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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Major archaeology news from Britain and Ireland

Via Archaeology in Europe, a most interesting blog I only recently discovered.

Megalithic "cathedral" discovered in Orkney.

Apparently part of the huge complex, possibly of religious relevance, found in Orkney (including the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stennes) a huge building of 82x65 feet (approx. 26x21 meters), dated to c. 3000 BCE, has been unearthed at Orkney at the Ness of Brodgar site. The walls, some 16 ft thick (5 m) stand still to up one meter and must have been much higher in the past.

The building includes a cross-shaped "sanctum", including stone furniture, a surrounding paved outer passage, and an unusual menhir or standing stone split by a hole with an hour-glass shape.

In the same area a large wall, dubbed "the Great Wall of Brodgar", was discovered last year. The whole site is thought as huge religious complex of some sort.

Read more at News.Scotsman.

For more complete information on the archaeological research, Toos, points me to Orknejar.

Precisely I was discussing this matter a few weeks ago with my apartment mate. My question was basically: what the heck was doing such a huge temple in such a remote place? For him the religious and maybe astronomical reasons were enough, while I feel the need to find a more materialist explanation such as cod fisheries (sometimes claimed to be the culprit of Megalithic expansion) or even strategic reasons (would control the northern sea route). Naturally both explanations are not contradictory.

Other news are:

  • Oldest British Neolithic home, 9000 years old, found at the Isle of Man. Read more at Daily Mail.
  • Oldest Scottish settlements at Biggar, from 14,000 years ago, throughtly digged thanks to massive volunteer assistance. Read more at Hamilton Advertiser.
  • Neolithic (Chalcolithic by pan-European standards) settlement at Derry is 5000 years old. Read more at Derry Journal.

An update: as this post goes about British Neolithic archaeology, it's worth noting that there has been yet another discovery, this one in London: a timber platform pathway apparently used by the locals to cross a peat bog at the Thames has been dated to almost 6000 years ago. A similar structure dating to c. 5000 years ago was already known. Read more at Science Daily.


Toos said...

They have a website of their own:
Click here at August [2009] 14 and you will find the news directly from the excavators, plus pictures.

Maju said...

Thanks. :)

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

"Oldest British Neolithic home, 9000 years old, found at the Isle of Man."

I have doubts about the Neolithic categorization. This seems more like the advanced pre-Neolithic fishing peoples of Japan (Joman), Greenland (Paleo-Eskimo), and the Pacific Northwest Indians, than it does of farming and herding peoples. Those modes of food production wouldn't have arrived at the Isle of Man by then, but the Isle of Man could easily have had a fruitful fishing economy by then.