Saturday, August 16, 2008

Windmill Hill

The above illustration is taken from Isobel Smith's leaflet for Windmill Hill and Avebury, a short 

account of Keiller's excavations carried out on the hill between 1925 and 1939.
As can be seen from this old text such finds are thought to be part of the ritual and magic of this Neolithic causewayed camp. They are a fascinating, though poignant, reminder of times long gone. Time moves on, archaeological thought may now see these objects from a different perspective, but the idea that the phallic objects found on site are fertility symbols is still with us.

Simple Quern

Ronald Hutton in his book "The Pagan Religions of the British Isles" lists the various objects that were found in the ditch, apart from animal bones he describes the other finds as
"mysterious cup-shaped chalk objects, puzzling chalk plaques with incised lines, stone discs with shaped edges, chalk phalluses, fifteen pairs of chalk balls, and pieces of shaped chalk with etched vertical lines" he says that these etched chalk objects may represent female forms, but he goes on to argue that the cult of a 'female goddess' is a recent manifestation, and perhaps a different interpretation can be given. The vertical lines could also of course been tally marks, the females, carelessly made statues.

Antler picks

The idea that excarnation may have taken place in these causewayed camps in Neolithic times rather than on platforms near to the great longbarrows is also put forward. Hutton takes his evidence from the fact that the body of a man was found underneath the enclosure, the man had been laid in an open grave apparently until the flesh dropped off.... The West Kennet longbarrow being the 'tomb-shrine' to which the bones were taken, some of the bones at the enclosure represent missing parts of the bones found at West Kennet longbarrow.

Windmill Hill is the great classic causewayed enclosure, with its three lines of bank and ditch, and later bronze age barrows in its centre, and yet not so far away Knap Hill enclosure camp can still be found with its equally dramatic banks.

A camp, a seasonal place for people to gather, have feasts, bring livestock, bring their dead, these camps were communal centres before the time of stone circles, and yet overlapping with the longbarrows.

Knap Hill Causewayed enclosure

Windmill Hill barrow

Windmill hill barrows

Strange pock marked stone

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