News & Recent Additions
English Heritage has now issued its press release on the Avebury consultation. If you have any comments, please send them through to HAD - we will be preparing a HAD response in due course.
If you ever thought we make a fuss about how human remains are treated in this country, try reading this short article on how they go about things in Israel.
The spirit of Burke and Hare is being invoked by a local councillor in an attempt to preserve Victorian burial chambers under threat from archaeological excavation. The interesting aspect of this case is that living relatives of those buried are concerned and are campaigning to prevent removal and scientific analysis of the remains in the now demolished chapel.
HAD can completely sympathise with the current local community and their concern in this case but would like everyone to consider - why should the treatment of our ancient ancestors ever be any different?
HAD is pleased to draw your attention to an interesting new performance event centred on the Red Lady of Paviland due to take place in April in Carmarthen. The following introductory extract is taken from the project's web site.
"Drawn from a cave on the Gower Peninsula, the 20 000 year old ochre-stained bones of the Red Lady of Paviland provide the inspiration for this unique and imaginative bi-lingual presentation of Welsh music, history, mythology and scientific fact.
The exciting new arts project for 2010, The Red Lady of Paviland is the result of the combined skills of platinum album selling composer Andrew Powell, leading Welsh poet / librettist Menna Elfyn, musical director Craig Roberts and eminent scientist Professor Mark Brake.
Centred around the fascinating story of the Red Lady of Paviland, the performance features award winning tenor soloist Robyn Lyn, Royal Harpist Claire Jones, 2009 Welsh League Champions Burry Port Town Band, mixed choir & children's chorus.
The centrepiece of the performance will be a newly commissioned work ‘Y Dyn Unig’, a new and evocative cantata by Andrew Powell and Menna Elfyn. The work is commissioned by Craig and the Burry Port Town Band, and supported by a Steps to New Music award from the Arts Council of Wales." See also HAD's own project page on the Red Lady of Paviland.
In April 2009, HAD was invited to respond to a consultation run by English Heritage, the Church of England and the Ministry of Justice on the formation of a new Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Burials in England (APABE). The new proposed body would replace APACBE (Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Christian Burials in England) and so extend its remit to cover pre- and non-Christian burials.
HAD understands that the new APABE is having/had its first meeting in February 2010. However, no information was sent to HAD, as one of the original invited consultees, about this decision, and so we have no indication of the remit of this new body or its membership. However, since HAD has not been invited, we can assume from this that its call for wider membership to include religious bodies, including HAD, has been ignored. There is no information available in the public realm.
In advance of the redevelopment of the Radcliffe Infirmary site, Oxford University commissioned last summer a team of archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology to excavate the area and assess its historic potential and archaeological importance. The team discovered evidence of human occupation from the Neolithic/Bronze Age periods, Anglo-Saxon period, Medieval period, as well as remains of the original infirmary. The Neolithic/Bronze Age remains consisted of a series of ring ditches that are speculated to be the remains of truncated Bronze Age barrows. The cremated remains of 4 individuals has been found in association with the remains of the ring ditches, though the exact extent of this association remains to be determined. Further information will be posted as and when it becomes available.
An interesting article on the reburial of a native American Indian where the community came together to make it possible and mark the event.
On the 2nd August a small group of Druid Priests representing HAD met close to the site of the Ridgeway Hill Mass Grave. Led by Christine Cleere (Vixxen), Lead Priest of the Gorsedd of Cor Gawr, they walked along the ancient pathway in time with a slow drumbeat. Unable to get as close as they would have wished to the site of the grave due to the closure of the pathways and deep excavations, the circle was formed overlooking the scar in the landscape created by the construction of the road - a white curving arc cutting deep the land just below barrows that have stood for an age atop the ridge.
The call for peace was made, and each priest in their turn called to the spirits of place. Jackdaws and rooks soared on the wind, their calls carried on the breeze; and just beneath where they gathered a Kestrel poised motionless in the air, focused on the land beneath, the slightest movement visible to her gaze. Slowly, gently, the group found their voice and called out their grief and respect to those ancient ancestors who were found so close to where they now gathered. Despite the wind, there seemed a stillness within the circle as the gaze of each priest present was drawn over the landscape that these ancients one walked; the spirits seemed to answer with their own voice in the wind, calling back with their own overwhelming sadness. Silent words, and words expressed aloud, were shared; tears flowed and the drumbeat in tune with that of the land echoed over the man-made scar. In the distance across from where the Druids stood, the Island of Portland seemed to take on another dimension, a shimmering echo as time somehow shifted , and through it all the tears and emotions flowed, acknowledged and honoured on both sides, as time itself slid and spiralled within the circle of the rite.
Silence. The group stood in silence; and then after indeterminate time, one of the priests broke that silence with words of deep honour, expressing regret, seeking acceptance for the removal of their bones. And then, the rite was over. A silent deeply thoughtful walk back to the modern age, like stepping forward from a time long past with a sudden jolt, back into the present day, past the barrows, back along age old tracks, now leading nowhere.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a pre-historic monumental landscape under Oxford while excavating the former Radcliffe Infirmary site.
Durham University are holding their 31st Theoretical Archaeology Group annual meeting between Thursday December 17th and Saturday December 19th 2009. One paper will be on "Developing Anarchist Archaeologies". HAD will follow up on any interesting outcomes.
This session explores the interpretation of past social dynamics within the framework of the political philosophy of anarchism. Stemming from Paul Feyerabend’s epistemological anarchism, anarchist theory has featured at times prominently as a critique of positivist and functionalist frameworks in archaeology, highlighting the need for multi-vocality and contextual approaches. Although not entirely unrelated to this heritage, this session focusses instead on how anarchism can be deployed to understand specific archaeological contexts and how such analysis can feed not only feed into the current theoretical discourse in archaeology and anthropology, but also how this can help to develop a social theory of anarchism.
An anarchist social theory holds that there is no directionality to history and that societies’ desire to prevent or overcome various forms of domination and hierarchy provides a framework in which to understand socio-cultural change and stability. Critiquing the social evolutionary notion that competition drives economic, social and cultural innovation – also contained within capitalist perspectives on past economics – a social theory of anarchism highlights peoples’ capacities for co-operation, voluntary association, intentionality, and the importance of political imagination. As such, it can provide an alternative perspective on key issues in archaeological theory, such as adaptation, the emergence of social complexity and theories of state formation and collapse. Amongst other, we encourage submissions which explore instances of the development of co-operative social movements and which challenge assumptions about the inevitability of the formation of hierarchies in human societies.