Lascaux cave art

Lascaux cave art

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Early Germanic and Indo-European Settlement of Britain and Stonehenge

In several articles on my Celto-Germanic Culture, Myth and History blog I drew my readers` attention to the interesting hypothesis for a Germanic presence in Britain from an age much earlier than the 5th century CE. Indeed Stephen Oppenheimer in his The Origins of the British builds a case for a potential Bronze Age or even Neolithic splitting off of English from its parent Proto-Germanic and indeed a Bronze Age or Neolithic presence of the English in Britain.

Up until recent years the received wisdom was that the English or Anglo-Saxons started to arrive in what was to become England from 449CE according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles:

" Then came the men of three Germanic tribes: Old Saxons; Angles and Jutes. Of the Jutes came the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight; that is the tribe which now lives on Wight, and that race among the West-Saxons which men even now called Jutish. Of the Old Saxons came the East-Saxons, South-Saxons and West-Saxons. Of the Angles-the country they left has stood empty between the Jutes and Saxons-come the East-Anglians, Middle-Anglians, Mercians and all the Northumbrians."

Bede also repeats more or less the same historical event in A History of the English Church and People:

  "In the year of our Lord 449, Martian became Emperor with Valentinian, the forty-sixth in succession from Augustus, ruling for seven years. In his time the Angles or Saxons came to Britain at the invitation of King Vortigern in three long-ships, and were granted lands in the eastern part of the island on condition that they protected the country: nevertheless, their real intention was to subdue it.

And a bit further on: 

"These new-comers were from the three most formidable races of Germany, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight and those in the province of the West Saxons opposite the Isle of Wight who are called Jutes to this day. From the Saxons-that is, the country known as Angulus, which lies between the provinces of the Jutes and Saxons and is said to remain unpopulated to this day-are descended the East and Middle Angles, the Mercians, all the Northumbrian stock[that is, those peoples living north of the river Humber], and the other English peoples."
 Now I am not disputing any of this but it has become clear that this event did not mark the beginnings of Germanic colonisation in Britain. That process began much earlier so that at the time of the Roman conquest there was already a Germanic presence in England. One of the best arguments for this theory is contained in Part 3 of Stephen Oppenheimer`s The Origins of the British. This is an excellent and very thoroughly researched book which I recommend to anyone interested in the origins of the English and British peoples. Aryanists and Anglo-Saxonists will take heart in his theory of a much earlier Germanic and Indo-European presence in the British Isles than traditionally historians would admit. The most negative opinions of the work are usually by people who have never read the book in its entirety or have not properly understood it. Oppenheimer analyses the structure and lexicon of Old English and comes to the conclusion that it is not merely an offshoot of the West Germanic or Ingaevonic language group. Its genesis is more complicated than that. It does indeed share a close similarity in structure with Old Frisian but its lexicon is greatly affected by North Germanic-Old Norse. Now my readers must not jump to the conclusion that this is the result of the Viking invasions as these took place centuries after the advent of the Anglo-Saxons. So any Scandinavian influence on Old English would have had to have taken place before the Saxon invasions but this does not make sense as before these invasions there was no English presence in Britain-or so it would seem. Thus Oppenheimer theorises that there was indeed a Germanic language and thus a Germanic presence already here in England by the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. Gildas in his De Exidio et Conquestu Britanniae[On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain] in the 6th century CE wrote:
"A pack of cubs burst forth from the lair of the barbarian lioness, coming in three keels, as they call war-ships in their language....."
As a Briton and as a cleric Gildas was clearly much more emotional about the advent of the Anglo-Saxons than either Bede or the compilers of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles! `Keel` is generally reckoned to be a Scandinavian term rather than a typical Old English one. Indeed not only was there a Germanic language and thus a Germanic people present in England before the Roman and Anglo-Saxon invasions but Oppenheimer suggests that Old English has such a deep antiquity that it should be classed as a fourth Germanic language group outside of North, West and East Germanic. Thus English may be descended directly neither from Old Saxon nor Old Norse. Indeed Oppenheimer states:
".....but starts to look as if it could include some of the period of the Later Neolithic and Bronze Age, when, as we have seen, there do appear to be genetic and cultural influences coming into Eastern England from southern Scandinavia and North-West Europe."
Oppenheimer spends a lot of time discussing the Belgic peoples of the Lowlands and how in fact Caesar did not define them as being Celts. You will recall that Caesar in his De Bello Gallico[The Gallic War] divides Gaul into three parts:
"The whole of Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, and the third a people who in their own language are called `Celts`, but in ours, `Gauls`."
The Belgae were not Celtic speaking and on the continent they included a number of Germanic tribes amongst them. Oppenheimer states that the Belgae probably spoke a Germanic language,
"perhaps ancestral to Dutch or Frisian which they carried to England even before the Roman invasions."
It is significant that the area of England which the Belgae occupied is the very same area first occupied by the Anglo-Saxons. Of the continental Belgae Oppenheimer states:
"While several personal and tribal names in Belgica described by Caesar have a clearly Gaulish derivation, a larger proportion do not, and some may have belonged to the Germanic branch of Indo-European."
Indeed according to Caesar:
"When Caesar asked the two convoys about the Belgic states-how many were under arms, and what was their strength in war-he discovered that most of the Belgae were of German extraction, and had long ago crossed the Rhine and settled on the western side because of the fertility of the soil. They had forced out the Gauls who dwelt there."
Caesar also identifies the Germanic Cimbri and Teutones as settlers in Belgica:
"The Aduatuci were descendants of those Cimbri and Teutoni who,when marching into our Province and Italy, had left all the cattle and baggage they could not drive or carry with them on this side of the Rhine:....
What is amazing is the lack of Celtic place names in England. So according to Oppenheimer one must assume either the Britons were entirely exterminated by the Anglo-Saxons or that there was already a Germanic language being spoken in England in the areas initially invaded by the Anglo-Saxons. Looking also at the English language it has always intrigued me that there are less than two dozen Celtic loan words in the language and that these stem from places that were known to be Celtic such as Cornwall and Cumbria[Corn-Wealas and Cymru]. Yet there are far more Latin and Norman loan words than this. PC archaeologists and historians who discredit the Germanic invasion or wipe-out theories cannot adequately explain this. There is no historic precedent for this. We also know of course that many of the so-called `Roman` soldiers were in fact Germanic mercenaries and this Germanic presence has been known by scholars for years. However the Germanic genetic, cultural and language penetration into southern and eastern England has a much deeper antiquity than this, something which Woden`s Folk was already aware of before the publication of this book in 2006. Even Tolkien was aware of this and it is reflected in his mythology. When the Germanic peoples invaded England in the period from 449CE to the Danish conquests they were in fact RETURNING to England. Thus the English whether you take the 449CE date or project it back into the Neolithic or Bronze Age are in fact indigenous to Britain if the UN definition is anything to go by. Indeed we are probably one of the very oldest of Indigenous peoples.

