I remember this thread from a while back and I think there is an over
emphasis on Switzerland at the moment. i seem to remember that the oxygen
isotope analysis of 'Archie's' teeth showed he could have grown up anywhere
in a broad band from Switzerland up to northern Scandinavia. As far as I'm
aware the strontium analysis has not been completed yet, once this has been
done then the place he grew up will be more certain.
One other point, isn't it oblivious that he must have built Stonehenge and
maybe dropped one of the stones on his knee...
----- Original Message -----
From: "Cerridwen Connelly" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2003 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: Swiss? Stonehenge Burials
Here is a copy of an article I wrote (for Pentacle Magazine) on the "Swiss"
Romancing the Stones
by Cerridwen Connelly
The Amesbury Archers
photos: c. 2003 by Wessex Archaeology
Wessex Archaeology, a private company from Salisbury, unearthed the most
elaborate burial site ever discovered on Salisbury Plain during a routine
archaeological investigation at the site of a new primary school near
Amesbury. The occupant of the grave was a man who lived and died four and a
half thousand years ago. He has been dubbed The Amesbury Archer.
The media put two and two together to make twelve and labelled him "The King
of Stonehenge" and even worse "The Swiss Architect of Stonehenge" due to
Stonehenge being three miles northwest of the grave, the construction
of the sarcen stones being contemporary with the burial, the grave-goods
consisting of an unprecedented dearth of treasures, and that the man
apparently lived in Switzerland or Germany as a child.
I shall refer to him as "Archie".
Archie was five foot eight inches tall, of muscular build, and a man who
lived with horrendous chronic pain throughout at least the latter part of
his adult life. He died when aged thirty-five to forty years of age. Archie
had an abscessed tooth in his lower right jaw and had lost his left kneecap
in an accident some years prior to his demise. He had considerable
difficulty walking and is thought to have also suffered from bad breath due
to the dental problem.
Archie was very wealthy. His grave goods include a pair of gold hair
ornaments, two slate archer's wristguards, a bone cloak brooch, three copper
knives (two of which have a metal-working attachment called a tang), five
Beaker pots, a red deer spatula used for flint-working, several boars tusks,
two caches of flints (including scrapers, arrowheads, a fire-lighting
gadget, and spare flakes that may have been blanks for arrows), a cushion
stone (for metal-working), sixteen arrowheads, and a shale belt fastener
shaped like a ring.
The gold was radio carbon dated to as early as 2,470 BC and is the earliest
found in Britain. The grave was covered by a barrow or mound which has since
been levelled by erosion. Several of the Beaker pots had European patterns
incised on them. The other Beakers had British decorative features.
Oxygen isotope analysis of Archie's tooth enamel by Oxford University
revealed that the water he drank as a child suggests he was raised in
Switzerland or Germany! Metal working had become common practice in this
area of Europe
prior to its development in Britain, so it can be guessed at that Archie
came to Amesbury after he had acquired these skills back home in the Alps.
Due to his mobility problems, Archie probably had his accident after he
arrived in Britain. He may have married a Wessex woman and raised at least
one son here.
Adjacent to this grave is another grave of a man who died aged between
twenty-five and thirty, with a similar pair of gold hair ornaments and a
lesser quantity of similar artefacts. This man may have been Archie's son,
both men had a rare congenital abnormality of the foot bones. This man's
teeth suggest that he spent his childhood in the Bristol Channel area of
Andrew Fitzpatrick, the team leader from Wessex Archaeology, was interviewed
by Meridian TV on 18.02.03. It was during this interview that he made the
unfortunate comment about Archie being the "architect of Stonehenge", which
the international tabloids jumped on with glee.
Just because Archie was a Swiss émigré with knowledge of metal working does
not indicate in any way that he had anything whatsoever to do with either
the design or construction of this ancient British monument. Does
Fitzpatrick really think that ancient Britons had to import a foreign
contractor to do the job? Why must the first conclusion jumped to be a
diffusionist explanation? Are there "stonehenges" in Switzerland? Why should
he think that this person came all the way to Salisbury Plain just to create
his artistic phantasy? Because Wiltshire is flat and Switzerland is
mountainous and any megalithic monument would seem an understatement to what
nature provided? Because the Stone Age Swiss wouldn't fund it?
More likely, Archie provided knowledge of toolmaking that assisted local
people in having an easier life where they could find the time to implement
the mammoth building project. With his bad leg, he certainly didn't join the
work gangs shifting the giant stones across Salisbury Plain. Archie may have
lived with his family near the Bristol Channel and just happened to have
been a visitor to Stonehenge when he died. We do know that his son was
buried near him but not necessarily at the same time. This suggests to me
that both men either lived locally or the family wanted the son buried close
to his father or vice versa. It is ludicrous to assume that everyone who
lived near to
present-day Amesbury during the building of Stonehenge worked on the
Regarding the metalworking tools, Fitzpatrick said: "To the people of those
days somebody who could take lumps of rock from the ground and transform
them into metal objects would have seemed an alchemist, a magician. I think
it may not be too farfetched to believe that that is how he was seen." Fair
enough. But where does this artefactual evidence lead to the idea that
Archie designed Stonehenge? He may have simply been an expert hunter who
provided the catering for the crews' dinner breaks.
The "Horizon" documentary about the Amesbury "archers" brought up two
intriguing points. The first was that the River Avon was the main "motorway"
of its day for the Wessex area. As well as early sea traffic from the
continent into, say, the Bristol Channel, this waterway brought many people
to and from the Stonehenge area on a regular basis. Second, what happened to
the remains of all the poor people who weren't buried in mounds with
elaborate grave-goods? Was cremation the norm for ordinary folk? Or were
they perhaps sent beneath the waters of local rivers back to the eternal
watery womb of the Mother Goddess?
Until technology can construct a time machine, and go back and ask Archie's
relatives why they buried him and his son at Amesbury, all archaeological
theories will remain mere conjecture. But don't be too surprised if there is
suddenly a new advertising campaign for BMW or Volkswagon with Stonehenge in
the background and the slogan "We build 'em to last!":-)
"for those who honour the past but love living in the present"