Megalith, standing stone, cultural stone, Ansur, Danish stone rows, stone circle, the Vi, earthwork
The first case is naturally the standing stone that must have been placed by mankind for some purpose. You don't run around with big stones and if nature move them they usually remain in a position where the gravity point is near the ground as possible
Megalith definition, manipulated stone, stone-tripod, Standing stone, Ansur, Geb, bautastone, tombstone, boundary marker, Tree of Life, World Tree, Sumerian creation myth, Ras, place name, trinity, tri-head, baetyl, idol, archetype, Genesis, Aphrodite, earthwork, avenue, cursus
Part 1 Stone Age |Megalomania | Standing stone | Ansur | Stone row |Stony circle | long stone rows | Carnac | Gavrinis |First myth | The Vi | Cultural stones | talking stones | Earthwork | sitemap | home | Part 2 dolmen- stony ships …4th millennium ideas, Dolmen and longbarrow, Passage grave, Ground grooves, Slab cist/ wedge tomb, Big stony ship, Small stony ships, Mound, Part 3 Bronze Age |doomring - thing … Doom ring, Stones in Exodus, Altarstone, Footstool, Thingstone Part 4 Olympos of Nordal | Picture stones at Gotland |
Links to:Inanna myth | Suites in rock-carvings mirrors the ideas of stones | Survey ritual astronomy |
Greek Megalith = big stone however the term is relative since we have megaliths from a few ton to 350 ton and length 23 meters such as Le Grand Menhir in Carnac France. The initial bias in archaeology is that it is a cultural stone set up for memory, ritual, astronomy, landmark and so on. We have textual evidence of the use from ca 2500 BC. The cuneiform tablet tells about the struggle between Sumerian city-states Umma and Lagash
By the immutable word of Enlil, king of the lands, father of the gods, Ningirsu and Shara set a boundary to their lands. Mesilim, King of Kish, at the command of his deity Kadi, set up a stele in the plantation of that field. [a boundary marker and usual with zodiac figures like a dating].
Ush, ruler of Umma, formed a plan to seize it. That stele he broke in pieces, into the plain of Lagash he advanced. Ningirsu, the hero of Enlil, by his just command, made war upon Umma. At the command of Enlil, his great net ensnared them. He erected their burial mound on the plain in that place. [It was a "blind mound" with no one inside, but who would dig it up for proof?]
..… He ordered the royal field not to be seized. At the canal he inscribed a stele. He returned the stele of Mesilim to its place. He did not encroach on the plain of Mesilim. At the boundary-line of Ningirsu, as a protecting structure, he built the sanctuary of Enlil, the sanctuary of Ninkhursag .....
The Sumerian uses and rituals concern also West Europe since we find the ideas in stones and rock-carvings. Archaeologists are seldom used to see rock-carvings as evidence and generally they date them too young. My essays on stones deal with the underlying rational ideas when the set up stones as monuments. The time span is from 7th millennium BC to the time of rune stones and it builds mainly on Scandinavian material. All monuments are evidence showing that there was some order in society. Unfortunately we have lost many of them to agriculture and church buildings
Another source is the Bible where especially Exodus, Kings and Judge books have samples of the use of stones as manifestation of culture. And they are also telling about the rest of the Levant that used same style and in addition used baetyl and used Ashera statues … seeExodus
44Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be a witness between you and me."
45So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar.
46And Jacob said to his kinsmen, "Gather stones," and they took stones, and made a heap; and they ate there by the heap.
47Laban called it Je'gar-sahadu'tha: but Jacob called it Galeed.
48Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me today." Therefore he named it Galeed,
49and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, "The LORD watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other.
In my analysis of megaliths and stony monuments I rather use references like these instead of speculation about magical and power places since I believe in rational ancestors. Even the places used for practical astronomy are rational as base of keeping time and deciding seasons.
Special outline 25 March 2006
Nutshell about meaning of megaliths/ stones
Black-tripod at Vellingby near Stockholm
Normally archaeology put this in the category of "Samic seidas" expected to be primitive culture. Some archaeologists simply ignore manipulated stones as this and simpler with just one corned on a small stone and alike. They are numerous in northern Scandinavia. The low stone-tripod is frequent even in southern Scandinavia.
The attitude has inhibited the true science and curiosity about the very spread of these monuments that are like miniatures of the big West European dolmens. Worse that the context and surrounding fences are not at all recorded
My friend Kenneth wrote me about this stone in his vicarage. A new inspection tells that upon the stone are 15 cupmarks. He also discovered that two parallel stone strings guide the stone and that there is a stone with a serpent engraved two meters from the dolmen. At the string in north are two round mounds and at the south string a squared setting 3 x 2 metres. This shows that we should always look in the surroundings for the archaeological context.
Original Vi/ Weoh 4th millennium with dolmen in centre and oriented toward east. Some were in use in 18th century AD
We can compare that with theVi at Skabersjö and we see this arrangement as the stairs to Underworld. In the zodiac the stairway is at Cancer to Hydra/ Watersnake that symbolises the growing season. In our rock-carvings we have the Serpent in last millennium however it was created at the same time as the Inanna myth
We do not see the mightiness of Lanyon Quoit in this picture. Rebuild after storm 1815 and some old photo shows a man on horse riding through
Carnac Bretagne is of course best known for megalo-megaliths and biggest Le Grand Menhir 23 metres 270 tons. However I think Portugal have the highest dolmen 5 - 6 metres(?) and oldest 6th millennium monuments are the very beginning of megalomania. Still in official archaeology on TV only Stonehenge and Middle Kingdom exist said with some overstatement. I have to start with this since as I see it we have only pseudo-archaeology when it comes to describe the world from 7th millennium onwards.
