Saturday, 7 June 2008

What we stand for

We're Pagans who love archaeology and believe that it has contributed hugely to our knowledge of our ancestors and the religions of the past.

Without archaeology, people would still think ancient peoples were fur-clad smelly cannibals and that ancient paganism involved frequent human sacrifice.

In addition, we are opposed to the reburial of ancient human remains, and want them to be preserved so that the memory of the ancestors can be perpetuated and rescued from oblivion, and the remains can be studied scientifically for the benefit of everyone.

Of course we want human remains to be treated with respect, but respect does not automatically mean reburial. Respect should mean memory, which involves recovering the stories of past people.

We also believe that the excavation of Seahenge was a good thing, contributing hugely to our knowledge of Bronze Age religious practices.

We are also vehemently opposed to people leaving tealights, candles, crystals and other non-biodegradable "offerings" at sacred sites. Take only photographs, leave only footprints. Follow the Country Code.

We have a Facebook group and a Yahoo group - please join these to show your support.


Grian said...

Hey there. Stumbled in through MetaPagan. Great concept! What do you think of the new Stonehenge theories?

Bo said...

Yvonne - I'd be delighted to join/contribute.

Yewtree said...

Hi Grian

Which new Stonehenge theories?

Hi Bo

Thanks, I'll send you an invite.

Icenorum said...

This is a great idea! I work with my local Arch Unit as an historical interpreter and I'm a food historian, so I see a lot of this stuff first hand. Why do people who are supposedly 'paying respects' nearly always leave such a horrible mess behind? Show some real respect and pick up!

Yewtree said...

Hi Icenorum

Great - please join the Facebook and/or Yahoo group.


Peter F. Aherne said...

Whilst I am a practicing Christian I am also a 3rd Year mature student of Archaeology at University of Chester and, as such, totally agree with what you stand for. It is vitally important that human remains are kept for the study of past societies just as any other artefact is. Archaeologists have a healthy respect for ALL artefacts used for the study of the past and human remains are no different. Yes, they are our ancestors and by preserving them for study we are preserving their memory. Perhaps the best way to show respect for the deceased whilst still being able to study their remains is what has happened at St. Peter's Church at Barton on Humber where an ossuary has been created for the storage and study of the human remains excavated from the church's graveyard. Here, in a deconsecrated church, the remains can be stored in a quasi-sacred place whilst still being available for study.

Yewtree said...

Hi Peter, thanks for your comment.

Yes I agree that a "keeping place" or ossuary would be a good idea - though perhaps not in a church for ancient pagan remains. I favour a large, temperature-controlled, purpose-built long barrow. After all the Neolithic people seem to have handled the bones in long barrows on a regular basis, maybe for ritual - perhaps like the relics of Christian saints - so they weren't just sticking them back in the ground and leaving them to rot either!

Peter F. Aherne said...

Yes, I firmly agree that human remains should be housed in a purpose built, temperature controlled building and a long barrow would fit the purpose, however, that would equally cause the conflict that a church would. I would argue that once a church has been deconsecrated it is no longer a church, however it retains a certain amount of sanctity in just the same way as a long barrow does. What we have to avoid is the connotations attached to such a building whilst avoiding the cold reality of where they are stored presently, namely in museum warehouses which were clearly not designed to store delicate materials.

Yewtree said...

Some Pagans would be offended by the idea of them in a church.

Personally I can't understand the fuss about cardboard boxes - they are the best storage medium and are made of wood pulp; also I plan to be buried in a cardboard box, for environmental reasons.

Lee said...

"where they are stored presently, namely in museum warehouses which were clearly not designed to store delicate materials."

Peter, presently museums store remains in exactly the right conditions as part of standard collections management. they are not kept in old dusty warehouses (popular public perception), they are in strictly environmentally controlled rooms and stores under high security.