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        Desecrated Megaliths:

Throughout history, the remains of prehistoric monuments have been legitimately and repeatedly re-used and re-designed and destroyed until what we see today is  but a fraction of the original number of prehistoric megaliths that once existed.

The canons of the Church councils of Arles (443-452), Tours (567), Nantes (658), and Toledo (681 and 693), among others, contained passages that condemned worshipping at the pagan sanctuaries and encouraged the Bishops and all Christians to neglect, to hide, to desecrate, and even to destroy them, with the threat of excommunication for those who did not obey. (2)

John Chapman reported that in 1991 barrows in eastern Hungary were destroyed, because:

"many plainsfolk so loved the view of an unbroken flatness that any deviation from horizontality was offensive to their eyes and they would do their utmost to erase it" (1).

 

 

   Christianised Megaliths

A common strategy employed by the Christian Church was the preservation and adoption (i.e. 'depaganising' and 'christianising'), of ancient monuments in order to allow a new interpretation in the Christian sense. By the edict of Honorius (408), it was even forbidden to demolish pagan shrines and instead they had to be rededicated as Christian sanctuaries. In a letter sent in the year 601 Pope Gregory advised King Aethelberht to "repress the worship of idols" and "destroy the shrines", but only one month later Gregory had changed his mind (Marcus 1970), when he wrote to Abbot Mellitus on his departure for Britain, that'..

"We have been giving careful thought to the affairs of the English, and have come to the conclusion that the temples of the idols among that people should on no account be destroyed. The idols are to be destroyed, but the temples themselves are to be aspersed with holy water, altars set up in them and relics deposited here. For if these temples are well-built, they must be purified from the worship of demons and dedicated to the service of the true God. In this way, we hope that the people, seeing that their temples are not destroyed, may abandon their error and, flocking more readily to their accustomed resorts, may come to know and adore the true God.  (2)

 

Examples of Christianised Megaliths:

Rudstone monument (ancient-wisdom)

 

Standing at almost 8m metres high, the Rudstone monument is Britain's largest standing stone. The dominating church and surrounding graveyard were built in such a way that the passer-by could be forgiven for missing the stone altogether.

The name Rudstone derives from the old English words meaning 'cross-stone' (4), offering the possibility that Anglo-Saxons may have once placed a cross on top in an attempt to convert it. Similar conversions were performed on several Breton megaliths, such as the standing stone at Duzec.

(More about Rudstone)

 

 

In Portugal, there are examples of Christianised monuments still in use as chapels today.

Sao Dinis, Pavia (Left), and Sao Brissos, Valverde (Right).

The French have found several ways of Christianising their numerous menhir's.

Menhir 'Men Marz' (Left), Lochmariaquer (Centre), Le Mans Cathedral (Right)

 

   Recently Desecrated Megaliths:

“To destroy the relics of the past is, even in small things, a kind of amputation, a self-mutilation not so much of limbs as of the memory and imagination.”

(Quoted in Alan Kramer’s Dynamic of Destruction, Oxford, 2007, p. 2)

 

 

Article: 7NewsBelize.com (May, 2013)

'Major Mayan Monument Bulldozed For Road Aggregate'.

'The main temple, the ceremonial center for Noh Mul, at about 20 metres among the tallest buildings in Northern Belize - and it’s not centuries old, it’s millennia, thousands of years old and the thought that it’s rich limestone bricks cut with stone tools in the BC era. This once towering ceremonial center in San Jose/San Pablo has been whittled down to a narrow core by excavators and bulldozers.

Director of the Institute of Archeology Dr. Jaime Awe told us today that what has happened is “intolerable.” He says they will lay charges against the company D-Mar’s and the landowner because the machinery was on site and the land owner should have not given permission for the mining to have proceeded. We’ll keep following that part of the story.

To give a broader sense of context – the site known as Noh Mul or “Big Hill” is scattered over a wide area about 12 square miles – and is estimated to have been home to 40,000 people between 500 and 250 BC. There are about 81 separate buildings – all on private property. But the one that has been destroyed is the namesake, the Big Hill - as it was the ceremonial center and main structure'.

(Link to Full Article)

The Ceremonial centre of Nohmuh - Before and After Photos.

 

 

Article: The Record.com. (May, 2013).

'First Nations Group Outraged at Destruction of Ancient Rock Art Sites'.

