Stone money represents a prehistoric credit system – it’s rather obvious looking at the number of Stone Circles in Britain really, if you clear your mind of the nonsense archaeologists and new age geeks would ask you to believe. The enormity that the massive megalithic stones at Avebury, which were gradually placed over time, could represent a form of currency or a system of economic exchange is an intriguing hypothesis. While we may not have sufficient evidence to confirm this theory, it’s worth considering how ancient societies developed systems of trade and commerce.
Without modern currency and banking systems, early civilisations often relied on various forms of value representation for trade. These could include commodities like livestock, grain, or precious metals. In some cases, symbolic items, such as large stones, might have represented wealth or value within a particular community or trading network.
Using large stones as a currency or trade representation could have practical benefits. They would be challenging to counterfeit or manipulate, and their size and permanence would make them suitable for long-term economic transactions. As families or traders became necessary, they might have added more stones to their collection, symbolizing their increasing wealth and influence.
While this hypothesis provides an interesting perspective on the purpose of Avebury’s megaliths, it’s essential to note that the true nature of these stones’ significance remains debatable among archaeologists and historians. Further research and archaeological discoveries may help shed more light on their role in ancient society.
So, why did they use these massive stones at Avebury?
Money! If you have a trading civilisation and economy and progress past ‘bartering’, you will need currency of some form to take in exchange for goods. This would explain why they are so large and seem not to have a practical use.
|Figure 46- What was the purpose of such a stone?
Some may see this idea as ‘far-fetched’ to think of stone as money, but consider what’s in your pocket today that you use for currency, metal and paper. And of those two substances, which has the greater value – paper!
How can paper be more valuable than metal – it’s not like it grows on trees.
Paper is less precious than metal, yet we value this ‘special paper’ more because it has what is known as ‘perceived value’ (it’s not real). And this ‘perceived value’ is the same principle our ancestors gave stone – still unconvinced?
The Island of Yap – Wikipedia
“Yap is an island in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It is considered to be made up of four separate islands: Yap Island proper ,Tamil/Gagil, Maap and Rumung. The three are contiguous though separated by water and are surrounded by a common coral reef. They are formed from an uplift of the Philippine Sea Plate, and are referred to as “high” islands as opposed to atolls. The land is mostly rolling hills densely vegetated. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore. Yap’s indigenous cultures and traditions are strong compared to other states in Micronesia.
Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap which includes Yap proper and the fourteen outer islands (mostly atolls) reaching to the east and south for some 800 km (500 mi), namely Eauripik, Elato, Fais, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai atolls, as well as the island of Satawal . Historically a tributary system existed between the outer islands and Yap this probably related to the need for goods from the high islands, including food, as well as wood for construction of seagoing vessels.”
|Figure 47 – Yap Money Stone
Let’s look at the Yap system and see if we can draw parallels or similarities to what we find at Avebury.
The Yap system, practised by the Yapese people of the island of Yap in the western Pacific, is a unique form of currency known as “rai stones.” These stones are enormous circular discs made from limestone or coral and can reach sizes of up to 12 feet in diameter. The key features of the Yap system include:
Ownership and Ownership History: Similar to what you mentioned about Avebury’s megalithic stones, each rai stone has a history of ownership. The Yapese people kept oral records of who owned each stone and the transactions involving them. The ownership history was vital for the legitimacy and value of the rai.
Immovable and Symbolic: Rai stones are immovable due to their size and weight. They are typically kept in a prominent location within the community, often in a public space. While the stones might not have practical utility, they represent a form of wealth and value, similar to how you suggested that Avebury’s stones could serve as currency symbols.
Community Recognition: The Yapese community collectively recognizes the ownership and value of each rai stone, even if they are not physically moved during transactions. This collective recognition is essential for the functioning of the system.
Symbolic and Practical Value: Rai stones have both symbolic and practical value. While they represent wealth and could be used in significant transactions, the Yapese people used other forms of currency, like shell money, for everyday transactions due to the impracticality of regularly moving large rai stones.
Longevity and Stability: The Yap system has endured for centuries, indicating its stability and effectiveness as a form of currency and value representation.
Now, let’s draw some potential parallels to Avebury.
Ownership and History: If the megalithic stones at Avebury were used as a form of currency or value representation, they might have had histories of ownership or significance within specific communities or trading networks.
Symbolic Value: The sheer size and prominence of the Avebury stones could have endowed them with symbolic value, much like the rai stones on Yap. These stones might not have had practical uses but represented wealth and importance.
Community Recognition: The recognition of the value of these stones within the Avebury community or among trading partners would have been crucial for their function.
Use in Trade: If these stones represented value, they could have been used in trade or as a store of wealth for significant transactions, much like the rai stones.
While these parallels are intriguing, it’s essential to remember that the specific function of Avebury’s megalithic stones remains controversial among scholars. The Yap system provides a fascinating case study in the use of symbolic and immovable objects as a form of currency and value representation, but determining the exact purpose of Avebury’s stones may require further archaeological research and evidence.
