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Superposition is a relative age dating principle which states

In Wales the apparition is known as the ‘Dog of Darkness’ or. Excavation plan of the Sanctuary after Maud Cunnington. The sanctuary had a complicated history with several stages of reconstruction (Bray, 1970).

Black Dogs are sometimes known by a familial patronymic such as the fictional Hound of the Baskervilles or the Dog of the Haynes, or similarly to the the family seat attachment of the Irish banshee. However, it does appear to be intimately connected to the Avebuty complex and probably played a significant role, even as a temple, in rituals and festivals. West Kennet Long Barrow One of 27 in the Avebury landscape it is a simple structure with insertion of a megalithic tomb chamber at the southern end, see Figure 12.

In this guise these creatures frequent liminal places such as “…ancient lanes, trackways, crossroads, old churchyards and prehistoric sites.” (Parkinson, 2011). Type site of the Windmill Hill Culture representing the earliest Neolithic ware (characterised by carinated round-based bowls) of south-west England (Bahn, 2001).

Distribution and Locale Black Dog appearances vary from locality to locality (Parkinson, 2011), but the majority are linked to a specific locale. The purpose of the enclosure has been much debated and is regarded by some as a seasonal gathering place for surrounding farming communities, a gathering for rituals, festivals, and trade (Darvill, 2002; Whittle, 1999).

In witchcraft the Black Dog is regarded as being familiar of the Devil, the creature thus symbolises the Devil during the witch transformation. The deposition of white chalk balls in the ditches of Avebury suggests egg, and therefore fertility (Burl, 1981).

The Black Dog is believed to be the Devil in Germany and most Scandinavian lands. The implication is that a mythological cycle exists for the Avebury environs coupled inextricably to the worship of the Mother Goddess (implying a matriarchal form of social organisation) linked to creation and fertility.

Supernatural Guardians The most common superstition concerning Black Dogs is that they are an ominous portent. In the Avebury area around 2600 BC the Neolithic inhabitants of the locale have left pottery evidence for ceremonies of fertility and ritual use of human bones (Burl, 1979). In Lincolnshire there is Hairy Jack; Lancashire has Skriker, Trash, Shag, the Barguest, and Bogey Beast; Yorkshire provides us with Skriker also, plus Padfoot; Somerset is the home of the Gurt Dog or Great Dog; Devon the Yeth or Yell Hound; Cumbria provides the Capelthwaite; Suffolk the Galleytrot, with the Mauthe Doog in Scotland and the Isle of Man; other names also include variously the Churchyard Beast, Kirk Grim, Shug Monkey, Hateful Thing, Swooning Shadow, Gyltrash, Oude Rode Ogen, Dip and Tibicena. Moreover, the stones at Avebury (as elsewhere during the Neolithic) were gender classified and so “…were assigned solar-calendrical duties, the objective being fertility.” (Meaden, 1999). Prehistory Dogs have existed, in historical perspective from around 18,000 BC, as associated with humans. The megalith sarsens were seen as Type A (male) and taller than wide, with Type B (female) broader than long. Examples include Padfoot and Bogey Beast from Yorkshire and Black Shruck from East Anglia. Their habitat can include isolated burials and old sites of battles. Silbury 11 enlarged Silbury 1 with quarried chalk to 73m diameter, and then Silbury 111 (circa 2200 BC) extended the structure to 160m diameter to form a stepped cone. activities of the ancestors of the megalith-loving peoples.” (Meaden, 1999). As portents of death Black Dogs have been sighted in churchyards where they are called Kirk or Church Grims. Its purpose remains unclear but it must be associated ritually with the surrounding complex. Windmill Hill One of the largest causewayed enclosures in Britain, see Figure 10, it has an area of 8 hectares, outer ditch of 360m diameter, with 3 roughly concentric rings of interrupted ditches (Darvill, 2002), and “…provides clues to the Figure 10. Earliest occupation was around 3800 BC with the enclosure built circa 3500 BC with a number of infant burials and human remains scattered throughout the ditch floors (Darvill, 2002). In the Highlands though there is the belief in the or green ‘fairy dogs’. Many of the hand prints were smaller than female hands as established by analysis of digital ratios. It is most likely, considering the role of women in primordial society as shamans, that ancient art was mostly the work of women (Webb, 2013). Within the bank the village of Avebury, see Figure 5, dates from the Anglo-Saxon period which developed out of the henge’s own continuum of seasonal use and ritual history. Within Avebury there are 98 stones in the outer ring and 27 and 29 in each inner ring, see Figure 6, with an obelisk and minimum 13 stones associated with the south circle. The main feature of the Black Dog legends is that, apart from being essentially nocturnal, is in its having roots in both persons and locations (Brown, 1978). Hand prints on cave walls were analysed by Dean Snow who showed that there was a gender difference between relative lengths of fingers. Even though another theory claims the hand prints may be those of adolescent boys some 75% of cave art hands are female. There are 3 or 4 cove stones with another 12 associated with the north circle and Ring Stone. The legends of the Black Dogs has few parallels in world mythology (Trubshaw, 2011), and as guardians they are seen as protectors of the portals or liminal passages down to the Otherworld of the dead (Brown, 1978). Avebury henge itself is a ritual enclosure as evidenced by its circular form of a bank outside the ditch with substantial buildings within. The Black Dog has an association with witches and as transformational forms are not regarded as offensive. Thus the circularity and repetition of Neolithic ritual practice combined with the “…architecture of the entire cycle was designed to be read as a sequence of visual images of the Neolithic deity.” (Dames, 1977). Dogs were used to herd reindeer in the regions of the north circa 13,700 BC (Zeuner, 1963). In addition Neolithic religion ascribed right-handedness to the divine female and left-handedness to the divine masculine. The evidence indicates dogs “…have been not only man’s close companions for many millennia, but also providing very specific spiritual guardianship.” (Trubshaw, 2011). An example can be seen in the Avebury sarsen 106 which purports to be in possession of a prominent vulva mark, see Figure 14.


  1. Name _____ Period _____ 6. This is a picture of a fault line that is a result of an earthquake causing the land to break and slip.

  2. Relative dating is the science of. The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will. absence may be used to provide a relative age of the.

  3. Dating techniques are carried out in two basic ways for a site or an artefact ­relative dating techniques, and absolute dating techniques. Dating the past.

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