You are currently browsing the daily archive for 15/03/2011.

The Modern Antiquarian (TMA) web site was originally set up in March 2000 after the publication of the book of the same name by Julian Cope, and has grown significantly over the years. The book is imminently to be reissued, but sadly will not be updated from the original text.

The site has several components which come together to form a cohesive whole, presenting a comprehensive gazetteer of prehistoric sites across the UK, and most recently further afield into Europe.

Contributors can create their own blog entries on the site. These are mainly used for trip outlines and journals as well as for more far-reaching and thought-provoking ‘essay’ entries.

The main part of the site is the Gazetteer, which can be browsed by area, searched by various criteria, or located on a map. The original map became very slow and unresponsive as more and more sites were added, and while it’s still available for use, it’s much easier to use the supplied Google Earth KML file to search for site locations.

Each gazetteer entry consists of one or more components, each of which can have multiple entries: News, Images (photographs, maps/plans and artistic/interpretive), Fieldnotes, Folklore, Miscellaneous, Links and Discussions (which links in to the Forums). Separate links on the page header provide instant access to the latest News items, and to the latest Posts (everything else). Each entry also has basic information such as nearest town, map/grid references and lat/long references, and links to external sites such as a selection of mapping and imaging web sites. There are drop-down controls providing lists of nearby sites and facilities which link to the appropriate page, and an option to add an entry (if logged in) under any of the categories.

The problem with user-contributed web sites of this nature is that over time, entries can become very repetitive, particularly with regard to images. The site editors therefore occasionally ‘cull’ what they deem to be inappropriate or duplicate postings, in an attempt to keep the site fresh and informative.

The Forums, like any internet site, can be particularly lively and cover a range of topics. Contributors range from first-time visitors (who often become long-term users of the site), through seasoned amateur explorers (Modern Antiquarians, or ‘ModAnts’) with a wealth of local knowledge of many of the out of the way places that monuments are found, to professional archaeologists, documentary makers and other journalists. If you have a question about a particular site or area, the Forum will usually provide a wealth of useful responses.

It was on the TMA forum  in 2003 that several contributors first came together to put forward the idea of a ‘megameet’ that was eventually held at Uffington White Horse, and which resulted in the formation of Heritage Action in 2004. Here at Heritage Action, we still use TMA extensively in our site research, and take an active participation in the forums.

All in all, if you have an interest in prehistory, a link to this site is a must for your Bookmarks folder.

Title page of The Stones of Stonehenge by E. Herbert Stone

Reporting on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website, Audrey Pearson writes of the 1924 book, The Stones of Stonehenge: A Full Description of the Structure and of its Outworks by E. Herbert Stone that –

MIT’s copy of this illustrated book on Stonehenge is something special. It belonged to Harold “Doc” Edgerton (1903-1990), the MIT Institute Professor who perfected the electronic stroboscope. Edgerton has pasted many of his own photographs of Stonehenge into his copy, turning it into a volume that’s been “extra-illustrated” by a notable figure in the history of photography.

On the book’s front endpapers, Edgerton noted where and when he acquired it; his inscription reads,“Harold E. Edgerton, Aug. 1944. Purchased in Oxford, Eng.” Below that, in pencil and alongside a close-up of two uniformed men at Stonehenge, is written, “Chalgrove Airport, 155 Photo Squadron.” Chalgrove Airport is located in Oxfordshire and was built, in part, to accommodate American reconnaissance units during World War II. The “155 Photo Reconnaissance Squadron” was the group with which Edgerton was serving in England.

At the time he bought this book – in the midst of World War II – Edgerton was a consultant for the U.S. Army Air Force. His flash units made flight reconnaissance missions possible during darkness. The photographs Edgerton has pasted into this book are examples of the technology he was demonstrating for the military. Stonehenge was selected for these demonstrations because it was thought to be secluded enough that the bright flashes of light and the sound of airplane engines would not attract the attention of the enemy.

More here –


March 2011

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