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Author Topic: Do the celtic gods and their myths reflect the beaker origins of the Celts?  (Read 8971 times)
dodelo
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« Reply #100 on: October 07, 2012, 07:53:16 AM »

What is "precisely" known about the Bell Beaker religion?

They went in for sun worship, though that was common throughout Europe in the fourth millennium BC. Stela No. 1 from Sion actually depicts a rising sun, and thousands of Beaker graves in the East Group place the dead so each one faced eastwards towards the sunrise.

What are arguably sun symbols can be found in pre BB monuments like Loughcrew but that doesn't necessarily suggest sun worship . Similarly Christian churches are  oriented in a general eastern direction and we know that is not due to sun worship .In those cases of BB inhumations where the head is to the east it could be argued that they are facing south when on their left side and this might be considerd more important when the great number of heads to the west but on their right side are included .
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rms2
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« Reply #101 on: October 07, 2012, 08:55:47 AM »

Concerning the BB people themselves;were they all of the same physical type?

No. The Eastern BB were notably broad-headed. The Southern BB were long-headed.

True, and the broad-headed (brachycephalic) BBs had a particular type of skull that a scientist, Kurt Gerhardt, who studied a lot of them, labeled Steilkopf (literally, steep head) because of the steep vertical plane at the back of head.

I have noticed posts recently in which connections have been proposed between Neolithic or Mesolithic SE Europeans and BBs because of the presence of brachycephals in both groups without attention to this particular trait.

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Richard Rocca
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« Reply #102 on: October 07, 2012, 09:34:22 AM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.
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dodelo
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« Reply #103 on: October 07, 2012, 11:03:06 AM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.

The upheld arms ,the loaded term is  orant ,  found on rock art sites such as Valcamonica , Bohusaln , Naqada etc can be interpreted many ways and we may still get it wrong .  The lack of a solar symbol does not help the sun worship interpretation and the fact that similar depictions with the all important addition of spears /swords/weaon suggests a stylised emphasis on showing the arms ,and the worship of any type unlikely .
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Richard Rocca
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« Reply #104 on: October 07, 2012, 11:37:33 AM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.

The upheld arms ,the loaded term is  orant ,  found on rock art sites such as Valcamonica , Bohusaln , Naqada etc can be interpreted many ways and we may still get it wrong .  The lack of a solar symbol does not help the sun worship interpretation and the fact that similar depictions with the all important addition of spears /swords/weaon suggests a stylised emphasis on showing the arms ,and the worship of any type unlikely .

Like I said, most scholars support the idea of sun worship by IE people. Proof will never be found so its a matter of reading up on it and taking a side.
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dodelo
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« Reply #105 on: October 07, 2012, 12:04:20 PM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.

The upheld arms ,the loaded term is  orant ,  found on rock art sites such as Valcamonica , Bohusaln , Naqada etc can be interpreted many ways and we may still get it wrong .  The lack of a solar symbol does not help the sun worship interpretation and the fact that similar depictions with the all important addition of spears /swords/weaon suggests a stylised emphasis on showing the arms ,and the worship of any type unlikely .

Like I said, most scholars support the idea of sun worship by IE people. Proof will never be found so its a matter of reading up on it and taking a side.

 Most scholars avoid making over interpretations  about rock art and the cosmology of BB  peoples , particularly when the evidence is almost non existent  .Those that do like Anati are considered fringe and certainly not mainstream .btw Anati suggests the "Oranti " at Valcamonica predate BB .The "orant "  pose is found in in all depictions of  human figures from all periods and cultures  including those of 20 th C children  , to suggest it represents sun worship is simplistic and  demeans any cosmology which always prove to be much richer than can imagined by outsiders . 
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Richard Rocca
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« Reply #106 on: October 07, 2012, 12:09:39 PM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.

The upheld arms ,the loaded term is  orant ,  found on rock art sites such as Valcamonica , Bohusaln , Naqada etc can be interpreted many ways and we may still get it wrong .  The lack of a solar symbol does not help the sun worship interpretation and the fact that similar depictions with the all important addition of spears /swords/weaon suggests a stylised emphasis on showing the arms ,and the worship of any type unlikely .