To be tired of people making a mystery of ancient monuments is easy. At the same time they make our ancestors simple and primitive with no manners and ritual life. It is a shame that pro-archaeology have not analysed and made synthesis of what we know about the use manipulated stones as monuments of ritual in society from early Stone Age onwards. We still use the same principle now and then. That is why I write this standard little piece about Megalomania and I will put it into other essay as just a "Nutshell about meaning of megaliths/ stones"
I have to criticise archaeology for megalomania and inverted megalomia --- selective blindness causing that they ignore small monuments and unsolved script in rock-carvings ---- inability to integrate especially rock-carvings, stony monuments and artefacts --- inability to pretend small size societies as beginning if society --- snobbism that make for instance so-called Samic culture lower culture than other European culture --- making theories that are like biblical archaeology with known answer before digging, instead of analysing wholeness and context --- inability to see that culture know no borders in the old ages … this for a start.
Left dolmen from Danish island Moen 32 km long 217km˛ small island 28 passage graves, 60 long barrows, 30 cairns … at right from Kola Peninsula
Compared with the dolmen Lanyon Quoit both are small but similar in shape. I would say they represent the same idea in society. We can follow the coast of Sweden with similar monuments to northernmost stones 80 kilometres SE Gellivaare N Lapland. There are some in Finland too and of course in Karelia up to Kola Peninsula.
For some reason when we come north of Stockholm they belong to the Shaman Belt and are primitive, they say. Recently they found some of the kind in my neighbourhood at Dalsland and the archaeologist told they are too simple to register. Observe that officially all manipulated stones and megaliths should be registered according to the rules of antiquity. I think that archaeology is partly primitive.
This causes that "archaeology" tells that we in Sweden have only 70 big tripod dolmens of which the Haga dolmen is oldest and of West European size. At that we get the problem of early archaeology that they mixed dating and the timeline was false. The Haga dolmen was in use for some 2000 years at least and the same is case with many stone building. That means the original use is not at all documented. We must see every evidence of human presence due to stones, rock-carvings and so on should be documented, dated and taken into account … and not only pick out the big monuments … what a silly thing -;)
… funniest evidence is that they found the mtDNA to 75 % is the same in Skaane and Lapland and it is unique for Europe, talk about aborigines -;). Maybe it is telling about people carrying culture to the north -;) We can not use the frames of our times is evident but mostly forgotten. We meet often that they think people did not move around. Here we talk about thousands of year with possibilities to get impressions from other places.
For me it is quite simple. Culture has travelled from W Europe along the coast northward. Scandinavia was mostly sparsely populated and people used the recipe, "You do what you can manage". Naturally the megalomania is an enigma and at its highest at the little Danish Moen that made the triple passage grave 10 metres wide and 100 metres long. It is useless to ask WHY but we can ask "For what purpose". Mankind's as normally rational beings and do no hard work without gain and purpose. We can only thank those who made the big buildings since they will stand forever, while smaller easily is taken away.
Here shown monuments are just samples and all kind of stone temples and monuments have been used as claim and centre of ritual. It is the natural and rational explanation due to the needs in society. We could not expect only one type of monument and one only explanation since it was many-culture those days over thousands of years. Some were used also as deposit at funeral like the special wedge tomb period around 2000 BC. Only a minor part has the forecourt left due to big stones/ boulders. In other places there have surely been a sacred fence of smaller "head size" stone or similar but they have been used for younger buildings.
Ravlunda's dolmen could be used asVi/ Weoh. On Hardaknud's coin the Horse/ Pegasus stands at the Vi/ Weoh at vernal equinox. In a village at Lolland another at N Zealand the Vi was in use until 18th century
Another evidence of ancient society order we find in place names. If we use names from the Great Migration we get like a time capsule in theAnglo-Scandinavian place names. Then we get the ideas of weoh, stoke (pole), (stone)ring, harg/ heorg (sacred fence), hov (tri-stone) and now we are back also in stony monuments used as claim for a village "where Man set his foot, he owns the land" . This I see going back to birth of civilisation in which the Vi/ Weoh is a good example. There is no reason for speculating in magic power places and superficial rites.
In late Stone Age we see standing stones shaped as a head and sometimes tri-head and four-head representing "Father of Time" = seasons. That is the next step from the baetyl that does not tell about the idol it represents. Surely at many places they just rose a stone and let it do for the same purpose. In Bishops Sagu from Iceland they tell about the first bishop showing disrespect for the old customs. The alderman of thing or "yearman" showed a certain stone at the old thing place. He called it "yearman" or "timeman" and tried to explain what it meant.
The Christian and Latin-speaking bishop showed no understanding. Maybe he just meant to show his power and the legend tells he made a cross over the stone and it cracked in two halves. Naturally the bishop wanted to be the new head of the community … maybe he used some trick, who knows? In my neighbourhood there are wholes in some of the stones at an old holly places and some stones have cracked … another legend from Birka tells that the Monk Wolfred destroyed the hov, i.e. tre stone/ pole hov. The furious crowd stoned him to dead. According to old law Wolfred destroyed the World Order
The Year-stone is heir of the Horus statues in Egypt more than 5000 years ago. On a stele we see the Horus = Time Falcon and the decoration is a Snake that symbolised the season … in connection with the Blacke-tripod in Vellingby there is an engraved snake.
There is nothing magic in the concept " year stone" and the old cultures in south used some kind of ritual stones too. Yeah, in fact in our churches and other places of ritual we use still ritual object at certain times of the year. To put on the label "pagan or heathen" is far too easy. Only when we want to understand and see similarity we come near our ancestors.
