“Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought “ – Henry David Thoreau
European Ice Sheet
The first thing we should note about Long Barrows is that they are unique to northern Europe, unlike round Barrows, which are found all over the world. “Archaeologists agree that Long Barrows are the oldest monuments to exist in our landscape. This belief originates from the fact that these structures are very elaborate and include megaliths as seen at Stonehenge. Moreover, they are also aware that the bones from many dead people were collected together and placed in the chambers of these types’ burial mounds rather than individual graves, which consequently must have been part of a much older belief system and civilisation than currently understood.” – The Stonehenge Enigma. Moreover, the overall question we must ask is why these monuments are only found in this region and consequently, why did this civilisation spent so much time in their construction.
During the last glacial period, Europe was covered by a large ice sheet during the final years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 10,000 years ago. During this period, there were several changes between glacier advance and retreat. The maximum extent of this glaciation was approximately 18,000 years ago. While the general pattern of global cooling and glacier advance was similar over the northern hemisphere, local differences in the development of glaciers (advance, and retreat) make it difficult to compare from country to country.
Scientists suggest that the ice sheets were at their maximum size for only a short period, between 25,000 to 13,000 years ago. Eight interstadials (warmer periods) have been recognised in the ‘Weichselian’ glacial, including: The Oerel, Glinde, Moershoofd, Hengelo and Denekamp; however, correlation with isotope stages is still in the process and adjustments are common place as new evidence is found. During the glacial maximum in Scandinavia, only the western parts of Jutland were ice-free, and a large part of what is today the North Sea was dry land connecting Jutland with Britain (Doggerland/Atlantis). It is in Denmark that the only Scandinavian ice-age animals older than 13,000 BC are found. In the period following the last interglacial before the current one (Eemian Stage), the coast of Norway was finally ice-free.
The Baltic Sea, with its unique brackish water, was a result of melt water from the Weichsel glaciation combining with saltwater from the North Sea when the straits between Sweden and Denmark eventually opened. Initially, when the ice began melting about 13,000 years ago, seawater filled the isostatically depressed area, a temporary marine incursion that geologists dub the Yoldia Sea. Then, as ‘post-glacial isostatic rebound’ lifted the region about 9500 years ago, the deepest basin of the Baltic became a freshwater lake. In palaeological contexts it is referred to as the Ancylus Lake, which is identifiable in the freshwater fauna found in sediment cores. The lake was filled by glacial runoff, but as worldwide sea level continued rising, saltwater again breached the sill about 8000 years ago, forming a marine Littorina Sea which was followed by another freshwater phase before the present brackish maritime system was established.
Overlying ice exerted pressure on the Earth’s surface. As a result of melting ice, the land has continued to rise yearly in Scandinavia, mostly in northern Sweden and Finland where the land is rising at a rate of as much as 8–9 mm yearly, or 1 meter in 100 years. This is important for archaeologists since a site that was coastal in the ‘Nordic Stone Age’ now is inland and can be dated by its relative distance from the present shore. This ice sheet created a VAST amount of water and as the land was compressed by the ice nearly 100,000 years ago it sank, raising the ‘water table’ of the lands of Europe, including Britain.
This flooded environment we find in Doggerland/Atlantis where the vegetation we have highlighted in an earlier chapter grew after the flood. This was a massive release of water, never seen before or again until the next ice age. This flooding not only affected Northern Europe, but also the gigantic tributaries that spread over Europe as a whole which raised rivers to their highest recorded levels in their history. Homo Superior used this new watery environment for his personal benefit as he was the first humanoid to incorporate the use of boat technology into his civilisation, for these vast and wide-spread waterways became their ‘superhighway’ not only within their own homeland, but moreover, to other countries throughout the world.
These ‘Megalithic’ (made of stone) ancient monuments are the oldest recorded sites in the world. Quite remarkably the spread of the northern ice cap fits EXACTLY the ‘footprint’ of Long Barrows throughout Europe. This should not be a complete surprise, for as the ice cap melted the weight of the compressing land below reduced, therefore the area would have naturally flooded due to the increase in the height of the water table. These prehistoric monuments seem to have two distinct functions, firstly, as ‘boat navigational markers’ – these objects are primarily a navigational aid that allowed ships to travel from site to site and secondly, as the final ‘voyage to the afterlife’, where the bones of human disarticulated bodies were placed.
Was this a reassurance that our ancestors will guide your boat at a time of greatest need and the invention of our ‘religious’ belief system of believing our loved one’s spirits will always ‘show us the way home’?
These monuments had a much more important function within this civilisation for this was a boat society, so regular meeting places for evening moorings were essential for both trade and social interactions. Archaeologists have identified the oldest of these social meeting places by their curious multi-circular structures called ‘concentric circles’ and give them the misleading title of ‘causeway enclosures’, which in Britain stretch from the Wash down to the tip of Cornwall – a natural trading route of boats coming to-and-from the Mediterranean to the island of Doggerland/Atlantis in the North Sea.
Long Barrows are found on the side of a hill, never the top as they need to be seen from the lowland below, which is the case for all British Long Barrows which are by low land or small rivers today, but would have been mighty rivers in the Mesolithic Period when these monuments were constructed. These monuments are shaped like boats so they can indicate (from a distance) the direction boats should travel to or from their ‘meeting places’ or harbours. This primary reason for the monument would explain why some Long Barrows do not have chambers, as only some more important and elaborate ones close to reincarnation sites are given this dual purpose.
