Moon Rituals, Head-Binding & Ground up Bones: The Mysterious Beaker People

Ground up bones rubbed into pots, possible skull binding, and alignment of megaliths for rituals involving the southern moon are coming to light with exciting new research into the enigmatic Beaker people of northern Scotland. These mysterious people arrived in Scotland about 4,500 years ago and brought bronze metallurgy, the wheel, and a new type of stone circle with them.

Like earlier people of the British Isles and Europe, they had megalithic stone circles, but the Beaker people’s circles stand out for having a large stone lying on its side (recumbent), surrounded by other megaliths. The recumbent stones are aligned with the arc of the southern moon. For this reason, researchers think the people practiced rituals connected with the moon. There are about 200 such circles with recumbent stones.

This type of megalithic circle with a recumbent stone is known only in Scotland’s Aberdeenshire and in Ireland’s far southwest for certain. However, it has been suggested that the Beaker people also built two incomplete circles inside Stonehenge, which is far to the south of northern Scotland. 

Easter Aquhorthies recumbent stone circle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Easter Aquhorthies recumbent stone circle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Researchers have recently gained a greater understanding of the Beaker people by analyzing burials and using scientific dating and isotope analysis of the skeletal remains to track their prehistoric movements.

The Daily Mail says researchers have found the Beaker people introduced a less central political authority, which brought an end to the ancient Britons’ building of monuments. Their territory in northern Scotland was also apparently a trade hub.

Beaker burials are distinctive and include Beaker ware or pottery, hence their name. Male remains were situated on the left-side facing east, and women on the right-side facing west. Many of the female burials had infants placed in the grave as well, which indicates the peril of giving birth in the early Bronze Age.

Reconstruction of a Beaker burial, (National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid).

Reconstruction of a Beaker burial, (National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid). (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/ CC BY SA 4.0 )


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