Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Boreades » 6:16 pm

Mick Harper wrote:Hatty and I in our next book reveal that Father Christmas never actually existed.

Fancy saying things like that! You must have been on Santa's Naughty list for a very very long time. Another very naughty child at school had tried telling our Boreadettes that Santa wasn't real. They put him right, their godmother comes from Norway and she has been to Lapland many times and she's met Santa. So there.

I refer our honourable festive colleagues to the Northern Shaman traditions. The wise shaman would visit all good folk around the Winter Solstice.

Odin’s shamanic spirit-journeys are well-documented. The Ynglinga Saga records that he would “travel to distant lands on his own errands or those of others”

A significant aspect of the shamanism practiced in this part of the world during that time was linked to Amanita muscaria, also known as the Fly Agaric mushroom. This mushroom is more widely accepted in the modern world as the Alice in Wonderland mushroom. It was held very sacred by these ancient people, and was used by the shaman and others for ceremonial and spiritual purposes. ... christmas/

You can really fly on that stuff.

Although intensely psychoactive, Amanitas are also toxic. One way to reduce the toxicity and increase the psychoactive potency was to simply dry them. When out collecting the mushrooms, people would pick a bunch of them under the evergreen trees and lay them out along the branches while continuing to pick the mushrooms beneath other trees. The result was something that looked very reminiscent of a modern Christmas tree: evergreen trees whose branches are dotted with bright red, roundish “decorations” – in this case the sacred mushrooms. At the end of the session, the shaman or harvester would go around to each of their mushroom stashes and put them all in one large sack… a large sack?!! Remind you of anything?! Not only this, as the story of the tradition goes, the shaman would then, carrying this large sack, visit the homes of his or her people and deliver the mushrooms to them. They would then continue the drying process by hanging them in a sock, near the fire!

Where's me Santa sock?

Edit: You can't get this kind of stuff in Inner London intelligentsia ghettos, you have to get out in the countryside to experience the real Santa.

Edit 2: Alexander Aberfeldy may have had something relevant to say as well. Or should have. Has she updated her great work on archaic Scottish Gaelic lately?

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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby TisILeclerc » 9:03 pm

They should indeed get out a bit.

It would be nice to enrol the many ramblers' groups with a Ladybird book about how to spot interesting stony things and report them to MEHQ, (Megalithic Empire Headquarters in full.)

Speaking of Odin must of course bring us to Roseberry Topping once again. Which is not a fluffy sweet dessert as a friend once claimed. Although if anyone wants to get in quick and trademark the name there's a fortune to be made.

Coming across a couple of happy backpacker sites which seem to offer more than 'look at the view' we learn that Roseberry was once Odin's own mountain. I wonder if the Vikings stole Odin from us in the first place?


I must disagree with the writer of the site this is taken from. It doesn't look much like an outlier to me. It seems to have those large stone blocks we have seen elsewhere in megalithic sites.

There is much evidence that the hill was significant to the prehistoric inhabitants of the area. Many of the prehistoric sites in and around Teesside and North Yorkshire area are intervisible with the hill, these include the Stone Circle at Sleddale. There is a small standing stone on the village green at Newton under Roseberry that is thought to be prehistoric and may even be the last remnant of a stone row or stone circle (source English Heritage).


The hill was not always called Roseberry Topping, the earliest references it call it Othenesbery, a name which is thought to refer to it being the hill of Odin.
We often think of Odin as the warlike warrior god of the Vikings but Odin’s origins stretch back into prehistory. Here’s the wonderful Julian Cope’s thoughts on Odin.
Odin began in the comparatively unconscious guise of Wode: a godlike weather giant to whom the ancients made devotional offerings in order to ensure a good harvest and fair weather. Yes he raged and had to be appeased. But the acrimonious and capricious divinity that we see in the Odin of the Viking times was not yet present in Wode.
He was also known as Od, the singular shaman, who according to the Norse myths, left his wife Freyja alone in order to wander into the outlands.
He was also known as Ygg, the unformed shaman who must hang on the Tree of Life in order to gain sacred knowledge .

I would say the 'bery' bit is really another way of saying 'Burh, Borough, Barrow, Broch' etc. In other words a stone built structure.

It is easy to speculate that Odin and his partner Freya, as represented in North Yorkshire by Fryup Dale and possibly Freeborough Hill, were the last in a line of primary sun/moon deities that stretch back into prehistory.

The are references the Old Wife and the Old Man on the North York Moors, most are associated with prehistoric sites. These references draw parallels with the Scottish and Irish primal deities, the Bodach and Cailleach.

The parallels quoted point to a suggestion of a common culture throughout the island.


An interesting standing stone in the middle of the green at Newton under Roseberry. Pointing straight at the 'mountain'. And nothing to do with the present occupiers of the village of course. But which indicates a connection between the high ground and the low ground. Obviously deliberate. And it would appear that an old carving has been put into the reconstructed nineteenth century church of a panther and a dragon. The author goes on to say that the dragon represents the devil, of course, and the panther Christ who entered hell as a panther and slew the dragon.