Like I said, most scholars support the idea of sun worship by IE people. Proof will never be found so its a matter of reading up on it and taking a side.

 Most scholars avoid making over interpretations  about rock art and the cosmology of BB  peoples , particularly when the evidence is almost non existent  .Those that do like Anati are considered fringe and certainly not mainstream .btw Anati suggests the "Oranti " at Valcamonica predate BB .The "orant "  pose is found in in all depictions of  human figures from all periods and cultures  including those of 20 th C children  , to suggest it represents sun worship is simplistic and  demeans any cosmology which always prove to be much richer than can imagined by outsiders . 

They may avoid over-interpretation, but make interpretations nonetheless. And of course archaeology is all about interpretation. We will never know the truth about any of this unless some aliens have been web-caming us for the last 40000 years. It's the reason why none of these topics we discuss here are set in stone (pardon the pun).
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alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #107 on: October 07, 2012, 12:19:03 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
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dodelo
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« Reply #108 on: October 07, 2012, 12:37:37 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .
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dodelo
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« Reply #109 on: October 07, 2012, 12:40:59 PM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.

The upheld arms ,the loaded term is  orant ,  found on rock art sites such as Valcamonica , Bohusaln , Naqada etc can be interpreted many ways and we may still get it wrong .  The lack of a solar symbol does not help the sun worship interpretation and the fact that similar depictions with the all important addition of spears /swords/weaon suggests a stylised emphasis on showing the arms ,and the worship of any type unlikely .

Like I said, most scholars support the idea of sun worship by IE people. Proof will never be found so its a matter of reading up on it and taking a side.

 Most scholars avoid making over interpretations  about rock art and the cosmology of BB  peoples , particularly when the evidence is almost non existent  .Those that do like Anati are considered fringe and certainly not mainstream .btw Anati suggests the "Oranti " at Valcamonica predate BB .The "orant "  pose is found in in all depictions of  human figures from all periods and cultures  including those of 20 th C children  , to suggest it represents sun worship is simplistic and  demeans any cosmology which always prove to be much richer than can imagined by outsiders . 

They may avoid over-interpretation, but make interpretations nonetheless. And of course archaeology is all about interpretation. We will never know the truth about any of this unless some aliens have been web-caming us for the last 40000 years. It's the reason why none of these topics we discuss here are set in stone (pardon the pun).

However  , the days when scholars  suggest "sun worship " for the BB period are happily long gone .
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alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #110 on: October 07, 2012, 02:56:06 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened. 
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dodelo
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« Reply #111 on: October 07, 2012, 05:32:47 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened. 

The BA axial stone circles are orientated towards the south -south west but with no obvious 
 preference for  any particular dates and none are aligned on any of the four cross quarter days . None of  the Cork and Kerry stone rows which tend to a SW-NE  alignment stone rows are aligned on the cross quater days  either . I don't have the details of the declinations of the 460 wedge tombs , and would like to see them ,they certainly fit into the  Chalcolithic /BA  period  but what it looks we have in Ireland in the period  are  general orientations to to the west or south west but nothing to suggest anything calendrical . Not only do the monuments not supply the declinations  necessary to suggest this in the west and south west confirmation would be be useful at other orientations e.g. Lughnasa sun rise to the NE  ,Imbolc sun rise to SE  ,  Samhain to the NW etc . Yes “solar worship is simplistic and “ belongs to the “druidical sacrificial altars  “ and “R1b is  Cro Magnon “ bin .
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alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #112 on: October 07, 2012, 06:58:12 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened. 

The BA axial stone circles are orientated towards the south -south west but with no obvious 
 preference for  any particular dates and none are aligned on any of the four cross quarter days . None of  the Cork and Kerry stone rows which tend to a SW-NE  alignment stone rows are aligned on the cross quater days  either . I don't have the details of the declinations of the 460 wedge tombs , and would like to see them ,they certainly fit into the  Chalcolithic /BA  period  but what it looks we have in Ireland in the period  are  general orientations to to the west or south west but nothing to suggest anything calendrical . Not only do the monuments not supply the declinations  necessary to suggest this in the west and south west confirmation would be be useful at other orientations e.g. Lughnasa sun rise to the NE  ,Imbolc sun rise to SE  ,  Samhain to the NW etc . Yes “solar worship is simplistic and “ belongs to the “druidical sacrificial altars  “ and “R1b is  Cro Magnon “ bin .

