Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Last chance to air your views

The Avebury reburial consultation closes this week, so if you haven't already responded, now is the time to do so.  Go to the English Heritage site and fill in the questionnaire.  The closing date is 31 January.

Conflict or co-operation?

It is a commonly-held idea among archaeologists that they will automatically be in conflict with contemporary Pagans.  This is simply not true.

The Holme-next-the-Sea timber circle was contentious for a small number of so-called Pagans, and some members of the general public. I (a Pagan) wrote to Francis Prior and Maisie Taylor to say that I supported the dig, and was sorry they had been harassed over it. They wrote back and said that quite a few Pagans had approached them after the TV cameras had gone, and that these Pagans had also said that they supported the dig. I also chatted with non-Pagan friends who were opposed to the dig. The picture is always more complex than it appears on TV.

A couple of years ago I attended a conference where a number of Pagans reported that they had been involved in (had possibly set up themselves) a community archaeology project studying archaeological sites in their area and had compiled a website of information about them. (NB the study was non-invasive.)

Also some archaeologists are also Pagans.

Also, this group, Pagans for Archaeology, has 204 members (and the Facebook page has 473 fans). All members have signed up to the statement of what we stand for.

The majority of Pagans who visit archaeological sites and digs do not announce themselves as Pagan by wearing funny outfits, and leave no trace (indeed many of us clear up the tea-lights left by the idiots).  Maybe those of us who are moderates should insist on being logged every time we visit something, just to make the point that not all Pagans are nutters.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

I haven't been HAD

I am not a member of HAD, I never have been a member of HAD, and I never will be a member of HAD (Honouring the Ancient Dead).

I applaud their moderate stance on the issue of reburial, their attempts to reach a consensus, and their efforts to get Pagan ritual recognised as a valid way of interacting with the landscape.

But HAD (or at least some of them) would like reburial for most ancient dead in principle, though they know this isn't practically possible. They are not for automatic blanket reburial in all cases, but they are broadly in favour of reburial. Therefore I do not feel represented by HAD (although they were kind enough to host my article about compromise on their website).

I'm not having a go at HAD, they just do not represent my position, and I want to show that there are a large number of Pagans who feel the same way about this as I do.

I attended the Respect conference at Manchester Museum in Nov 2006, heard Emma setting out her views in detail, and I do not feel in any way represented by her views. Nor do I see how an organisation with the aims of HAD can ever represent Pagans who feel that respect for the ancient dead is better served by memory and archaeology.

You can hear my views on reburial in a podcast about the issue of human remains via the History News Network blog, in which I rant extensively about compromise and why it's such a good idea.