Poor old dragons. They sit there doing nothing much and all sorts of people and now panthers come in and give them a hard time.


https://teessidepsychogeography.wordpre ... l-of-odin/

And if you are still interested in the happy wandering folk and their rambles here's a site about Hob in the Hole which must rank low down on the English Heritage wish list. But it does seem rather impressive in an unimpressive way. Perhaps Yorkshire megalith masons were a demure breed and not at all showy unlike their southern hippy brethren?
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Mick Harper » 3:45 pm

Most interesting, Tissie. The Odin/Woden thing is something we haven't really got to grips with. Hatty and I have been discovering that the Vikings (as opposed to Danes, Normans and other run-of-the-mill 'national' armies) are pretty much all invented so I would be interested to know how much 'Norse Mythology' is, as it were, mythology. I should like to take issue with this however
An interesting standing stone in the middle of the green at Newton under Roseberry. Pointing straight at the 'mountain'.

I can see the mountain, I can see the standing stone, but I can't see the pointing bit. Unless you can disabuse me, it looks like a mountain and a stone (which could be placed anywhere and still be, in your phrase, pointing to it. This is not to deny a connection in the sense of two striking points of propinquity but a third factor will be required to establish anything more. The fascinating set of walking views you sent us to included this even more fascinating remark
The green and striking Freebrough Hill (not man-made!) viewed from the stone trod near the road from Castleton to Lockwood Beck reservoir on the A171 road at OS grid ref. 671 117

[Could someone pop the pic in here what's knows how to do it]
The exclamation mark would seem to indicate that Doc Brown thinks everyone will spot that it is artificial but that it actually isn't! Which is a bit back-to-front.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby TisILeclerc » 4:20 pm

In an adult geography class I attended a long time ago the teacher was determined to tell us immediately that this was not artificial. He went even further than that and proved that there were no standing stones in northern England or Scotland because of all the ice.

I left the class that night. I'd only just come back from Callanish where we actually got lost looking for it. There were standing stones and stone circles everywhere and it was difficult to pick which was the right one.

As for pointing I think what I meant was that it is broadside on. Slap bang in the middle and seeming to look at the trig pillar on the top.

As for Freebrough I mentioned somewhere else here that a local legend has it that it was built by a witch who wanted to climb up and look for her cow. A strange thing to do unless she or he was looking at the cow in the sky and needed a clear view of the surrounding landscape and sky.

It is a strange hill because there are lots of photos on the internet of it but there is something different about each one. Lots show it as a round hump rather like Silbury but there are others, presumably from a different angle that show it as a pyramid shape. It is to the opposite side of Roseberry from Whorl hill.

Image ... 60513.html

Freebrough hill



Image ... /picture/1 ... 000/page/4

Blakey Topping. Made by Wade the giant apparently.


The first tale is that Blakey Topping was created by Wade the Giant. Wade and his wife Bell had a falling out, Wade became angry and Bell ran off over the moors. In his rage Wade, scooped up handfuls of earth and threw them across the moors at Bell. Blakey Topping, Roseberry Topping and Freebrough Hill were the result. The place where he scooped the earth from is now the Hole of Horcum


https://teessidepsychogeography.wordpre ... gory/wade/

And Freebrough again.

Image ... ular-walk/
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby TisILeclerc » 4:28 pm

Just a thought in passing or sailing by.

We are told that Viking is from the Norse Vik for a river or something like that. There seem to be a variety of explanations all about young men going a-viking and so on.

But supposing Viking was pronounces Wiking as in Wiki the font of all knowledge?

Yorkshiremen are 'wick' in t' th'head. Not as Borry would probably say, thick in t'th'head.

Wick means wise, lively and so on. Supposing the Vikings were the wise ones who had some sort of knowledge that others didn't have. After all they seem to have set to sea without a thought and travelled from the coast of America to the Black Sea and survived it all.

Perhaps they were the tail end of the original culture that was responsible for all the megaliths. That could explain how Orkney pottery could get to Stonehenge against all the odds.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby hvered » 8:34 pm

Terrific pictures, Tisi. Surely anyone can see the hill isn't natural?!

The excellent Northern Antiquarian site shows that Freebrough Hill was indeed regarded as artificial, a northern equivalent of Silbury, and even an Arthur's hill

"About a mile south from the village of Great Moorsham, stands FREEBURG-HILL,a detached mountain of a conical form, called by Pennant "a vast artificial mound or tumulus;" but it is evident, he observed it only at a distance; as there is a natural rock on its top now wrought as a quarry,which is a decisive proof that it was not constructed merely by the hand of art . It is conjectured by some to have been a druidical work, on the same model as Silbury-Hill in Wiltshire: but considering its altitude,situation and stupendous dimensions has a much greater solemnity attached to it."
The History of Cleveland by Robert Graves published 1808

It still works as a landmark for modern-day travellers crossing the moors, as one contributor describes

This hill had intrigued me since driving past it as a wee bairn in the back of the car on route to Cleveland from Yorkshire for regular visits to family in the 70s. Now as an adult I see that it can be seen when standing on Danby Rigg and is lined up with another smaller mound of similar shape in Fryup Dale called Round Hill, and a monument of some sort on the next Rigg. What is very strange is the perspective because the hill seems to get bigger and rounder as you get further away, and when you get up close it seems smaller. Looking at it from Danby Rigg it shows up through a gap between the valleys.

