By Ronald Hutton
This can be the 1st survey of non secular ideals within the British Isles from the Stone Age to the arriving of Christianity. Hutton attracts upon a wealth of recent info to bare a few vital rethinking approximately Christianization and the decline of paganism.
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Additional info for The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy
The blank faces of the figurines parallel the enigma which they pose. As indicated, most Palaeolithic art was produced almost a thousand years after the fashion for these figurines came to an end. The total volume of it is enormous, tens of thousands of images having survived to the present day. Although scholars have always differed in their opinions as to the significance of this great body of work, for much of the present century there was a majority view upon the matter, according to which this art was an aid to 'hunting magic': animals were represented in art and ceremonies performed around these figures to ensure that they could be successfully hunted in real life.
The mounds thus created could be conspicuous over long distances, often dominating their landscape. More than 40,000 of the stone tombs still survive in Europe, along with many hundreds of the mounds which once covered wooden structures of the same age. By the 1950s, prehistorians had achieved agreement upon the question of their origins. They were described as being the result of an idea brought up from more advanced Mediterranean civilizations, together with the cult of a Great Goddess or Earth Mother.
Some modern feminists have, with justice, challenged this picture as unprovable and preferred to believe that the New Stone Age was guided by matriarchies. Margaret Ehrenberg has made the most recent and intelligent study of the question. Drawing attention to the facts that women are or were the subservient gender in all societies which practise large-scale animal husbandry, and that such an economy spread across Europe during the mid-Neolithic, she has argued that if women had enjoyed a more equal status earlier they would probably have lost it then.