The Gruesome Secrets of Bull Rock Cave

 

Probably the most enigmatic and mysterious archaeological site in Europe, the Býči Skála/Bull Rock cave in the Křtiny Valley (Czech Republic), was first investigated in 1867 by a local doctor, Jindřich Wankel, who initially discovered traces of a Paleolithic settlement.

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/the-secrets-of-bull-rock-cave/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE SECRETS OF BULL ROCK CAVE

UD: May 2019

 

Probably the most enigmatic and mysterious archaeological site in Europe, the Býči Skála/Bull Rock cave in the Křtiny Valley (Czech Republic), was first investigated in 1867 by a local doctor, Jindřich Wankel, who initially discovered traces of a Paleolithic settlement.

 

x - Entrance Býčí Skála, translated from Czech to Bull Rock cave enterance

The Entrance to Bull Rock Cave

 

Two years later, interest in the site intensified when two young brothers discovered a bronze Celtic bull statue, dated to ca. 560 BC, in the entrance hall of the cave.

 

Býčí Skála, translated from Czech to Bull Rock cave Clay jar 6th c. BC

The Bronze Bull discovered in the entrance hall of Bull Rock Cave (ca. 560 BC)

 

 

Subsequent investigation has established that the cave was occupied, for short periods, during the Palaeolithic, Eneolithic, Hallstatt, La Têne, and Medieval periods. However, the most spectacular discoveries at the site, dating to the 6th c. BC, came during a 2-month amateur excavation in 1872.

During the course of this campaign, under a layer of stones and burned limestone, locals discovered a fireplace with pieces of pottery, tools, bronze and gold ornaments, jewelry, swords, armour and glass beads. A number of jars that still contained flour, millet and meat were also found; at the back of the entrance a Celtic Iron Age metal workshop and tools were discovered.

 

 

 

The “Chieftain’s Burial”

 

Most spectacular was the scene in the entrance hall where about 40 human bodies, some of them missing their head, hands and feet, were found; one of the skulls had been placed in a bucket. On a stone altar, adorned with stalks of grain, lay two arms with bracelets and gold rings, next to which was a skull that was spliced in half. Deeper in the cave, the remains of a chariot with bronze fittings and the skeleton of a man were discovered. Based on the artifacts, Dr. Wankel concluded that he had found the grave of a Celtic chieftain, buried with his jewelry, weapons, food, sacrificed horses and young maidens.

 

 AlTAR - Býčí Skála - Bull Rock Cave - 6 th c. BC - crowned skull - 40 bodies Altar

The stone altar on which was displayed severed arms with bronze bracelets and gold rings

 

Býčí Skála - Bull Rock Cave - 6 th c. BC - crowned skull - 40 bodies 3

Skull and decorated bronze headband/crown discovered in 1872 inside the Býčí Skála (Bull Rock) Cave

 

 


However,
the local doctor’s rather ‘romantic’ view of the archaeological evidence has not borne up to scientific scrutiny. More recent investigation has illustrated that the funeral chariot in which the supposed chieftain lay buried was actually not one, but three different chariots. Furthermore, the human remains were not all female as initially thought, and subsequent analysis has indicated that most were men and women aged between 30 and 45 years old, while the remains of children were also identified.  

 

 

Chariot 2

Chariot 3

Chariot and detail of decoration from Bull Rock Cave (Reconstruction by the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna)

See also:

https://www.academia.edu/15170255/THE_TETRASKELION_SWASTIKA_IN_IRON_AGE_CELTIC_CULTURE

 

 

 

 The nature of the ‘massacre’ in the cave has also remained unclear, with subsequent examination of the bones providing more questions than answers. For example, anthropologists have hitherto failed to establish whether the individuals were sacrificed or murdered, and while some of the wounds discovered appear to be fatal, inflicted upon living persons, others have proved to have been inflicted after death.