NANAIMO, B.C. — Members of a Nanaimo First Nations group are outraged after crews contracted by BC Hydro damaged a documented ancient rock art site during work last week.

Douglas White, chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation said the damage is disrespectful of native heritage and he doesn’t understand how crews could make the mistake, since existing petroglyph rock art sites are documented and protected by legislation. “This is a notoriously well-known site,” White said. “I don’t understand this to be a mistake that can be made ... this is the kind of desecration where I would expect charges to be laid.”

A documentation form provided by the Snuneymuxw First Nation listed previous damage to the same site in 1960 when a power pole was installed in close proximity to the petroglyph. It is known to archaeologists by the title Cedar By the Sea Petroglyphs and had been registered with the province since the early 1970s.

A spokesperson from BC Hydro confirmed one of its contractors had started work in the area, unaware it contained the petroglyphs.

(Link to Full Article)

 

Article: The Independent.( March, 2013).

'Afghans Heritage is at Stake'.

'To the Afghan and Chinese governments, Mes Aynak is the site of massive copper reserves, the world's second largest, with an estimated worth exceeding $100bn (£66bn). To others, it is a site of enormous historical importance, a settlement dating back to the Bronze Age which includes a 100-acre ancient monastery complex, a mere 10 per cent of which has been excavated. Its destruction would see Afghan society robbed of a unique link to its rich heritage'.

(Link to Full Article)

 

Article: BBC News. (June, 2012).

 'Mohenjo Daro: Could This Ancient City be Lost Forever.?'

'The salt content of the ground water is eating away at the bricks that, before excavation, had survived thousands of years...Even the Mohenjo Daro Museum has been looted, with many of its famous seals among the artefacts stolen..."most of the attempts at conservation by the authorities have been so bad and so amateur they have only accelerated the damage"...Some experts have gone so far as to suggest that the entire site should be buried again to halt its decline..'

'...One saving grace may be that some of the city remains unexcavated...'

(Link to Article)

 

 
 
 Article: Independant.ie (June 2012) -

'Hammer Vandals Damage 5,500 Year Old 'Stone of Destiny'

'Damage has been caused in 11 places on all four faces of the Lia Fail Standing Stone - also known as the 'Stone of Destiny' in ancient Irish texts. Archaeologists say that although damage was visible on the stone's surface, a search of the area did not reveal any f the fragments, which may indicate that they were taken away'.

(Link to Article)

 

Article: BBC News (June, 2011) -

'Priddy Circles damage investigated by English Heritage'

Archaeologists are assessing the harm to a section of the Priddy Circles, a series of four large earthwork enclosures, on the Mendip plateau. The spokesman for English Heritage added: "We are aware of damage to the Priddy Circles in Somerset - a series of four large Neolithic Henge monuments.

"We are currently investigating the matter which includes an assessment of the harm caused to the monument through an archaeological assessment. "It is also a criminal offence to carry out works to a scheduled monument without scheduled monument consent from the Secretary of State."

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: "Priddy Circles are one of the most important prehistoric monuments in Somerset and they were constructed approximately 5,000 years ago.

"New research has now shown, however, that the monuments at Priddy pre-date the construction and use of Henges and, as such, have few parallels in the UK. Among these parallels is the first phase of Stonehenge."

(Read the Article in Full)

 

 

The Fabrication of Skellig Michael, Ireland.

 
 
 
 Article: By Dilshad Azeem. Tuesday, February 24, 2009.

'Authorities look away as Plunder of Mohenjo daro Continues'.

ISLAMABAD: Authorities appear to be dragging their feet in preventing the pilferage of precious artefacts from the Mohenjo daro site, according to an official document.

A revised master plan for conservation and promotion of cultural tourism at the Mohenjo daro site awaits the federal government’s nod at a time when President Asif Zardari and PPP senior vice-chairman and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani are at the helm of affairs.

But the Mohenjo daro site, falling under the federal government’s jurisdiction, is regrettably facing a double whammy: non-stop pillage of antiques and severe seepage and damage, reveals the document made available to The News.

Major features of the revised master plan are archaeological conservation, acquisition of land, further excavation and conservation, landscaping and environment development, a tourism monument plan and an interpretation system.

