View Full Version : SW orientations of isles bronze age monuments - a belief from the Black Sea shores?

08-06-2013, 04:10 PM
I was thinking recently about the SW orientation that suddenly appears in Ireland at the time the beakers arrive. This is reflected strongly in Wedge Tombs and also in Irish Bronze Age stone circles and stone rows as well as some Scottish tomb types, stone circles and rows. Many of these site types are hard to date but generally the Bronze Age is considered most likely. The most precisely dated are Wedge Tombs in Ireland which seems to be a beaker period burial monument with no local protypes, the novel SW orientation and no particularly good foreign parallels other than vague ones in northern France. Anyway, I think its clear that this orientation represents a change in beliefs whose earliest representation seems to coincide with the beaker period.

Anyway, what struck me recently is that some burial monuments on the steppe involved stone circles with an open side at the SW. To be more precise they occur in steppe groups at the farmer-steppe interface around the Dnieper, Crimea etc, groups who craniologically seem to have been a mix of farmers and steppe people. The groups with this traditions were Mikhailovka I, Kemi Oba and Usatovo, collectively spanning at least 3800-3000BC if not longer. These groups could have had an interesting mix of beliefs and perhaps even significantly different from deeper steppe groups. Could these traditions be based on a belief that somehow made it to the Atlantic by 2500BC. Well, the trail of stelae that reach the south-west of Europe in the Remedello period has been suggested by Jean and others as linking back to Kemi Oba, one of the cultures who built both stelae AND also had burial monuments with stone circles open to the south-west.

IF the stelae trail really does represent a sort of pre-beaker east-west spread of R1b across the Alpine area and into western Europe as Jean suggests and IF it is somehow ancestral to the beaker-R1b link that swept Europe and IF it is linked to Italo-Celtic THEN is it possible that this represents some sort of retention of a religious belief that was specific to the Mikhailovka-Kemi Oba-Usatove cultures and a few centuries later again found expression in the orientations of north Atlantic copper and bronze age monuments. Note I am not saying there is a nice trail of SW orientated monuments between the Black Sea and the isles. All I am saying is that it is possible some religious belief that saw the SW as significant and that could lead to the reemergence of this being expressed in monuments from time to time.

It is well known that the Celts of the north-west had a belief of the otherworld over the water to the west or south-west. The Irish god Donn who was the god who saw you on your way when you died was based off the south-west point of Ireland. This kind of belief is mentioned in both classical and native sources. it could also relate to a move towards a belief in the significance of sunsets or lunar cycles.

08-07-2013, 06:28 PM
Good catch, Alan. It makes sense to me, and is another piece of evidence.

08-07-2013, 06:38 PM
Good catch, Alan. It makes sense to me, and is another piece of evidence.

After posting that I found a book that put exactly the same interpretion on the SW orienation albeit not tracing it back outside Ireland. Around p 159 onwards.