Cursus Monuments

These are very old (early to mid-neolithic) and very large linear features stretching across the landscape, irrespective of natural obstacles, running (sometimes) dead straight for anything between a few hundred yards to several miles. ‘Alignments’ appear to be one of the primary features of this type of monument, which also relate to early long-barrows or tombs, making their relationship with water and death very likely. Modern archaeo-speculation links them with stellar, solar and lunar alignments. They may have been ceremonial causeways with multifunctional use; but increasingly it seems these monuments were of greater importance to the ‘gods’ than to humans.  As yet however, their exact functions remain unknown!

The word ‘cursus’ (pl. ‘cursuses’) was first used to describe these enigmatic monuments by Will Stukeley in the 17th century – after his idea  that they might have been old horse-racing tracks. But from Stukeley onwards, very little was written about them until the late 20th century. Independent archaeologist and psychoanthropology writer, Paul Devereux, wrote one of the first good surveys of cursus monuments in a book co-authored with Nigel Pennick, called Lines on the Landscape (Hale 1989).  The best overview of cursus monuments to date (though in need of a good editor) is Roy Loveday’s 2006 work, showing their specific relationship with death and certain topographical features; although a number of Loveday’s ideas were propounded by Devereux many years earlier.

CURSUS MONUMENTS:  Bibliography & References

  1. All Saints Cursus, Bury St. Edmunds – see Fornham All Saints, Suffolk
  2. Aston Cursus, Derbyshire
  3. Bannockburn West Cursus, Stirlingshire
  4. Barnack Cursus, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
  5. Barford Cursus, Warwickshire
  6. Beacon Cursus – see Rudston ‘A’ Cursus
  7. Bennybeg Cursus, Muthill, Perthshire
  8. Benson Cursus, Oxfordshire
  9. Bodicote, Banbury – see East Adderbury Cursus, Oxfordshire
  10. Broich Cursus, Crieff, Perthshire
  11. Buscot Wick Cursus, Oxfordshire
  12. Charlecote Cursus, Warwickshire
  13. Corlarach Cursus, Kilmartin, Argyll
  14. Cleaven Dyke, Caputh, Perthshire
  15. Curriestanes Cursus, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire
  16. Dorchester Cursus, Oxfordshire
  17. Drayton Cursus, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  18. Drayton St. Leonard Cursus, Oxfordshire
  19. Drayton South Cursus, Oxfordshire
  20. Drylawhill Cursus, East Linton, East Lothian
  21. East Adderbury Cursus, Banbury, Oxfordshire
  22. Eynesbury 1, St. Neots, Cambridgeshire
  23. Eynesbury 2, St. Neots, Cambridgeshire
  24. Eynesbury 3, St. Neots, Cambridgeshire
  25. Feering Cursus, Essex
  26. Fimber Cursus, East Yorkshire
  27. Findern-Willington Cursus – see Potlock, Derbyshire
  28. Fornham All Saints, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk
  29. Hasting Hill Cursus, Sunderland
  30. Godmanchester Cursus, Cambridgeshire
  31. Holywood (north) Cursus, Newbridge, Dumfries
  32. Holywood (south) Cursus, Newbridge, Dumfries
  33. Hutton Moor Cursus, North Yorkshire
  34. Lechlade Cursus, Gloucestershire
  35. Lesser Cursus, Larkhill, Wiltshire
  36. Long Bredy Cursus, Dorset
  37. Longbridge Farm Cursus, Warwickshire
  38. Martin’s Down Cursus, Dorset – see Long Bredy Cursus
  39. Maxey Cursus, Cambridgeshire
  40. North Stoke Cursus, Oxfordshire
  41. Nunwick Cursus, Ripon, North Yorkshire
  42. Old Montrose Cursus, Barnhead, Angus
  43. Potlock Cursus, Findern, Derbyshire
  44. Rudston ‘A’ Cursus, East Yorkshire
  45. Rudston ‘B’ Cursus, East Yorkshire
  46. Rudston ‘C’ Cursus, East Yorkshire
  47. Rudston ‘D’ Cursus, East Yorkshire
  48. Sarn-y-Bryn-Caled, Belan, Montgomeryshire, Wales
  49. Scorton Cursus, North Yorkshire
  50. Small Cursus, Larkhill – see Lesser Cursus, Larkhill, Wiltshire
  51. Sonning Cursus, Reading, Berkshire
  52. South Stoke Cursus, Oxfordshire
  53. Spread Eagle Cursus, Aberllynfi, Breconshire
  54. Springfield Cursus, Chelmsford, Essex
  55. Stadhampton Cursus, Oxfordshire
  56. Stanwell Cursus, Heathrow, Surrey
  57. Stonehenge Cursus, Wiltshire
  58. Stratford St. Mary Cursus (1), Suffolk
  59. Stratford St. Mary Cursus (2), Suffolk
  60. Thornborough Cursus, North Yorkshire
  61. Thornborough North Cursus, North Yorkshire
  62. Upper Largie Cursus, Kilmartin, Argyll
  63. Walton Green Cursus, Lower Harpton, Herefordshire
  64. Welshpool Cursus – see Sarn-y-Bryn-Caled, Belan
  65. Westfield Cursus, Whitecraig, East Lothian
  66. Woldgate Cursus – see Rudston ‘A’ Cursus

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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