Mixed messages or a fundamental respect for monuments?
The modern world doesn’t want war monuments disrespected by the theft of metal plaques or urinating by drunks or being swung from by protesters, yet doesn’t object to a BBC Countryfile stunt that foists a hardboard poppy on the Fovant Badges for a day’s filming?
Painting a green Mohican on a modern metal statue of Churchill is not acceptable, and yet making over a centuries old chalk monument is when it is for Red Nose Day, or a TV fashion stunt by Trinny and sidekick, or a car advertisement?
Utilising the Westbury White Horse for Peter Cook’s and Dudley Moore’s Not Only But Also is acceptable but not the Uffington White Horse for TV’s Big Brother?
The modern world doesn’t want the lichens on Avebury stones destroyed by paint again, yet destruction by climbing is okay?
The modern world would allow new traditions to develop such as solstice gatherers clambering on Stonehenge lintels, but not contemporary protesters such as F4J?
The modern world doesn’t want foreign materials or seeds imported to Silbury Hill by officialdom, but doesn’t do anything about educating re the importation by lay climbers that are destroying vulnerable archaeology just below the surface?
The authorities can dig up Avebury to put in facilities for tourist information, and we expect contractors to know they mustn’t just dig up the same street to fix an electric cable fault?
From imported wooden staircases at Avebury henge to the sale of sarsen on e-bay, the modern world is awash with mixed messages about monuments. Either we come up with and adopt a voluntary code in relation to ancient monuments and encourage everyone to universally adopt it and kids to grow up with it for the sake of respect and understanding, or we will simply have to face up to the regular disasters and vandalism that plagues our heritage.
Excellent post VBB but I fear the same will be said in 100 years time as nothing much changes, even when the law insists it should sadly!