3,300-2,600 BC From Linear to Circular: Changing the Use of Space

Looking towards the setting sun over the Stanwell cursus on the winter solstice.
Film iconDownload an animation that shows people observing the winter solstice sunrise from the horseshoe enclosure, and the bank of the cursus (1.4MB, requires QuickTime).

Travel in time

Backwards in time to 3,600-3,300 BC Forwards in time to 3,000-2,000 BC

From Linear to Circular: Changing the use of space

In the later Neolithic, the type and nature of monuments changed, through a transformation from linear to circular space. This change may be linked to shifting conceptions concerning land, space, and social and community relations. For example, a small circular earthwork enclosure was constructed within the C2 cursus. The entrance of this “horseshoe shaped” enclosure was aligned with sunset at the mid-winter solstice. We can imagine the “horseshoe” monument holding a small group of people, perhaps the community leaders, who gathered together at mid-winter to hold ceremonies that involved solar observations. The material from the enclosure ditches suggests that the rest of the community may have taken part in feasting outside the enclosure. We can thus see how the community evolved the mechanisms for agreeing control and access to the landscape and its resources through increasingly elaborate ceremonies and architecture. Other small circular henge-like monuments with external banks were constructed at other key locations within the landscape. The circular monuments imply that meeting places had now become more formalised, structured and perhaps more proscriptive, underlying fundamental changes within the society as a whole.

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