PREHISTORIC MIDSUMMER AT WOODHENGE


Diving in an offbeat Stonehenge feeling at Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

The western gate (Beltane / Lugnasad)

On the occasion of solcistice 2020 we visited the Woodhenge Pömmelte (Ringheiligtum von Pömmelte), a circular sanctuary in Saxony-Anhalt; in the evening of years’ longest day time had come to discover this ancient and magical spot. During this period of the year people usually enjoy the very long days, so this archeological site offered special guided tours on June 20 at 8:30 p.m, followed by the sunset at 9:28 p.m.

View through the outer palisades at dusk

Although weather was not ideal with a more grey sky and even a little bit of rain, some nice light effects emerged at the distant horizon when the sun finally disappeared, impressive moments that we longingly look for.

View on the sanctuary from the visitor’s platform

Woodhenge Pömmelte is a reconstructed circular earthwork of Neolithic times and the early Bronze Age. South of Magdeburg, not far from the river Elbe, archaeologists discovered in 1991 the remains of a huge cult site. A complete excavation took place between 2005 and 2008. Afterwards, the circular ditch system was completely reconstructed at the original site. The complex structure comprises seven rings of wooden palisade rings, pits, ramparts and embankments with a total diameter of 115 m. 

A burial place – the engraving shows the position of the deceased

Inside the sanctuary at dusk

In terms of size, structure and function, the ring sanctuary resembled the English Stonehenge. However, the construction in Pömmelte did not consist of large stones, but of 1,800 wooden posts; both sites were erected by the socalled Bell Beaker culture at the end of the Stone Age. So we may assume that some kind of European community, travelling and exchange has already existed more than 4,000 years ago.

Inside the sanctuary – people waiting for sunset

View on the inner circles from the western gate

Many generations of prehistoric inhabitants utilized this place to cultivate their customs and practices, and to pass them down to their descendants in the time period 2,335 – 2,050 BC. The location was used as a central sanctuary with sacrificial pits and ritual dumpings; drinking vessels, animal bones, millstones, stone axes, pottery, grindstones, arrow heads and parts of human bodies were part of ceremonious sacrifices and burials those days and found here in diverse deposits.

More varied deposits in the ramparts
between the inner and outer palisades
 

While the world was changing radically, the Stone Age ended and the Bronze Age began, there was persistence here for quite a long time, a place of worship and assembly, a burial site, a victim’s place and an astronomical calendar in one.

The eastern gate (Imbloc / Samhain)

Like in Stonehenge the plant design was also guided by astronomical issues and aspectsThe two main gates and entrances to the complex (in the East and West) are based on the sunrise and sunset points of the days between the solstices and the equinoxes. So the site served as a huge calendar marking seasons, harvest time and New Year as well.

We were a bit disappointed because we had expected that the sunset would take place directly in the middle of the western gate as a special midsummer event when looking directly from the East. However, we surprisingly learnt that this effect appears instead on April 30 but the guide did not go in the details or just talked to quick. 

At home I could satisfy my curiosity regarding April 30 well known here as Walpurgis night when witches gather at particular places. Though, in the old Celtic belief (Beltane) in Ireland, Wales or Scotland it meant also the beginning of summer, an important date for successful agriculture.

So when April 30 was regarded in former times as the beginning of summer, I now understand better why solcistice is also named midsummer here in the Northern hemisphere.

All in all a very nice trip, and thanks for following this short time journey and midsummer excursion.

 

linked to:

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #102: A Quiet Moment

The Cosmic Photo Challenge.

Jo’s Monday walk : a fishy tale!

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40 thoughts on “PREHISTORIC MIDSUMMER AT WOODHENGE”

    1. From time immemorial another wooden henge was reconstructed, the sun observatory of Goseck dating back to incredible 5,000 BC which I will visit in August. Amazing to see what people created long time ago. I will read your Celtic post today, these parallels are really very interesting. Have a nice day! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just read your interesting Beltane post, there were pagans, esoterics and followers of Nordic-Germanic cults at Woodhenge also, some drumming or playing on an ancient horn, but nothing organized. I am sure in the late evening they will have done more, but I am secular and had to leave anyways at 10 p.m.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. An exciting new cultural experience for me. This is something I knew nothng about and your photographs brought it to life so well. Lovely post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most Germans also do not know this site which was reconstructed a decade ago. It is visitable free of change around the year and of course much frequented by esoteric and shamanistic people like elsewhere. Stay safe and cheers 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the info on Salisbury Plain, so many neglected historical places everywhere which deserve much more attention. I hope that at least one photo is in compliance with your photo challenge as I only use my smartphone which is simply more practical and not so pressing or offensive like a camera. Cheers 🙂 Ulli

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      1. All entries are in compliance, as there are NO rules to the challenge, except to have fun with it.

        As for cameras, I’ve never owned one and everything I do; from blogging to photography, from video editing and animation to making and remixing music, right up to writing my debut novel, is done on my phone.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing history. The apparent similarities (or perhaps even connections?) between such archaeological sites around the world fascinates me. It suggests a level of interaction between disparate and dispersed populations beyond our conventional understanding of human evolution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robert for the comment and questions marks. Scientific research at this place is ongoing in order to determine where the people originally came from who were buried here in Pömmelte, so far no final results. Stonehenge is much longer known and examined and it is clear from DNA analysis that the ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge were farmers who came originally from the Eastern Mediterranean and reached Britain 4,000 BC We are a species of migrants from the beginning, this is today often completely ignored.

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  3. A fascinating post, Ulli. I didn’t know anything about wooden “henges” before. You really captured the atmosphere and mystery of this ancient holy site in your photos. The image of the burial locations is really interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for your kind appreciation 🙂 I have already known about this place since 2017 but there are so many other ancient sites (nornally forgotten or ignored), mostly from the Stone Age (megalithic graves), but you find as well menhirs or stone circles like in Britanny and elsewhere. It is amazing to see what our ancestors have left! Nice weekend 🥳

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    1. This “Woodhenge Pömmelte” is a quite new reconstruction, I think it was in 2009 or so. My wife also never heard of it before although it is promoted by the responsible archeological museum in Halle, may be they do not enough. We have a decentralized state here in Germany, sometimes of real disadvantage.

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