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Stonehenge. Image credit Littlestone. Copyright waivered
An exhibition featuring memorabilia about Stonehenge opened at Wiltshire Heritage Museum on 16 May and runs to 20 September 2009.
“Inspired by Stonehenge focuses on the changing ways the monument has inspired and been experienced by visitors throughout the past two centuries. Well-known archaeologist and broadcaster Julian Richards, who has publicised extensively about Stonehenge, has, as guest curator, compiled the exhibition and written the exhibition catalogue. It is hoped the exhibition will rekindle not only concern for the monument, but a willingness to embrace and take care of Wiltshire’s wilder heritage.”
More here -
We maybe late on this one, but an interesting meeting at the Hill of Allen highlights the reason why people care so passionately for the history written into the landscape. The Hill of Allen has been quarried for many years, though by some it is looked on as a sacred hill, but there is a certain irony in the fact that this hill has probably also been quarried to build the motorway that runs beneath another sacred hill – Tara.
As for the storytelling, let us keep telling the rich myths and stories that wind round our own particular histories, not just for our sake but for our grandchildren as well.
“And finally” Spat the sage, “When all these things are passed, when every trial and suffering is over, when at last you believe that you are finally free, then people of Erin, only then will the true depth of my spite take form, if it was the Fianna that upheld ye through your countless years of trial, if it was they and their descendents who’s sacrifice finally set you free, then thus I will repay them for their foolish loyalty, what are these baubles of loyalty, this child’s talk of honor, those who in there hearts turn away from the truth and the childish innocence and naivety of the kings of Erin they will share with me the riches of the world, gold beyond any dream you have yet dared embrace, even if these riches are to be the bars of their prison, it is a gilded prison I give them, with such splendour as this what fool could possibly say, that the laughing voice of a happy river or the cool majesty of the stars is of more worth to them, for their crime of selfless loyalty this a bequeath the Fianna of Erin, their fortress of Rath Lugh shall be overthrown, though their stand be valiant none shall come to their aid, except the cream of the cream of the men of Ireland and their sons, and these too shall be cast aside by my minions like the dying jetsam on the unstoppable poisoned tide, this too I give them for their daring to defy, that their beloved Tara shall be cast low before the courts of lesser kings, and none but the few of the few will care enough to pick her up from the mud and serve to heal the dishonor intended for her, the white stones of the Dun Allen shall be cast low, and smashed will be transported where once they were the upholders of the pinnacle of virtue now they will be driven beneath the feet of my slaves, now they will be bound to the service of ever greater torments, now they will be nothing more than the stones of the road of toil, the foundation of the road to IKEA…
The lady Caitlin spoke “you who would afflict my children, gloat at all that is base they have become, revelling in their supposed slavery, laughing as they learn to fear the sun. will feel the hope of all your tyranny, as the proud nonchalant summer first feels the breath of autumn, time and again the clarion call will sound, and as it falls upon the ears of my children they will rise up in peace, every stone that sings with memory, every smashed site and tomb and barrow will spill forth it’s magic till they wash your evil from my land, and finally the dignity with which my children stood in every generation, will shine once more, and the light of that shining will be the spirit of peace, and this time last forever, I have faith in my children my love will never betray them, I know they will rise against you time and time again and so I have no fear.”
Storytelling and a walk round the landscape; Meeting Point Car Park at Allen Church, Saturday 30th of May 2009 at 2pm.
According to the Guardian of the 24th May, a National Geographic photographer had seen, but had been refused permission to photograph the same fossil 10 years ago. It was originally dug out of the Messel pit, near Darmstadt, in Germany in 1983. We can only speculate on the impetus behind its eventual release to the world, but a payment of $1million was agreed between the collector’s dealer and a palaeontologist from the Natural History Museum in Oslo. Two German museums had previously rejected the fossil because of the prohibitive amount demanded.
It’s worth quoting the following, from the later Guardian article by Ian Sample:
“…she has already shed light on the murky world of fossil dealing. This is an international business, where middlemen, who often work with unnamed buyers and sellers, negotiate staggering sums of money for fossils that are sometimes of uncertain provenance and legality. While academics spend years unearthing and characterising fossils to further our knowledge of life’s history, there are private fossil hunters driving around with picks and shovels, intent on grabbing what they can to sell to the highest bidder.”
In fossil hot-spots around the world and particularly where local regulations are either nonexistent or ineffective, specimens are sourced and sold on, often disappearing into private collections. In many cases portions of fossils, divided in the course of excavation, are sold separately. It is debatable whether the occasional, expensive success story outweighs these losses to knowledge through dismemberment or concealment. ‘Ida’ spent 26 years, if ownership was constant, on a dentist’s wall.
Scouring is so not on these days…
The Uffington White Horse, symbolic image of the Bronze Age, a totemic emblem of another age, is being cleaned up this Bank Holiday, a ‘magical horse’ forever in full flight across the downs, with his ‘manger’ in the valley below; this annual cleaning has been going on for centuries.
See Guardian article; Bank Holiday grooming for White Horse
Many tributes have been paid to Lord Kennet (Wayland Young) who recently died. His influence extended far beyond the core issues of his parliamentary and ministerial roles to many conservation areas including chairmanship of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, campaigning for listed buildings including St Pancras station, supporting the Redundant Churches Fund and patron of Action for the River Kennet.
He was also passionately concerned for the welfare of both Avebury and Stonehenge. He was a chairman of the Avebury Society and a staunch opponent of inappropriate development both there and at other World Heritage sites. In addition he was first chairman and patron of the Stonehenge Alliance and was for many years at the forefront of defending our national icon from a succession of schemes that would have disfigured it forever.
The day after he died it was announced that a new visitors centre for Stonehenge was to be constructed, well away from the stones. The fact that massive new highways will not be driven across the World Heritage landscape is due in no small part to his ceaseless opposition to such plans. He said of them that they were “…barbaric… No other country in the world would contemplate treating a site which is a world icon in such a way.” Now, they are abandoned, hopefully forever. It was a close call however and in the modern fashion his passing should be greeted with respectful applause.
These little pits had been made over generations for preparing inks for tattooing – our guide showed us how leaves and the ash extracted from certain fatty nuts were used to prepare the inks.
Recently two of The Modern Antiquarian contributors Jane and Moth took a trip to the French Polynesian islands of the Marquesas, and to quote from Jane Tomlinson’s blog on TMA “… these islands are the farthest from any continent in the world, lying more than 3000 miles from Mexico… the archipelago was first colonised by people in about 100 AD, probably by Samoans. The people remained Neolithic – that is, without metal tools, – until the arrival of Europeans in the 18th century.“
It must have been a fascinating time exploring the islands and the remains of stone buildings and ancestor stone statues buried deep amongst a verdant jungle. But what is interesting about this trip to the far side of the world, is how stone was used in a very similar fashion to what we see in our own Neolithic culture back home.
A giant polissoir stands at the side of track which leads you up to the site
Polissoir stones (which carry the marks of generations of use for grinding implements) tell a tale of Neolithic culture we can find here in Britain up on Fyfield Downs at Avebury with the polissior stone there, together with the numerous cup marked stones found on the moors of Northern Britain. Stone limits and yet provides the material for so much more. Carved Tikki ancestral forms, their spectacled eyes menacing us gently from the past, are one of the delights to be found on Jane Tomlinson’s blog here, also a flying pregnant stone woman maybe?
Lipona Tikas at Puamau