Another contributor says the name means Freya's Hill, presumably the only reason being Freya's similarity to 'free'
Described in the 18th century as "the Silbury of the North". This beautiful mother hill sits in the middle of Moorsholm moor a few hundred yards away from the busy A171. As its name suggests the hill was dedicated to Freya and was a focal point for ancient man. The hill is surrounded by groups of barrows and assorted earthworks. The summit bears the scars of two hundred years of treasure hunters seeking Freya's hoard.

Why there isn't a profusion of Freya hills isn't clear. Fryup, a hamlet in the North Yorks Moors, is said to be 'probably derived from' Freya's hop i.e. valley. So no grand burial a la Sutton Hoo though nobody seems to have bothered to carry out any serious digging since Victorian times.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby TisILeclerc » 10:04 pm

That's one of the problems with trying to guess what the original meanings of names was. I could just as well say that Wade's Causeway really meant Wade's Cows' Way, where Wade drove his cattle over boggy land which he had prepared with a nice stone road to keep their feet dry. I might even be right. Or wrong.

Another problem seems to be the tendency to blame it all on the Vikings, Saxons, Danes etc and tie the names in with new settlers even though the places were already known before they arrived.

But why would these people keep up the traditional tales which seem to have a long life of their own?

So, we have a basic story which doesn't really change all that much. A giant male, his wife and a cow. Or perhaps an old man, an old woman, and a cow. The woman may be called Bel or Bell. Or perhaps she carries a bell or perhaps the cow has a bell around its neck.

A couple of the writers quoted above draw parallels with the Gaelic legends of the Bodach and the Cailleach which do indeed mean old man and old woman. In the case of old woman it also refers to the early part of April after the 'cutting' of the male cattle. Cailleach is the word and also refers to a corn dolly.

The man has a name, Wade or Wada which is, we are told, connected with Odin (Woden) in his early incarnation as a weather god. His old woman is Freyja not bell, so perhaps the bell is something extra?

Freebrough hill was built so that a witch (wise man or woman) could climb to the top to look for a lost cow.

So we get back to the basic elements of the story. In the one where the old woman is attacked by the Devil she runs away to escape down a track still called the Old Wife's Way. Wife being the older English name for woman and still in use today especially in north east Scotland as the common name for a woman.

What these stories have in common though apart from the same dramatic elements and personnel is that they are 'witness statements' from people who seem to play no part in the drama except as observers.

It may be that there were indeed giants throwing huge rocks around. Or gods and devils although their behaviour seems rather bizarre to say the least. But there must be a kernel of truth in it somewhere and if we had a Poirot we could no doubt get to the truth of the matter before the closing credits.

Could Bel be none other than Belinus whoever he or she was. An early surveyor mapping the landscape. To do this effectively without the modern apparatus of theodolites etc. which are already out of date. I think they use photography from aeroplanes or satellites these days. As well as all the receivers and things that go with it.

It would be handy to have a high vantage point which means a nice hill. And if there isn't one there where it is needed you call on the muscle men to build you one. And labourers can get rather stroppy if they don't get their tea breaks on time.

After that it's a question of triangulation, levelling, and some form of long distance communication such as a bell? One ding for right, two dings for left. And other dings for everything in between. Even ships still ring the chimes for the various watches so it could be a long tradition. Summoned by bells indeed.

An additional help could be got by setting up stones in circles at various intervals. These would be useful for calculations on a small scale to check the hills are all in the right places. That would make the big long distance calculations easier to verify.

And once the job is over, off you all go to do the next job. Never to be seen again.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby hvered » 9:47 am

TisILeclerc wrote: We are told that Viking is from the Norse Vik for a river or something like that. There seem to be a variety of explanations all about young men going a-viking and so on.

But supposing Viking was pronounces Wiking as in Wiki the font of all knowledge?

Wick means wise, lively and so on. Supposing the Vikings were the wise ones who had some sort of knowledge that others didn't have. After all they seem to have set to sea without a thought and travelled from the coast of America to the Black Sea and survived it all.

'Viking' seems to have been invented relatively recently and -wick/wich as in 'son of' is more Slavic than Scandinavian. There could be an association with 'wisdom' in the sense of a knowledge set being passed from father to son.

The apparent link between salt trade and 'wich' places may have acquired 'Viking' connotations, Baltic dwellers needing salt more than most people, but -wick/-vik etc are more widespread than just 'salt places'.
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