By Ronald Hutton
This is often the 1st survey of spiritual ideals within the British Isles from the Stone Age to the arrival of Christianity. Hutton attracts upon a wealth of recent facts to bare a few vital rethinking approximately Christianization and the decline of paganism.
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Extra resources for The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy
On the other hand, animals are the subjects of only just over half of the total body of art. Virtually all the rest consists of geometric patterns, which may be divided into sixty basic motifs. Scholars have devoted far less time to these than to the animals, partly because they are more common in Spain than in the famous caves of France, and partly because they are even more difficult to interpret. In the art of the native Australians and of the San, such abstractions are often portions of 'spirit maps' charting supernatural journeys, and so they may have been in the Old Stone Age.
We know that the achievements of the human race had already been dramatic. It had produced stone tools of marvellous beauty as well as utility, invented the spear and the bow, and built artificial shelters and winter dwellings. It had produced art of an enduring quality. It could sew together leather and fur clothing and harvest wild plants with sickle-shaped flints. In Europe it had developed systems of exchange which could carry flint up to 250 miles and shells up to 400 miles. 11 In brief, it had acquired a power to destroy and to create, not like that of any other species but like that of a force of nature or a deity.
As the sea level rose, first Ireland and then Britain broke away from the continental land mass. The concentration of human beings in France and northern Spain dissolved, and the production of art there was reduced to the painting of pebbles. For the hunting bands, game was both scarcer and harder to see 14 The Mysteries Begin in the new dense woodlands, and had to be supplemented more often with plants, fish and shellfish. The change of lifestyle made necessary by these changes in the world marks the transition into the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age.
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy by Ronald Hutton