Hard to see that size and outlook has really much to do with a monument, besides for the photographer. I ask, "what was the idea" and normally I start in the beginning of the chain of development.
The beginning is the small tribe consisting of a few families. I think the academics sit in a chamber unable to go out and give an old lady a hug -;)
In Australia the Pilbara girls looked at their "boys" with some distance 17000 years ago.
Inside me is the language of my childhood when the concept Stone Age was furnished with the bias of primitive, stupid, uncivilised people. Worst of all were the hunter-gatherers that were like animals we were told. Now 50 years later it seem that the archaeologists are the real "stony people" and many of them never understood a bit of the people and environment of those days.
Much of what I watch on Discovery Channel and National Geographic is "Stone Age" in the same biased sense as we used the word 50 years ago. I understand why the interest from people is low since they get disparaging frames when they should get the exiting picture of how they build civilisation from 6000 BC onward. Every foundation stone is in the bottom of the building!
We are only a few on Internet presenting the great variation of stony monuments in the long period. If we go to the dept we live still in the Stone Age using stone for many ritual purposes and as the long-term elements of pour culture. We live also in the Wood Age of course. Early archaeology did us the disservice in presenting primitive "stony theories" and odd names and vocabulary. They were not real scientists that use the same terms about the same concept regardless of time and environment. It is just confusing for the average reader.
Today we would perhaps call it "scoop-language" when the writers demonise ancient times. "'Megalith mystery', 'magic stones', 'place of power', 'World Mystery', 'sacred stones' … I can just see the writer standing in front of a monument with open mouth and big eyes and if a Danes he thinks about Giants since they have inherited the term "Giant's stow" about passage graves. We have Giant's cast too but no one has ever seen a Giant or a God do anything heavy and practical.
The local patriots make naturally their biggest monuments the centre of the world Irminsul. The English nerds tell us that Stonehenge is "biggest in the World". Still it is the newcomer compared to Le Grand Menhir and all monuments in Bretagne; we have the Boyne Valley at Ireland; and the monuments in Portugal are among the oldest for instance Dolmen de Carapito BC 5125±70. This section naturally alludes the picture above with the male virility always wanting to show up and have the biggest. That is the human nature and driver of many actions of mankind. Size does not matter when it comes to symbolising things.
When I first time looked at the time boats on rock-carvings I could not avoid digging in the back of my brains. They told me about stupid Egyptians believing the Sun travels in a boat. There has been a lot of disparaging statements as frames and filters when I analyse ancient ideas. Most of them have origin in Roman culture and that also means Christianity. Another area is the comments on ancient medicine and home recipes. I have difficulties in seeing the difference between Chinese herbal medicine since thousands of years and our factories that make extracts from herbals.
Why should I comment ancient finds as primitive magic since we still use it. I think it is fantastic that the world's strongest nations were rule by Ronald Reagan consulting astrology and at the same time the Russian leader looked as he was not with us. My favourite example is the quote that tells Englishmen believing more in astrology than in their political leaders. We have a lot of superstition around us if we want to see it.
Just today I heard at Discovery Channel that the former Danes were cruel murderers since they have found a bog corpse with cut throat. In another sentence they tell Tacitus 98 BC told about Germanian customs of dead penalty. Is there any difference between USA and other countries practising dead penalty and bog corpses that have signs of penalty? However just this Grauballe corpse could be a murder and I am convinced that murders could happen as well as it happens today. I try to be fair to my ancestors and want to see proportions and normal human behaviour.
If I backbite my ancestors I would lose some respect when I sit down at the fire with my ancestors and get their opinion about things. I think it is possible to use our day's language and terms also about ancient times. There is no need to pretend an animated language as long as good writers use metaphors that could be thousands of years old.
In Swedish we call it farmers' sense and maybe it is because that until World War II nearly everyone was a farmer. In English it means common sense except among the cavalry that have horse-sense. Recently they made some scientific research and found that the horse-sense depends on that farmers have a lot of problems to solve and have to talk with the horse, i.e. training gives skill.
Mostly I have searched for normal sense and logic in the past ... words like magic, mystery, pagan, heathen and cult are nearly forbidden in my vocabulary. I want to treat my ancestors like my grandma and that is why I do not want to expose imaginations of our time into the world of our ancestors. Their world was different and I know it takes a year or two to learn a new culture … our kids use 9 years at school and still some have not learnt their mother tongue. I keep that in mind when I go into another world and culture.
I think we find normal logic everywhere and that is the only way to success if we really want to understand. I know many farmers in Scandinavia and they are all pragmatic and they always play safe. In my youth many had the system "to do as father and grandpa did". I think it is just the boring normal way and so thinks especially the young.
The picture above alludes on the eternal man that very often wants to be the biggest or wants to have the biggest. Surely they showed off visitors with the megaliths. The big stones tell that "We have resources" and that gave reputation. The spin off effect is that they are almost eternal and thanks to that we have some of them left to analyse and write about.
My site does not place among "megalith sites" and I have no such intention either. I am analysing what it means when you set up a stone then and even nowadays. We can discover that much of our behaviour and symbolic acts have very deep roots. I am searching for the ideas of society and point at some monuments and you can find much more on the Internet. I have some links in these articles too.
