Friday 14 April 2023

That 81 degree angle

An edited extract from Martin, Andrew. (2011). The Alien Within: The forgotten sub-cultures of Early Bronze Age Wessex.

The Net Down cemetery in Shrewton:

The female inhumation in 5j was found with a necklace of beads including shale, amber and a periwinkle shell. This is one of the finest necklaces to be found in Wiltshire. 

Even more significantly, this necklace had two dumb-bell shaped beads, beads that only occur with burials intrusive into Wessex barrows – that is to say in Durrington G14 and Snail Down G3 and G8. Onto the base of both of these beads were inscribed oblique cruciform symbols, a well known Beaker symbol that occurs on gold sun discs and other items in some Beaker barrows. The obliqueness of these cruciform symbols is odd until you realise that the angle of the trancept, 81 degrees, is the same for many of them 

This angle is also replicated in other Beaker symbols such as the Bush barrow lozenge from Wilsford G5, a barrow adjacent to another anomaly, Wilsford G7. We may never know for sure the significance of this angle, but its presence in contexts of interaction indicates that it held some importance. Many archaeologists have associated it with the angular distance between the midsummer and midwinter sunrise – 81 degrees at the latitude of Stonehenge. Indeed an angle of 82 degrees is found on the Sky Disc of Nebra, the angular distance between the solstices at the latitude of Saxony/Anhalt, where the Sky Disc was found.

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