It’s time for another one of those articles that was originally written for the Wyre Archaeology newsletter many hundreds of years ago (which explains why the illustrations are all greyscale and extremely low quality, because I had to scan them in from the original), reused in the Wyre Archaeology Omnibus (which has long since been out of print, and quite rightly so), churned up again for the first of the Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian books, and is now being dragged kicking and screaming from its coffin once more for use on this website, simply because we’re great believers in recycling.
(It's amazing what rubbish we get away.)This article should also, by rights, have appeared on this board about twelve months ago, but for some reason or other I never got around to actually posting it. However, there’s a half-finished Nintendo game downstairs that I’d like to get on with so I thought it was about time to ressurect it.
Anyhow…according to the book ‘Heroes of the Dawn’ published by Time-Life: “…the 6th century pendant brooch (illustrated below) from a tomb at Hallstaff, Austria, bears circular emblems thought to be symbols of the sun.”
These geometric shapes are believed to date from between 800 to 500 BC, an era otherwise known as the Hallstaff period.
Interestingly, as far as Wyre Archaeology is concerned, the symbols on the Bleasdale urns are remarkably similar and have been dated to the Bronze Age; roughly 2,500 BC to 900 BC…approximately 100 to 2,400 years earlier than those on the pendant. Dots, cross-hatched triangles, wavy lines…they’re all there if you look closely enough.
So exactly how old are the urns and what do the images mean?
Well, the ‘three concentric circles’ formations crop up frequently in the British archaeological landscape, cup and ring marks adorning rocks in Yorkshire, circular steps beneath Saxon crosses, ring designs scratched into Beaker pottery…even the shape of Bleasdale Circle itself with its outer palisade, its inner henge and its circular ditch could all be said to be following the same pattern.
It’s been suggested that the rings represent the sun, the earth and the moon in alignment. It might even be possible that they’re a primitive attempt at drawing a tunnel.
Then there are the wavy lines…presumably a stylised version of the ocean across which, we’re informed, our ancestors had to travel in death to reach the afterlife.
And the triangles…do they represent mountains such as Fairsnape?
Early pieces of rock art appear to have evolved over time from recognisable images into more abstract designs. Take the frequently occurring icon illustrated above, for example, which seems to show a druidical figure worshiping the sun. Or possibly an early attempt at parachuting. Maybe even somebody carrying an extremely large lollipop.
Is it possible that this simple character evolved into the more complex design shown in the photograph below, which bears a striking resemblance to our concentric circles?
This in turn might have evolved into the well-known labyrinths, an example of which is illustrated below.
Naturally pre-historians and archaeologists alike have been keen to give religious significance to any design beyond their immediate interpretation. They do this sort of thing. I've never worked out why. In future generations museums'll have Barbie Dolls and egg cups all lined up on a shelf labelled 'Religious Fetishes', I can see it coming.
Countless ancient images scrawled into cave walls showing erect phalluses have been automatically interpreted as fertility symbols, created in worship of sexually voracious gods closely associated with the great cycle of life and death.
Yes…well…perhaps this sort of imaginative conclusion shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Wander into any bus shelter in the Fylde and Wyre and you’ll be confronted with similar crude drawings, usually bearing the name of some local teenager who’s developing a reputation for his/herself. We can state here, for the record, that none of the latter were drawn in adulation of a higher being.In fact the idea that our Bronze Age ancestors were scrawling these exaggerated doodles for religious reasons is probably just a phallusy. (Yes…we know that was dreadful, but we don’t make any money out of this so there’s no point in trying to get us the sack.)
To return to the point behind this article, what exactly do the markings on the Bleasdale urns represent?
Well, all matters considered, they were probably just etched into the clay rims because they looked nice. Unless, of course, you know different…
Incidentally, on a slightly different track, nobody's signed the guestbook for this place since last June, and the last entry is linked to a website that's been dead for at least six months. It's got one more week to buck up its ideas, and if nobody's added to it by then, it'll be taken blindfolded round the back of the site and shot.