There is nothing magic if our ancestors arranged a stable sight point to decide for instance spring equinox since they knew that a certain star would appear with the sunrise exactly in east. On Ireland they build the New Grange just for catching the sun at midwinter so they could start their year. In Egypt some text says "The hood rises" and that means the sun is at lowest point and turns to the other direction with its orbit. Making sensation and magic of the past just expose the lack of real knowledge. It makes the path to knowledge longer and make the fool of our ancestors. They do not deserve that.
I grow up in the countryside and we learnt much about nature and also to see what time it is in the day or year. We followed the moon and sun and as boy scouts we learnt more of the kind. The training gave that I always feel where North is and I need not look for the moss. My feeling for time is nearly exact and I need no watch. In nature many of the beings follow their own daily routines and living together with them keep you in time. On the farm cows gathers when it is milking time and they tell you if something is wrong. In my aquarium the plants know to make rest half an hour before the light goes by automatics.
Such skills were natural to our ancestors and at least some elderly men new much more about following the moon. On calendar sticks from early medieval times we see that some farmers followed the moon. There is nothing magic it is only that you should follow the moon cycle and have your watching points. In private every stable viewpoint could do.
You need not practice any spiritual ritual to do such things. The fact is that we can not prove did our ancestors some strange things or not. But I think we can be sure that they had feast and funny plays in the seasons. As soon as mankind gets track of time it is time to celebrate. Why not have fun at the same time as there is some forecast of working season then it is easier to do hard work? End of season is also a good reason when work is done and usually with some harvest and time for eating much.
In pace with urbanisation the average research often measures our forefathers' ideas with our own frames. But as I see it there is no reason to believe that they were thinking about universe or high spirits when their problem was to organise food on table. Much of our theories are just out of our own imagination. For me it is easier since I belong to the last generation with my feet deep in the soil. I have seen much of the old natural life.
In all my work I have tried to stay on earth and not say more than the practical evidence gives. In the following I shall discuss the stony monuments mostly from what I see around me on Dal. It is the old method "dig where you stand", however I try to make this a general rhapsody and take examples from other places.
This survey about megaliths is of course very much about Scandinavian stone monuments. However naturally Europe has much in common and the custom of making stony monuments is spread all over the world. In well-populated places they are all gone and the stones have been used to churches, railroads and later foundations in houses and so on. Already the slab-cist people in Denmark 2300 BC began to use older stone monuments.
I think the archaeologists have paid too little attention to other monuments than Carnac, Stonehenge, Callandish and such spectacular big monuments. In Woody Scandinavia we are fortunate to have spared some of the small and less spectacular monuments.
Our stony monuments are nearly of the global kind. However my analysis are about Scandinavia, but I show the same use in the Levant. Usually they use the word megalith, but it is seldom valid for all Scandinavian arrangements. Maybe there have been the same kinds of ritual places made by smaller stone in many more places in Europe. We should be aware of the earthworks that could be a part of the megalith monument or is a ritual site showing the same ideas as the stones. And we have also some woodwork too.
When we explain ancient ideas we should look at the culture as a whole and avoid being megalith nerds. Another thing is that together with the rock-carvings we can give a rough picture of the culture in the entire Europe from 5000 BC onward. We simply need the huge area to get enough examples from which we can make our conclusions.
On Dal we have even folk memory and descriptions of earlier monuments, however they are disappearing very fast. In my neighbouring parish they count 166 reminds in the forties and now are 42 left. It is much the same all over Sweden. The forest and the machines take much of it. We are in a hurry to see what we can learn. We must integrate all kinds of reminds to get the full picture of the ideas behind … a collection of pictures do not say anything about the purpose.
In my writing I am mainly interested in the ideas and the rational use of the stones as eternal symbols. Still we set up stony monuments celebrating events or persons. My investigations are as always preliminary and I try to make an overlook now and then and add new facts. It is not only the physical remains but also that we have many place-names telling about the customs connected to some of the monuments…. see for instanceAnglo Saxon place names
Normally it is good to keep track of chronology. In some cases it is better to analyse the type in the whole context. The disposition of this book tries to keep a timeline as seen in the links above. However many of the monuments are not yet dated and it would be costly to investigate big fields with stones and earthwork. Still we have some guidelines from occasional excavations. Another thing is that many monuments were in use for very long time and that could be more than thousand years. Other places have stonework from a long period since these were more or less sacred and the center of the settlement for long time.
The bigger stone give associations to a certain kind of imagination. This stands at Filitosa southern Corsica and could be a reference for those with none-earthy moral.
Further associations lead us to Egyptian myth and world order. Geb was earth and there are pictures of a lying Geb with erection and her mate Nut is the heaven in a bow over him. Still we cannot deduce that all standing stones are of that kind. We have to leave for many more uses such as sight stone, heel stone, memory stone, symbol stone and more. For instance at Corsica we find long stones with a face engraved on the top. Maybe it symbolises the local hero in other cases it may be a tomb stone. Normally they are speaking Greek and call these boulders and long stones megalith, but that is Greek to me
It is symptomatic of public Egyptian archaeology that most of it is about the Middle Kingdom and the pharaohs. If we want to know about normal life and how they got food on table we have very few books. When they tell about the Egyptians it is all mystery. Part of the mystery is the Greeks that gave much of the names in Greek and there is no standard for the names. To that comes that times and cultures mixes.
Too seldom we know the real meaning of words, idols and abstractions. They would tell us that hidden in the myths are instructions for agriculture and other things. The Sumerians wrote songs about the pickaxe, which build cities since it was an invention. Citizens were only "bones" for the gods and that word is synonym for tool. They also wrote about "old days" when they used the stick for digging ... in South Africa there are 20000 years old carvings showing the Mother Invention uses a stick with weight. Still, the Sumerians also sang to sheep, cows, goats and the Bull. It is that practical level we should search for. Surely they did not use magic in agriculture and gods never do practical work.
