News & Recent Additions
HAD is delighted to be associated with The Wanton Green: contemporary pagan writings on place, including a contribution by Emma Restall-Orr.
From the lost magics and holy waters of London to bleak Staffordshire Moorlands; from childhood adventures in Rochdale to faeries in Devon and Cumbria, a new book, The Wanton Green, offers readers a different perspective on landscape As our relationship with the world unravels and needs to take new form, or maybe to reconnect with an older pattern, The Wanton Green presents a collection of inspiring, provoking and engaging essays by modern pagans talking about their own deep and passionate relationships with the Earth. With contributions from 20 authors that range from Druids to Heathens, from Chaos Magicians to Witches, Shamans and Voudou Mambo, Wanton Green brings voices from the diverse and growing Pagan community of Britain to the environmental debate and promises food for thought and inspiration for the spirit.
Almost exactly two years ago (March 2011) HAD was invited to contribute to the APABE consultation on 'sampling human remains for ancient DNA analysis.
APABE (Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Burials in England) has now published the resulting report 'Science and the Dead. A guideline for the destructive sampling of archaeological human remains for scientific analysis'.
HAD's response has been comprehensively ignored in the preparation of this document. The only nod to consent is given in the short section on ethics where 'the requests to the clergy for exhumations of skeletal remains from churchyards for research purposes will also need to be weighed against the Church's presumption against disturbance of remains.'
We would like to see such a consideration being given to our presumption against similar disturbance of pre-Christian ancestors whose personhood and rights to rest in peace should be equally honoured.
Honouring the Ancient Dead is pleased to announce today the following Press Release introducing its Definitions for Honouring the Ancient Dead document, which includes HAD's definition of respect, and an announcement that HAD is widening its brief to include all people who agree with HAD's position regardless of their religious faith, beliefs or otherwise.
HAD's Definitions and Statement of Intention documents may be found on HAD's main website atwww.honour.org.uk/node/456
Here is an interesting article from the BBC in which the question of how much time needs to pass before photographing the dead is acceptable. The context is that of war dead but just as easily apply to ancestors on display in museums.
News of an interesting reburial in Yorkshire where the local community seems to have been closely involved.
Today, Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD) launches the first edition of its Reburial Handbook. This short document is intended to help those considering, or have decided, to rebury parts of their collections of ancient human remains. It offers suggestions on where to find help and resources that have been drawn together during HAD's consultations with museums, burial grounds and the funeral profession.
HAD sincerely hopes that this first edition will be received as a useful document in its own right as well as being a stimulus for the wider discussion of the issues and opportunities presented by the UK's large collection of ancient human remains. Future editions will contain updates to best practice advice as this becomes available, and will extend the contact details of professionals able to help as these come forward. We would welcome contact from any museum or archaeological society interested in discussing any of the issues raised or in carrying out a reburial project that may be used to inform future editions.
|HAD Reburial Handbook v1_0.pdf||947.85 KB|
We have recently received the attached consultation request papers from APABE (Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Burials in England). The conclusions of their consultation are likely to be significant for this aspect of the treatment of ancient human remains.
Therefore, if you would like to comment, and you would like do this through HAD, please send me your views by 31st May 2011 in order to give me sufficient time to consolidate and organise a formal HAD response based on the collective input. You are of course welcome to comment individually aside from HAD. Update: HAD's response is now available by following the link below.
|Consultation on APABE Supplementary Guidance Note 1 DNA.pdf||211.48 KB|
|APABE supplementary guidance note 1 aDNA analysis.pdf||178.86 KB|
|APABE DNA Consultation - HAD response 2011.pdf||111.81 KB|
An application to extend the license granted to the archaeological team that excavated human remains from Stonehenge in 2008 has been received by the Ministry of Justice. The extension application has been lodged by the archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson and, if the license is extended, the human remains will form the focus of a PhD project at Sheffield University until approximately 2015.
HAD has now formally responded to the Ministry of Justice. Attached please find a copy of the letter sent detailing HAD's position and thoughts on this matter.
HAD have been informed that the Judicial Review applied for by Arthur Pendragon has been denied, however, an appeal against this decision has been launched.
