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Hail horsecow!


I am equal parts fascinated and frustrated by the archaeology of pre-Roman Britain. Frustrated because (apologies to the silly hippies that dance around Stonehenge twice a year) we’ll never know much about them other than the glimpses we get from their garbage dumps. Fascinated because what we do know is often really very weird.

Like this. There was a people in southern England in 400BC who dug pits in the chalk to store food (it would keep it slightly cool). After a couple of years, they would abandon one pit and dig another. The abandoned pit would be filled in with…stuff. Archaeologists describe them as offerings to the gods, because that’s what archaeologists always do.

Some of the pits held the usual. Whole pigs. Dogs. Goats. A woman with her throat cut. Same old, same old.

Then there was the six-legged sheep. The horse with cow horns. The cow with horse jaw. The headless sheep with the cow skull on its butt.

These were frankensteined together from multiple animals. They know the animals were intact when they were buried, with skin on, because the bones are anatomically placed, correctly articulated. It’s probably too much to hope they were stitched together into fabulous monsters. Is it? Isn’t it?

I’d like to think these weird people are my ancestors, but (like native Americans) we’re talking many, many genetically and culturally distinct peoples.

Nah, these ones are mine.

July 21, 2015 — 10:12 pm
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