thinking about archaeology

Getting started

I have a very clear, strong idea of what I plan to do on the plinth, and I’m very excited about it. But I don’t want to reveal what that is (mainly for reasons connected to the impact of the work, but there are also other people involved) until I get up there. So I’m going to have to bluff around the subject. All I can say is that today two big things happened that move it on, and make it more possible. One of them involved a shopping trip, and I have the proceeds on the floor behind me as I write. The other was an email from an old archaeological friend.

Meanwhile, I have an edition of British Archaeology magazine to edit (which includes a fair bit of writing too) and prepare for printing. It comes out on August 7. It actually goes to the printer two days before I get up on the plinth, so the next few weeks are going to be pretty busy for me – I produce the magazine mostly on my own. Nicky has already started to refer to this time as In the Shadow of the Plinth. It would anyway be In the Shadow of British Archaeology.

On Sunday morning I am talking to those pupils at Bryanston School in Dorset who opt not to go to the Christian service, about Stonehenge and religion. This morning I had a quick look at some early 19th century manuscripts in the wonderful library at Devizes Museum in Wiltshire, and saw this (you may need to click on the image and once again to be able to read it at full size). Around 1806, William Cunnington (on the left) wrote about who he thought built Stonehenge, while his patron Richard Colt Hoare (on the right) disagreed with him. This exchange encapsulates a key time in our changing understanding of the deep past. How could they possibly know, then, who was right? Cunnington argued from his knowledge of remains in the landscape, and was nearer the mark (ie given that it could not have been built by Romans, Saxons etc, Stonehenge must be pre-“Celtic”), while Hoare was more swayed by what he read in books.

(c) Devizes Museum

(c) Devizes Museum

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