That contradicts a fairly recent study that said wedge tombs clearly had a sunset orientations and that there was a strong trend to those of the months around Samhain. 

 http://wings.buffalo.edu/research/anthrogis/JWA/V2N1/springs-art.pdf

This emphasis on autumn sunsets seems to contrast with the previous Neolithic solstice and equinox interest.  In general pre-beaker Neolithic tombs tend to be orientated east to south while in the Bronze Age there is a strong interest in the SW orientation.  I am not really interested in it being of astronomical type accuracy but it does seem to show a general interest in the sunsets in Autumn which does imply a change in ideas and as the paper hints, could be echoing in the main the Samhain festival which was the most important of the Celtic quarter days.  It is interesting that where this orientation is not present imporatant lunar cycle correlations of a fairly consistent type have been noted. 

This is getting a little dippy but it has been suggested old Neolithic idea of a solar solstic or equinox event (usually a sunrise but not always) entering a passage tomb and the light acting as some sort of spirit transporter beam to the other world.  I wonder if the interest in the sunsetting to the west is suggesting a new belief in an afterlife to the west over the sea such as we see in Celtic mythology.  It has often been said that Samhain was a time when the spirit and ordinary world touched.  Regardless of interpretation, in Irish megalithic tombs there was a profound change in orientation that coincided with the beaker period.  I understand too that a number of Scottish Bronze Age momuments also followed this reorientation.   
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dodelo
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« Reply #113 on: October 08, 2012, 04:42:42 AM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened. 

The BA axial stone circles are orientated towards the south -south west but with no obvious 
 preference for  any particular dates and none are aligned on any of the four cross quarter days . None of  the Cork and Kerry stone rows which tend to a SW-NE  alignment stone rows are aligned on the cross quater days  either . I don't have the details of the declinations of the 460 wedge tombs , and would like to see them ,they certainly fit into the  Chalcolithic /BA  period  but what it looks we have in Ireland in the period  are  general orientations to to the west or south west but nothing to suggest anything calendrical . Not only do the monuments not supply the declinations  necessary to suggest this in the west and south west confirmation would be be useful at other orientations e.g. Lughnasa sun rise to the NE  ,Imbolc sun rise to SE  ,  Samhain to the NW etc . Yes “solar worship is simplistic and “ belongs to the “druidical sacrificial altars  “ and “R1b is  Cro Magnon “ bin .

That contradicts a fairly recent study that said wedge tombs clearly had a sunset orientations and that there was a strong trend to those of the months around Samhain. 

 http://wings.buffalo.edu/research/anthrogis/JWA/V2N1/springs-art.pdf

This emphasis on autumn sunsets seems to contrast with the previous Neolithic solstice and equinox interest.  In general pre-beaker Neolithic tombs tend to be orientated east to south while in the Bronze Age there is a strong interest in the SW orientation.  I am not really interested in it being of astronomical type accuracy but it does seem to show a general interest in the sunsets in Autumn which does imply a change in ideas and as the paper hints, could be echoing in the main the Samhain festival which was the most important of the Celtic quarter days.  It is interesting that where this orientation is not present imporatant lunar cycle correlations of a fairly consistent type have been noted. 

This is getting a little dippy but it has been suggested old Neolithic idea of a solar solstic or equinox event (usually a sunrise but not always) entering a passage tomb and the light acting as some sort of spirit transporter beam to the other world.  I wonder if the interest in the sunsetting to the west is suggesting a new belief in an afterlife to the west over the sea such as we see in Celtic mythology.  It has often been said that Samhain was a time when the spirit and ordinary world touched.  Regardless of interpretation, in Irish megalithic tombs there was a profound change in orientation that coincided with the beaker period.  I understand too that a number of Scottish Bronze Age momuments also followed this reorientation.   

