Cursus

Cursus monuments are Neolithic structures which represent some of the oldest prehistoric monumental structures of the Islands of Britain and Ireland.[1] Relics found within them show that they were built between 3400 and 3000 BC.

Superficially resembling ditches or trenches, they range in length from 50 yards (46 m) to almost 6 miles (9.7 km) and the distance between the parallel earthworks can be up to 100 yards (91 m). Banks at the terminal ends enclose the cursus. Over fifty have been identified via aerial photography while many others have doubtless been obliterated by farming and other subsequent landscaping activities.[2]

Examples include the four cursuses at Rudston in Yorkshire, that at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk, the Cleaven Dyke in Perthshire and the Dorset cursus.[3] A notable example is the Stonehenge Cursus, within sight of the more famous stone circle, on land belonging to The National Trust's Stonehenge Landscape.

Dorset cursus terminal on thickthorn down
Dorset Cursus terminal on Thickthorn Down, Dorset

Function

Tynwald Hill
Tynwald Hill, Isle of Man

It has been conjectured that they were used in rituals connected with ancestor veneration, that they follow astronomical alignments or that they served as buffer zones between ceremonial and occupation landscapes. More recent studies have reassessed the original interpretation and argued that they were used for ceremonial competitions. Finds of arrowheads at the terminal ends suggest archery and hunting were important to the builders and that the length of the cursus may have reflected its use as a proving ground for young men involving a journey to adulthood. Anthropological parallels exist for this interpretation.

Contemporary internal features are rare and it has been traditionally thought that the cursuses were used as processional routes. They are often aligned on and respect the position of pre-existing long barrows and bank barrows and appear to ignore difficulties in terrain. The Dorset Cursus, the longest known example, crosses a river and three valleys along its course across Cranborne Chase and is close to the henge monuments at Knowlton.

The present-day Tynwald day ceremony on the Isle of Man involves the procession of parliament along a cursus-like structure, which is sometimes suggested as a related or continual folk tradition with the neolithic cursus. Larger scale modern ceremonial analogs might include the National Mall in Washington, and The Mall, London.

Identification by aerial photography

Numerous examples of cursus are known and the discipline of aerial archaeology is the most effective method of identifying such large features following thousands of years of weathering and plough damage.[4] Some cursus have only been identified through a first sighting of cropmarks visible from aerial reconnaissance; for example, the cropmarks at Fetteresso were the first indication of a cursus at that location in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.[5]

Etymology

'Cursus' (plural 'cursūs' or 'cursuses') was a name given by early British archaeologists such as William Stukeley to the large parallel lengths of banks with external ditches which they thought were early Roman athletic courses, hence the Latin name cursus, meaning "course".

See also

Line notes

  1. ^ McOmish, 1999
  2. ^ Peter James and Nick Thorpe (November 1999) "Ancient Mysteries", p,316-9.
  3. ^ Champion, 2005
  4. ^ English Heritage
  5. ^ Hogan, 2008

References

External links

Aedile

Aedile (Latin: aedīlis Latin pronunciation: [ae̯ˈdiː.lɪs], from aedes, "temple edifice") was an elected office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings (aedēs) and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order.

There were two pairs of aediles: the first were the "plebeian aediles" (Latin aediles plebis) and possession of this office was limited to plebeians; the other two were "curule aediles" (Latin aediles curules), open to both plebeians and patricians, in alternating years. An aedilis curulis was classified as a magister curulis.

The office of the aedilis was generally held by young men intending to follow the cursus honorum to high political office, traditionally after their quaestorship but before their praetorship. It was not a compulsory part of the cursus, and hence a former quaestor could be elected to the praetorship without having held the position of aedile. However, it was an advantageous position to hold because it demonstrated the aspiring politician's commitment to public service, as well as giving him the opportunity to hold public festivals and games, an excellent way to increase his name recognition and popularity.

Consul

Consul (abbrev. cos.; Latin plural consules) was the title of one of the two chief magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an important title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European city states through antiquity and the Middle Ages, then revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic. The related adjective is consular, from the Latin consularis.

This usage contrasts with modern terminology, where a consul is a type of diplomat.

Cursus Barrows

The Cursus Barrows is the name given to a Neolithic and Bronze Age round barrow cemetery located mostly south of the western end of the Stonehenge Cursus. The cemetery contains around 18 round barrows scattered along an east-to-west ridge, although some of the mounds are no longer visible. The Cursus Barrows can be seen just north of the route between the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and Stonehenge.

Cursus honorum

The cursus honorum (Latin: lit. "course of honor", or more colloquially "ladder of offices") was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum age for election, and Lex Villia Annalis made those requirements formal. There were minimum intervals between holding successive offices and laws forbade repeating an office.These rules were altered and flagrantly ignored in the course of the last century of the Republic. For example, Gaius Marius held consulships for five years in a row between 104 BC and 100 BC. He was consul seven times in all, also serving in 107 and 86. Officially presented as opportunities for public service, the offices often became mere opportunities for self-aggrandizement. The reforms of Sulla required a ten-year interval before holding the same office again for another term.To have held each office at the youngest possible age (suo anno, "in his own year") was considered a great political success. For instance, to miss out on a praetorship at 39 meant that one could not become consul at 42. Cicero expressed extreme pride not only in being a novus homo ("new man"; comparable to a "self-made man") who became consul even though none of his ancestors had ever served as a consul, but also in having become consul "in his year".