Greek and Roman history is also about the upper class and their problems. Compare the pantheon with Falcon Crest, Dynasty, Dallas and so on. The peasants probably sang about stealing cows, while the half gods in upper class teach us to think in families and clans. In the upper class the main problem is always power and relations. We cannot use that attitude to early Stone Age Europeans living in small villages. They were interested in myths for agriculture since it gave food with less work if they were skilled. However all labour could use a clear World Order and explanation how the natural cycle goes on.
At the scientific level we can search for categories, but also analyse the pure idea from shape, formation, position, location, aspects and more. In many places special stones have got a name that folk memory have carried for thousands of year in some cases. As long as there are continuously living people in a place it is possible to tell an original folk memory. However if the story is too much different from culture it will fade out and be just a name or folk humour make some explanation easy to remember.
In our rock-carvings we clearly see the great variety of cultural elements. Partly it is because of the long time span and we never know how much of it they really used. Even the stone formations show variety.
In the stony part of Scandinavia we have very many stones remaining in the position the inland ice left them. Others are placed in some formation or have got a name. These are cultural stones carrying known and unknown ideas. But in Denmark it is hard find any stone that are not placed by people in the past and few free stones are left in the lowland where the biggest "mountain" is 172 metres above sea level.
We still raise stones as memory on our graveyards. Memory is the first and main meaning of every special and cultural stone. Then it is up to us to find the meaning and there are a great variety of possibilities and we are discussing a time span of maybe 8000 years. We cannot prove that the lonely standing stone is set up as memory for an individual, since we do not see the individual before Bronze Age we can leave that case for now.
In Scandinavia we have the special word "bautastone" for tombstone. The word means, "knock in" and understood that the dead was knocked into eternity symbolised by the stone in quite the same way as we use tombstones with the name of the past person. Maybe the word origins from forth millennium BC when we see cupmarks on/ and in passage graves. The use continued on wedge tombs and stony mounds as sign of "knocking in". The symbol act also meant that the dead is finally gone.
We know that they thought of resurrection and the funeral ritual was much the same as the spring ritual when sowing and putting away the corn for a journey that lead to resurrection. Funeral and sowing are symbolised in the same way with cupmarks. In the Alps they have found that metallurgist practised the agricultural sowing ritual at funeral and still they were not cultivating.
During Bronze Age was a period with much of cremations but some still made a small slab-cist and or a mound. We know too little about the bautastone. Most of them have later been used when they build churches, houses, railroads and the reuse began already in Bronze Age. Another thing is that probably the individuals got value as late as during Bronze Age. In Ritual Age mankind was just "legs". If monuments were made it was for deities and that mean in our words that the foundation kept the memory of the idols that represented the World Order and the rituals in the local society..
When we make tombstones, busts, statues it is just the same old custom. Those with much money make of course most of it. Many patricier in Rome had their father as statue in normal size and grandfather as a bust at home.
Naturally such things made it easier to remember at least the nearest forefathers and it may sometimes lead to forefather cult. In our world we have lots of forefathers we remember when we need it Newton, Boyle, Einstein, La Grange. That is our forefather cult. The idea of these is quite the same as the bautastone.
From the beginning the value of a cultural stone was defined by local people whom decided the place and the stones to be sacred. The value today depends on how much local people and government out value in remains from our ancestors. Usually the value is less than new roads and buildings … se more under Cultural stones where the normal border stone at a field is called kudurru. Here is a sample about the stele between city-states of Sumer:
Lagash and Umma were two Sumerian cities located 18 miles apart. Three documents were found on clay cylinders and date from about 2500 BC. Here the first of them that tells about use of a stele as boundary marker and also that making a mound was like a claim.
By the immutable word of Enlil, king of the lands, father of the gods, Ningirsu and Shara set a boundary to their lands. Mesilim, King of Kish, at the command of his deity Kadi, set up a stele in the plantation of that field between the states.
Ush, ruler of Umma, formed a plan to seize it. That stele he broke in pieces, into the plain of Lagash he advanced. Ningirsu, the hero of Enlil, by his just command, made war upon Umma. At the command of Enlil, his great net ensnared them. He erected their burial mound on the plain in that place.
The struggle went on for a couple of generation and destroying the canal and irrigation was one of the methods. In the end Entemena of Lagash killed the Big Man of Umma. Notice that Enlil, Ningirsu, Shara and Kadi are all deities. It was convenient to blame or make abstract role models to be responsible or be the higher powers in the name of which the worldly Lugal = Big Man ruled.
Sumerian creation myth starts with "Tree of Life" or the "World Tree"
Grandiloquent lord of heaven and earth, self-reliant, father Enki, engendered by a bull, begotten by a wild bull, cherished by Enlil the Great Mountain, beloved by holy An, lugal. Enki planted the meš tree in the Abzu, rising over all lands; great dragon who stands in Eridug, whose shadow covers heaven and earth, a grove of vines extending over the Land, Enki, lord of plenty of the Anuna gods, Nudimmud, mighty one of the E-kur, strong one of heaven and earth!
This is important since the Sumerian creation myth begins with these words. The Sumerians were very practical. So when they let the creator Enki plant a tree it means also the family tree near the farmhouse as symbolic Tree of Life. We find it also in Finish Kalevala with motivation "for the birds' nests". The birds are helpers since they eat the insects in the field. We have also the Nordic Yggdrasil as World Tree in the Edda myth.
