for 2000 BC..
About a dozen monoliths present some form of carved drawings, four of which exhibit only small circular holes. Monolith number 8, with a cut flat top at about breast level and showing several dimples, might have served for finer astronomical observation, specially spring equinox observation, by putting small stones on them. These observations might be made from stone 39, on the eastern focal point of the elliptic layout.
It is believed that the monument had religious purposes and functioned as a primitive astronomical observatory.
This article is nearly twelve years old but I thought it worth posting here. ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY. I did not know about this find before and this is a repro of the online press release found there. What fascinates me is that these instruments have a modality that is closer to a Western musical scale than that we would normally associate with traditional Chinese music.
Bone flute found in China at 9,000-year-old Neolithic site
Upton, NY – Researchers in China have uncovered what might be the oldest playable musical instrument. Their work is described in a paper published in the September 23 issue of the scientific journal Nature.
Recent excavations at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, located in Henan province, China, have yielded six complete bone flutes between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. Fragments of approximately 30 other flutes were also discovered. The flutes may be the earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments.
Garman Harbottle, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and member of the Jiahu research team, helped analyze data from carbon-14 dating done in China on materials taken from the site. “Jiahu has the potential to be one of the most significant and exciting early Neolithic sites ever investigated,” said Harbottle. “The carbon dating was of crucial importance to my Chinese colleagues in establishing the age of the site and the relics found within it.”
The exquisitely-crafted flutes are all made from the ulnae, or wing bones, of the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis Millen) and have five, six, seven or eight holes. The best-preserved flute has been played and tonally analyzed in tests at the Music School of the Art Institute of China.
The discovery of these flutes presents a remarkable and rare opportunity for anthropologists, musicians and the general public to hear musical sounds as they were produced nine millennia ago. Two audio recordings of the flutes being played are available here: WAV file 1 (4.2 Mb), WAV file 2 (1.7 Mb).
The excavations and carbon-14 dating were carried out by researchers from the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Henan Province, Zhengzhou, China; the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China; and the Paleobotany Laboratory, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China.
of the flutes revealed that the seven holes correspond to a tone scale remarkably similar to the Western eight-note scale that begins “do, re, mi.” This carefully-selected tone scale suggested to the researchers that the Neolithic musician of the seventh millennium BC could play not just single notes, but perhaps even music.
Jiahu lies in the Central Yellow River Valley in mid-Henan Province and was inhabited from 7000 BC to 5700 BC. The site was discovered by Zhu Zhi, late director of the Wuyang County Museum, in 1962, but only in the past 15 years has significant excavation activity begun. In addition to the musical instruments, the site has yielded important information on the early foundations of Chinese society. Music in China is traditionally associated with ritual observances and government affairs.
To date, only about five percent of Jiahu has been excavated, uncovering 45 house foundations, 370 cellars, nine pottery kilns and thousands of artifacts of bone, pottery, stone and other materials. Additional excavation activities are planned for the near future.
The authors of the paper describing the Jiahu findings are Juzhong Zhang, from the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Henan Province, Zhengzhou, China, and the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China; Changsui Wang, also from the Archaeometry Laboratory; Zhaochen Kong, from the Paleobotany Laboratory, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China; and Garman Harbottle from Brookhaven
FULL ARTICLE AT WESSEX ARCHAEOLOGY
Excavations at the site of the former MOD Headquarters at Durrington have revealed deposits dating to the Late Upper Palaeolithic (Late Glacial) c. 12,000BC and evidence of human activity from the late Neolithic (2550-2200 BC) through to the modern period, with the main focus of activity dating from the Late Iron Age c.100BC to Romano-British period (AD43-410). The site is located within an archaeologically rich landscape just 1km north of the Neolithic Durrington Walls henge and between the Romano-British settlements at Figheldean and at the Packway enclosure to the north and south respectively.
Two monumental Neolithic posthole alignments, which appeared to follow the contours of high ground, contained Grooved Ware pottery. Potentially contemporary with these alignments was a natural swallow hole or sink hole 25m across which had been consolidated with a flint pebble surface which created a metalled platform covered with flint knapping debris and a broken late Neolithic flint axehead or chisel. In the Iron Age, the site comprised a number of paddocks and small fields, formed by shallow gullies and ditches.
READ FULL ARTICLE AT WESSEX ARCHAEOLOGY
ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT NEW SCIENTIST
EUROPEANS may have used magic mushrooms to liven up religious rituals 6000 years ago. So suggests a cave mural in Spain, which may depict fungi with hallucinogenic properties – the oldest evidence of their use in Europe.
The Selva Pascuala mural, in a cave near the town of Villar del Humo, is dominated by a bull. But it is a row of 13 small mushroom-like objects that interests Brian Akers at Pasco-Hernando Community College in New Port Richey, Florida, and Gaston Guzman at the Ecological Institute of Xalapa in Mexico. They believe that the objects are the fungi Psilocybe hispanica, a local species with hallucinogenic properties.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE AT NEW SCIENTIST
“The hobbits shuddered. Even in the Shire the rumour of the Barrow-wights of the Barrow-downs beyond the Forest had been heard. But it was not a tale that any hobbit liked to listen to, even by a comfortable fireside far away.” - From ‘The Lord of the Rings’; J.R.R. Tolkien
Maybe my thoughts and feelings about visiting long barrows or a field of burial mounds is informed by reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The association with the dead seems quite tangible and sometimes the imagination cannot help but conjure an immediate connection with the long departed. The spirit of dead chieftains, warriors and queens and a reverence for their ghosts saturates the air.