Arthur Pendragon has informed HAD that he has applied for a Judicial Review of the Ministry of Justice's recent decision to grant the license extension allowing further study on the ancestral remains excavated from Aubrey Hole VII. Sheffield University have responded to this review and currently the review is waiting for responses from English Heritage and the Ministry of Justice.
HAD has now been informed by the Ministry of Justice that they have decided to grant the license extension. This will mean that the proprosed research on the Aubrey Hole VII ancestral remains will proceed. However, the MOJ has given assurances that the remains will be reburied as soon as the research project is completed, and that the pagan communities will continue to be consulted in this matter.
Robert Clifford has replaced Andrew Tucker as the person making the decision on this case -
"The position is that all the representations we have received are now under consideration. How soon before a decision can be reached is difficult to predict, but once the application has been decided we would expect to notify the outcome to all those who have been in touch with us about the matter."
Please contact HAD with any thoughts or comments on this issue.
|MOJ HAD Response.pdf||73.91 KB|
Having raised concerns about a recent call in the Guardian for unlimited exhumation and retention of human remains, HAD has received a reply from the Ministry of Justice that reaffirms the requirement for exhumation licences to be granted on a case-by-case basis, refuting the recent appeal by a number of archaeologists for lifting of current restrictions.
|MoJ Letter March 2011.pdf||675.09 KB|
On 4th February a letter from Professor Barry Cunliffe and 39 other professors was published in The Guardian newspaper calling for the lifting on licensing requirements for archaeological excavation of ancient human remains and, in effect, a call for unfettered excavation of the graveyards of the ancestors. Professor Cunliffe's letter.
HAD has written to The Guardian in response:
Professor Cunliffe et al’s letter of 4 February calling for the repeal of recent reburial guidance in favour of large scale archaeology of ancient human remains is out of step with a growing ground swell of opinion and needs to be challenged.
The position behind his claim is that science is of paramount importance, trumping any other consideration. This was the prevailing view for much of the last century. We believe that this is neither automatically valid nor any longer the broad opinion.
The acquisition of scientific knowledge for its own sake is a lofty aspiration but is not sufficient justification for the dismissal of all other considerations. Archaeologists’ claim is that scientific study of ancestral bones is essential if we are learn about the people who lived on these isles before us. Certainly, modern archaeological techniques for analysing bone fragments can help build cameo portraits of aspects of lives long gone by. But, even if these insights were comprehensive treasure troves of biographical insight, what real value should be attached to them?
It can be argued that the pursuit of scientific knowledge has not been of indubitable benefit to humankind, instead facilitating our species in its rapacious over-exploitation of the planet, its ecosystems and peoples. The realisation that this is unsustainable is now quickly growing: we can no longer continue to use the Earth as a resource that can be deconstructed into isolated parts for consumption. Even those within the scientific community with materialist beliefs are acknowledging the importance of systems; where other worldviews are held, this treatment of our world as a collection of objects is fundamentally lacking in practical respect.
The urgent need for a re-evaluation of respect extends to the remains of our ancestors. The proactive exhumation and retention of ancient human remains - treating them as a scientific resource, as objects without personhood - is hugely out of step with evolving views that see humans as part of a sacred natural world, precious and irreplaceable. Archaeology, like any science, cannot pretend to practise in a vacuum. It consumes the graves of our ancestors in the same way that felling rain forests consumes an irreplaceable part of the global ecosystem.
We should consider the following question. Which gives the greater benefit to our society and its future: the potential scientific insights into the day-to-day lives of ancient Britons, or a recognition of the social and spiritual value accrued by an increased level of respect in our society, expressed through the way we treat the remains of our own ancestors? We believe the latter. Science must not be the only consideration when it comes to forming a practical understanding of value and benefit to out society, to humanity and nature as a whole.
Therefore, we call for a continuation of the current, civilised, approach of licensing each excavation on a case by case basis, with the presumption that reburial will follow within the two year period unless truly special, significant and immediately funded reasons can be put agreed.
Honouring the Ancient Dead