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Climbing on Standing Stones
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GLADMAN
843 posts

Re: Climbing on Standing Stones
Mar 02, 2012, 22:44
juamei wrote:
Sorry to say it, but in that wonderful prose and well made points, you have missed what is _to me_ the central point of all.

Protecting what's left of our prehistory comes first.

It doesn't matter if its a digger destroying a stone row, a quarrying company destroying unique evidence of temporary camps around a henge, modern poems placed over a prehistoric landscape, a farmer allowing livestock to slowly destroy cairns or ploughing flat a round barrow, tens of thousands of people stealing our heritage in the name of a hobby every weekend, landowners driving 4x4s across chambered tombs, tenant farmers flattening henges, 1000s of people denuding Avebury's banks, unused roads being built over unique archaeology, 100s of people leaving tealights and shite in barrows or 1 solitary person clambering to the top of a fucking dolmen.

ITS WRONG.

Don't tell me it causes no damage, I don't give a fuck if its minor I really don't, its wrong. Simple as. It doesn't matter that in the greater scheme of things its practically irrelevant, because frankly as the people that actually give a toss, so we should be setting the highest possible standard when we visit a site. We must set the highest possible standard cos the other people don't know, they simply don't realise.


juamei wrote:
Sorry to say it, but in that wonderful prose and well made points, you have missed what is _to me_ the central point of all.

Protecting what's left of our prehistory comes first.

It doesn't matter if its a digger destroying a stone row, a quarrying company destroying unique evidence of temporary camps around a henge, modern poems placed over a prehistoric landscape, a farmer allowing livestock to slowly destroy cairns or ploughing flat a round barrow, tens of thousands of people stealing our heritage in the name of a hobby every weekend, landowners driving 4x4s across chambered tombs, tenant farmers flattening henges, 1000s of people denuding Avebury's banks, unused roads being built over unique archaeology, 100s of people leaving tealights and shite in barrows or 1 solitary person clambering to the top of a fucking dolmen.

ITS WRONG.

Don't tell me it causes no damage, I don't give a fuck if its minor I really don't, its wrong. Simple as. It doesn't matter that in the greater scheme of things its practically irrelevant, because frankly as the people that actually give a toss, so we should be setting the highest possible standard when we visit a site. We must set the highest possible standard cos the other people don't know, they simply don't realise.


A point of view, honestly and passionately put forward is always going to be welcomed by those with open minds. So thank you for caring. Good to see it means something. However owners of Cope's pioneering tome will be aware our patron does not share your 'keep off the grass' outlook... and, although I do not necessarily agree with him in certain other areas, particularly in respect of vegetarianism - neither do I in this respect.

Absolute moral codes have one fundamental problem... they invariably lead to a puritanical outlook which, as history has shown all too clearly, end up exacberating the very problem they were meant to counter.... think alcohol prohibition. They alienate, create division. People in general hate being told what to do by smug, 'holier than thou' people. Cajole, suggest, persuade... damn well threaten reporting them! .... yes. But I guess it's human nature to rail against the puritan.

The fundamental issue I have with a 'no touch' policy is it assumes prehistoric monuments are literally 'museum pieces'... something to be appreciated from afar, perhaps in a somewhat patronising "and just think, they managed all this without modern machinery, bless their primitive little heads", manner. It assumes the worldview these monument reprsented has gone, their time passed, what they represented of no relevance to living on this planet in the 21st Century. Merely temples to some forgotten - best forgotten, perhaps - stage in humankind's so-called progressive development. I PROFOUNDLY DISAGREE! A cursory glance through a GCSE history text - while such a thing still exists, that is - provides ample evidence to convince me that the past millennium and a half (or so) of monotheistic dictatorship has been a major-league dead end for us as a species. Please, feel free to counter. I welcome it. The question for me is therefore "where do we - OK, where do I - go from here?' I'm left with one indisputable conclusion, that I'm a rather poorly adapted biological creature - slow, weak, the patched-up compromise product of an evolutionary process which ensures I have dodgy knees and dodgy back. I struggle to find a reason why I exist.

Then I see the moon rise above a recumbent in Aberdeenshire, so bright I cannot sleep when I return to my car. Hey, this is why the monument was built, as homage to a orbiting body which ensures our very survival. I sit on a cairn upon Pumlumon, feel the wind buffeting me to such a degree that I can barely breathe... but it is worth it because I believe I now understand why this monument is here.... the source of the River Severn a bowshot away.... I push my way through trees covering a denuded bank of a hillfort... exhausted, I sit and the fact that this was someone's home.... women nursing children, men perhaps doubting whether the kill they are returning with will be enough in her eyes... hits me like a sledgehammer. I look at my calf.... it is bleeding from barbed-wire, the bank in a similar mess. But it is worth it because I have made a connection which makes me feel part of this planet. I have removed a bag-full of rubbish... but my goodness.... I have walked on an ancient monument. Should I have stayed away? Sorry - I agree with Cope. NO!! My opinion - of course - but without interaction our prehistoric monuments are simply mounds of earth, cairns, and stones stuck in the ground for no apparent purpose. No interaction, no point. No point, so what?

So, do we agree a 'moral code' where barrows must be left unascended, mountain cairns unclimbed - then who is to remove all the rubbish left by the ramblers, then? - hillfort banks unwalked, even when a good number are upon public rights of way. Do we leave the innumerable sites EH and other well meaning bodies have no way of coping with to the mercy of ignorant (if well meaning) landowners, unscrupulous landowners, yobs and assorted vandals. Or do we get out there... ascertain what the scale of the problem actually is (I'm assuming, from observation, that EH don't have the manpower), help to educate, cajole, annoy, delight... disgust some... and generally raise the profile of the prehistoric legacy we have. It is a working, practical legacy. Not one to be shut behind perspex and.... duly forgotten.

Again, I overwhelmingly appreciate the desire to protect these monuments... but we have to be subjective and see the big picture (albeit as I see it) to bear in mind that there is - in my opinion - more at stake. My experiences at these sites have fundamentally changed my life, and that could only have occured by 'hands on' interaction. To take a crass example.. I visited Stonehenge as a 'tourist' and left, frankly, bored. I revisited a couple of times on 'after hours' visits, felt the great tri-lithons, appreciated the true scale.... not the same monument.

So, by all means, climbing Silbury, sitting upon a crumbling capstone... granted.. out of order. But applying blanket moral condemnation of those who venture far and wide to put obscure sites - many at risk - betrays a lack of understanding of the true scale of what is going on out there. It also assumes the prehistoric mindset has no relevance today. I disagree, and since their monuments - the nuances of positionning - where they placed them for maximum effect, are all we have, we will fail our children if we don't revisit what they had to say about the human condition, how we relate to the Earth. So, I'm with Cope. Get out there and continue to make them relevant.
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