Who Owns Our Dead?
Corroded In Action
Archaeology At Sea
Heathrow Today, Tomorrow The World
Home and Heritage
Yorkshire's Holy Secret
tv in ba
Editor Mike Pitts
Is anyone there?
Who says public participation in archaeology isn’t alive and well? The successful Newport ship campaign (BA October 2002) showed how much can be achieved by local initiatives, but how far should archaeological inclusivity go? Gifted psychic consultant, Diane Lloyd Hughes, 37, received attention recently when she visited the site of the Medieval vessel. ‘I am just trying to piece together some of the past of the ship,’ she said. ‘Maybe some of my findings will help with filling in some of the details.’ So what were the findings? According to Ms Lloyd Hughes an unnamed local earl had used the ship, which had connections to Bristol, for ‘underhand practices’ including the theft and transportation of crockery and silverware. Apparently the ship and its crew of 35 met their fate on the banks of the River Usk after being weighed down by too much illegal cargo. Ms Lloyd Hughes’ informant, ‘a young boy with curly blond hair scrubbing the deck of the vessel’, could not be contacted for further comment.
English Heritage’s ‘What does “Heritage” Mean to you?’ MORI Poll carried out a few years ago showed the tremendous public interest in Britain’s past, so why does the National Curriculum continue to pay so little regard to ‘Heritage’? A survey carried out last year by Encyclopaedia Britannica described the woeful state of many Britons’ knowledge of the historic environment: for example, half of those questioned thought Hadrian’s Wall was built to divide the English from the Scottish and another five percent thought that the Wall was in Dorset and was intended to stop an invasion by the French. Incredibly, one in ten believed that Stonehenge was built during the reign of Queen Victoria. More recently, research carried out on behalf of Whitaker’s Almanack found that 40 percent of parents dreaded appearing ignorant while helping their children with homework. With this in mind, Home Secretary Blunkett might like to consider extending his plans for citizenship tests to many people already in possession of a British passport.
Reinventing the ring
Exciting news of a newly-discovered stone circle, Na Dromannan, on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, came from the north last summer. It was reported that the discovery of the site, ‘more than 3,000 years old – older than Stonehenge’ according to one ill-informed source, was made by a team headed by Colin Richards from Manchester University. Erm, would that be the same site recorded by H Callender before WWI, and mistakenly referred to as Druirn nan Eum in a 1928 RCAHMS inventory? Or the monument mentioned in D D C Pochin Mould’s 1953 travel book West-Over-Sea, and later described by G and M Ponting in The Stones around Callanish, published in 1984? Well, yes it would. None of which is the fault of the Manchester archaeologists, but it does underline the difficulty some newspaper journalists have appreciating the difference between the words ‘excavation’ and ‘discovery’.
What do you do?
Spotted in The Guardian, October 20 2003: ‘In a review of Helen Greathead’s book Iguanodon, the Dinosaur with the Fat Bottom, we use [sic] the incorrect spelling, Iguanadon in the book’s title. We also said such creatures are studied by archaeologists, when it is palaeontologists or geologists who take a professional interest in them (Amazing stories, children’s book supplement, page 17, October 4).’
‘You will only receive direct, honest answers from me, and they’ll either be that I know and I’ll answer you, or I don’t know, or I know and I won’t answer you.’ The linguistic talents of Donald Rumsfeld are legendary, but has the great man met his match in David Baker, vice president of the CBA? The online text of an address ‘Adjusting Vertical and Horizontal Hold—the Real Joined-Up-Ness’ delivered to the conference ‘Planning and the Historic Environment: Agenda for the 21st Century’ held at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education in 2002, contains a statement worthy of the US Secretary of Defense himself: ‘Intelligibility as applied to users helps remind us that some understand or appreciate their piece of the historic environment more readily than others. Some don’t want to know, some want to but don’t know how and need help, while a minority of people do know and hopefully also know what they don’t know.’
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CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005