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Orkney stone age temple complex

Via endlessrarities  - if you didn't see the History of Ancient Britain special report on the excavations on Orkney, and if you have a passing interest in awesome stuff like painted Neolithic walls and huge buildings with a fireplace mysteriously positioned in the middle of a doorway, and a monstrous era-ending 600-cow feast* for thousands of people, you should watch it!  

And do so swiftly, for it will fall off the BBC Iplayer in 6 days. 

It does also have a certain amount of Neil Oliver posing dramatically on random headlands with his hair whipping about in the breeze, but by NO standards the amount of posing per nugget of fascinating info dispensed is quite low. 

* we really should work out a way to get Neolithic people to plan the upcoming Olympic opening ceremony.  On this evidence, it would be epic.  

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
wellinghall
2nd Jan, 2012 19:06 (UTC)
Yes, it was very good, wasn't it. And I like your idea of getting Neolithic people to plan the Olympic ceremony.
ladyofastolat
2nd Jan, 2012 19:37 (UTC)
I wanted to watch that, but unfortunately there was a grand total of 7 things on TV that I wanted to watch between 7-ish and 10-ish, and my timeturner was malfunctioning, so I had to miss most of them. Which isn't really a very useful comment, to be honest, but, hey...
bunn
3rd Jan, 2012 14:46 (UTC)
But now you have the iPlayer link, so you can! *grins maniacally*
ideserveyou
2nd Jan, 2012 21:15 (UTC)
We saw that and it was fabulous - in fact we are planning to visit Orkney this year and this is definitely now top of our list of sites we have to see!

Having recently walked the Stonehenge Cursus I was very struck by its similarity to the long straight strip of land on which the temple complex was located. I wonder (I love rampant speculation!) whether the one was influenced by the other...
endlessrarities
3rd Jan, 2012 11:31 (UTC)
It may not be a case of direct influence, more of the underlying principles being the same.

My moment of enlightenment came when I was an undergrad, and our lecturer (now a very eminent prehistorian) demonstrated that Neolithic chambered tombs functioned in the same way as medieval cathedrals: enclosed sacred space vs. communal areas; certain members of the community, call them an 'elite' if you will, who may interact with gods and ancestors, while the majority look on. And of course the idea of the procession, where the community is ranked and certain members marked out due to the presence of specific costume or regalia (we have the stone maceheads, but the costumes are, unfortunately gone...)

The concept was mind-blowing, and the more work I see being carried out on Neolithic and Early Bronze Age 'ritual landscapes', the more they seem to follow these principles. Simple, but so-o-o-o effective...
ideserveyou
3rd Jan, 2012 13:05 (UTC)
Yes, that would make a lot of sense. Maybe caves with wall art also functioned in a similar way...
endlessrarities
3rd Jan, 2012 13:22 (UTC)
Seems quite possible. Especially if you see it as some kind of transitional rites-of-passage type ritual, perhaps for the next generation. They are taken into a dark, scary environment filled with animal spirits, guided by an elder who has wisdom, knowledge, & experience.

In fact, perhaps there's rites of passage stuff going on in Orkney. Boys and girls are removed into the temple complex to 'die', then they re-emerge as men and women.

Ah, the possibilities are endless...
ningloreth
2nd Jan, 2012 21:57 (UTC)
Thanks for the link -- I had to miss this because it clashed, and I forgot about iPlayer!

I don't mind Neil Oliver's posing. Brian Cox, otoh, drives me crazy!
bunn
3rd Jan, 2012 14:47 (UTC)
I do know what you mean re: Brian Cox. There's something very odd about his lips, and he also seems to be notably content-free :-/
ningloreth
4th Jan, 2012 16:43 (UTC)
I've just watched the programme and, of course, I was thinking of Marcus and Esca inside the barrow :-)

The two things that fascinated me most were the ending of it all, and the idea of its being catastrophically overtaken by bronze-based culture, and also that hearth in the doorway and the suggestion that only those with the nerve (?) to pass through the flames could advance to the next level of revelation...

I actually heard Brian Cox say something very interesting the other day, lol, about no two electrons being able to occupy the same level of energy (I've probably worded that wrong -- I'll have to watch it again ;-), so if you change the energy level of some electrons (he warmed a piece of diamond in his hands) every other election in the universe has to respond. It reminded me -- though this is a tangent -- of the pagan idea, presented in The Way of Wyrd, that all things sit upon a web, and a perturbation in one place will cause some reaction elsewhere (which a shaman, of course, can read).

But I fell out with Brian Cox when he started talking bollocks about ancient Egyptian religion.
bunn
4th Jan, 2012 20:48 (UTC)
The doorway of flame is just awesome, I was very taken with that.

What on earth did Brian Cox say about Egyptian religion that was so horribly wrong? Normally he seems to stick to the vaguest generalities.
ningloreth
5th Jan, 2012 09:54 (UTC)
I can't remember the exact details, and I think it was actually something he said in an article in the Radio Times, but it was the usual thing of taking an ancient belief out of its context and implying that the people who held it were somehow less rational than we are. No -- and if you can't handle historical ideas properly, leave them out of it!

He's not the only one, and I suppose it's part of being a card-carrying TV 'scientist', but he's so influential, he shouldn't be allowed to be so sloppy!
demon_rum
2nd Jan, 2012 23:37 (UTC)
If they managed to talk some neolithic celts to join in the opening ceremonies I would BUY A TICKET. As it is, my strategy will be to flee as far north as possible while remaining technically within the bounds of Great Britain.

Also, the Beeb should really rethink it's not-letting-us-yanks-watch policy. Hmph.
ideserveyou
3rd Jan, 2012 13:08 (UTC)
Me too - our strategy will be similar to yours I think (we live too close for comfort to the venue for the sailing events, and already we are plunged into stupid roadworks chaos) - maybe we'll bump into you in Orkney or Shetland!
demon_rum
3rd Jan, 2012 15:42 (UTC)
*sigh* and I really enjoy the sailing events especially, but from a distance. As in: in my living room, with a beer, watching the tv. Yes, I shall likely be in the Orkneys or so, cooing at wool (and whatever else they have up there--it doesn't really matter, because it's not wool).
bunn
3rd Jan, 2012 15:45 (UTC)
Otters. And eagles, I believe. And weather? Lots of weather... Otters are very coo-able at?
demon_rum
3rd Jan, 2012 16:19 (UTC)
oh, are there otters? HMM! That actually rivals wool in my books, because the internet assures me that baby otters are the best and most adorable thing on the planet. Small, fuzzy, and grey (a lot like balls of wool, actually).
wellinghall
3rd Jan, 2012 19:36 (UTC)
We have seen otters in Shetland. There are also otters in Orkney, reportedly, although we have not seen them there.
wellinghall
3rd Jan, 2012 19:36 (UTC)
Lots of weather!
inzilbeth_liz
3rd Jan, 2012 22:05 (UTC)
Fascinating! Thanks for the nod.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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