 An interesting paper ,  as I said I have not seen the details of the declinations of wedge tombs and as it only included 75 of the approx 500 (15%  ) it is a start .
 I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days .Of the wedge tombs in the study approx 14 % are aligned on the setting sun at Samhain  which in itself is noteworthy but the description of Oct/Nov as used in the paper is quite a bit wider than Samhain itself , some examples e.g. nos 2&58 were three weeks away from the the actual date plus when considered from a lunar perspective two standstill achieve 6% . As the spike in the study is only of one cross quarter day and also only on the setting sun of that day it doesn't strike me that this suggests anything calendrical ,you would expect some of  the other six  rising or setting suns to be included for this to be case .
I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days and were generally aligned to the west and south west , that does not contradict the findings of  this small study of  a different monument type and actually supports it as seen from the summary  on p190 “there appears to be no definitive time of year the wedge tombs were oriented on ,and the main focus of a wedge tombs (sic) is in autumn ,winter or spring sunsets .”

The recumbent stone circles and other scottish circles , which we now recognise as being BA  ,also have an orientation to the SW but this can be shown to related to summer full moon and rarely anything solar . It is worth mentioning that the Neolithic dolmens of Provence and Languedoc share similar orientations to those of BA Ireland , but there is no doubt as you say that there was a general shift of interest from east in the Neolithic to west in the  BA .
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« Reply #114 on: October 08, 2012, 04:46:39 AM »

It has often been said that Samhain was a time when the spirit and ordinary world touched.  Regardless of interpretation, in Irish megalithic tombs there was a profound change in orientation that coincided with the beaker period.  I understand too that a number of Scottish Bronze Age momuments also followed this reorientation.   

Not only "touched" but ruptured. The dead were allowed roam the world of the living for the night. Uaimh na gCat (cave of the cats) part of Cruachán Aí complex is regarded as the entry point between the two worlds.

As for etymology, DIL has the following extract from the Calendar of Óengus (of Tallaght).

Quote
samhain .i. samhfhuin .i. fuin an tsamhraidh; fuin .i. criochnughadh,

Basically his explantation of the word in a 8th century context was that it was combination of Old Irish Samh (Summer) and the word Fuin (with lentition the f becomes silent eg. fh). This would give the meaning of "End of Summer" (Fuin an tsamhraidh)

This is a gloss though so it's good chance it was just a case of Óengus trying to make sense of the word. More modern linguists have pointed towards it having a connection to assembly, which is interesting as two major assemblies are associated with Samhain. From DIL:

Quote
(b) explicitly of the festival of Samhain : co ndernad feiss na Samna la Conchobar i nEmain Macha,  MU² 30 . oc ferthain óenaig na samna,  LU 3224  ( SC 1 ). conid de sin atát na trenae samna sechnón na hErend,  3227  ( SC 1 ). Of the festival held at Tara: do chathim fessi Temrach ar cech samhain,  4210 . fes Temra cecha samna . . . ┐ óenach Tailten cech lúgnasaid,  4211 , cf.   IT iii 198 § 55

(cech = gach eg. every)

One of these assemblies was as Eamhain Mhaca (The "capital of Ulster") the other at Teamhair (Tara)

The last bit of text mentions obvious the Feis at Samhain at Tara and also the Aonach (Óenach) (Assembly/fair) that was held ever Lúnasa (Lughnasa) at Tailteann.
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« Reply #115 on: October 08, 2012, 10:01:25 AM »

Concerning the BB people themselves;were they all of the same physical type?

No. The Eastern BB were notably broad-headed. The Southern BB were long-headed.

What was the physical type of the  Amesbury Archer?
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« Reply #116 on: October 08, 2012, 04:07:58 PM »

Valcamonica rock art depicts figures with raised arms towards the sun during the BB phase. The support for sun worship by the earliest IE people is pretty solid.