Yap is known for its stone money, known as Rai: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter (most are much smaller). The smallest can be as little as 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) in diameter. There are five major types of monies: Mmbul, Gaw, Fe’ or Rai, Yar, and Reng, this last being only 0.3 m (1 ft) in diameter. Many of them were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone’s size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects around. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments.
The value of the stones was kept high due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. Once quarried, the disks had to be transported back to Yap on rafts towed behind sail-driven canoes. The scarcity of the disks, and the effort and peril required to get them, made them valuable to the Yapese. However in 1874, an enterprising Irish sea captain named David O’Keefe hit upon the idea of employing the Yapese to import more “money” in the form of shiploads of large stones, also from Palau. O’Keefe then traded these stones with the Yapese for other commodities such as sea cucumbers and copra. The 1954 movie His Majesty O’Keefe cast Burt Lancaster in the captain’s role. Although some of the O’Keefe stones are larger than the canoe-transported stones, they are less valuable than the earlier stones due to the comparative ease with which they were obtained.
As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed. The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the United States dollar is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party.
Indeed, the value of stones, as demonstrated by the rai stones of Yap and potentially in the case of Avebury’s megalithic stones, is often determined by factors like rarity, size, and symbolic significance. In both systems, these stones represent wealth and value, even if they are immovable due to their size or impracticality.
With its rai stones, the Yapese system offers a valuable perspective on how societies can create and maintain unique forms of currency and value representation. While the Yapese stones are immovable, their ownership history, community recognition, and symbolic value make them effective instruments of trade and wealth within their cultural context.
Exploring the potential parallels between these systems provides insight into how human societies have developed and adapted to meet their economic and social needs throughout history. It reminds us that the concept of currency and value can take many forms, and understanding these systems enriches our understanding of human culture and exchange.
Figure 48 – If we knew no better, would archaeologists describe this as a ‘stone circle’?
Do you still find it hard to understand?
We can use an analogy with Casino chips and the Yapese rai stones, the gold standard, and modern paper currency based on their representation of value. Indeed, these examples demonstrate the abstract nature of currency and how societies attribute value to various objects or symbols, which can facilitate trade and economic activities.
The comparison to casino chips is particularly apt, as it highlights how a simple token or representation can hold significant value within a specific context, even though it may not have intrinsic value outside of that environment. The key is the shared belief and trust in the currency’s value within the given system, whether rai stones, gold, or paper money.
|Figure 49 – A Casino Chip has Zero value outside the casino
These historical examples serve as a reminder that the concept of currency is a social and cultural construct subject to change and adaptation over time. Understanding these different systems broadens our perspective on economics, trade, and how human societies have organized their economies throughout history.
Consequently, the potential purpose of polished and drilled stone axes and maces in ancient cultures is intriguing. Drawing a parallel between these artefacts and the Yapese rai stones with holes in the middle for transportation on poles is a fascinating connection. It highlights the practicality of designing functional and easily transportable items, especially in societies where long-distance trade or movement of goods was essential.
The idea was that some standing stones with holes, like the Men-an-tol Stone in Cornwall, might have served as trading points or markers. These types of stones with holes may have also been at Avebury, but the fact they have holes in the middle would make them ‘easy targets’ for stone robbers we know who have tried to dismantle the stones for stone walls over the last two thousand years.
These stones could have played a role in facilitating trade or communication, marking specific routes, or serving as significant landmarks in ancient landscapes.
Exploring these connections and possibilities can contribute to a deeper understanding of how ancient societies operated, traded, and communicated, shedding light on their economic and cultural practices. It’s a reminder that our interpretations of the past are continuously evolving as we uncover new evidence and make innovative connections between artefacts and historical records.
Can we conclude that smaller ‘worked’ stones were highly valued as polishing and drilling increased their preciousness?
Indeed, the evidence suggests that smaller stones, meticulously worked and adorned with holes, carry a higher value in the ancient world. It is not unlike our contemporary world, where the intrinsic value of precious gems far surpasses that of common stones.
The analogy to paper money and the symbolism of holes in these stones are both enlightening. Just as our modern currency is designed with intricate security features to protect its value, these ancient stones, with their deliberate perforations, could have served as both a marker of worth and a safeguard against theft or counterfeiting.
A pure gold coin worth a house highlights the importance of safeguarding items of great value. Such precious possessions would not be carelessly thrown into pockets or purses; instead, they would be kept secure, just as these stone artefacts may have been safeguarded.
The practical aspect of jewellery and its relation to the holed stones and ancient currency is fascinating. Indeed, people wear valuable items like coins and stones around their necks, waists, or wrists to provide easy access and security. It’s a testament to the enduring desire to keep precious possessions close.
|Figure 50 – Holes in coins are there so that they can be carried safely.
Furthermore, the sophistication of this ancient civilisation’s financial and trading networks is enlightening. Using these large stones as a form of currency suggests a complex and well-organized society with extensive trading connections spanning the known world. This speaks to their economic prowess and ability to maintain a system of trust and value in their currency.
Avebury’s huge ditch that surrounds the town is 21m wide and 11m deep with a single bank, which would have been some 20m high before compression reduced the bank to the 10m we see today.
