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Archaeology & History

Ritual caves found on 'witchcraft' island

By T.K. Randall
October 6, 2015 · Comment icon 12 comments

Countless rituals have been performed on the island. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Anchor2009
Evidence of a 9,000-year-old Stone Age ritual site has been found on the Swedish island of Bla Jungfrun.
Even today the island, which possesses a rugged landscape of huge boulders and steep cliffs, is a place shrouded in mystery with its own local legends that tell of a secret coven of witches that meet there every Easter as well as tales of supernatural forces, evil curses and dark magic.

It isn't clear exactly how far back these legends originate, but now archaeologists excavating caves on the island have uncovered a ritualistic site that is thought to be at least 9,000 years old.

"The results are astonishing and reveal extensive human activities on the island in the Mesolithic Stone Age," the team wrote.
Inside one of the caves they found an altar where these ancient people would have once made offerings to their gods while in another there was an area that looked a lot like a theater stage.

A massive hollow, thought to be man-made, was also found in one of the caves.

"The entrance to the cave is very narrow, and you have to squeeze your way in," said archaeologist Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay. "Once you're inside, only half of the cave is covered and you can actually stand above the cave and look down into it, almost like a theater or a stage below."

Exactly what rituals these ancient visitors to the island would have practiced thousands of years ago however is something that may be fated to remain forever lost in the mists of time.

Source: Live Science | Comments (12)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Anomalocaris 9 years ago
What are these places? ghost towns with a whole story behind?
Comment icon #4 Posted by freetoroam 9 years ago
9,000 years ago....noting that the yearly "easter" meetings have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus. this is fascinating stuff and just shows that beliefs, rituals and sacrifices have been an important part of the human "learning" progress when nature was less understood. There is also here an insight on their survival while there, feasting on animals, building shelters, building fires. They say there is no water on the island, I am only assuming they mean drinkable water, but maybe the fire burning was of one area for boiling water??
Comment icon #5 Posted by bubblykiss 9 years ago
What are these places? ghost towns with a whole story behind? No they are a few examples of creepy places that got cool names all throughout AZ.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Robin_Shadowes 9 years ago
Visitors who has brought rocks with them back home has been forced to return them due to have being followed by bad luck. Adding to the legend of the island being cursed for some ancient unknown reason. The name means Blue Maiden in english.
Comment icon #7 Posted by highdesert50 9 years ago
Association is a powerful yet poorly controlled tool. If we elect to associate evil with a place, then we will quite purposively seek data to support that hypothesis. And, to support our hypothesis we will seek out others to agree. I suppose it's about garnering a sense of power and control.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Leonardo 9 years ago
9,000 years ago....noting that the yearly "easter" meetings have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus. this is fascinating stuff and just shows that beliefs, rituals and sacrifices have been an important part of the human "learning" progress when nature was less understood. There is also here an insight on their survival while there, feasting on animals, building shelters, building fires. They say there is no water on the island, I am only assuming they mean drinkable water, but maybe the fire burning was of one area for boiling water?? Boiling water to purify it for drinking is a quit... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by freetoroam 9 years ago
Boiling water to purify it for drinking is a quite recent innovation. While water was obviously used for cooking purposes since very ancient times - perhaps even pre-Homo sapiens - it was not recognised that boiling/distillation would purify "bad" water until people began to realise that water could contain microbial agents that might cause sickness. I suspect the area where fire was found to be used was either for cooking/heating, or some ritual purpose. Water for those on the island would likely have been gathered via condensation if a ready supply of ice/snow for melting was unavailable. Bu... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by PersonFromPorlock 9 years ago
It must be fifty years since I read Margaret Murray's "God of the Witches," but I recall her comparing cave paintings of ritual dances with dances in rural 17th Century England and finding similarities. She was arguing for the existence of a suppressed but continuously practiced form of paganism, condemned by the Church as "witchcraft," from the Neolithic almost to modernity. Which sounds quite a bit like this.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Leonardo 9 years ago
But if they boiled water, it would not have been for the intend of purification to remove microbial agents, as you point out, they did not know about that then, but they did know they could cook food in it and very highly posible knew it tasted better after being boiled.....it is possible they boiled sea water, it was an island, they would have been surrounded by water. People over the centuries have died during the trial and errors of eating, they have even gone mad with someofthe foods they have tried out. Who knows what posible " madnesses" occured on that island by eating or drinking the b... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by newbloodmoon 9 years ago
Sounds like a place to build a summer home.


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