The upheld arms ,the loaded term is  orant ,  found on rock art sites such as Valcamonica , Bohusaln , Naqada etc can be interpreted many ways and we may still get it wrong .  The lack of a solar symbol does not help the sun worship interpretation and the fact that similar depictions with the all important addition of spears /swords/weaon suggests a stylised emphasis on showing the arms ,and the worship of any type unlikely .

Like I said, most scholars support the idea of sun worship by IE people. Proof will never be found so its a matter of reading up on it and taking a side.

 Most scholars avoid making over interpretations  about rock art and the cosmology of BB  peoples , particularly when the evidence is almost non existent  .Those that do like Anati are considered fringe and certainly not mainstream .btw Anati suggests the "Oranti " at Valcamonica predate BB .The "orant "  pose is found in in all depictions of  human figures from all periods and cultures  including those of 20 th C children  , to suggest it represents sun worship is simplistic and  demeans any cosmology which always prove to be much richer than can imagined by outsiders . 

They may avoid over-interpretation, but make interpretations nonetheless. And of course archaeology is all about interpretation. We will never know the truth about any of this unless some aliens have been web-caming us for the last 40000 years. It's the reason why none of these topics we discuss here are set in stone (pardon the pun).
Most scholars ? Could you name any contemporary archaeologists/scholars  who would use the term " sun worship " in relation to IE people ?
Most  rock art scholars and studies  these days do not support the sun worship hypothesis and  avoid the excesses of the past being  more concerned with context rather than attempting interpretations of "meaning " .
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« Reply #117 on: October 08, 2012, 05:18:43 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot). 
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened. 

The BA axial stone circles are orientated towards the south -south west but with no obvious 
 preference for  any particular dates and none are aligned on any of the four cross quarter days . None of  the Cork and Kerry stone rows which tend to a SW-NE  alignment stone rows are aligned on the cross quater days  either . I don't have the details of the declinations of the 460 wedge tombs , and would like to see them ,they certainly fit into the  Chalcolithic /BA  period  but what it looks we have in Ireland in the period  are  general orientations to to the west or south west but nothing to suggest anything calendrical . Not only do the monuments not supply the declinations  necessary to suggest this in the west and south west confirmation would be be useful at other orientations e.g. Lughnasa sun rise to the NE  ,Imbolc sun rise to SE  ,  Samhain to the NW etc . Yes “solar worship is simplistic and “ belongs to the “druidical sacrificial altars  “ and “R1b is  Cro Magnon “ bin .

That contradicts a fairly recent study that said wedge tombs clearly had a sunset orientations and that there was a strong trend to those of the months around Samhain. 

 http://wings.buffalo.edu/research/anthrogis/JWA/V2N1/springs-art.pdf

This emphasis on autumn sunsets seems to contrast with the previous Neolithic solstice and equinox interest.  In general pre-beaker Neolithic tombs tend to be orientated east to south while in the Bronze Age there is a strong interest in the SW orientation.  I am not really interested in it being of astronomical type accuracy but it does seem to show a general interest in the sunsets in Autumn which does imply a change in ideas and as the paper hints, could be echoing in the main the Samhain festival which was the most important of the Celtic quarter days.  It is interesting that where this orientation is not present imporatant lunar cycle correlations of a fairly consistent type have been noted. 

This is getting a little dippy but it has been suggested old Neolithic idea of a solar solstic or equinox event (usually a sunrise but not always) entering a passage tomb and the light acting as some sort of spirit transporter beam to the other world.  I wonder if the interest in the sunsetting to the west is suggesting a new belief in an afterlife to the west over the sea such as we see in Celtic mythology.  It has often been said that Samhain was a time when the spirit and ordinary world touched.  Regardless of interpretation, in Irish megalithic tombs there was a profound change in orientation that coincided with the beaker period.  I understand too that a number of Scottish Bronze Age momuments also followed this reorientation.   

