thinking about archaeology

Archive for July, 2012

The other night at Stonehenge

Like summer solstice but with gentility – the Stonehenge Fire Garden. The stones close and personal and erratically wrapped in flames and paraffin smells in the growing darkness, thousands of people politely queuing, one man making gentle electronic music surrounded by a quiet crowd, a comfortable friendly gathering with no manic focus and no camera-hunger fancy dress artists being chased by the press. Soft, arty French eccentricity from La Compagnie Carabosse (I think someone at the Express got the wrong end of the stick when they sent their online gardening editor to report on it). And it didn’t even rain.

There should have been three nights, but tonight – the last – Salisbury International Arts Festival stopped it: “With heavy hearts, we regret that tonight’s Fire Garden at Stonehenge is cancelled due to the torrential rain and high winds forecast. After discussion with our Health and Safety advisors and the Wiltshire Police, we have decided that the exceptional weather conditions forecast for this evening mean that we cannot guarantee a safe event for audience and artists.”

Earlier this morning, the sun rose in a miraculously clear sky for Michael Johnson to parade the Olympic torch for journalists, accompanied by local athlete Amelia Clifford. Good little video at the Telegraph, and a good report at ITV.

And funnily enough English Heritage chose now to make an official announcement about the start of construction at the visitor centre, when Vinci Construction UK yesterday took possession of the site at Airman’s Corner.

Airman’s Corner last year

Airman’s Corner next year

And to conclude with something just weird… I’m sure the kids from Greentrees Primary School in Salisbury had a great time, but exactly what did English Heritage think it was doing?

Congratulations Mick

Mick Aston received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Museum today, presented by John Penrose, the out and about tourism & heritage minister, at the 2012 British Archaeological Awards. To quote the citation, this was for Mick’s “long-term commitment to public education and for his ongoing support for developing our understanding of past human behaviour, as well as major personal contributions to archaeological knowledge and the development of new methodologies” (phew). All true, as I’m sure many will agree, a very well deserved award, and congratulations Mick. The photo shows him in his garden conservatory with CBA director Mike Heyworth (by Phil Knibb).

Other well deserving recipients that I have previously featured here include Operation Nightingale, the veterans’ rehabilitation project on Salisbury Plain, and Time Team itself (“an outstanding contribution to public understanding of archaeology, with high editorial standards”).

The Awards ceremony marks the launch of the 2012 Festival of British Archaeology, coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology.






Two army aviators killed

New York Times July 6 1912

Early this morning 100 years ago, flying from Larkhill just north of Stonehenge, Captain Loraine crashed his Nieuport monoplane during a failed turn. Both he and his passenger Staff-Sergeant Wilson were killed. I’ve written about this before, and the recent removal of the memorial at Airman’s Cross. Here are some further notes and sources.

The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre has three photos:

Dedication of the memorial

This is the English Heritage listing record, and Wikipedia has an entry on Loraine here.

I saw this photo of Loraine’s coffin procession in Bulford on eBay (but didn’t buy it!):

Here is another photo of this procession, posted here:

This is the most detailed description of the incident, from the Journal of the Royal Air Force Historical Society 16 (1996), 104–110, by Air Vice-Marshall Barry Newton. The whole journal is available here.

Numerous documents linked to the planning application to move the cross can be found here, on the Wiltshire Council website.

And so as not to forget Sergeant Wilson, here is a photo of his grave in Andover, posted here on the Aviation Forum; Loraine was buried in Suffolk.