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Introducing Chris Brooks, otherwise known as ‘Scubi’. Chris has been a stalwart supporter of Heritage Action and the Journal since its earliest days. He famously documented his travels to the far north in our 2011 series “Scubi’s Scottish Adventure”.  

Here are his answers to our questions:

* What is/was your day job?

I am an Electrical Engineer in the Railway Industry

* How did your interest in Megalithic monuments begin?

I studied Archaeology at college as a fill in subject and was introduced to our prehistoric monuments through that.

* Is your interest grounded in something Spiritual, Academic or something else?

I do feel an air of excitement around our structures but I do not let that get in the way of facts so under it all I suppose I am an academic in the first instance.

* What is your favourite time period or era?

I am definitely interested in Neolithic more than any other time period but do enjoy learning about the late Mesolithic leading in to it and the early middle Bronze age that followed it.

* Which book has had the most influence on your interest?

When studying Archaeology at college I had a book on almost permanent loan from the library which was called something like ‘The A-Z of Prehistoric Sites in Britain’ and which had about 20 sites around Wiltshire in it.  I used the book and my push bike to cycle around the county trying to find the sites listed as well as others outside.  I gave the book back at the end of my studies meaning to buy it later but have never been able to locate a copy.

* Do you have a favourite field guide reference or gazetteer that you always take with you on-site visits?

I still use The Modern Antiquarian website if I am looking for prehistoric places near where I am travelling to for work. 

* What is the best site you’ve visited so far (however you want to define ‘best’), and why? Which so-far unvisited site is top of your ‘must-see list, and why?

The best sites that always stay in my mind are on the Orkneys and in particular Taversoe Tuick, a double decker Chambered Cairn on the island of Rousay. I am still to visit Carnac in Brittany which is still on the top of my list because it looks so strange in photos and I need to be there to see it first hand and get my head around it.  

* Which archaeological words or phrases caused you the most confusion when you first started? What is your understanding of those phrases now?

Ritual associated with sites!  I understand ritual being a repetitive event but I cannot understand why it is always associated with sites in a ‘religious’ context and especially where there is no real evidence. it always strikes me as a convenient answer and infers all our ancestors built the megaliths with some sort of ritualist context.  I do not think this is the case. 

* What is your favourite theory about site origin/usage?

I continue to ponder the theories of Silbury Hill, being such a large structure with no real evidence of its intended use.  My thoughts are still that it was taller than it is now when first put to use, that it marked the gathering point of various activities and most likely had a beacon on top such as a very large fire that could be seen by its flames at night and by its smoke in the day.  the flattening of the top in the Roman period as resulted in the removal of evidence of this.  It’s a theory as good as any I suppose.

* What is your pet peeve with regard to Megalithic sites?

I have two pet peeves;

1. the deliberate destruction or damage of ancient monuments including that by landowners through neglect or by vandals.

2. Claims by certain fraternities of their knowledge of the use of these sites and powers contained within, with no evidence whatsoever… oh…and the votive rubbish they constantly leave behind.

Many thanks to Chris for sharing his megalithic origins with us. Look out for further instalments of ‘Meet the Antiquarists’ in the weeks to come! Don’t forget, if you’d like to take part in this series, simply contact us with your answers to the questions above. To see other articles in this series, simply enter ‘Antiquarists’ in the search box on the left (or click the handy supplied link)


April 2021

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