Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Hurlers Frozen in Time

This from Ancient Origins:

"Hidden Fourth Circle at Mysterious 4,000-Year-Old Standing Stones in Cornwall to be Investigated"

These four stone circles are located in Cornwall, the absolute southwest 'leg' of Britain. The three stone circles are called "The Hurlers" after local legend. The Hurlers were men who played hooky from church to play hurling and were instead turned to stone.  Hurling is one of the many native stick and ball games of the Isles (and it's important to point out that sometimes the names of these different games were used interchangeably)

Why would hurlers be frozen in a circle if modern Gaelic hurling is played on a square field?  Well, some of the stick ball games are played on round fields and the 17th century Cornish concept of the game may be different from Gaelic hurling.  In any case...

I find this interesting in light of a recent post "Ritualized Ball Games of the Neolithic"

Also interesting that men would skip church, maybe suggesting the activity was frowned upon in the Christian view.

See also "Scottish Bowls"


  1. Also interesting that men would skip church, maybe suggesting the activity was frowned upon in the Christian view.

    Well, any entertainment activity would be frowned upon in the Christian view when performed during the time of the church service.

    1. True, but I'm thinking how this local myth formed and if there is a more subtle meaning, which I acknowledge there may not be.

      So to take a similar story from the Bible is the wife of Lot who looked back and was turbed into a pillar of salt.

      The implied exegetical moral is a woman who turned back to paganism or worldliness and was punished (somewhat like the Hurlers) by turning to stone.

      Whether a sports field or not, I wonder if the locals understood that the henge was from a bygone time predating Christianity, perhaps Druidic. Just interesting that Hurling is the vice.

      All very reaching I know

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    3. Have you been able to find anything in the Roman, Greek or medieval accounts supporting the association of henges or other types of manmade circles or squares with worship, games or anything else?

    4. Not really. The Roman coliseum is oriented in a way reminiscent of a henge and it was originally dedicated to Apollo (the Colossus) although co-opted by the megalomaniac Nero. Other combat areas and bullrings might have been similar, although I haven't studied it enough.

      It's interesting that the only inscriptions on the sarsen stones of Stonehenge are daggers that number in the hundreds. It has been suggested that the site was for combat sports. That's in another recent post 'Was Stonehenge once decked' I believe, or maybe the other post on sports.

    5. The actual Colossus was co-opted or imprinted by Nero, the arena in the shadow. To clarify

  2. Replies
    1. No, Deden, the word "church" does not come from the word "circle," it comes from the Ancient Greek word "κυριακόν," which also means "church" and literally means "the place of the Lord."

  3. Thanks Onur, I recalled "kirkside" as a placename of a residence on This Old House TV program, described as 'at the side of a church'.
    - - -
    B3, I saw this on ancient slings and on the Roman military dodecahedron:

  4. Onur, I was thinking of the older form : Proto-Indo-European *ḱēw-, *ḱwā- ‎(“to swell, spread out, be strong, prevail”). Swelling is circular. Hebrew mabul "to swell", related to bell, belly etc.