Bush Barrow Small Lozenge

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Upton Lovell Shaman Barrow

This round barrow, known as Upton Lovell G2a, measures 12m in diameter and is now less than 0.5m high. It dates from the Early Bronze Age, about 1900-1700 BC. It was excavated in 1802 by William Cunnington and again in 2000 by Dr C Shell. It covered one of the most unusual burials of the Early Bronze Age and may have been the grave of an early Shaman, who also worked as a goldsmith.

The adult man was buried in a cloak to the edge of which 36 bone points had been sewn. A further group of bone points found on his chest were possibly from a necklace. Four pierced boar's tusks found by his knees may have decorated a pouch. The grave goods are many and varied. Among them were four axeheads, including a prestigious battle-axe made of black dolerite. A circular polished, milky coloured stone was placed on his chest. At his feet was a collection of stones, which were probably a set of metalworker's hammers and grinding stones, indicating that he was also a metalworker - almost certainly a goldsmith. There was also four cups made from split flint nodules.

Necklaces or garment fringes of perforated teeth and bone points reflect a much earlier hunting tradition and this burial has been compared with Mesolithic Shamans' graves found in northern Europe. The shaman may also have been a political leader. In the past priests and kings were not so sharply separated and the man from Upton Lovell may have exercised both spiritual and political authority.

For further details and pictures on the Shaman barrow (Upton Lovell G2a) click here.

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