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Re: Tony Grist: Henge, barrow and midsummer hill
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I accept that human sacrifice probably did take place and was wondering if anyone could throw light on any historical evidence that exists to corroborate this practice.

I don't really have the knowledge to get involved with this one tjj, though as tiopan has indicated, "...Lindow man has a few give aways..." The death (sacrifice?) of John Barleycorn kinda sums it up for me, and some of Tony's poem is sort of in the same vein -

John Barleycorn Must Die

"John Barleycorn appeared in the Journal of Folk Song Society Volume VIII, 41. It was printed in the reign of James I but is said to be much older. There were several 17th century broadsides of the song. It was well-known throughout England. Variants from Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Somerset and Wiltshire were published in the Journal of Folk Song Society.

"The ballad relates the tale of the Corn King, or Corn-God. According to James George Frazier's The Golden Bough, the Corn King was selected from the men of the tribe, treated as a king for a year, then at a pre-set time, danced the corn maze and was killed. His body was then dragged through the fields so the blood would run in the furrows and make the barley grow. Afterwards, he himself may have been eaten.

"The barley was made into cakes and stored for the winter. Around the solstice, when it was evident the sun would come back for another year, the cakes were given to children to imbue them with the spirit of the corn king. They were called 'soal cakes' (soul cakes), and in England, kids still go a-soalin' for cookies. (Thank you, John Davis for the information!)

"Barley is an ancient crop and was the chief bread grain in Europe as late as the 16th century."*


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Posted by Littlestone
24th October 2007ce

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