Archaeological research at the site has also been complicated by the fact that, although the skulls have been preserved, the rest of the human remains from the 19th century ‘excavations’ were buried in an unknown location, and have never been recovered. Furthermore, during World War II the German army planned to use Bull Rock cave as a weapons factory, and the entrance hall was paved, thereby burying all remaining evidence under a thick layer of concrete.

 

 

Thus, although many theories have been advanced as to the function of Bull Rock cave during this period, and the dramatic events that occurred in the mid 6th century BC, the full truth about this enigmatic site will probably never be known…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On ‘Human Sacrifice’among the Celts see also:

https://www.academia.edu/5275216/Multiple_Burials_And_The_Question_of_Celtic_Suttee

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/the-wicker-man/

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/the-witch-of-cliffs-end-human-sacrifice-or-execution/

 

External links for further reading on Bull Rock Cave:

http://www.byciskala.com/index.php?page=5&art=J.%20Wankel%27s%20famous%20discovery%20of%20the%20Hallstatt%20culture

https://www.academia.edu/6981237/Peter-R%C3%B6cher_Die_B%C3%BD%C4%8D%C3%AD_sk%C3%A1la-H%C3%B6hle_in_M%C3%A4hren_Opfer_Ahnenkult_und_Totenritual_in_der_Hallstattzeit (in German)

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DOG IN CELTIC CULTURE AND RELIGION

UD: Dec. 2018

Reverse of a Celtic coin (potin), Paris region, 1 c. BC

Kujawy is a historical region in north-central Poland, situated on the left bank of the Vistula, and east of the Noteć river and Lake Goplo. Archaeological research over the past decade has revealed a wealth of new information about the Celtic presence in this area of Poland in the pre-Roman era.

Stater KUJAWY
Celtic gold stater from Kujawy (1st c. BC)
(After Andrałojć 2014 )

One of the most interesting recent discoveries from the Kujawy region is a small bronze Celtic pendant/amulet in the shape of a dog discovered at the Gąski site (loc cit). The bronze amulet features the animal with an elongated body (5.2 cm long), a delicate snout, accentuated ears (the endings of the ears are broken), and a long, curved tail. The animal bears a striking resemblance to a modern Dachshund/Sausage Dog, and the amulet has a large ring for hanging on a chain.

DOG
The Celtic Dog Amulet from Kujawy

(After Andrałojć M. (2014) fig. 11; On the Celts in Poland see also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-celts-in-poland/)

Confirmation of the religious significance of the dog in Celtic culture is provided by extensive archaeological evidence. Dogs as amulets in Celtic cremation graves, dated to Late La Tène period, have been found in Hessen, Germany. The ten small sculptures are made of clay, bronze, glass or jet, and all found in the burials of women or girls (Polenz 1975). A number of Celtic dog amulets are also known from eastern Europe – e.g. finds from eastern Hungary, the oppidum at Stradonice, the sites at Belušske Slatiny, Nimnica, Esztergom, and the Celtic oppidum at Stare Hradisko (Veres 2009:231‑237, 234, Filip 1956, Pl.125:9; Pieta 2008, F.32:4, F.31:4, F.31:1). Bronze dog figurines have also recently been found among the votive offerings at the Celtic settlement at Nĕmčice-Vícemĕřice (Czech Republic).

bronze-zoomorphic-figurines-settlement-at-120-found-nemcice-vicemerice-moravia-czech-2-1-c-bc
Bronze votive figurines of birds, dogs and other animals from the Celtic settlement at Nĕmčice-Vícemĕřice

(after Cizmar et al 2008)

wolf-pendant-talisman-from-the-celtic-settlement-at-esztergom-n-hungary-bronze-2-1-c-bc

Dog (wolf?) pendant/talisman (bronze) from the Celtic settlement at Esztergom, northern Hungary

(2-1 c. BC)

Head of a dog, with open jaws and long swirling tongue, on the reverse of a bronze issue of the Biturges Cubi tribe from Gaul (ca. 70 BC)

Dogs appear frequently in Celtic artwork and in Celtic myths and legends as the companions of kings and warriors, and representatives of the Gods (Green 2004:16,175). The animal possessed both mundane value and spiritual importance in Celtic culture. Hunting and herding were mainstays of early economies in the Celtic world and these economic activities made dogs highly valued, being closely connected with both the spiritual and practical aspects of healing, hunting and death.