Another myth tells about Inanna planting shadowing trees. Tree keep moisture and make a better climate for man, animal and plant … we see it here in my town were they hate trees. The air is so dry that those with heat - lung diseases have trouble in getting oxygen hot days.
We can not know to which extend they deliberately planted trees. But we see the symbol/ image of "Tree of Life" on steles/ remains and in many places so it has its place among "standing stones". There was an ash in front of my home that was planted when the farm was found more than 300 years ago. Hurricane and lack of love took it a couple of years ago.
The word is the fourth rune name in Old Norse. I think it means "forefathers face" or the idol of the village. Wqe have also the association to Underworld and the oldies dwells there of course. The origin is from Bronze Age or early Iron Age. We have some place names in the form idol name + INGE and it is easiest to read the last part "give in". The Celts have usually opposite syllable order than in Nordic language. Then it is understood that the village works and lives in the name of the idol.
We should note that at the early state people lived collectively and their heroes were taken from the ritual. Personal stones were invented when the personal property become use and that means in Scandinavia perhaps after 500 AD. The rune stone is as such marking personal property. We have one stone that tells about size of land and the price paid.
… this Hittitian symbol means "picture/ idol" and the IN-spiral is added to it so it have to do with making love … with Mother Earth perhaps. It is also easy to associate to the Egyptian IN-crown symbolising the beginning of agriculture season, while the other with the cone was the corn-crown or harvest time.
The Hittitians also used the term Ras, which I think was the head and maybe a statue not only for the village or town but also symbolising "in-going" and understood that behind was the priests and feudal nobility to get a share. Some cities in the Levant still have the pre-word RAS.
The Italian archaeologist E. Anati has publicised his research in Sinai and Mt Karkom … seewww.harkarkom.com There are lots of different stony remains representing the Midle East symbolism/ ritual with stones. Among them "An altar with a standing stone". In some cases the altar is a hollow stone for water/ blood offer maybe. In some cases there is something like a face in the standing stone. The face gives another dimension to the simple sanctuary. The more developed holy paces have maybe 7 or 12 stones telling about the connection to the ritual astronomy … see doom ring and Phoenician temple and altarstone
In all cultures they used to offer with water or fire in beginning of the season or a new period. In Nordic symbolism we se ANSUR or the face as beginning of the season. It is often difficult to separate it from the "Little stone" or rising of the stake when growing was going on. It is the djed pillar in Egypt and later "a pole with a bird" (Horus = Time/ space-time) seen also in Greece. It is surely also the Sumerian Twig we know on Dal from late times as The Rowan when the cows were left outside.
The Rossland stone-head from Norway
From these associations I get some explanation to the Rossland idol and I think it has been local symbol stone. As early mentioned we find on Corsica several long stones with a head at top. These are special standing stones since we have something we can analyse and understand.
I am sure that there are more of them in Europe and in mind have for instance the goddess from Braunston Leicestershire England. The eyes are big and we can associate to a Greek tradition of "boopis" meaning cow-eyes. At Corsica there are some stones with a head carved on top. We would put moral values when comparing a head-stelae and a phallus-stelae without thinking of the purpose or meaning as symbol for a certain event. We are not used to use animated abstractions for such things.
In France we can find a tall statue of a man with a neck-ring and a pig as attribute. The French name for pig is "viers" and there are a lot of place names ending in -viers. Thus the name Louviers could be read Lou's pigs. In Nordic symbolism the "pre-doer" Frej had the boar as attribute and the ritual was maybe celebrated under an oak since the boars lived much on the acorn.
In Denmark is some place names like Svinninge. The Danish have the term "ornum" that could be read "the boars (homestead)". In early Viking Age there is much swine symbolism. They show for instance swine on the helmet and we have the word "swine phalanx". Lastly to mention is that York original was written Eoforwic = Swinebay. The category of stones with face or idol is much like signposts telling who are living at the place and which idol they favourise.
Talking with ancestors maybe
This picture is from the site of Novosibirsk Regional Studies Museum "The last Siberian shamans"http://megalith.ru/indexeng.shtml
To tell that these people are primitive is easy understood that we are on higher level. At the same time we show disdain against our far ancestors since our ancestors practised the same kinds of practical ritual. We also show that we do not want to understand the rural way of life in those days. Still their kind of culture will last long after Western civilisation has consumed nature …so do not speak compare our intelligence with their since we will loose.
If we really want to understand we have to compare the scene with a normal graveyard of today. Still I see old ladies on our graveyard however I do not bother to know what they speak silently with the tombstone. We often need some physical item as a symbol and object in our thinking. The inner monologue brings back the memories we need. In old days they used maybe a skull or a standing stone. Whether it was shaped or not is important.
In our days we have statues and pictures. I read that some priests in Italy forbid the people to worship any pagan object but want them to believe in all the ritual objects in the church. If we stick to human rights and normal objectivity we should give our ancestors the right to worship whatever they wish. There is no border between using objects for religious purpose or using them for more practical things like time keeping.
In this case we see a standing stone they have maybe shaped to be a head. Surely at many places they just rose a stone and let it do for the same purpose. In Bishops Sagu from Iceland they tell about the first bishop showing disrespect for the old customs. The alderman of thing or "yearman" showed a certain stone at the old thing place. He called it "yearman" or "timeman" and tried to explain what it meant.
The Christian and Latin-speaking bishop showed no understanding. Maybe he just meant to show his power and the legend tells he made a cross over the stone and it cracked in two halves. Naturally the bishop wanted to be the new head of the community … maybe he used some trick, who knows? In my neighbourhood there are wholes in some of the stones at an old holly places and some stones have cracked.