 An interesting paper ,  as I said I have not seen the details of the declinations of wedge tombs and as it only included 75 of the approx 500 (15%  ) it is a start .
 I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days .Of the wedge tombs in the study approx 14 % are aligned on the setting sun at Samhain  which in itself is noteworthy but the description of Oct/Nov as used in the paper is quite a bit wider than Samhain itself , some examples e.g. nos 2&58 were three weeks away from the the actual date plus when considered from a lunar perspective two standstill achieve 6% . As the spike in the study is only of one cross quarter day and also only on the setting sun of that day it doesn't strike me that this suggests anything calendrical ,you would expect some of  the other six  rising or setting suns to be included for this to be case .
I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days and were generally aligned to the west and south west , that does not contradict the findings of  this small study of  a different monument type and actually supports it as seen from the summary  on p190 “there appears to be no definitive time of year the wedge tombs were oriented on ,and the main focus of a wedge tombs (sic) is in autumn ,winter or spring sunsets .”

The recumbent stone circles and other scottish circles , which we now recognise as being BA  ,also have an orientation to the SW but this can be shown to related to summer full moon and rarely anything solar . It is worth mentioning that the Neolithic dolmens of Provence and Languedoc share similar orientations to those of BA Ireland , but there is no doubt as you say that there was a general shift of interest from east in the Neolithic to west in the  BA .

I do wonder if the notion of an exact day should not be transported back in time to that period.  If for instance the stones were aligned on the sunset of the days when the people moved from their transhumance upland summer homes to the winter lowland main dwellings (which is how an early reference describes Samhain as).then this could have varied from locality to locality depending on local conditions.  This would explain a general focuss on the months either side of 1st November without being spot on a single day. 

Regardless of meaning, the sudden interest in a SW orientation is unexpected given what went before.   The earliest well dated monuments with this seem to be wedge tombs which are beaker date.  Its a radical change in orientation compared to the norm in pre-beaker times.  I notice that in Sion there was an NE-SW axis of sorts in the monument layout.
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« Reply #118 on: October 08, 2012, 05:36:53 PM »

Just a thought but if the Wedge tombs had an orientation that coincided with the sunset at the general period of the return from the upland to lowland pasture (which ancient Irish records note was linked to Samhain) then there is a simple explanation for why the it dominates out of the quarter days.  IF Samhain represented the return of families to their specific main winter homesteads then the celebrations would be carried out at a point when they dispersed from the commonly held uplands.  So the festival would have been localised.  Beltaine or May Day appears to represent the opposite end of the cycle when people returned to the uplands.  If that was the case then you would expect Beltaine to have been more of a communal gathering in the uplands and that could be why it does not seem to be the focus for the wedge tomb orientations.  The main orientation of Samhain also appears to double up as an orientaton of the Imbolc period around 1st February which seems to celebrate the (potentially life saving) availability of yews milk towards the end of winter.  As for Lugnasad around the start of August, it does not appear to have a specific pastoral role.  It seems to have some associations with uplands and cairns which is not surprising as that is where people would have been living around the time of that festival in a transhumance system. 
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« Reply #119 on: October 08, 2012, 06:36:56 PM »

Just a thought but if the Wedge tombs had an orientation that coincided with the sunset at the general period of the return from the upland to lowland pasture (which ancient Irish records note was linked to Samhain) then there is a simple explanation for why the it dominates out of the quarter days.  IF Samhain represented the return of families to their specific main winter homesteads then the celebrations would be carried out at a point when they dispersed from the commonly held uplands.  So the festival would have been localised.  Beltaine or May Day appears to represent the opposite end of the cycle when people returned to the uplands.  If that was the case then you would expect Beltaine to have been more of a communal gathering in the uplands and that could be why it does not seem to be the focus for the wedge tomb orientations.  The main orientation of Samhain also appears to double up as an orientaton of the Imbolc period around 1st February which seems to celebrate the (potentially life saving) availability of yews milk towards the end of winter.  As for Lugnasad around the start of August, it does not appear to have a specific pastoral role.  It seems to have some associations with uplands and cairns which is not surprising as that is where people would have been living around the time of that festival in a transhumance system.  