Obverse of a Celtic tetradrachm (Croatia-mid 3rd c. BC), featuring a bearded God with a tiny dog dancing on his nose...
Obverse of a Celtic tetradrachm (Croatia-mid 3rd c. BC), featuring a bearded God with a tiny dog dancing on his nose…

Reverse of a Celtic coin (potin), Paris region, 1 c. BC
A rather bizarre scene of a dog savaging a humanoid creature, depicted on the reverse of a Celtic coin (potin), Paris region, 1 c. BC

Dog riding a horse, triskele below. Silver drachm (reverse) of the Carnutes tribe in Gaul (2/1 c. BC)

One of the most important sacred aspects of dogs in Celtic culture was its close association with healing. In the area inhabited by the Celts, representations of dogs often appear together with gods providing fertility and good harvest (e.g. female deities depicted with pomegranate fruit or cornucopias). Similarly, Celtic goddesses of hunting (Abnoba and Arduinna) were shown in the company of a dog (Andralojc 1993:102-104).

 The Celtic goddess Nehalennia has a relationship with dogs that is similar to that of the goddess Epona with horses. Nehalennia was a goddess worshipped as a provider of prosperity and healing, and was usually portrayed with a dog and a basket of fruit. The healing aspects of dogs are also present in the iconography associated with the British god Nodens, who may be a British representation of the Irish god Nuadu (Green 2004:16; on the Celtic Horse Goddess Epona see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/epona-the-celtic-horse-goddess-in-thrace/).


The importance of the dog in Celtic culture is also emphasized by the frequency with which the Celtic term for Dog/Hound is found in Celtic personal names.

Cunorix
The CUNORIX inscription from Wroxeter, (Shropshire) England (CISP = WRXTR/1)

CVNORIX | MACVSM/A | QVICO[L]I[N]E

= Hound-King, son of The Son of the Holly (Wright/Jackson 1968)

https://www.academia.edu/14329263/KINGS_OF_THE_WORLD_-_On_The_Nature_of_Celtic_Personal_Names

Miniature glass dog from a Celtic burial (#31) at Wallertheim, (Rhineland) Germany
Miniature glass dog from a Celtic burial (#31) at Wallertheim, (Rhineland) Germany

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LITERATURE CITED

Andrałojć M (1993) Rola psa w obrzędowości pradziejowych ludow Europy Środkowej [w:] Wierzenia przedchrześcijańskie na ziemiach polskich, (red.) M. Kwapiński, H. Paner. Gdańsk

Andrałojć M. and Andrałojć M. (2014) The unknown face of the Lugian Federation– Celtic coinage in the Polish lands Inowrocław–Poznań 2014

Filip J. (1956) Keltove ve středni Evrope. Monumenta Archaeologica 5, Prague.

H. Polenz (1975) ‘Latènezeitliche Hundeplastiken aus Süd- und Rheinhessen’, Fundberichte aus Hessen 14, 1974 (pr. 1975), 255-307.

Green M. (2004) The Gods of the Celts. Sutton.

Pieta K. (2008) Keltske osidlenie Slovenska. Mladša doba latenska, Archaeologica Slovaca
Monographiae, Nitra.

Veres J. (2009) The depiction of a carnyx-player from the Carpathian Basin. A study of two Celtic bronze statuettes from eastern Hungary, Archaologisches Korrespondenzblatt, Bd. 39, H. 2, S. 231‑248.

Cizmar V.M., Eva Kolníková E., Noeske H. (2008) Nĕmčice-Vícemĕřice – ein neues Handels- und Industriezentrum der Latènezeit in Mähren. Vorbericht. In: GERMANIA 86, 2008

Mac Congail