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Ure-Swale Plateau

Sites in this group:

2 posts
Bellflask Stone Row Stone Row / Alignment
1 post
Berry Hills Barrow Round Barrow(s)
3 posts
Binsoe Artificial Mound Artificial Mound
1 post
Burtree Hill Barrow Round Barrow(s)
Burtree Hill Round Barrow Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Cana Henge Henge
3 posts
Catterick Henge Henge
4 posts
Cowling Lane Round Barrow Round Barrow(s)
143 posts
The Devil's Arrows Standing Stones
2 posts
Great Crakehall Round Barrow Round Barrow(s)
Harlands Plantation Barrow Round Barrow(s)
5 posts
Hutton Moor Henge Henge
1 post
Low Barn Round Barrows Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Low Sides Bronze Age burial Cairn(s)
Moor House Round Barrow Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Nosterfield Mixed Period Barrow Cemetary Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
3 posts
Nunwick Henge Henge (Destroyed)
4 posts
Phlashetts Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
7 posts
Pickhill Moated Mound Artificial Mound
4 posts
Stapely Hill Round Barrow Round Barrow(s)
Sites of disputed antiquity:
2 posts
Ailey Hill Artificial Mound
3 posts
Well Sacred Well


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Ritual Landscapes

The Later Neolithic and early Bronze Age is known (to EH at least) as the period of ritual landscapes. This is because it was during these times that Henges and other "ritual" landscape features were being created for the first time, their apparent lack of practical use, and relationship to burial grounds, typically represented by barrows.

At Thornborough there is a convincing argument for a ritual landscape. Between Borroughbridge and Thornborough there are six identical yet unique henge monuments, these all share the same size (260m dia.) and type (henge with two entrances and ditches on the inside and the outside of the bank). Four of the henges sit on an alignment with the Devils Arrows, at Boroughbridge, the other two forming a second alignment with the same.

Archaeological evidence shows that the henges had at least two distinct phases of construction, which resulted in their current shape. Firstly, approx. 2,200BC a classic type II henge was canstructed (two entrances, one outer bank, one inner bank), then the outer bank was reduced and a new bank created inside the original ditch, with a new ditch being constructed within this, thus forming their current shape.

The uniformity of construction, coupled with the alignments that they sit on, and other factors identified by archaeology strongly suggest that they were a part of a prolonged and co-ordinated "architecting" of the overall landscape.

It is probably the term "ritual" which is the most unfortunate (although I can't think of a better term) since it brings up all sorts of religious connotations which somewhat cloud the waters.

A good example of the case for ritual however, also comes from Thornborough, where a large number of polished stone axes from Langdale in Cumbria have been found. These were mainly in an "as new" condition, and seemingly were deposited in what would have been a boggy area slightly to the north of the complex (the current quarry). The evidence of them being unused and apparently deposited yet presumably of having some value (they travelled here from Cumbria, and were extremely well made) is suggestive of a deliberate and ritualistic deposition. Combining these two factors and one can see how this period could easily construed as that of ritual landscapes.

But the term ritual does not simply mean religious, look at football - it is possibly the largest example of ritual behaviour in Britain, many would say verging on a religion for some, it has resulted in the creation of thousands of large amphitheatres, and no doubt has resulted in the creation of many personal and group rituals, some may include the destruction of prized objects, yet it does not form part of our "religion" as such.

So, ritual deposits - an offering to the gods? or did the "axe team" lose the championship?
Posted by BrigantesNation
3rd October 2003ce
Edited 3rd October 2003ce


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This link argues that a prehistoric trackway passed by the Devils Arrows. Since it was written, Catterick henge has been discovered. A line drawn between Catterick Henge and the Arrows cuts through the centre of Cana Barn and Hutton Moor Henges. Furthermore, if extended south it cuts through Newton Kyme henge.

The fact that three of these henges are identical`and that they are built on a stright alignment gives strength to the suggestion that a dead stright overland route existed in the Neolithic period.
Posted by BrigantesNation
27th April 2004ce

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