thinking about archaeology

Archive for September, 2010

Simon McBurney and the incomprehensibility of archaeology

The Guardian’s Review section yesterday featured an interview with Complicite director Simon McBurney, whose operatic debut A Dog’s Heart reaches London at the ENO in November. I met McBurney last year in his flat, part of a converted piano factory with wide views across London from its roof garden. Over breakfast toast and coffee (cappuccinos cooked up in a saucepan) we talked about his childhood, his family (his father was the influential British archaeologist, Charles McBurney) and the immensity of time – knowing that at any moment his partner was to have their first child. The Guardian reproduced an extract from the resultant piece in British Archaeology. It’s not on the magazine website, so here is the whole thing. McBurney is incapable of being boring.

A visit to Stonehenge in 1853 (maybe)

Most people who visit Stonehenge seem to write about the experience in platitudes repeated from guidebooks (“It is hard to imagine the intense industry of the people who set the stones upright here some thirty-four hundred years ago”) – or about things that have little to do with the stones (“Ask Mummy to tell you about Stonehenge. Love from Dad”, on a 1924 postcard, tells us more about Dad than Stonehenge).

Rarer and much more interesting are those texts that capture something of the occasion. On his web page of postcards with messages, Bob Bradlee reproduces this wonderful, (more…)