The reason we are interested in these objects is two-fold. Firstly, the shape and design we believe is of great importance. The mounds are long and thin with the entrance at the ‘end’ for the mound. The entire mound has a ditch dug completely around the exterior to replicate the water it would have sailed upon, as these were water filled moats at the time of construction.
So what can the shape and construction tell us about this monument and our ancestors who built them?
These boats would look more like barges than canoes with the back being where they steered (with a rudder) the craft using sails rather than paddles. The boat is made with a narrowed front end to allow for easy steering and speed. The other aspect of the Long Barrow is the construction of the galley end of the boat – for this end megaliths were used to block the entrance and save the bones from scavenging animals, but also highlight one end of the monument so at a distance the marker could be seen and the direction noted as either to or from the site in question.
The Long Barrow would have been covered not as grass today but with the sub-soil that came from the ditch surrounding it. In the case of the famous West Kennett barrow in Wiltshire near Avebury and Silbury Hill, it would be of chalk. This bright white marker would shine like a beacon in the daylight and it could also be seen at night during a full moon. The positioning, furthermore, shows that West Kennett was placed in a location to help travellers by boat coming from downstream Stonehenge to upstream Avebury.
There are hundreds of Long Barrows placed on hills overlooking the rivers that once traded in the Doggerland/Atlantis period showing the vast network of trading routes that were once established.
So why haven’t archaeologists understood these monuments?
One of my favourite sites is Belas Knap in Gloucester; the condition of the site gives us a reason why archaeologists have failed to understand their mystery and are unable to decipher the history of these intriguing monuments. Balas Knap is one of the ‘best preserved’ Long Barrows in the country, but that is because it has been ‘completely remodelled’ in the past.
1863 – 1865 Mr. Lauriston Winterbotham & Mr. Joseph C. Chamberlayne. The first formal excavation of the barrow took place between 1863 – 1864 and was carried out by Mr. L. Winterbotham. The work was continued in 1865 by Joseph Chamberlayne who owned the land on which the barrow was located. They initially discovered the remains of four skeletons, including two skulls. The remains of five children and one adult male skulls were later found behind the false entrance and a further 26 skeletons were discovered in the additional chambers. Animal bones were also discovered as was a small amount of pottery. Overall, the exploration was conducted in the style of the time which was far less careful and detailed than would be the standard expected by modern archaeologists – this equates to a bunch of ‘navvy’ workmen with pickaxes and a grand plan to find buried treasure. During the excavation, it was also claimed that a circle of stones had been discovered within the mound along with a significant amount of ashes. It was this excavation that discovered the horns of the mound which, at some time in the past, had been filled in to conceal the false entrance.
1890 Excavation and Restoration
Sadly, the original team left the site in a state of considerable disrepair, and its initial restoration was carried out by Mrs Emma Dent of Sudeley Castle. She employed a number of local men to rebuild the walls, and it was during this time that Albert Potter of Winchcombe discovered a large horizontal stone supported by several uprights under which was a single skeleton that had been placed in a seated position with its elbows resting on its knees. The restoration carried out by Mrs Dent was meticulous and later archaeologists commented that it was difficult to distinguish between the first construction and the restorations – except it was different stone of a distinctive size.
1928 – 1930 Sir James Berry & Mr. Wilfred James Hemp
The excavation that took place between 1928 – 1930 re-examined the findings of the primary study carried out in 1863. From the report written by Wilfred Hemp it’s clear to see that he was deeply upset by the poor records kept by Winterbotham and Chamberlayne and refers to the tomb as having been “violated”. Hemp was unable to rediscover the stone circle or the ashes. However, he did discover the true shape and contour of the barrow which contributed significantly to the quality of its final restoration. it was also during this excavation that the idea was put forward that the long barrow had actually been constructed to enclose and incorporate several pre-existing but smaller barrows from an earlier period – which can only be guess work as little of the original remained.
So, it’s a well-known tale of treasure hunting and restoring of an object that they had no blue print, just an idea of how it should have looked, based on a burial mound. Therefore, you can see why I was reluctant to visit. However, to my surprise, there is enough left to ‘reconstruct’ the reconstruction and allow us to new insight and proof of our hypothesis. As we have described in ‘The Stonehenge Enigma’.
Long Barrows are boats to the afterlife. This Long Barrow gives us a clear indication of how the boats looked and were designed, with the ‘galley’ section to the rear of the boat, like canal long boats. A ditch is built around the construction, which would have filled with water, as at the time of construction the groundwater levels were higher than today. As in the West Kennet Long Barrow the rear entrance would have housed chambers for the dead to be laid out – this is of the same design but due to the destruction, has led later archaeologists to reconstruct these chambers to the side rather than through the centre as West Kennet.
In the centre of this chamber, there would have been, it seems, a stone circle as shown on the diagram and the bodies of the dead. The remains of these Long Barrow show signs of later usage and the cuttings not traditionally in the stern (rear) of the barrow but the side. This is seen in other round barrows (which were place markers not burial mounds) as the Celtic ancestors of the Atlanteans, whose mythology must have dominated their history for thousands of years after they finally departed, used these ‘sacred’ mounds in the absent belief that their loved ones would join their Atlantean ancestors in the afterlife.
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