ORCADIA-L ArchivesArchiver > ORCADIA > 2003-12 > 1071610266
From: stephen davie <>
Subject: Re: [<orcadia>]
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 16:33:45 -0500
I like the option best where Muffy was the dear friend of the
deceased, and therefore he was sent along with the dead chap, a
timeless companion. Choice two was to have Thor keep the evil spirits
away whilst the spirit of the dead guy slumbered.
Whatever the rituals were, they seemed to border on the elaborate,
when compared with those beachside qickie internments the Vikings were
I was fascinated with the stone work in these structures and the
structural integrity and longevity. Darn site nicer than the one Sadam
had in Iraq for his bunker last round. It would be nice to see a close
up of the joinery and the mortar composition.
These types of structures here in Canada were pioneer root houses, brew
houses, saunas and ovens, smokehouses and distilleries. What you have
there could have been historically the first, multi-use structure
concept. Too bad these chappies didn't leave notes.
When they find such a thing, do they evaluate the surrounding area for
other artifacts? What would they expect to find? Would it be in line to
suspect there would have been a village nearby?
On Tuesday, December 16, 2003, at 03:26 PM, Sigurd Towrie wrote:
> On 16 December 2003 13:14, stephen davie wrote:
>> Good thought. But the numbers seem somewhat overwhelming. 24 canine
>> skulls in one little cairn.
> But you're forgetting that that "one little cairn" was a communal
> area in use for generations. The number is not necessarily that
> overwhelming when you think of centuries of inhabitants. Pity help the
> poor archaeologist digging up the waste field at the side of Blackha' -
> it's a veritable cat cemetery (and probably kye and sheep too if you
> deep enough) and that's in a mere few years.
> The most widespread theory was that the dog remains had a totemic
> significance - i.e. that the dog was in some way significant to the
> community who used the Cuween cairn around 3,000 BC.
> Other possibilities include the idea that the dogs were seen as
> "guardians" guarding the realm of the dead, just as they had guarded
> living in life. Or were the dogs used in the excarnation of the dead?
> Thus earning the right to be interred with the ancestors. Or were the
> dogs brought to a feast at the cairn required to remain with those who
> had honoured them? Ridiculous though the last suggestion may be, this
> remained a feature in folklore until the 20th Century - although the
> dead ancestors/gods had by that time degenerated into fairies and
> The other key element is the fact these chambers were not mere "crypts"
> but probably the site for a number of rites and ceremonies throughout
> the ancient year. The sacrifice of a hound, say as an offering to
> protect the livestock for the coming season, would soon see quite a
> collection build up. The thing with the cairns is that they were often
> "cleaned out" - again possibly as part of these rites - which could
> explain why we don't have thousands of skulls.
> Sigurd Towrie
> Blackhall - Kirbister - Stromness - Orkney
> Heritage of Orkney: www.orkneyjar.com
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