A Conversation for The Woodhenge, Durrington Walls Henge and Stonehenge Complex
The cursus and hare-coursing
BigAl Patron Saint of Left Handers Keeper of the Glowing Pickle and Monobrows Started conversation Jul 30, 2007
I notice that I said nowt about the Stonehenge 'cursus' in this Entry.
This is an extraordinary earthworks about 0.8km in length north of Stonehenge. It consists of a narrow enclosure, 2.8km in length and 90m wide, bounded on each side by a bank and ditch, like those of The Avenue. It appears to be aligned with a Long Barrow at its east end.
According to my HMSO handbook, 'Stonehenge and Avebury (dated 1971), 'More than a dozen similar EWs exist elsewhere in GB, the longest of which extends for 10km. There purpose is entirely unknown, but the most likely explanation is that they were processional ways used in some kind of religious ceremony and perhaps assoc'd with the cult of the dead...'.
There was a letter in the Salisbury Journal last week, commenting about a letter the previous week complaining about hare coursing being observed close to SH. The letter was by Martin Pipe-Pyrne of Kidderminster who says,
' '... but regret to inform you that it's some 4000 years late.
As a lifelong student of such places and their history throughout the UK, and with several published works on the subject, I have to point out... that the cursus nr SH and numerous other egs [elsewhere] were almost certainly constructed for hare-coursing.
Many books illustrate the cursus as a sort of Olympic area set out for warriors to compete in but that idea has long been challenged in favour of simply chasing hares.
Greyhound-like bones are regularly found in relation to such sites and indeed two places in Ireland with cursus runs were in use as recently as 1973.
The very word 'cursus' is a deviation from corruption of coursing and I am a little sueprised that the clear relationship to this sacred site was not noted in your coverage....
[BigAl's note, from Latin 'currere' = 'to run').
The bank at the mile long cursus would have been topped with bruushwood or wattle-style fence and lined with spectators and the hares released from one end with the hounds set free a few seconds later.
At the Danebury hill for, the track ran at the same uphill inclinem, to test the stamina of hare and hound and it may be reasonably assumed the site at SH was chosen for similar reasons.
Just thought this was interesting
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