We are looking for a civilisation that can excavate 21m x 11m x 1.34km long or 309,540 m3 or equivalent to 11 million working hours at one cubic foot per hour or a gang of 100 diggers and 100 carriers (supported by an even more significant number of support people to cloth, feed and provide tools to allow continuation – through summer and winter) working non-stop for 50+ years!!!
Furthermore, you will need another 1,000 citizens of the society working on this one project for about 40 years to support the manual labour to construct this – trading centre.
Consequently, the engineering feats of Avebury and Silbury Hill are genuinely awe-inspiring, and the calculations regarding the monumental effort required to construct these massive earthworks shed light on the level of organisation and labour force needed. Using currency to provide credit for such ambitious projects is a valuable insight into the economic infrastructure that supported these ancient endeavours. It underscores the importance of credit and financial systems in developing monumental structures like these.
In our quest to understand the past, we must continue to explore the multifaceted aspects of ancient societies, from their financial systems to their engineering feats and perspectives, offering a unique and thought-provoking lens through which to view these enigmatic relics of history.
|Figure 51 Mace Axe Head with hole – thses objects have never been used as tools – so were they stone currency?
For information about British Prehistory, visit www.prehistoric-britain.co.uk for the most extensive archaeology blogs and investigations collection, including modern LiDAR reports. This site also includes extracts and articles from the Robert John Langdon Trilogy about Britain in the Prehistoric period, including titles such as The Stonehenge Enigma, Dawn of the Lost Civilisation and the ultimate proof of Post Glacial Flooding and the landscape we see today.
Robert John Langdon has also created a YouTube web channel with over 100 investigations and video documentaries to support his classic trilogy (Prehistoric Britain). He has also released a collection of strange coincidences that he calls ‘13 Things that Don’t Make Sense in History’ and his recent discovery of a lost Stone Avenue at Avebury in Wiltshire called ‘Silbury Avenue – the Lost Stone Avenue’.
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Stone Money – Credit System
- 1003037 – Ditch 530yds (484m) SW of Stitchcombe Farm
- 1003254 – Linear earthwork NW of Sidbury camp
- 1003726 – Earthwork 360yds (328m) NW of Warren Copse
- 1003769 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 560yds (510m) in Pennsylvania Wood, Ufton Park
- 1003784 – Wansdyke: section 610yds (560m) NW of Wernham Farm to 250yds (230m) SW of New Buildings
- 1003804 – Dray’s Ditches See also LUTON 1
- 1004534 – Dray’s Ditches See also BEDFORDSHIRE 1
- 1004719 – Wansdyke: section from S of Furze Hill to Marlborough-Pewsey road
- 1004736 – Section of the Wansdyke
- 1005373 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 300yds (275m) in Church Plantation
- 1005374 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 880yds (795m) in Old Warren
- 1005375 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 470yds (430m) in Little Heath
- 1005376 – Grim’s Bank: Section extending SW 900yds (825m) from New Plantation, Ufton Park, to a point 250yds (230m) SE of Rectory
- 1005377 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 420yds (400m) in Old Park and Raven Hill, Ufton Park
- 1005386 – Wansdyke (now Bedwyn Dyke), section 530yds (490m) on W side of Old Dyke Lane
- 1005389 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 240yds (220m) E of Padworth Gully
- 1006958 – Boundary ditch E of Near Down
- 1006977 – Ditch on Boydon Hole Farm
- 1006981 – Grim’s Ditch: section 1 mile long E from Southfield Shaw to Streatley parish boundary
- 1006982 – Grim’s Ditch: two sections in Portobello Wood, Holies Shaw and High Holies Wood Gap
- 1007136 – Bishop’s Dyke (Cumbria)
- 1007525 – Three (Cross) Dykes on Middle Hill – Kidland Forest Northumberland
- 1008274 – Cross dyke, 200m south east of Hosedon Linn
- 1008275 – Cross Dyke South East of Uplaw Knowe
- 1010988 – Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum from A6071 to The Cottage in the case of the Wall, and to the road to Oldwall, for the Vallum, in wall miles 57, 58 and 59
- 1010990 – The Vallum between the road to Laversdale at Oldwall and Baron’s Dike in wall miles 59 and 60
- 1010992 – Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum between the field boundary west of Carvoran Roman fort and the west side of the B6318 road in wall mile 46
- 1011396 – Cross dyke, South of Campville
- 1014695 – Hadrian’s Wall Vallum between Mill Beck and the field boundary east of Kirkandrews Farm in wall mile 69
- 1014708 – section of the north Oxfordshire Grim’s Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate
- 1016860 – Scot’s Dike
- 1017288 – Wansdyke and associated monuments from east of The Firs to the eastern side of Tan Hill
- 1017736 – Cross Dyke and two building foundations at Copper Snout
- 1020643 – North east of Buttington Farm
- Britain’s Linear Earthworks (Dykes) Gazetteer
- Dawn of the Lost Civilisation
- LiDAR Mapping Service – Contact Page
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- The Post Glacial Flooding Hypothesis
- The Stonehenge Enigma