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cursus


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(pl. cursūs) [MC]

A kind of Neolithic ceremonial monument comprising a rectangular enclosure defined by a bank with external ditches. The longest example is the pair of end‐to‐end joined cursūs known as the Dorset Cursus on Cranborne Chase, Dorset, which together run for more than 10 km across the grain of the landscape. More typically, cursūs are between 500 m and 3 km long and up to 80 m wide. Dating mainly to the 3rd millennium bc, their purpose is not known, although they are widely believed to have been ceremonial pathways that, when used for processions, structured the participants' vision of the surrounding landscape and the monuments within it. William Stukeley was the first to recognize this class of monument in the 18th century ad, but his belief that they were racecourses is not correct.

Subjects: Archaeology.


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