Why were so many ancient Britons cannibals?
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Posted 23 February 2011 - 10:21 AM
With a bloodcurdling shriek, the shaman raised his stone dagger high above his head before plunging it into the chest of his young female victim.
The pretty 17-year-old had been chosen by lot. To die in this manner was, after all, an honour, a way of winning the favour of the gods and guaranteeing a period of plenty for her friends and family.
Her mind was clouded by a cocktail of hemlock and hallucinatory herbs prepared by the tribe’s elder womenfolk, and her limbs hung limp from her body as she was laid out over the sacred rock.
Yet she had not gone to her death quietly — for while the herbal concoction was soporific, it could not soothe the agony of ritual death. As the knife, fashioned from the naturally occurring volcanic glass obsidian, cut through flesh and bone, her piercing cries set the scraggy village dogs laying in the warmth of the fire howling — a cacophony soon echoed by the wolves prowling the limestone crags 400ft above the encampment.
Now three men, including the victim’s brother, stepped forward, their faces ashen-white. The body of the girl was laid down and the men took their places around her bloody corpse. And then slowly, diligently, they began butchering her. Even her bones were cracked open to reveal the nutritious marrow.
Her head was removed and the flesh was carved meticulously off the skull and jawbone. It was then boiled and the last scraps of meat scraped off. Finally, the skull was handed to one of the oldest men in the tribe, a skilled craftsman whose fine flint and obsidian knives would turn it into a crude but serviceable bowl.
This was added to the tribe’s inventory of sacred utensils, to be used on only the most sacred of occasions, such as the drinking of their enemies’ blood by the strongest warriors. Something very like this happened not on a remote Pacific Island or in the Highlands of New Guinea, but in a quiet part of southern England. Of course, we can never know for certain exactly what took place in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, 14,700 years ago.
But, astonishingly, the above account accords with all the archaeological facts — evidence that shows cannibalism was once routine in ancient Britain among the first peoples to colonise this land after the deep freeze of the Ice Age.
Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:10 AM
The word here is 'were'
ANOTHER ENGLISH SUMMERJUST WHY DID I LEAVE?
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