Approximately 120–150 Neolithic earthworks enclosures are known in Central Europe. They are called Kreisgrabenanlagen ("circular ditched enclosures") in German, or alternatively as roundels (or "rondels"; German Rondelle; sometimes also "rondeloid", since many are not even approximately circular). They are mostly confined to the Elbe and Danube basins, in modern-day Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, as well as the adjacent parts of Hungary and Poland, in a stretch of Central European land some 800 km (500 mi) across. They date to the first half of the 5th millennium BC; they are associated with the late Linear Pottery culture and its local successors, the Stroke-ornamented ware (Middle Danubian) and Lengyel (Moravian Painted Ware) cultures. The best known and oldest of these Circular Enclosures is the Goseck circle, constructed c. 4900 BC.
Only a few examples approximate a circular form; the majority are only very approximately circular or elliptic. One example at Meisternthal is an exact ellipse with identifiable focal points. The distribution of these structures seems to suggest a spread from the middle Danube (southern Slovakia and western Hungary) towards the west (Lower Austria, Lower Bavaria) along the Danube and to the northwest (Moravia, Bohemia, Saxony-Anhalt) following the Elbe. They precede the comparable circular earthwork or timber enclosures known from Great Britain and Ireland, constructed much later during c. 3000 to 1000 BC (late Neolithic to Bronze Age). But, by contrast to the long lifetime of the "Megalithic" culture, the time window during which the neolithic Roundels were in use is surprisingly narrow, lasting only for about 200–300 years (roughly 49th to 47th centuries BC).
The earliest roundel to be described was the one at Krpy (Kropáčova Vrutice), Bohemia, by Woldřich 1886, but it was only with systematic aerial survey in the 1980s and the 1990s that their ubiquity in the region became apparent. Three types have been distinguished:
The structures are mostly interpreted as having served a cultic purpose. Most of them are aligned and seem to have served the function of a calendar (Kalenderbau), in the context of archaeoastronomy sometimes dubbed "observatory", with openings aligned with the points sunrise and/or sunset at the solstices. This is the case with the "gates" or openings of the roundels of Quenstedt, Goseck and Quedlinburg. The observational determination of the time of solstice would not have served a practical (agricultural) purpose, but could have been used to maintain a lunisolar calendar (i.e. knowledge of the date of solstice allows an accurate handling of intercalary months).
Known Circular Enclosures:
An astronomical complex or commemorative astronomical complex is a series of man-made structures with an astronomical purpose. It has been used when referring to a group of Megalithic structures that it is claimed show high precision astronomical alignments. For the study of Archaeoastronomy, such complexes of similar structures are required for adequate measurement and calculation to ensure that similar celestial sightlines were intended by the designers. These arrangements have also been known as observational, ceremonial or ritual complexes with importance for the study of prehistoric cultures.
The term has been used in the naming of various series of observatories used for observing the stars in modern times.Enclosure (archaeology)
In archaeology, an enclosure is one of the most common types of archaeological site. It is any area of land separated from surrounding land by earthworks, walls or fencing. Such a simple feature is found all over the world and during almost all archaeological periods. They may be few metres across or be large enough to encompass whole cities.
Enclosures served numerous practical purposes including acting to delineate settlement areas, to create defensive positions or to be used as animal pens. They were also widely adopted in ritual and burial practices however and seem to demonstrate a fundamental human desire to make physical boundaries around spaces. Enclosures created from ditches and banks or walling can often be identified in the field through aerial photography or ground survey. Other types leave less permanent records and may only be identified during excavation.Goseck circle
The Goseck circle (German: Sonnenobservatorium Goseck) is a Neolithic structure in Goseck in the Burgenlandkreis district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
Its construction is dated to approximately the 49th century B.C., and it seems to have remained in use until about the 47th century B.C. It may thus be the oldest and best known of the circular enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. Currently, the site is presented officially by the state archaeologists and the local association that looks after it as a ritual or cult structure.
The circle consists of a concentric ditch 75 metres (246 feet) across and two palisade rings containing entrances in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the winter solstice days and smaller entrances aligned with the summer solstice. Marketing materials have described it as one of the oldest "Solar observatories" in the world, but sunrise and sunset during winter and summer solstices are the only evident astronomical alignments emphasized in the remains of the structure.
The existence of the site was made public in August 2003, and it was opened for visitors in December 2005.Roundel (disambiguation)
General meanings of Roundel include:
Roundel, a circular symbol
used in heraldry: Roundel (heraldry)
used on military aircraft as a sign of nationality: Military aircraft insignia
Roundel enclosure, a neolithic monument type: Neolithic circular enclosures in Central Europe
Roundel (fortification), a type of circular artillery tower
A Tondo (art), a large circular piece of art
Roundel (poetry), a form of verse in English language poetrySpecific instancesLondon Underground Roundel, the logo for transport in London
Royal Air Force roundels, identification marks used by the British Airforces
Roundel (magazine), a monthly periodical from the BMW Car Club of America
"Roundel: The little eyes that never knew Light", a song by Sir Edward Elgar to a verse by A. C. Swinburne