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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian