The boneyard of the bizarre that rewrites our Celtic past
Ancient Mediterranean cultures thought nothing of splicing different animals together to form fantastical mythical beasts, such as the half-lion, half-goat chimera or the half-lion, half-eagle griffin.
Until now, however, ancient Britons were not credited with such imagination. That is all about to change following the discovery of a series of animal skeletons near Winterborne Kingston in Dorset, which raises the possibility that Britain’s ancient Celtic population had hybrid-animal monster myths similar to those of the ancient Greeks, Mesopotamians and Egyptians.
The bones, discovered in Dorset by archaeologists, appear to have been deliberately rearranged by Iron Age Britons in order to create hybrid beasts, half one creature and half another.
The Dorset ‘hybrids’ all discovered by archaeologists from Bournemouth University, include:
• A cow which, after probable sacrificial death, had had its own legs removed and deliberately replaced by four horse’s legs.
• A sacrificed sheep with two heads – its own somewhat fragmentary one and, protruding from its hind end, that of a bull.
• A horse with a cow’s horn protruding from its forehead – with the horn pointing inwards.
• A cow’s upper leg bone with a horse’s hoof