There is nothing magic in the concept " year stone" and the old cultures in south used some kind of ritual stones too. Yeah, in fact in our churches and other places of ritual we use still ritual object at certain times of the year. To put on the label "pagan or heathen" is far too easy. Only when we want to understand and see similarity we come near our ancestors.
We have a lot of ritual stones left and in some cases we have also the ancient ritual name such as Edsten, Stenlille, Maidstone, Freysten, Hovsten, osv. Some of them may be an Ansur = forefather stone. We all pay respect to our forefathers when we use the experience they left us as for instance in technology they have plenty of laws in name of some ingenious man/woman in the past. Other stones maybe were the Yearman and centre of year in year rituals.
From the European place names we can find some place names with origin in Celtic Bronze Age. They are out of the same tradition as in Scandinavia as for instance the ending -inge that is found in many places in Rheinland. Then it is up to our knowledge and imagination if we can understand them and use them in understanding their society and how it developed.
As idea we seetrinity and the Celtic rose early at Newgrange Ireland and other places. We have some of them also in Scandinavian rock-carvings. This bust from France gives us more of the idea.
They tell that Hillary of Poitiers introduced trinity to the church. He was born in the Celtic nobility in France and died in 368 and he we can name him as one of the church fathers. He opposed Arianism and brought some Celtic thinking into the discussion. He lived after the great meeting in Nicea when the church fathers tried to establish some order and fundamentalism in the early Christianity.
It is easy to think that trinity is the three Christian Mights or as above three idols. But it is much more and should be seen as a philosophic term, which make us think about three parts in dynamic life. It is the object but also the interaction. Modern theoretic physic have reached that understanding nowadays however the world usually forget the third part since it costs money and is difficult to work with.
But we need not be so deep here. The tri-head seems to be the three idols of seasons and with corresponding asterisms in the sky. If we look closely at the head in front that wear the Celtic neck-ring as leader and should be beginning of year. Originally he was furnished with horns too. The horns became symbols of sun before 3000 BC when they in some place used Oxen as fix star and asterism at spring equinox. But in many places asterism Cetus or Kaitos was the wild Bull. Soon the bull became symbol of power too.
It is not only in France there are finds of "tri-heads". Near Esbjerg Jylland Denmark there are finds in Glejbjerg and Bramming. On one of the golden horns from Gallehus ca 40 miles south of Bramming there is a tri-head too.
Influence from the Levant
In the Levant and Mediterranean they use the word baetyl for a stone or pillar with no decoration or engraving that represent a deity. In Nordic it is called "bautasten". I do not think we need this category. Better use the same category for all stony/ wooden representations of deities in simple shrines as well as in temples independent of period at the timeline.
In our time we need wide definition of 'baetyl' that is carrying the known or unknown convention of the ritual stone, stone row or part, stone circle or part, pillar and other details in shrine or temple. Local people could carry the meaning for thousands of years as for instance Bride's Suite used about a stone row in Bohuslen and many more foundations with a name that sound reasonable as heritage from Stone Age.
Even god, deity and godhead need wider definition in connection with baetyl. For instance they gave names Rahu and Ketu to rising and descending node of the moon. Sometimes the names are misunderstood as planets, but in late time they are manifested as Dragon Eye and Dragon Tail and then certain stars. In ancient days they used the same word for star and planet. Many more "gods" are just important concepts in every day life. There is a rumour that the highest god Ouranos himself gave name through his son Baetylus, so the high gods are behind the invention of baetyl.
I rather use neutral common words like idol and archetype for picturing abstract entities. It is not the place for adding some pseudo-values about pagan to this when we look at the general use. Who would blame Moses for the use of the baetyl: Genesis 28:22 "And this stone which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house" … It was an elegant scapegoat since it was forbidden to picture God, but not to make a house for him.
I understand this that a stone = baetyl = bethel as such can symbolise god or anything else as soon as the community make the convention. The language of those days was not poor but many poetic metaphors were used and strange words were created.
The most famous ancient baetyl is the black stone in the Aphrodite temple at Paphos Cyprus … the Danish king Erik Ejegod visited the temple in 1096 AD and died there. Maybe the experience was too hot for the king who usually kept a "harem" at home. Local people tell that the Lady is so wonderful that she cannot be pictured… my friend Ness remarks that nowadays the Kaba in Mecka is the most known.
Lucian of Samosata wrote in middle first century in his Dea Syria
2 - Of all peoples we know, they say Egyptians were the first to form a conception of gods, and to establish holy places [sanctuaries] and closes [holy precincts, lit. temenos, in Greek], and to appoint feast days. And they were first to conceive holy names and holy tales. But not long after, Syrians heard rumor and speech of Egyptians concerning the gods and regarding sanctuaries and temples, in which they put images and set statues.
3 - But in antiquity among the Egyptians were temples without statues. And in Syria there are temples almost as old as those in Egypt, of which I have seen most, in particular the temple of Herakles in Tyre. Not that Herakles whom Greeks praise in their songs, but the one whereof I speak is much older, and is Tyre's patron [the god Melqart].
It is his knowledge and opinion of the time but the events go a few thousand years back as we see the use in the Negew Desert in Stone Age. The Egyptians probably started with baetyls and the temples in the Levant were influenced especial few hundred years before the Hyksos when Egyptians dominated in the entire Levant in early second millennium.
In the Levantine temples were usually one, two or three pillars representing deities. For instance the Asheras seem to have been the lotus stalks that symbolises the helpers of the fertility goddess Ashera/ Astarte. We see lotus stalks at both side of the goddess also in India and in some connection they are named Asvins. Same developments from stones to statues we see in Greece were Cadmus = the Phoencians brought some new ideas during a period. There is a rumour that Baetylus was son of Ouranos so the high gods must have created the idea… see also the special essay about stones inExodus that represents late Bronze Age.