(Link to Article)

(More about Mohenjo Daro)

 

 

The Prehistoric destruction of the Tara Valley, Ireland. (2009)

The Gabhra (Tara-Skreen) Valley is currently suffering the construction of the M3 motorway, which passes straight through the heart of one of Irelands most sacred prehistoric landscapes - destroying over 100 prehistoric sites in the process.

It is only recently that archaeologists are beginning to view individual sites in terms of their place in the overall prehistoric landscape.

“The monuments around Tara cannot be viewed in isolation, or as individual sites, but must be seen in the context of an intact archaeological landscape, which should not under any circumstances be disturbed, in terms of visual or direct impact on the monuments themselves”

Ref: (N3 Navan to Dunshaughlin Route Selection, August 2000, paragraph 7.3)

Scheduled to open in 2010, the M3's loudest critics concede much of the damage is already done – 38 archaeological sites unearthed during construction thus far have been carved from the landscape. Among the now vanished finds, a newly discovered national monument at Lismullin that one leading archaeologist described as "the wooden equivalent of Stonehenge."

"All these sites, including the monument at Lismullin, were part and parcel of the greater whole that is the Hill of Tara complex and now they are gone, demolished. The damage is complete and irreversible," said Vincent Salafia of Tara Watch. "Some would say, `Give up the fight. The deed is done.' But we're not giving up because what we are most against is the building of the motorway through the valley that is at the heart of the Tara complex. It's a long ways from completion and there is still time to come to our senses.

Ref (http://www.thestar.com/World/Columnist/article/512894)

 

Opponents of the M3 have called on the European Parliament and the European Commission to intervene by asking the Irish government to review its plans and conduct an independent investigation into the highway’s impact on the Tara landscape. Campaigners first approached the commission for help in June 2005. The commission subsequently determined that the road construction violated EU law governing environmental impact assessments; however, it has yet to actually submit a case before the European Court of Justice, and that delay has allowed the Irish government and the Roads Authority to continue construction. On April 2, 2008, campaigners came before the EU Parliament’s petitions committee to resolve the problem. An EU Commission spokesman said the commission would be submitting an application to the court in the coming months; however, he said the commission did not have the authority to halt construction in the interim, as road opponents had hoped.

Ref: (http://www.sacredland.org/world_sites_pages/Tara.html)


The Lismullen henge:

Those who are expert in this area and in the area of Tara are of no doubt that this ritual site, really a temple, is part of the extended Tara complex. It is about 500metres from the area of Rath Lugh also flagged as being under threat of the motorway. This is the place about which there was such a furore in January. The NRA is trying to fit the road between these monuments – this was shown in photographs in the past.

This point in the Gabhra Valley is the entrance to Tara. It was more or less expected that a henge would be found in this location. They are usually associated with Passage Tombs. Conor Newman and Joe Fenwick recorded the existence of a straight line of Passage Tombs running from the river Boyne southwards right through the Gabhra Valley and up to the top of the hill. The Mound of the Hostages is surrounded by a henge also, this is 200metres in diameter and is much larger than the Lismullin Henge that is 80metres, still a very large area. These two henges are about the same distance apart as Knowth and Dowth are from each other. No one would doubt that the latter two are related to each other.

It is no accident that this henge is exactly where it is.

(Ref:  http://www.indymedia.ie/article/82427)

What You Can Do

Learn more about the issue and keep abreast of new developments by visiting the websites for the Save Tara campaign and TaraWatch. You can sign an online petition addressed to Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, and join the network of Tara activists through MySpace and Facebook. You can also get involved with the New York-based World Monument Fund, which is working to protect Tara and other endangered sites.

(More about Tara-Hill)

 

  • Quarrying at Thornborough, England: (2008)

'The Stonehenge of the North'

Controversial plans to extend a quarry close to the ancient monument in North Yorkshire have recently (Aug 2008), been given the go-ahead for the second time, according to the BBC...  (Link to article).

The mighty 'Tarmac' organisation have highlighted the importance of the Thornborough complex again recently through their plans to continue excavating the periphery of this site. Considering the value of the site, as confirmed by the statement from English Heritage that Thornborough is 'The most important site between the Orkneys and Stonehenge', ones imagination boggles at the fact that contractors have been once again given the go-ahead to continue quarrying.

