Monday, June 8, 2020

Time Team!! (Migdale Astro-Archaeology)

Ever heard of the Migdale Hoard?  Ever heard of a crannog?  Ever heard of Bell Beaker?  pbbbt!

This is a great Time Team episode to beam to the smart tv when you settle down this week.  (The conclusion of the video starts at 45:00 with Tony Robinson questioning Allison Sheridan.)

In the Highlands of Scotland there is a Loch (Lake) named Migdale nestled in several hilly mountains.  The saddle of two mountains forms a point where the sun rose during the Beaker era equinoxes.  Of course, our solar-focused Beakers made this perspective in the landscape, with sacrifices, henges, burials and dwellings.

One of the early discoveries in the area was the Migdale Hoard (seen below).  It's not just a bunch of expensive items deposited in a crevice.  These are some of the earliest and finest bronzes anywhere, with stylistic connections from Ireland to Bavaria.  The sheen of the axehead would have appeared almost silver.  There are bangles and anklets.  The tubular necklace was positively dated to 2,200 B.C. based on the elm(?) inter-tubuals.

What's new is that the original find-place of the Migdale Hoard was positively identified by an elder local woman who was taken to the find spot as a girl.  Not surprisingly, we learn that the hoard was deposited in an astronomical alignment to the rising sun equinoxes.

The crannog appears to have been built within the alignment at least by the Iron Age.   However, the timber that was carbon dated may have only been the most recent rebuild of the decking.  The exact age of the crannog, for now, is only as old as the Iron Age.

The state of preservation in the anaerobic conditions is astounding, and for the first time in Britain, there is evidence of alignment wedges and alignment posts.  We may assume that thousands of the British enclosures had these kinds of sight posts in conditions that weren't conducive to their survival.


  1. Just in time to watch and digest ahead of the summer solstice.

  2. So this is a Beaker age Henge. Which is interesting because Henges are something Neolithic British made. Would, you say Beaker 'invaders' learned how to make henges from those older inhabitants of Britain, or is it such a simple idea they could have come up with it on their own?

    I've heard Beaker folk in Britain made wooden imitations of stone henge. Supposedly because they lacked the knowledge of how to make stone henges, but admired the henges they saw built by previous people of Britain, so they made wooden imitations. Is this true?

    1. Henges are a British phenonomenon, so a clear example of cultural continuity from the Middle Neolithic. Perhaps you are thinking of Woodhenge in your second paragraph? That belongs to the Beaker period, but has little sign of Beaker activity. Timber and stone circles both predate the first Beakers in Britain by several centuries.