|12 March 1999
Inverted tree found inside timber ring
British Archaeology magazine reports that recent storms have eroded peat deposits on the Norfolk coast near Hunstanton (England), revealing a well-preserved ring of 54 posts set close together to almost form a wall, with a large inverted tree acting as an "altar" in the centre. The structure is a ring of 54 closely-set, cleft oak posts enclosingthe root buttresses of an inverted tree stripped of bark and wrapped in honeysuckle.
Provisionally the site has been dated to the Bronze Age. Francis Pryor suggests that a body could have been placed on the tree's roots and the sea would come in and take the body away. But this site could also be a wooden ritual structure in freshwater wetlands behind the saltmarshes. Bronze Age and Iron Age structures in peats in Britain and Ireland are common enough too, but usually interpreted as huts and shelters.
However, the half-split planks of the Norfolk site all have their cleft surface facing inwards and the report suggests that the structure was meant to be viewed from the inside. Probably, an external viewer looking at the bark was meant see the whole structure as a giant tree, the re-creation of a natural thing in its own raw material, with a tree inside it again.
Sources: British Archaeology, BRITARCH mailing list
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