Now a couple of pictures showing the continuity
Centre from 100 gr golden medal from Aasum and the bract from Maglemose … see the book aboutGolden Age
The head at left should be seen as a separate symbol for beginning of season or planned work while the horned Sun-horse is spring equinox. The head at right is the exclusive war leader with neckring and the spear was symbol of Roman war god Mars and for Constantinople.
Here we see the step between abstract leader and the leadership with a person behind the symbol. In our time we have the old kings as statues and rider idols and we make bust and statues of noble men but seldom of kings nowadays. History is a process that follows the ruling circumstances and ideas.
Later times have shown difficulties in understanding odd figures like this, but it is in the old tradition we know not only from Sumer but also in the entire Old World.
See also IRISH GENIUShttp://www.beyond-the-pale.co.uk/pillarstones.htm
From British Archaeology Issue 69 March 2003 we can learn "At English Heritage, a project is now underway which aims to sort out all of this confusion. We plan to examine and reassess all known cursus' (and bank barrows) in England. There are over 150, most of them known only as cropmarks but with a few surviving as earthworks. So far we have looked at 50, and it has already become clear that some of our cherished views need to be rethought".http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba69/feat2.shtml
We naturally welcome the project since we have not much real knowledge about cursus, bank, avenue and whatever. They are hard to understand and costly to excavate since they include normally a huge space. The Dorset Cursus is six miles/ 9.75 kilometres long and there are several others that are one to two miles long/ about 2 - 4 kilometres. However many of them are less than 250 metres and still much work to catch the archaeology.
They have documented a third of them and got preliminary results that tells there seem to be a wide use and many shapes of these earthworks. The time that they have been used varies and in some cases the use seem to be more than 1000 years.
With few finds we can only speculate in the use that could vary from place to place and in the period from ca 5000 BC to Roman time. It would be natural that the avenue/ cursus has been for processions and for the ritual "Follow Hor/ Her" = Time. That could mean the Moon's monthly curse as well as seasonal Idols/ stars since we see that the time ritual was the common interest and the community must have worked out such huge arrangements.
Some of the cursus have an irregular course on one side or follows a river. According to the general myth about the Water-Snake and even Time-space River the "snake" side could symbolise that. They could also correlate it to the heavenly river Watergate/ Via Lacta/ Milky-way. The original beginning of year was where the Watergate crosses the ecliptic at Cancer-Hydra. The other crossings were the synchronising moon and sun ecliptics at spring equinox and Ramadan at Sagittarius, i.e. the hound Rahu.
The four cardinal points/ times of year are normally tied to solstices and equinoxes but we have also the inner cardinal points at Imbolc, Beltaine, Lugnasad and Samain. The Egyptian season with the moon as lead began around February first while for the northern season Beltaine would be better. The climate was milder around 3000 BC when they probably tied it to spring equinox as we see from the grooves correlated to the first full moon after equinox in Antares Scorpio. At Gotland and Flyhov Sweden there are 1000-years long series of grooves.
Too often they mystify such establishments and make them more holly than they ought to be. Naturally our ancestors had fun and games at the meetings and fairs. As suggested the cursus could have been used for games and competitions as for instance archery loved by young men. It was the age of the female water goddess aside and the girls surely loved to dress up to be the chosen stand-in for the Bride and her Maidens…. The Edda tells about Three Maidens that were the birth-giving idols.
The "Megalith-maniacs" usually see only stone arrangements but we should include the whole context that varies in time and space. We should expect much woodwork too besides the wooden henges we know of. There is the Sarup type with 30 sites in Denmark and a lot also in the rest of the cultural area. These consist of ditches and signs of palisades and other woodwork. They are too few to make generalisation of.
Then we have for instance the lake-dwelling at Alvastra Sweden. They think it was used only for seasonal ritual around 3000 BC. They were cultivators and a little sign of the ritual is that they found a small stone with a double-axe standing with the edges toward the soil and the heaven. In folk memory we have the expression "skaera = cut" also meaning sanctify and we see the symbol act in a lot of compositions on rock-carvings. Nowadays the farmers use pesticides to protect the sown seed form above and beneath. At the site they found 40 double-axes and it is the biggest find at this moment. It could be connected to the Inanna-ritual.
There are lake-dwellings in other places in Europé and surely they included ritual acts and ideas. There have been some in Poland and Balticum too where the idea seems to be defence and protection.
The early agriculture was guarded by ritual just to learn and keep in memory how things should be done. From Bronze Age we have the so-called "Celtic fields". Outside my little town we can see strings of stone and small ditches. They are surely remains after agriculture in the field that now is a meadow for the horses. Another typical sign is that there are cupmarks on some stones within the field. Such stones are found in the other type of "sowing" that is funeral in the society where they believed in resurrection…. See photo ofthe field and altar-stones
Under the header we should include the pits and other arrangements by the hunters. In the northern rock-carvings we see they made fences for the reindeer and in some cases they drew the animals over a cliff. In my neighbourhood there is a bank that I have not figured out the use.
Other arrangements of banks and ditches have surely been for defence. For instance the Olmer Dyke in South Jutland that crosses much of the peninsula and rivers are used for the rest. There are more of them in other places were we can expect borders between old folklands. We should have an open mind and search for the whole context. Many of the ideas in stones and ditches are nearly eternal since it is the way we have learnt to get order in society.