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Visions of the Past - The Gudehovet Site
By: Willaim Brigley - Ravenwolf
A woman once said to me “You choose the path for you because you feel drawn to it. Not for any other reason.” This is so true. Ever since I first discussed Wicca I felt the desire to dive deep into its history and current practises; the urge to ask questions and be as open minded as possible with those of different paths.
In my own family there are different beliefs. While I practise at my altar, my wife shares a Roman Catholic point of view. She does not believe one should require going to church to believe, just as many Pagans do. People have thought that because of our different beliefs, that it’s strange or unusual for us to be married. Ironically, we are beginning to see this more now-a-days. Remember, in a time when the earliest churches of Rome were constructed, Pagans and Christians live side-by-side more or less at peace with each other, and that trend is in the beginning stage of repeating itself.
One only needs to scratch the surface to find many Pagan roots throughout history and archaeology
have been striving in recent years to do just that. I feel that unveiling our heritage is of great importance to help describe where we’re at now and where we’re going in the future.
A recent discovery published on 23 Dec 11 in the Norwegian Paper Aftenposten; Cato Guhnfeldt wrote about the un-earthing of a pre-Christian temple in South Yorkshire. (If you’re not familiar with this name, North Yorkshire Moors railway “Goathland Station was transformed into Hogsmeade” for the film Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone.) Ironically that close by, lay a true pagan historical site.
This site referred to as a “pagan sanctuary”, Gudehovet, is believed to have been built around 400AD and the area below the sacrifice altar had “been regarded as sacred or at least had a special status long before the stone altar was built.” At the site they also discovered a pole building which the archaeologists believe housed idols in the form of sticks with carved faces of Thor, Odin, as well as Frey and Freya, who are brother and sister in Norse mythology. This is of great historical significance to all those who continue to worship these deities today and is of great historical value to the entire worldwide Pagan community as the article indicates this structure may have been built by those who were escaping conversion to Christianity. During this time and that of the inquisition, so much literature, culture and architecture was lost, that any site that can be preserved surely would be of historical value to all of us. However this site will not be so preserved for future generations as our ancestors intended when they purposely buried it. As stated by Guhnfeldt, the site will be” removed forever to make way for housing.” Preben Ronne from the Science Museum/University of Trodheim said “Unfortunately housing construction is now underway.” It is a sad day indeed. It is my only hope that when excavated, future sites will be treated as sacred. Could you imagine if other ancient religious sites were simply bulldozed to make way for a subdivision instead of being preserved? Is our history that un-important?
If there is one thing we can take from this is that no matter what tradition we follow, we all hold our places of worship for our deities as sacred. Perhaps in the future we can work together for such preservation.
Stay tuned for more historical discoveries and the strides that archaeology has been making to unlock her secrets.