Merehenge, pile dwellings or sacrifice sites in Norfolk?
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Merehenge, pile dwellings or sacrifice sites in Norfolk?

Were the posts, flints and numerous bones found in the drained Wretham Meres Norfolk part of a Merehenge, were they ancient pile dwellings or was it a sacrificial site? Were these posts erected in a similar manner or purpose as Seahenge, also in Norfolk?


Wretham Meres - antiquity discoveries

A couple of Meres around Wretham were drained in the 1850's and unusual remains were found. Posts, bones of extinct animals and flints amongst other things were discovered. Were the posts and buildings part of a Merehenge or just a pile dwelling building. Were these special sacred sites where ancient Norfolke man went to sacrifice animals? Were they just the food remains of those who lived in a pile dwelling building on the Meres?

Mickle Mere, six miles due south of Saham Mere, is by far the largest one, and contains 48 acres of water ... evidence of pile or lake dwellings found in it when drained and deepened by Mr. Birch in 1856.
Sir Charles Bunbury states in his paper that when Mickle Mere was drained by Mr. Birch, 20 feet of black peaty mud formed the bottom, consisting of soft, rotten, unconsolidated peat; at about 15 feet in this peat was found a distinct horizontal layer, 2 to 6 inches thick in various parts, of compressed but undecayed moss of the species Hypnum fluitans. This moss was absent from some parts of the mud. Horns of the Red Deer were also found in the peaty mud at 5 or 6 feet below the surface; some horns were attached to the skull, and some seem to have been sawn of "by human agency". The peaty mud rested on a bed of light grey sandy marl "effervescing with acids." No traces of shells were seen, but pieces of birch and the trunk of an oak of considerable size were found. Impersistent layers of white sand were found in the mud, and a few flints and quartz pebbles.
Numerous posts of oak wood, shaped and pointed by human art, were found standing erect, entirely buried in the peat, and thus a great part of the mud overlaying the moss must have been accumulated before the Red Deer became extinct.
The Geology of the Country Around Attleborough, Watton, and Wymondham | books.google.com

Hill Mere ... is a little west of Mickle Mere; it is from 5 6 acres in extent. In 1851 Mr. Birch drained West Mere, and an account of a lake or pile-dwelling, and of the bones also found, is given by Professor Newton, who says "In this mere there was ordinarily about 4 feet of water, and beneath it about 8 feet of soft black mud ... When the mud was being cleared out a great number of bones were discovered ... They were nearly all those of the Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and the now extinct Bos longifrons ...
Near the centre of the mere, lying below the black mud, was found a ring or circular bank of fine white earth ... The ring or bank was some 20 or 30 feet across, a foot wide, and about 4 feet in heigth. Not far from its inner circumference was a circular hole about 4 1/2 feet in diameter, some 6 feet deeper than the bottom of the mere, and, as my informant states, almost like a well to look at; the mud it contained was even softer than that elsewhere, this was marked out by a circle of stout stakes or small piles apparently of alder (Alnus glutinosa), and it bore traces of having been wattled. It was not the centre of the ring, and between the two circles were the remains of a wall composed of flints packed together with marl or soft chalk. In the same place was some earth of a bright blue colour, which, when dried, crumbled to powder, and was not preserved ... In this interspace a still greater number of bones were found, and also the remains of a rude ladder, but in such a state of decay it could only be pulled out piecemeal. Still, enough of if was seen by Mr. Birch in situ for him to have no doubt as to its original form ...
In and around this ring there lay a vast number of bones, of which no small portion were the upper parts of the skull of Bos longifrons, with the horn cores attached, and many antlers of the Red Deer either entire or in fragments. All the former excepting one unusually large example, had a fracture in the forehead". Professor Newton states that "of the deer's antlers some had been naturally shed, and some had been separated from the skull by sawing, and that most of the larger bones found had been opened to obtain the marrow, and that one bone of the Long-fronted ox had been polished on one side. No weapons or implements of metal were found, only some flint discs, which from the description I have received (for, unfortunately, none of them seem to have been preserved) must have closely resembled those known to the Danish antiquaries as 'sling-stones' from the probable use made of them."
The Geology of the Country Around Attleborough, Watton, and Wymondham | books.google.com


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