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‘Moth’ is this week’s Antiquarist, and is one of the founding members of Heritage Action. He is an accomplished photographer, better known these days for his nature and concert photography, but his earlier work capturing ancient sites is well worth searching out (see Flickr).

Our questions, and his responses can be seen below:

* What is/was your day job?

Boring! I was a civil servant, now do admin for a tiny IT training company who write & sell niche courses for niche software used in big business.

* How did your interest in Megalithic monuments begin?

In the 90s, I had a girlfriend who was interested in megaliths & I’d always loved walking. I found prehistoric monuments made a great target for a walk & found them beautiful (and if the monument wasn’t beautiful, the setting usually was!) I became more & more interested, especially once Julian Cope’s ‘the Modern Antiquarian‘ book came out & the website was launched.

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

Not spiritual & not really academic – though I’m interested in that side of things, at least to a degree. My interest mainly comes from finding the monuments and sites aesthetically beautiful in one way or another.

* What is your favourite time period or era?

I’m not picky. Favourites are Neolithic & Bronze age, though I do like a nice iron age, Roman, Viking or Saxon site, too.

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

Undoubtedly Julian Cope’s ‘the Modern Antiquarian’ (TMA) & later his ‘the Megalithic European‘ (TME) – though I don’t always agree with what he says about sites, he’s always interesting & writes beautifully!

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

From early on I found the most important thing for me is the best map I can get – OS Explorer if possible. If sites look as if they might be difficult to find, I also tend to print out any description I can find online if it looks helpful – this is often from the Modern Antiquarian website. Any books for on-site visits would be dictated by what I was looking for & where. I have quite a few books as I’ve always researched any new area I’m visiting & often buy a suitable book! If my target is in them usually take the relevant of the Cope books mentioned above (though might leave it in the car if there’s a walk!) If relevant, I’d absolutely take Aubrey Burl’s little ‘A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany‘.

* 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?

In the UK, the Callanish complex – hands down. ‘Callanish 1’ is just so spectacular & interesting and there are so many other beautiful and/or interesting sites in such a small & unspoilt area. And they’re even more interesting if you’re aware of Margaret Curtis’s studies. To be honest, unvisited is difficult in the UK as I’ve seen most of the sites I want to see. There’s some stuff on the Lleyn Peninsula in north Wales I’d like to see & I’ve never got round to Northumbria – but nothing specific. If I can go further afield, there are loads of Portuguese monuments I want to see one day, especially dolmens. I’d particularly like to see the christianised dolmens ‘Chapel Anta de Pavia’ & ‘Chapel Anta do San Brissos’. But although I’ve seen quite a few, there are still lots of places outside the UK that I’d like to see!

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

Can’t think of any, but as mentioned, my interest isn’t primarily academic.

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

I find Margaret Curtis’s studies of the Callanish area fascinating.

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

Not finding the site I’m looking for! It’s mainly only happened with small, obscure & probably unspectacular sites but I hate having to give up…. Vandalisation and people climbing on monuments. People sitting in, on or right next to monuments for long periods when I want to take a photo!

Many thanks to Moth 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)


May 2021

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