Has anyone else watched the BBC 2 program about Orkney being the cradle of civilisation in Britain?
I must say, when I visited there, I was very impressed by Scara Brae as so like early buildings in Wales. Now they have
Shown that Orkney voles were taken there from Belgium by the first settlers and never lived anywhere else in Britain.
shown that the earliest buildings date from about 3500BC, well before Stonehenge,
I saw that, it’s intriguing that the settlers bypassed the whole East coast of Britain, presumably there must have been something very special about Orkney to go all that way from Europe, and must have known about it all that distance away before they set off. I recently read a book about Stonehenge by Nikolai Tolstoy (The mysteries of stonehenge), which looks at medieval (mostly Welsh) sources such as the story of Lludd and Llefelys and the dream of Macsen Wledig, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and even the life of St. Illtud which the author believes contains fragments of ancient myths regarding the purpose of Stonehenge (that it was the sacred centre or ‘omphalos’ of Britain)
It certainly does seem to have had a special prominence, not only in Britain, but in the rest of Europe, too. The oldest relics there date back to a time when Britain was not yet an island, but still fully part of continental Europa (up until circa 5000 BC)
I haven’t watched the programme yet but I am planning to.
However, I’m currently reading a book by Peter Marshall called ‘Europe’s Lost Civilization’. He starts off in the Orkneys and travels down the west coast of Scotland and through the Irish Sea visiting various related ancient sacred sites in Ireland and Wales, and then on to Stonehenge and Avebury. That’s as far as I’ve got so far, but he travels on visiting more sites on the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal, before entering the Mediterranean and ending up at Malta.
He’s trying to show that peoples living along this route are interconnected by the sea trade routes and they were a lot more advanced than we’ve given them credit for. Well worth a read.
Which parts of the Stonehenge area have artifacts dating from the Mesolithic? I know there were Mesolithic microliths on Burry Holms, Gower, but as the people were, I think, nomadic at that stage, any habitations would have had to be stone to survive.
Re-Orkney, next program is supposed to look at types of possible boat able to navigate the Pentland Firth! I’m not sure if we know that it was as wild back then in a milder climate, but it is clearly strange that folk should choose to travel so far. Of course, it only takes one vessel with two voles to start a population!! It does underline the fact that the sea was the ‘motorway’ of the era, in fact the only really valid way to make a journey of any length! The archaeologists were genuinely surprised to realise what they had found on the Ness of Brodgar. When I was on Orkney, I’m not sure they had even started that dig! There was so much more obvious great stuff and that spot didn’t jump out at you!
To @garethhughes I have come across this idea, not sure if from same chap. Music in west Ireland, Spain and North Africa has similarities! (Back to the sea as the best way to travel!) We look at things upside down and back to front because we are so used to seeing water as a barrier! In a recurring dream in which I was a neolithic person living in a cave (pot hole), I certainly used a river as my way home! (I wish I could swim as well as that person and dive too!) Oh, and the folk working on Orkney are trying to show that the henges began there and that Stonehenge was positively modern in comparison, which would fit with your guy’s theory!
Ah yes, Mesolithic nomads had a stopping house near which, centuries later, Stonehenge was built! Not only was it clearly cause and effect, but the Mesolithic people were very eco-friendly, using natural materials! How amazing! (Sorry, that is not directed at you, Louis, but at the Guardian journalist!) I doubt very much if the archaeologists described it as an ;eco-house’!!!
Further in the story, the archaeologist did suggest that Stonehenge has a back story in the Mesolithic era. It is significant because the materials used in the construction of the structure. Sounds like something worth considering, at least.
I don’t want to clutter the Forum but, in the Mesolithic everyone was still exploring and making best possible use of flint (hence microliths) and anything else useful.
They were returning north, following, not so much the retreating ice per se, but the wild life they hunted, which itself simply travelled further as the weather permitted - a bit like the starlings reaching us now! OK, if they found ground suitable for settlement, no doubt, when settlement became possible, the “Didn’t your Nain tell you about a good place?” method of choosing would come in!
I’d rather think that mesolithic society was not dissimilar to Australian aboriginal society before the European invasion: simple agriculture, permanent settlements, meeting places for inter-tribal festivities, semi-nomadic life bound to tribal areas, and that the area of Stonehenge might have been one of those meeting places…
Much of Europe was Neolithic before Britain, which ran late due to ice! The first in-comers had to conserve anything of value, especially flint. People don’t settle and farm until their basic needs are secured in one way or another- trade or some local souce. I agree Stonehenge became a place to camp while celebrating at the Henge, but before it was built, surely in the Mesolithic it was just ‘passing through’? But I’m no expert, I only studied those times as a small section of a bigger subject - pre-history, Gower studies etc… And so much is speculation!
Even in subjects like Physics! Looks like Dark Matter may be as discredited as Phlogiston!