Before Christianity took over in the Medieval Ages, the people of the British Isles observed a religion that revered clan ancestors and the natural world. Take a trip back in time to the era of nature spirits and legends on a tour of Britain’s pagan historic sites.
Stonehenge: This is probably the most famous and mysterious pagan sites in England. Found in Wiltshire, the towering stones are the subject of many wild theories, but their true meaning continues to be debated. An estimated 30 million hours of labour are thought to have gone into the placement of the gigantic stones and they appear to be arranged according to astronomical patterns, though some have claimed that the stones were used for human sacrifice or extra-terrestrial communication.
Glastonbury Tor: Glastonbury is a town of just under 9000 people and is the site of Glastonbury Tor – a large hill that is connected to the myth of King Arthur. During the Middle Ages, the lowlands surrounding the Tor would flood, leaving only a peninsula. There is some evidence that the Tor was once called “Avalon”, as in Arthurian legend, and the coffins of King Arthur and Guinevere were alleged discovered here in 1191. Some claim that the Tor is the mythical entrance to Avalon or the land of the fairies; others have claimed that this is the resting place of the Holy Grail when it was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea.
The Ring of Brodgar: This ring of stones stands in Orkney, Scotland and has been fascinating archeologists and pagans for centuries. The site if over 800 years older than Stonehenge and appears to be connected to a temple complex in which burial rituals were carried out. The most significant artifact found here has been named the “Brodgar Boy”, a stone representation of a male to which no conclusive significance has been attributed.
Sutton Hoo: This 6-7th century burial site has provided a wealth of archeological data and artifacts, including an undisturbed ship burial. This site was in use during a period of religious tumult when Christian leadership was being established among the Anglo-Saxon. This area offers a wealth of history from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, through the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods.
Isle of Anglesey: Located off the west coast of Wales, this isle is home to several megalithic monuments and “menhirs” (or “standing stones” usually having ancient cultural significance). This isle was once home to an order of druids who had constructed a shrine and sacred groves and who refused to submit to Roman authority. Between 60 – 78 CE several attempts were made to subjugate the island and its druid inhabitants, during which the shrine and groves were destroyed.