I think too much is made of orientations , at all periods there are examples of monuments that are relatively accurately aligned on extreme solar and lunar events but the vast majority of monuments are not aligned on these events but  are  oriented towards a part of the horizon where the sun or moon can be seen . In the Neolithic the general direction was towards the east and in the Bronze Age it changed to the west reflecting a possible change in cosmology .However , in both periods monuments are to be found contrary to those norms .
 Transhumance would have been practiced in both periods but it was not necessarily the entire family that would have been involved . In historical cultures in Britain it was the adolescents and old who went to the higher pasture but I can't see these movements resulting in the choice of orientation  of monuments like stones rows ,wedge tombs or stone circles .
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« Reply #120 on: October 08, 2012, 06:55:34 PM »

Lúnasa is specifically about Harvest. The word Fómhar which most people just thinks means "Autumn" actually means Harvest in Irish. Lúnasa is after all the name of month of August and the first month of Fómhar
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« Reply #121 on: October 09, 2012, 08:58:23 AM »

Interesting analysis from a new study which suggests continuity of Bell Beakers in the old Megalithic Sites and its alignment to Winter and Summer solstice. Did the Bell Beakers  take these sites over for their own purposes? The Amsbury Archer was found in close proximity to Stonehenge and other Megalithic sites.

"The first complete 3D laser scan of the stone circle has also revealed tool marks made 4,500 years ago, scores of little axehead graffiti added when the enormous slabs were already 1,000 years old, and damage and graffiti contributed by Georgian and Victorian visitors.
Long after the monument was built, when Bronze Age burial mounds rich in grave goods began to be scattered across the plain around Stonehenge, and the archaeological evidence suggests those who could make or trade in metal goods had an almost shamanic status, people carved little images of daggers and axes, many now invisible to the naked eye, into the stones. Scores more have been revealed by the scan, including 71 new axe heads, bringing the total to 115 – doubling the number ever recorded in Britain.

"It is wonderful to have discovered so many more, but what is fascinating is that they are carved without regard to the importance or the siting of the stones – almost as if the people who carved them could no longer quite remember the significance of the monument and how it worked," Greaney said."

"It also confirms the importance of the prehistoric monument's alignment on the winter and summer solstice. The largest, most uniform and most imposing stones, carefully shaped and dressed through hundreds of hours of work with stone hammers, were set where they would be seen first by people approaching the monument from north-east along the Avenue, a processional way that would have been particularly spectacular at the midwinter sunset."

"Clive Ruggles, emeritus professor of archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester, said it was already clear that Stonehenge was one of the earliest examples of a monument aligned on the winter and summer solstices."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/oct/09/stonehenge-digital-laser-3d-survey

Also this week in the Guardian an interesting article of the spectacular new Megalithic site in the Orkneys.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/oct/07/archaeological-discovery-drawn-people-of-orkney
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« Reply #122 on: October 09, 2012, 09:45:14 AM »

Orkney is thought by some to be a focal point in the Isles.

"5,000 years ago, Orkney was the centre for innovation for the British isles"

"Alexander Thom believed that the Ring of Brodgar was an observatory designed for studying the movement of the Moon"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/oct/06/orkney-temple-centre-ancient-britain?newsfeed=true
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« Reply #123 on: October 09, 2012, 10:03:30 AM »

Interesting analysis from a new study which suggests continuity of Bell Beakers in the old Megalithic Sites and its alignment to Winter and Summer solstice. Did the Bell Beakers  take these sites over for their own purposes? The Amsbury Archer was found in close proximity to Stonehenge and other Megalithic sites.

"The first complete 3D laser scan of the stone circle has also revealed tool marks made 4,500 years ago, scores of little axehead graffiti added when the enormous slabs were already 1,000 years old, and damage and graffiti contributed by Georgian and Victorian visitors.
Long after the monument was built, when Bronze Age burial mounds rich in grave goods began to be scattered across the plain around Stonehenge, and the archaeological evidence suggests those who could make or trade in metal goods had an almost shamanic status, people carved little images of daggers and axes, many now invisible to the naked eye, into the stones. Scores more have been revealed by the scan, including 71 new axe heads, bringing the total to 115 – doubling the number ever recorded in Britain.

"It is wonderful to have discovered so many more, but what is fascinating is that they are carved without regard to the importance or the siting of the stones – almost as if the people who carved them could no longer quite remember the significance of the monument and how it worked," Greaney said."