Cursus publicus

The cursus publicus (Latin: "the public way"; Ancient Greek: δημόσιος δρόμος, dēmósios drómos) was the state mandated and supervised courier and transportation service of the Roman Empire, later inherited by the Eastern Roman Empire. It was system based on obligations placed on private persons by the Roman State. They provided as contractors, 'mancipes,' the equipment, animals, and wagons. In the Early Empire compensation had to be paid but this had fallen into abeyance in Late Antiquity when maintenance was charged to the inhabitants along the routes. The service contained only those personnel necessary for administration and operation. These included veterinarians, wagon-wrights, and grooms. The couriers and wagon drivers did not belong to the service: whether public servants or private individuals, they used facilities requisitioned from local individuals and communities The costs in Late Antiquity were charged to the provincials as part of the provincical tax obligations in the form of a liturgy/munus on private individual taxpayers.

The Emperor Augustus created it to transport messages, officials, and tax revenues between the provinces and Italy. The service was still fully functioning in the first half of the sixth century in the Eastern Empire, when the historian Procopius accuses Emperor Justinian of dismantling most of its sections, except for the route leading to the Persian border. The extent of the cursus publicus is shown in the Tabula Peutingeriana, a map of the Roman road network dating from around AD 400.

Jacques Paul Migne

Jacques Paul Migne (French: [miɲ]; 25 October 1800 – 24 October 1875) was a French priest who published inexpensive and widely distributed editions of theological works, encyclopedias, and the texts of the Church Fathers, with the goal of providing a universal library for the Catholic priesthood.He was born at Saint-Flour, Cantal and studied theology at Orléans. He was ordained in 1824 and placed in charge of the parish of Puiseaux, in the diocese of Orléans, where his uncompromisingly Catholic and royalist sympathies did not coincide with local patriotism and the new regime of the Citizen-King. In 1833, after falling out with his bishop over a pamphlet he had published, he went to Paris, and on 3 November started a journal, L'Univers religieux, which he intended to keep free of political influence. It quickly gained 1,800 subscribers and he edited it for three years. (It afterwards became his co-editor Louis Veuillot's ultramontane organ, L'Univers.)

Master of the Horse

The Master of the Horse was (and in some cases, still is) a position of varying importance in several European nations.

Military tribune

A military tribune (Latin tribunus militum, "tribune of the soldiers", Greek chiliarchos, χιλίαρχος) was an officer of the Roman army who ranked below the legate and above the centurion. Young men of Equestrian rank often served as military tribune as a stepping stone to the Senate. The tribunus militum should not be confused with the elected political office of tribune of the people (tribunus plebis) nor with that of tribunus militum consulari potestate.

Patrologia Graeca

The Patrologia Graeca (or Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca) is an edited collection of writings by the Christian Church Fathers and various secular writers, in the Greek language. It consists of 161 volumes produced in 1857–1866 by J. P. Migne's Imprimerie Catholique, Paris. It includes both the Eastern Fathers and those Western authors who wrote before Latin became predominant in the Western Church in the 3rd century, e.g. the early writings collectively known as the Apostolic Fathers, such as the First and Second Epistle of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, Eusebius, Origen, and the Cappadocian Fathers Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa.

The 161 volumes are bound as 166 (vols. 16 and 87 being in three parts and vol. 86 in two). An important final volume, which included some supplements and a full index, was never published, as the plates were destroyed in a fire (1868) at the printer.The first series contained only Latin translations of the originals (81 vols., 1856-61). The second series contains the Greek text with a Latin translation (166 vols., 1857-66). The texts are interlaced, with one column of Greek and a corresponding column on the other side of the page that is the Latin translation. Where the Greek original has been lost, as in the case of Irenaeus, the extant Greek fragments are interspersed throughout the Latin text. In one instance, the original is preserved in Syriac only and translated into Latin. Quite often, information about the author is provided, also in Latin.

A Greek, D. Scholarios, added a half-published list of the authors and subjects, (Athens, 1879) and began a complete table of contents (Athens, 1883). In 1912, Garnier Frères, Paris, published a Patrologia Graeca index volume, edited by Ferdinand Cavallera.

Pierre Hérigone

Pierre Hérigone (Latinized as Petrus Herigonius) (1580–1643) was a French mathematician and astronomer.

Of Basque origin, Hérigone taught in Paris for most of his life.

Praetor

Praetor (Classical Latin: [ˈprajtoːr], also spelled prætor) was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army (in the field or, less often, before the army had been mustered); or, an elected magistratus (magistrate), assigned various duties (which varied at different periods in Rome's history). The functions of the magistracy, the praetura (praetorship), are described by the adjective: the praetoria potestas (praetorian power), the praetorium imperium (praetorian authority), and the praetorium ius (praetorian law), the legal precedents established by the praetores (praetors). Praetorium, as a substantive, denoted the location from which the praetor exercised his authority, either the headquarters of his castra, the courthouse (tribunal) of his judiciary, or the city hall of his provincial governorship.