What seems to be eluding the organisers of this project is that the three henges are not in isolation here. On the contrary, they are the centre of an important sacred landscape, which was used for over a thousand years. The result of quarrying the surrounding area is the wholesale destruction of parts of this landscape, which will be irreversibly lost to future (and perhaps wiser), generations.

(More about Thornborough)

(www.friendsofthornborough)

   (www.worldheritage.org)

 

  • Rollrights, England: (2004):

April 1st 'prank'. - Yellow Gloss paint was found the next morning splattered across stones around the circle damaging around 70 stones; In some cases on both sides. The paint could still be seen clearly over two years later, and traces remain to this day.

(More about the Rollright's)

 

  • Mnajdra Temples, Malta. (2001):

'During the night of Friday 13th (Good Friday), 2001 around 60 megalithic stones at the Mnajdra temple site were toppled over and sprayed with graffiti in what was described by a museums department official as the worst criminal act ever inflicted on Maltese heritage... Only days before the vandal act was carried out, the Planning Authority had handed out about 20 stop notices to hunters, ordering them to demolish the illegally constructed huts in the vicinity which were being used regularly as trapping hides. Since the fields close to the temple are being considered as a conservation zone by the Planning Authority, the orders to demolish might have irked some individuals into taking drastic and destructive action'.

Ref: http://www.maltatoday.com

(More about Mnajdra)

 

  • Avebury, England (1999):

Two of the ancient standing stones at the Avebury World Heritage site in Wiltshire have been damaged by vandals in what may have been a protest against genetically-modified (GM) crops.

The attack happened on the eve of the summer solstice, when Avebury becomes a shrine for hundreds of Druids from all over the UK. Historian Professor Ronald Hutton said the attack was "appalling" and was akin to desecrating a church on Good Friday.

The stones were painted red, green and white by a gang who struck in the early hours of Friday morning. An anonymous caller to the BBC in Manchester said the attack was undertaken as a protest against GM foods. A National Trust spokeswoman said the two stones in question had been "wrapped" to prevent further damage.

Two years before strange symbols were painted on the stones by vandals.

Ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk

(More about Avebury)

 

  • Cornish Megaliths Vandalized: (1999)

Napalm was poured over two of Cornish (England) most ancient monuments and then set ablaze. In an anonymous letter sent to The Cornishman - the local newspaper - a group calling themselves Friends of the Stone said they had ceremoniously burnt the famous Men-an-Tol holed stone and the nearby Lanyon Quoit. The writer of the anonymous letter to The Cornishman included three photographs of the two ancient monuments covered in burning oil and ablaze with flames.
      The police at Penzance are taking the matter seriously. "We have to assume it is napalm, so I will be talking to the council about getting the sites cordoned off for public safety reasons until the monuments can be cleaned," one of the police officers said. "Until we know exactly what the substance is that was used to burn the stones, no one should touch it, or go near the monuments."
      Cheryl Straffon, a member of Penwith Council's Sacred Sites Committee, confirmed that the stones were indeed badly damaged on November 5 and that the incident had been reported to the Cornwall Archeological Unit, English Heritage and the National Trust. She said that "Something did occur on November 5 at the Men-an-Tol and discovered the next day. It looks as if resin of some sort has been poured over the holed stone and an attempt made to set it alight."
      When a Cornishman reporter visited the Lanyon Quoit he found three of the upright supports badly burnt by a blackened substance and the huge roof stone also blacked and covered in a sticky mess of black and white gunge.
      The writer of the anonymous letter stated: "You do not deserve the heritage these monuments hold and therefore we intend to act further. By this time next week, Men-an-Tol will be gone. It shall be set up again, correctly aligned with pertinent sacred stones, in my back garden."
Anne Preston-Jones of English Heritage said that she would be inspecting the monuments. "I will be compiling a damage report," she said. "We can't even remove the substance until permission is given as these are ancient monuments."

(More about Men-an-Tol)

(Source: The Cornishman. November 1999)

 

(If you know of any desecrated or endangered megaliths: Please Contact-Us here)

 

References:

1). Chapman, John (1997) Places as timemarks—the social construction of prehistoric landscapes in Eastern Hungary. In G.Nash (ed.) Semiotics of Landscape: Archaeology of Mind, pp. 31–45. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 661. Oxford: Archaeopress.
2). https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/citd/holtorf/7.3.html
4). R. Castleden, Neolithic Britain.
 
 

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