Archaeologists gloat over failure to get JR.
Following Arthurs high court request for a Judicial Review over the ancestors, being declined, Mike Pitts (editor of Archaeology Magazine, advisor to EH and member of the Riverside Project) has made comment on his Blog.
Please note that he claims that under new guidelines he may be able to keep the Stonehenge Ancestors ‘indefinitely’.
Is this evidence of more backroom dealings without any public consultation to appease the archaeological lobby?
It might surprise you to learn that many Druids, and I include myself in this, share your disgust at people climbing the stones and leaving the site a mess after solstice. I could add that for a minority, alcohol or drug abuse and bad behaviour add to a sense of violation of the sacred space. The Druids have to work within boundaries set for us by English Heritage and have no special means by which to police the behaviour of visitors to Solstice who pretty much can trample all over us also. We who go for genuine spiritual reasons do our best to keep some dignity and to serve others in such capacity as we are able.
If we had no other reason at all to challenge the validity public benefit and morality of these digs, the very fact that tax payers money has been spent on them gives us that right. Solstice celebrations are paid from a very small fraction of the revenue generated by Stonehenge each year, and so does not cost the tax payer directly.
I believe that you have in common with Arthur a strong desire to be associated with Stonehenge, you wish to speak as a representative of the archaeological cause and he speaks for his own interpretation of the Druid cause. You are both media aware and articulate people, but where the Druids stand at a distinct disadvantage in this debate is that the archaeological world has people in positions of considerable influence placed within the public bodies who should be regulating your activities and independently finding the point of reasonable balance between points of view.
Archaeology has the resources of commercial archaeology companies, funded organisations and Royal Societies with political influence. You have money, lawyers, full time helpers and access directly to advise the authorities and guide policy. The advantage is yours. It is so to such an extent that the fervor with which you have campaigned to mitigate the very slight risk that just this once you should have to compromise with those outside of this elite club in my opinion almost amounts to bullying.
You say that we have been consulted. We were not informed that the policy of interpretation of the Burial Act 1857 is now to give archaeologists unlimited access to our ancestors. That you now suggest you might be able to keep these Stonehenge ancestors from reburial indefinitely fully vindicates Arthur and myself for disbelieving EH three years ago when they told us not to worry, we would get our ancestors returned last year, or Mike Parker Pearson when he informed us that his research would complete on time, or the archaeological community who would like to be seen to be honourable.
In your book Hengeworld you tell the story of Archaeology at Stonehenge and of the reckless damage, loss of information, loss of finds, failure to document that 100 years of trusting the ‘experts’ has wrought on this precious place. It has a great value in illuminating our prehistoric capabilities only matched by its continuing worth as a sacred place of the ancestors and those today who revere them. A balance should be found between these two, and we have sought throughout to find compromise only to discover that leading lights like yourself have presented this as being the end of your livelihoods.
Arthur likes to give the impression that he is the one leading opposition to this violation against truth, but there are others not so encumbered by the need to grandstand who if it takes a further hundred years will undo this wrong. Archaeologists have missed a great opportunity in your haste to mock the Druids and escape legal constraints. The real reason that so much harm has been done to Stonehenge by archaeology has been that projects are not being adequately funded and once granted licence have not been properly regulated.
We would support the riverside project in this research being completed quickly and recorded properly, two years of study would have been more than adequate had they been funded only to provide one part time student to study these remains. We want them reburied, in sealed containers that would preserve them for future research if justified but also achieve their return to the Earth at Stonehenge.
We have never suggested that no research should take place.
If you dare to question the common assumption that Druids have a start date 1600 years after Stonehenge was constructed, and therefore having no connection with it, then you might discover that it is not at all as well supported by the actual evidence as it is convenient as an argument to isolate people with Druidical beliefs of today from being granted any legitimacy which they might use to challenge the exploitation of Stonehenge. The evidence contrary to this ‘disconnection theory’ comes from the world of science and points now to Druids having been established long before they were written about by classical observers and who’s beliefs were founded upon a blend of Celtic and Pre Celtic perspectives.
A judicial review would have benefitted all sides in this debate, and would have been very much in the public interest.
It would have allowed the reburial / spiritual community an opportunity to present the reasons why a balance between the needs of science and the needs of the spiritual community could be made to work without harm to ethers position, and might even lead towards better understanding and cooperation. We have throughout our campaign been generous in our general praise of Mike Parker Pearson for the quality of his work and our regard for the potential benefits of his archaeology. We would have contrasted this with the harm done by under funding and the lack of central recording of evidence available to the public in who’s interests it should serve.
You would have also had the opportunity to speak about the benefits of archaeological work, of the need for proper funding, and to have shown sensitivity to the legitimate spiritual concerns held by so many people of so many faiths regarding this issue. Instead you seem to be gloating over your ability to do as you wish answering to no-one. You are showing the world that the attitude of British Archaeology today has not advanced so very far from that of the treasure hunters of bygone times who travelled the world taking whatever they wished.
How will history and more enlightened generations look at you?