Bush Barrow Chieftain, Devizes Museum

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Bush Barrow Chieftain, Devizes Museum

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
  • #8399
    david poole

      Not long ago I was out shopping and bought a magazine with a rather nice article about Stonehenge. I am still reading through it, the article is detailed and fascinating. The Devizes Museum is an amazing place, well worth a visit. There is an entrance fee, a donation is always required but it is worth it. There is a good section on Saxon history. There is another good section on ancient history going back even further, to around 500,000 BC this is the start of human history. The Doggerlands come up about this time, the sunken land that used to connect Britain to Europe. There is a good section on Roman history. There is a reconstruction of one of the chambers of West Kennet Long Barrow. What they have done is to include simulated human remains inside the chamber. You can see an idea of what it may have looked like like a tomb. There are a lot of talks and events based around the Museum. One particular display stands out. There is a man who has been reconstructed and looks very life like. He was buried at Bush Barrow south west of Stonehenge. He died around 1950 BC. The most prominent is a large golden lozenge which hangs around his neck. This is very obvious. I did not know gold was used back then or that it was available at all. The angle between the incised lines is supposed to be the same as the angle over which the sun rises between the summer and winter solstices. The display bears other tools which are not described in the magazine. There is a large rectangle of pure gold, which looks like the lozenge. There is a ritual knife with a wooden handle and a green blue blade like rusted copper, this looks like metal but could be stone. There are other points near his cabinet of the same material, blue green, like blades. In front of his cabinet there is a large wooden hammer with an egg shaped head. It resemble a weapon. It could be a ritual tool, although what is was used for and how I can only guess. He is described as a chieftain. Judging by the tools with him, he may have been something more. I am guessing that Bush Barrow Man may have been a priest of some kind, or maybe a leader and a priest. This would indicate that leadership and religion were combined into one role. I cannot imagine many people being given that much gold. He was clearly someone very special. Perhaps leaders back then had to carry out spiritual functions. This might mean that there was no separate priestly caste. I wonder whether he was a shaman or a healer as well. Back then people may have been required to carry out many tasks. I think there may be further evidence of their beliefs in the Museum. This all happened some time before the Iron Age, I would not expect their beliefs or gods to be exactly the same.


        Interesting stuff. Why don’t you post some references in the rather empty Bookshelf thread I started in the Bardic forum?

        As for ancient peoples and roles, I think that the difference between a clan chieftain/chieftainess, shaman, leader and general teacher is highly likely to have been far less differentiated in such a distant past.


        david poole

          Thank you for the suggestion Dowrgi. I shall do so at once. I can provide a reference for the magazine, I have it with me right now.

          Wiltshire Life December 2019 Stonehenge: Landscape Perspectives pages 28 to 30

          This article draws on the expertise of Susan Greaney from English Heritage, David Dawson from Wiltshire Museum, and Adrian Green from Salisbury Museum. The landscape and history of Stonehenge are described. Botany and ecology are covered. Neolithic views of the cosmos and astronomy. This takes on a spiritual aspect. Midsummer and midwinter. There is some description of the alignment of the stones. Gatherings took place at Durrington Walls. The Moon and star alignments are discussed. At this point the Bush Barrow Chieftain is introduced as a significant find. Another important burial, I recall something of this from my museum visit, is that of a shaman or priest from nearby Upton Lovell. Goldworking and religious beliefs were apparently linked in the early Bronze Age. Bones, boar’s tusks, flint axes, herbs and intoxicating substances also feature. The shaman carried tools and burnishing stones to work gold, this is connected to magic. Gold and bronze sky discs represented the movements of the Sun and the Moon, featuring sun chariots. One such disc was found as part of a Bronze Age burial at Monkton Farleigh, a gold disc with a cross at the centre. It is thought to represent the Sun. The art collections at Salisbury Museum are described. William Geller’s The Druid’s Sacrifice from 1832 is given as an example. The article gives a wide variety of different perspectives on Stonehenge covering science, history and culture. The Bronze Age acquires serious significance. This is an important time and one I wish I knew more about. The Bronze Age comes later than the Neolithic, so we are crossing multiple time periods.

          Overall the magazine is very good. There are a lot of good features on the country, on nature, on folk customs. Wiltshire Life comes recommended.

        Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
        • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.