Ancient landscapes of the past become a canvas of expression for cosmological ideas where monuments and sacred sites reinforced notions of self and cultural ‘mythic identity’.
Ritual landscapes were a canvas of expression for cosmological ideas where monuments and sacred sites themselves reinforced and created notions of self and cultural identity.
Trying to understand and illuminate these arcane connections in the landscape can support us in our quest to connect with the ‘Genius Loci’, spirit of place.The artefacts of death, burial and worship can combine with archaeoastronomy encoding certain aspects of the heavens in material form structured according to symbolic and cosmological principles, creating what have become known as ‘sacred geographies’. The place below the horizon where the sun disappeared to and rose from - was the underworld and was important in the cosmological sense : being the abode of the gods above the ecliptic with the underworld inhabited by monsters and the dead below.
These ensoulled landscapes were often charged with psychological significance. People superimposed their mythical understandings on the surrounding features in their environment, energizing their ritual landscapes, underpinned by high level technical surveying abilities. In Suffolk this is evident between at least 6,500 BC to at least 625 AD.
The orientation and alignment of sacred sites do not exist without artefacts - the visual line that may link a monument or place with a horizon feature exists through this artefact, and may do so whilst associating with a celestial object or astronomical event, embodying mythic time and cultural expression. East-West axial alignment for instance is now considered to be one of the features of high status Anglo-Saxon settlements and also included non-architectural features such as wells, crosses, cemeteries and old ritual sites.
Combined with historical enquiry making sense of the above is Arcane Landscape, as we try to understand and connect with the ‘Genus Loci’, spirit of place.