View Full Version : The Prehistory of Germanic Europe: Moor Spirits

Thursday, January 12th, 2006, 05:05 PM
Ideally suited for crossing soggy terrain, the method of construction
[of moor roads] offered only a precarious crossing over moving water,
or over terrain affected by varying water levels, where the beams
could not be secured against hooves, wheels and currents. It has been
found that such danger spots were protected by 'gods'.

On [the Wittemoor road] near the crossing over a brook, cult sites
had been established on either side of the road, each site having
been placed under the protection of a divinity, on one side of a
goddess, on the other of a god. The divine pair had been carved with
an axe from oaken planks, simplified in outline but quite stylized in
execution. Between the gods, and spanning the roadway, a gate of
squared beams and a transverse board terminating in 'horns' had been
erected. Further north, four additional wooden figures have been
located along the road, each near a short decayed section where some
peril existed for those using the road. These four figures had been
knocked over so that the broken tips were still stuck in the ground,
indicating their original positions. All six had been removed, placed
beside the road and deliberately covered with peat. This had probably
been done when the road was abandoned. No longer needed, the
protective spirits had been returned to their realm.

Of interest is the abstract appearance of these 'divinities'. A basic
anthropomorphic shape characterizes them all. While the male
representation has a clearly defined head and squared neck, the body
is treated more symbolically and perhaps magically, having
four 'ribs' carved beneath the 'shoulder' on its left side and
six 'ribs' beneath the 'shoulder' on its right side. It had only one
centered and squared-off leg. The overall impression is rectangular.
The female representation on the other hand is more curvaceous. Still
very stylized, the head, torso and hips, although cut in a zigzag,
flow more continuously into pointed legs. The genital area is clearly
indicated on the female form, but not apparent on the male. Of the
other four images one was a board with a figure roughed in with a few
blows of an axe, two others were no more than poles provided with
facial features, and the fourth had the shape of a hammer. In front
of the female figure sharpened stakes had been driven into the ground
on which to place offerings. Neither fur nor bones have been found,

from: The Prehistory of Germanic Europe by Herbert Schutz; ISBN