Well, perhaps not always, but I remember very well when Rupert and I first visited Priddy Nine Barrows on a pre production recce the day was freezing, a hoar frost carpeted the grass and a grey mist hung in the air. We felt quite detached from reality.
Standing in that field, surrounded by the undulating low mounds that make up this remarkable burial ground we certainly felt an awe and a reverence for whoever the internees may once have been. And was not that their very purpose? All the more impressive then, that intent reaches across the millennia to two 21st century men freezing their arses off in a field who’ve walked all of 200 yards from the comfort of a camper van.
Anyway, the truth is of all the different types of ancient monuments, barrows and burial mounds hold a particular kind of magic – at the very least, when they are reasonably intact and we can go inside, we can feel we are inhabiting the same space as our ancestors. We perhaps feel more in touch.
So, less of the waffle – here’s a clip from the film:
Here is a nice long clip from the DVD – all about henges. It just so happens that the most important of them occur within a quite small distance from one another in the South of England. Now, the two sites in the film that actually have the word ‘henge’ in their name turn out to be NOT true henges in the sense that the word has come to be accepted. As is shown in the film, although the word originally derives from the name ‘Stonehenge’, it turns out that Stonehenge itself is an anomaly amongst ‘henges’ and does not now count as one – strictly speaking. Woodhenge ‘may’ have been a henge – but was so named long before it was discovered that the post holes that make up all that is now visible of the site was surrounded by a raised mound. As for places like ‘Seahenge‘ for example – well, it becomes clear that the tag ‘henge’ is easily used by the media to indicate that a new discovery – whether of rock, wood or earth – is a pretty ancient one.
This section of the film gave me an opportunity to go to town with CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and do my best to produce some watchable reconstructions of how the sites MAY have looked. The two ‘true’ henges that are featured – Avebury and Stanton Drew – really are wonders. Avebury is, of course, the most visually spectacular of the two today, but as Rupert and I found out more about what was lurking beneath the soil of the farm field that the stone circle of Stanton Drew inhabits, so our imagination was spurred and led to a surprising idea about their purpose. So, I’m not going to spoil it for you now, but let me just say that, however radical our thoughts may seem, they did not come from nothing. Our main suggestion is supported by evidence from other sites and most notably by Mike Pitts observations about the excavations at Durrington Walls in his book ‘Hengeworld‘. Most of all though, it was the privilege of spending time at these places – being present to their grandeur and scale as a human being that gave rise to our speculations. And speculations is all they are. We don’t pretend to have any answers – we’re not experts – but we do hope that a little “thinking outside the box” can inspire ideas that really do crack the mystery of these wonderful places.
“Cocev Kamen is one of the most imposing and significant cultural monument (with geographic coordinates N. 42o.05’. 024’’ and E. 021o. 59’ and 227’’ and an elevation of 481m). On the left hand side of the rock, near the entrance of the rock building, a cross, dating back from Bronze Age, was engraved in the cup mark context. As a matter of fact “Tsotsev kamen” is a significant prehistoric temple and observatory.
One of the two paths leads towards a natural cave, which was rearranged for the needs of Paleolithic and Neolithic inhabitants. Gea Mater, a bone, has been discovered near the cave which tells us that the cave was used by Paleolithic people. There were two rows of rock seats engraved inside the cave, which combined with the cave’s floor created a structure looking like a theatre. Above this, and until the Bronze Age, there was a smaller natural cave, where the spiritual leaders organized cave warming for spirituals needs. There were tubs with double space: smaller and bigger, similar to the tubs discovered in Pelagonium.
The question about the usage of these tubs has been answered: They did not have any practical usage, but one held ritual-ceremonial functions for the God of Wine and the God of Fertility. At the bottom of the cave one made rock engravings in the style typical of the valley, as well as the square type, associated with the God of the Fertility. The engravings (cup-mark associated with small channels) on the rock near the megaliths, suggested that the cave was used to worship the God of Fertility. One part of a broken offering was left in the cave while the other part was brought back home. The second space of the site is more impressive. In front of the throne there was a plateau of 51m2 for official people who followed the ceremonies. The excavation site represented a prehistoric observatory. In fact, near the throne there were a few seats built in the rock, which were part of a sophisticated observatory.
Megaliths were found more than four hundred meters to the east of these stone seats. There is painted rock art to the west of “Tsotsev Kamen”, the production of a developed prehistoric culture.
The presence of the world largest sun symbol made in rock confirms that this site represents an extremely important cultural, historic, written, ethnological as well as religious heritage.”
The full paper complete with photos is available here.
I first came across reference to Cocev Kamen at this blog. Well worth a visit – lots of fascinating entries.