Princeps senatus

The princeps senatus (plural principes senatus) was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and owning no imperium, this office brought conferred prestige on the senator holding it.

Quaestor

A quaestor (UK: , US: , Latin for investigator) was a public official in Ancient Rome. The position served different functions depending on the period. In the Roman Kingdom, quaestores parricidii (quaestors with judicial powers) were appointed by the king to investigate and handle murders. In the Roman Republic, quaestors (Lat. quaestores) were elected officials who supervised the state treasury and conducted audits. It was the lowest ranking position in the cursus honorum (course of offices). However, this means that in the political environment of Rome, it was quite common for many aspiring politicians to take the position of quaestor as an early rung on the political ladder. In the Roman Empire, the position, which was initially replaced by the praefectus (prefect), reemerged during the late empire as quaestor intra Palatium, a position appointed by the emperor to lead the imperial council and respond to petitioners.

Roman governor

A Roman governor was an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of Roman law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the Roman Empire. A Roman governor is also known as a propraetor or proconsul.

The generic term in Roman legal language was Rector provinciae, regardless of the specific titles, which also reflect the province's intrinsic and strategic status, and corresponding differences in authority.

By the time of the early empire, there were two types of provinces — senatorial and imperial — and several types of governor would emerge. Only proconsuls and propraetors fell under the classification of promagistrate.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites is a UNESCO World Heritage site (WHS) located in Wiltshire, England. The WHS covers two large areas of land separated by nearly 30 miles (48 km), rather than a specific monument or building. The sites were inscribed as co-listings in 1986. Some of the large and well known monuments within the WHS are listed below, but the area also has an exceptionally high density of small-scale archaeological sites, particularly from the prehistoric period. More than 700 individual archaeological features have been identified. There are 160 separate Scheduled Monuments, covering 415 items or features.

Stonehenge Cursus

The Stonehenge Cursus (sometimes known as the Greater Cursus) is a large Neolithic cursus monument on Salisbury plain, near to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. It is roughly 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long and between 100 metres (330 ft) and 150 metres (490 ft) wide. Excavations in 2007 dated the construction of the earthwork to between 3630 and 3375 BCE, several hundred years before the earliest phase of Stonehenge in 3000 BC. The cursus, along with adjacent barrows and the nearby 'Lesser Cursus' are part of the National Trust's Stonehenge Landscape property, and is within the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

Thornborough Henges

The Thornborough Henges are an unusual ancient monument complex that includes the three aligned henges that give the site its name. The complex is located near the village of Thornborough, close to the town of Masham in North Yorkshire, England. The complex includes many large ancient structures including a cursus, henges, burial grounds and settlements. They are thought to have been part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age 'ritual landscape' comparable to Salisbury Plain and date from between 3500 and 2500 BC. This monument complex has been called 'The Stonehenge of the North'. Historic England considers its landscape comparable in ceremonial importance to better known sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury, and Orkney.In recent decades, there has been public concern about the impact on the ritual landscape of quarrying by Tarmac.

Tribune of the Plebs

Tribunus plebis, rendered in English as tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune, was the first office of the Roman state that was open to the plebeians, and throughout the history of the Republic the most important check on the power of the Roman Senate and magistrates. These tribunes had the power to convene and preside over the Concilium Plebis (people's assembly); to summon the senate; to propose legislation; and to intervene on behalf of plebeians in legal matters; but the most significant power was to veto the actions of the consuls and other magistrates, thus protecting the interests of the plebeians as a class. The tribunes of the plebs were sacrosanct, meaning that any assault on their person was prohibited by law. In imperial times, the powers of the tribunate were granted to the emperor as a matter of course, and the office itself lost its independence and most of its functions. During the day the tribunes used to sit on the tribune benches on the Forum Romanum.

Vigintisexviri

The Vigintisexviri (sing. vigintisexvir) was a college (collegium) of minor magistrates (magistratus minores) in the Roman Republic; the name literally means "Twenty-Six Men". The college consisted of six boards:

decemviri stlitibus iudicandis – 10 magistrates who judged lawsuits, including those dealing with whether a man was free or a slave;

the tresviri capitales, also known as nocturni – three magistrates who had a police function in Rome, in charge of prisons and the execution of criminals;

the tresviri aere argento auro flando feriundo, also known as tresviri monetales – three magistrates who were in charge of striking and casting bronze, silver and gold (minting coins);

the quattuorviri viis in urbe purgandis, also known as quattuorviri viarum curandarum – four magistrates overseeing road maintenance within the city of Rome;

the duoviri viis extra urbem purgandis, also known as duoviri curatores viarum – two magistrates overseeing road maintenance near Rome;

the four praefecti Capuam Cumas – praefecti sent to Capua and Cumae in Campania to administer justice there.The singular of tresviri is triumvir; triumviri is also sometimes used for the plural but is considered to be less correct.

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