In England, found the tomb of a child with massive ritual animal sacrifices

More than 20 years ago in the east of England, using aerial photographs, archaeologists noticed a strange structure in the shape of a ring. It is located on a hilltop in the Yorkshire Heaths. For the past four years, scientists from the University of Hull (Yorkshire, UK) have been excavating it under the leadership of Peter Halkon and James Lyall.

Most likely, the structure dating back to the Late Bronze Age (1000-700 BC) is a well-fortified settlement (scientists call it a fort). The fort had two rings of defense, and it was possible to get to it only through a couple of narrow passages: that is, it is a decently fortified place, well suited for defense. In the center was the house of some influential person and his large family. During the excavation, archaeologists have made quite a few interesting finds, but this year they discovered something very special. And not in the fort itself.

Not far from it, they dug up what they do not yet understand how to call – either a sanctuary, or a tomb. It is a square structure surrounded by a rather deep moat. Its central part was closed from the eyes of an outside observer by a palisade. The remains of a child rested in the center, the sex of which could not be determined: the bones had suffered greatly not only from time, but also from human activities (the land in the wastelands had been plowed for a long time).

Archaeologist Peter Halcon at the site. In his hands he holds a snapshot of the burial-sanctuary, taken with the help of a drone / © JPIMedia Publishing Ltd

But most of all archaeologists were interested in animal bones found there. In one corner, they found the bones of the front legs, then three cow skulls, then another skull and antlers of a deer. In other places, the skulls lay in pairs – only about 40 pieces. Dr. Halcon said the bones were stacked too neatly and orderly to be “just thrown away rubbish.”

In addition, the bones of cows and antlers were placed around the fence around the perimeter of the square – and after the fence was destroyed. That is, at some point, the palisade that surrounded this place was removed, and the vacant depression was filled with the bones and horns of animals.

Scientists note that the remains of cattle, as well as sheep and pigs were found in a house located in the center of the fort. But in the sanctuary (or tomb), the inhabitants of the fort placed only the bones and horns of cows and deer. The latter are at that time wild animals still found in England, which people hunted. There is an assumption that the front legs and heads are simply uneatable parts of animals that people used to sacrifice.

Archaeologists made separate similar finds in other places in the Yorkshire Wastes, but not in such numbers. Dr. Halcon believes that the heads of the cattle probably had some kind of symbolic purpose. He said: “Livestock was important to them (people of that time. – Ed.), And they probably measured wealth by the number of livestock.”

Of course, there was an assumption that the bones of the child are also the result of some kind of ritual. But we must admit that it has not yet been supported by anything. The Late Bronze Age in Britain is a period in which human sacrifice is uncharacteristic. This is generally a time of rapid development, not only in metallurgy (mass production of bronze axes and swords), but also in the production of ceramics and in trade: around 1000 BC, the inhabitants of Britain established relations with traders from the continent (Phoenicians).

At the end of the Bronze Age (closer to the middle of the 1st millennium BC), a wheel appeared, intensive clearing of the forest began, and large settlements grew in the lowlands. Some of them were well fortified – like the fort found in the Yorkshire Wastes. The appearance of such fortifications is explained by the fact that Celtic tribes began to settle in Britain around 800-700 BC.

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