"It also confirms the importance of the prehistoric monument's alignment on the winter and summer solstice. The largest, most uniform and most imposing stones, carefully shaped and dressed through hundreds of hours of work with stone hammers, were set where they would be seen first by people approaching the monument from north-east along the Avenue, a processional way that would have been particularly spectacular at the midwinter sunset."

"Clive Ruggles, emeritus professor of archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester, said it was already clear that Stonehenge was one of the earliest examples of a monument aligned on the winter and summer solstices."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/oct/09/stonehenge-digital-laser-3d-survey

Also this week in the Guardian an interesting article of the spectacular new Megalithic site in the Orkneys.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/oct/07/archaeological-discovery-drawn-people-of-orkney
Re-use  and referencing of Neolithic megalithic sites was not uncommon  in the Bronze Age  eg secondary burials and deposits .The earliest Beaker burials (2500 -2000 BC ) were 1 km from Stonehenge , the goods rich Bush Barrow (2000 -1880 BC)and a cluster of other barrows were closer on the ridge overlooking the monument but the Amesbury Archer was over 4kM from the site . There was an inhumation in the outer ditch at  Stonehenge , young male with a wristguard but no Beaker ,the last prehistoric burial at the site but possibly a sacrifice /murder .
 
 There is a huge amount debitage in the Stonehenge  “layer “ much of it not associated with the standing orthostats but possibly some of the stumps /remains of orthostats , this damage to earlier monuments can be found at other Beaker sites like Mount Pleasant  Aosta and Sion .
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alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #124 on: October 09, 2012, 05:55:21 PM »

Just a thought but if the Wedge tombs had an orientation that coincided with the sunset at the general period of the return from the upland to lowland pasture (which ancient Irish records note was linked to Samhain) then there is a simple explanation for why the it dominates out of the quarter days.  IF Samhain represented the return of families to their specific main winter homesteads then the celebrations would be carried out at a point when they dispersed from the commonly held uplands.  So the festival would have been localised.  Beltaine or May Day appears to represent the opposite end of the cycle when people returned to the uplands.  If that was the case then you would expect Beltaine to have been more of a communal gathering in the uplands and that could be why it does not seem to be the focus for the wedge tomb orientations.  The main orientation of Samhain also appears to double up as an orientaton of the Imbolc period around 1st February which seems to celebrate the (potentially life saving) availability of yews milk towards the end of winter.  As for Lugnasad around the start of August, it does not appear to have a specific pastoral role.  It seems to have some associations with uplands and cairns which is not surprising as that is where people would have been living around the time of that festival in a transhumance system.  

I think too much is made of orientations , at all periods there are examples of monuments that are relatively accurately aligned on extreme solar and lunar events but the vast majority of monuments are not aligned on these events but  are  oriented towards a part of the horizon where the sun or moon can be seen . In the Neolithic the general direction was towards the east and in the Bronze Age it changed to the west reflecting a possible change in cosmology .However , in both periods monuments are to be found contrary to those norms .
 Transhumance would have been practiced in both periods but it was not necessarily the entire family that would have been involved . In historical cultures in Britain it was the adolescents and old who went to the higher pasture but I can't see these movements resulting in the choice of orientation  of monuments like stones rows ,wedge tombs or stone circles .

I agree that accurate astronomical observation does not seem to be typical at megaliths.  Instread a more rough and ready generalised orientation may be what we are seeing.  However, a near reversal of the most common orientations took place in Ireland and the change is first seen in the Wedge Tombs whose period of contruction is a very close fit to the Irish beaker period.  As you note this may represent a significant change in cosmology/religion.  The fact that , in Ireland anyway, this change occurs at the exact same period as the appearance of beaker c. 2500BC is significant IMO.  It shows that changes greater than pots, archers equiptment and metal did arrive at this time.  What I would be interested in knowing is whether there is anywhere on the continent that similar changes happened earlier.  I believe someone mentioned southern France?  I also mentioned the SW-NE axis in Sion. 
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