It is clear to me that the event of 449CE, the `Coming of the English` was in fact a return to an ancient homeland, an Ur-Heimat which makes the English a very special Germanic Folk as this island was regarded by classical authors as the land of the Hyperboreans and references are made to a rather unusual and unique temple to the Sun God, Apollo:

"There is in that island a magnificent temple of Apollo, and a circular shrine, adorned with votive offerings and tablets with Greek inscriptions suspended by travellers upon the walls. The kings of that city and rulers of the temple are the Boreads, who take up the government from each other according to the order of their tribes. The citizens are given up to music, harping, and chaunting in honour of the Sun."[Quoted from Origins of English History, Charles Isaac Elton]

The Apollo referred to is of course the Greek version of whoever the northern European deity is that the classical author was referring to. It is beyond doubt that one of the functions of Stonehenge was that of a solar temple. Its use over the centuries and millennia did of course change but this was the original function
of phases II and III which we now know were the product of Indo-Europeans.[See Stonehenge of the Kings, Patrick Crampton, 1967,  Stonehenge: The Indo-European Heritage/Stonehenge and the Origins of Western Culture, 1978/1979 by Bruce Kraig and Leon E. Stover and Stonehenge City: A Reconstruction by Leon E. Stover, 2003].

We now have conclusive evidence to support Crampton and Stover`s theory from recent  discovery of a further 72 upturned Bronze Age axe head carvings on four of the trilithons:

"In Indo-European tradition axe-heads were often associated with storm deities – and some surviving European folklore beliefs suggest that upwards-facing axe blades were used as magical talismans to protect crops, people and property against lightning and storm damage. It’s potentially significant that every single one of the Stonehenge axe-head images have their blades pointing skywards, while the daggers point downwards. The axe-heads – the vast majority of the images – may therefore have been engraved as votive offerings to placate a storm deity and thus protect crops".[The Independent 9/10/12]

There is of course the further link of the Bush Barrow mace and the Indo-European context of Stonehenge.
When the Bush Barrow which is part of the Stonehenge complex was first excavated in 1908 a number of highly significant artifacts were discovered which help to establish the Indo-European origins of the builders of phases II and III of Stonehenge[as we see it today]. Included within the find were two golden lozenges, one smaller than the other, three bronze daggers, a sheet gold belt plate, bronze rivets and a stone mace.
The lozenges, no doubt worn as breastplates are likely to be royal insignia as is the stone mace.

 Leon Stover in his Stonehenge City A  Reconstruction draws attention to the bone jagged lightning flashes that were fitments on the now perished original wooden handle. He compares this artifact with Agamemnon`s "lightning sceptre" in Homer`s Iliad. He also mentions a similar mace head found in Clandon Barrow in Dorset. This mace head is made of polished jet and has five gold studs inset. Also very significantly the Clandon Barrow contained a gold breastplate similar in style to the Bush Barrow ones.

 Professor Stover interprets these royal stone maces as representing the "foundation stones of Indo-European cosmology, which everywhere posited a thunder-and-lightning god not unlike the well-attested Thor of Norse mythology."[2003]

Now what of the language spoken by these Stonehenge Indo-Europeans. Taking into account Oppenheimer`s theories there is no greater claim to it being a form of Celtic than Germanic:

"no stronger claim to aboriginal status than the Anglo-Saxons."[See page 475].

Of course the form of Indo-European spoken may be neither Germanic nor Celtic but an archaic and now lost form of Indo-European.


Odin's Raven said...

See The Secret History of the English Language by M J Harper.
It's a bit 'tongue in cheek', and highly criticized, but asserts the native antiquity of English.


Wotans Krieger said...

Thanks for that.