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.
The Anglesey Rock Art Project recently extended their programme to include excavation and recording of megalithic rock art on a stone at Llwydiarth Esgob Farm. The stone, made from a distinctive localised hornblende picrite, stands within the garden of the farmhouse and was moved there by the noted antiquary Thomas Pritchard at the beginning of the 20th century.
“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.
As I said in the diary post about shooting at Cainbaan, everyone loves a puzzle, but when you get this close to the mysteries our ancestors left behind, a solution always seems only a hairsbreadth away, and yet – gaze into space for as long as you want – understanding remains tantalizingly just out of reach. Rock Art is about as close as you can get to looking into the mind of our ancestors, but although we may feel close in space – touching the very same curves, hollows and textures in rock that they created – not being able to comprehend the purpose behind these symbols can make us feel as remote as ever from fellow humans who just happen to have preceded us by a few thousand years.
BY the way, if you are particularly interested in this aspect of our ancient heritage English Heritage have launched a wonderful website completely devoted to English prehistoric Rock Art. I recommend a visit.
” … promote greater enjoyment of rock art; inspire new understanding of this intriguing archaeological material; encourage direct involvement with the recording process; and inform effective management and conservation of a unique cultural resource.”
At the moment, the site seems to concentrate mainly on sites in the Northumberland area but new discoveries seem to be coming in fast and the aim is to extend the database to cover all of England. Some of the photography is truly inspired and it is worth a visit just to browse the imagery.
Rupert and I certainly wish we’d been aware of some of the newer discoveries before we set out to film Standing with Stones. However, we did love the art at Achnabreck and Cairnbaan.
Argyll, 26th February, 2007
Cairnbaan. Everyone loves a puzzle. When you get this close to the mysteries our ancestors left behind, a solution always seems only a hairsbreadth away, and yet – gaze into space for as long as you want – understanding remains tantalizingly just out of reach.
For us, another gorgeous day filming in Cornwall – this time on the North-East coast of the county. Rocky Valley is pretty much that – a picturesque gorge carved by a stream that used to power the Trevillett Mill, now a trout hatchery. The carvings themselves are on a bare face of soft shale on the other side of the 18th/19th century mill ruins from the stream. If you follow the stream past the carvings and the mill you are treated to a wonderful walk right down to the sea with views up and down the coast from the cove.
Continue reading »
Continue reading »