Seahenge II image, 2013: The seahenge II image was taken on 21st June 2013, during a West Norfolk and King's Lynn Archaeological Society and Nautical Archaeology Society visit. It was quite unexpected to come across the seahenge II (adjacent by a few hundred meters to the excavated seahenge site - now in Lynn Museum). This site appears, but is regularly been re-covered naturally by sand and mud. It has not been observed since that day and others have failed to note it on the beach, so it is rather a ghostly figure of a monument. It dates closely to the seahenge I, c.2049 BC (dendro-chronological date from timber samples). The society hopes that later in the year, or next year when tides are appropriate, to re-visit and survey the timbers in situ as no monitoring is occurring, as we understand it, of this earlier Bronze Age monument.
Its function must be similar to seahenge I, linked to burial, or the exposure of a body or body parts to the elements (excarnation), so birds and perceived spirits can take the soul of the departed to the next life! This is often referred to in anthropological circles as 'sky burial' as is practiced by Buddhist monks in Nepal. Of course, seahenge I, had the central upturned tree in the centre, linking the routes of the tree with the sky and the body laid out on the roots, with the tree bark and central stem, into the ground (where other spirits may have been perceived as dwelling). It is not clear if there was a similar element to Seahenge II - it may be eroded away, or simply not recorded as yet
Seahenge (the Original)From Dr Clive Bond
Many of my colleagues were very upset, working at this location against the weather and anti-social behaviour. Individuals had been threatened by visitors to the beach, including selected elements of the pagan community and other people angry that the archaeologists moved the wood. By some it had been seen as desecrating an ancient and deeply special religiously important site. That, is certainly a viewpoint which has been muted in the press. Seahenge is certainly an important ritual monument of the earlier Bronze Age that in most informed opinions did relate to the world of the ancestors and a discrete burial rite.
I believe, this ritual and spiritual side of the monument and its landscape setting is still not adequately addressed by some archaeologists, or in displays and exhibitions about the monument. Indeed, like Stonehenge and the solstice celebrations, our own West Norfolk Seahenge touched a nerve with many with different and diverse beliefs and practices in the present. I think there should be room for their opinions too, they should be listened to, even if this conflicts with academic or other authoritative accounts.
There is not one way of reading, or interpreting any past, let alone this enigmatic monument. For my archaeologist friends 1999 and Seahenge was a difficult time. For me, on the beach when I visited there was certainly a presence and beauty with this setting. It was very atmospheric - the circle of wood upright posts, mirroring the sea/horizon arch across the beach.
Time Team Seahenge Reconstruction
Here, is a picture of the Time Team reconstruction, taken in the summer of 2012. Notice, the bark facing on the outside of the posts, how small and enclosed the space is inside. It is orientated as with the real Seahenge (NW/SE). When you are inside the circle, it certainly gives a feeling of intermate space, with the upturned tree trunk inside the circle of upright posts. The focus inside is the trunk, and the circle of posts, then the sky above. Looking in, from the outside, even as these posts weather, activities, perhaps sacred offerings, or incantations over a body laid out on the trunk roots, would be obscured - only fully understood by the few people (perhaps less than 5), inside the enclosed circle.
Links to the Time Team programme, as available over the internet: Video of Programme
The reconstruction is worth a visit and the shops are great places to treat yourself, with local Norfolk Produce. Ask at the Drove Orchards shop (At Thornham near Hunstanton) and you'll be directed to the reconstruction on the farm. Contact/Address info on their website
The program of lectures for the next season can now be found under the 'Lectures' tab above.
WNKLAS In The News
The society has been in the local Newspapers recently in coverage of the conference to celebrate our 50year anniversary and also the presentation to John Smallwood one of the founders.
King John's Treasure
The society's investigation of a local farm contributed to a programme made for US television as part of the Expidition Unknown series. This systematic survey of an area that was a likely route for the Royal Treasure was also the subject of a recent lecture evening.