It was good to see archaeologists debating the rights and wrongs of “brandalising” monuments recently on the BAJR forum as it’s an issue that needs resolving, once and for all. It was prompted by this at Cardiff Castle and the question “Anyone concerned about the ethical implications of this for the Roman sections?”

Cardiff Castle

It was very cleverly arranged so that it doesn’t actually touch the wall (and only the bits of wall at the bottom are original Roman) so it’s a useful discussion subject as it’s at the pretty harmless end of the spectrum. Consequently, most of the comments were positive – “Yeah its all good! No damage…just brilliant advertising!” and “it could be said to promote and integrate our historic culture and historic environment into our modern lives” and “I can’t even believe anyone might think this is a bad thing….”

However, others took a more cautious view: “As this is a Grade I Listed Building, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a registered Historic Park and Garden as well as a conservation area it would seem to be at odds with legislation, policies and guidelines. A new Historic Environment bill is currently working its way through the Assembly which will bring in tighter controls on the misuse and abuse of our nationally important monuments.” Another person suggested it was all a matter of context: “The setting of Cardiff castle is in the middle of a vibrant city centre with all sorts going on around it. if they’d hung a giant rugby ball off the top of Tinkinswood neolithic burial chamber it’d be a whole different story I am sure.”

It’s certainly the case that if it’s a bad thing at all, it’s a lot less bad at Cardiff Castle than Tinkinswood and that judged purely on it’s own merits it’s hard to see it as a bad thing at all at Cardiff. However, we can’t get away from our long held conviction (and campaign) that brandalising any monument should be avoided because of the danger of damaging copycatting elsewhere. We’re convinced that anything which erodes the sacrosanct nature of monuments in general contributes ultimately to vandalism at heritage sites. A while back Fathers 4 Justice spray painted the Uffington White Horse purple. They must have gained the impression it was fair game.