Reintroducing Sky Towers In Dorset

 In Birds, Death & Funerals, Environment, Sky Burial

I sit in the conservatory and scour the sky through the glass roof. No raptors. Outside, I constantly look upwards to the skies but still no raptors. Yes, I am looking for eagles, white tailed sea eagles to be precise. A vulture or two would be icing on the cake. Those of you who watched BBC Autumnwatch on the 28th and 29th October 2020 will know why. They featured the bearded vulture that crossed over to Britain during the summer. It settled around the Crowden Valley in the Peak District for a few weeks before heading back to the French Alps. Then, Chris Packham visited the secret spot on the Isle of Wight, where 13 juvenile sea eagles have been released over the last two summers. The shots of these birds were amazing but why am I writing about reintroducing sky towers in Dorset?

Feeding stations

My third book covered this topic. It is a subject relevant to how Stonehenge came into being. I raised the thorny question over what happened to all the missing bodies. The people who slogged in the fields, we do not find their remains. Consequently, in a chapter called ‘The innocent blue tit’ I described how a British sky tower would operate. The birds, you see, ate us. Consequently, little remained for archaeologists to find. However, it was a challenge to understand what birds existed here in 2200 BC.

Validation

The project to release sea eagles arose after I wrote the book. What a joy it was when bird experts stated that the sea eagle really belonged here, on our soft southern shores. The pines, now so redolent of Bournemouth, would be ideal trees for nesting. In fact, one of the sea eagles has flown over Bournemouth. All this validates my assertion that the sea eagle was the monarch of the sky towers. That bird, feeding on a body, would have been welcomed as a messenger from the gods, and no doubt as a means of releasing the spirit. But, what about the ‘shuffling birds’, the vultures. Were they in Britain in the Neolithic?

Reintroducing sky towers in Dorset

The bearded vulture (see picture) looks absolutely stunning. I prefer its other name, the lammergeier. The beard is a series of feathers hanging beneath its chin. This is the largest bird of prey in Europe, with a wingspan of up to ten feet. It has a habit of carrying large bones up high and dropping them onto rocks. My research suggested this was to eat the marrow in the bone. Autumnwatch showed that, in fact, it was to reduce the bone to smaller pieces. It then swallowed these large chunks of bone completely. In the book, this struck me as the ideal way to consume our biggest bones, the femur. However, when I mentioned the lammergeier I knew that I was on rocky ground. Its appearance on Autumnwatch vindicates me. Now, we have the birds so is it time for a law to allow sky towers?

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