You are currently browsing the daily archive for 25/07/2009.

Cornish landscape artist Sarah Vivian has an exhibition of new work at the Shire Gallery, Shire Hall in the heart of Bodmin town, Cornwall. It runs from 3rd August until 5th September, and is open between 10am and 5pm every day except Sundays. The exhibition is entitled This Beautiful Land, and whilst there will be a few megalithic paintings on view, the exhibition focuses on the landscape from morning sunlight and the bright colours of the day through  to evening light, sunset and moonlit landscapes. The paintings will be set out in  order to represent this, and if previous shows are anything to go by, it promises to be very special.

14.-Blind-Fiddler-Above: The Blind Fiddler by Sarah Vivian, will form part of the current exhibition.

Sarah’s paintings celebrate the Spirit of the Land and often depict the ancient sacred places of Cornwall. Sarah is actively involved with the protection of ancient sites in Cornwall, and she has been a member of the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network, since it began.

Two stunning examples of Sarah’s megalithic paintings can be seen below. Neither will be part of the current exhibition.

16.-Piper-of-Boleigh The Piper of Boleigh by Sarah Vivian

18.-Men-an-tolMen-an-tol by Sarah Vivian

Please see the following websites for more information:

Spirit of Albion

Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network

Strolling round the henge and through the stones, memories of previous visits filled my mind, individual stones calling up reminders of who did this, how this happened, where particular photos were taken, what conversations took place. I smiled inside, at a tapestry of life, friends, lovers, experiences and growth woven over the years amidst the stones – stones that never change, yet can change your life in subtle degrees from the moment you enter their world.


Just a reminder that we’re now one day away from Heritage Action‘s fourth annual Avebury Megameet on the 1st of August. If you haven’t ventured forth for one of these before please give it a try. Put faces to names and meet up with some of the folks you may have only ever cyber-chatted to before. The Avebury Megameets are an informal gathering of people from all walks of life (artists, archaeologists, conservators, historians, pagans and others) but all with an interest in the Avebury Henge and our megalithic heritage in general.

The Megameet will be in the south-east quadrant, either by the Obelisk marker stone or close to the stone here and will kick off from around noon. It’s a good idea to bring something to sit on and something to eat and drink too if you fancy it. If the weather’s bad we’ll be in one of the rooms at the Red Lion (the front largest room if it’s available). Look out for this T-shirt – designed by BuckyE for the 2007 Avebury Megameet!

The Cove, from an engraving by William Stukeley. Designed by BuckyE

The British country side is a great place for walking, we have moors, hills, mountains and valleys for this outdoor sport, problems arise though when the footfall of many walkers start to erode the paths over the higher ground, and also the rather bad practice of creating walker cairns and wind breaks  on top of the old Bronze Age burial cairns.

Also, modern walker cairns can often be seen next to the burial cairns, the Bronze Age cairn being quarried to add to the modern one. Such acts of vandalism may be unintentional on the part of the walkers, maybe they are unable to distinguish between modern and old, but such foolishness often obscures and destroys valuable prehistoric remains.

There have been efforts made by archaeologists to redress the destruction of the Bronze Age cairns, one such is Fan Foel in the Brecon Beacons. In June 2002 a survey found that severe erosion was taking place due to a combination of ‘wind, rain, and from visitor’s removing stone for a walkers cairn’.

June 2004 – the walker’s cairn was removed from the site and the area of the burial cairn was partially excavated, and what is left of the monument is now protected beneath ‘terram matting and has been backfilled with turf and stone.

Another example is the Yorkshire Beamsley Beacon, where an old burial cairn lies under a modern walker cairn, and was also probably part of a defence hut in the Napoleonic war in the 19th century, and in the words of the article.

“Much of this cairn, which is now about 11m in diameter, still survives but in recent years it has suffered a lot of disturbance due to people using stones from it to make modern cairns and wind breaks. Another smaller historic cairn lies further along the ridge at Old Pike and that has also lost some of its stones.”

There is one more cairn that seems to have suffered damage fairly recently and this in Cornwall at West Penwith, a field note on The Modern Antiquarian highlights a recent visit by Sweetcheat to the Watch Croft cairn and his findings there.

One thing I noticed that I didn’t spot last time is that the eastern barrow (with the trig point) has been subjected to the building of one of those annoying walker’s windbreaks that are made from the stones of cairn itself (this is a problem on the North York Moors, but I haven’t seen it here before).

So this quarrying of stone from cairns is an ongoing problem which needs resolving or at least education by the local authorities to explain to people the folly of such actions. Of course it is not only the public who are at fault, some burial cairns because they are at a high point, also have the indignity of Ordnance Survey ‘trig’ posts inserted into the cairn, examples can be found here on The Modern Antiquarian….

Walker cairns are only the latest manifestation of a historical ‘vandalism’ that happens through time, but in this case it is something that can be rectified and stopped through the process of education, informing people  that it just is’nt right to destroy prehistoric monuments that have been around for four thousand years, and enforcing the scheduling laws that apply to our protected monuments.


July 2009

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