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Druids request reburial of ancestral remains
Having just recieved my new edition of British Archaeology I was a bit disturbed by a small article on the reburial of "ancestral remains" and have typed it in its entirety below

"The debate about curating ancient human remains, which to date in Britain has largely concerned recent and historical material, is set to enter a new phrase. The Council of British Druid Orders has asked that "Druid ancestral remains" in Avebury museum, Wiltshire, including a prehistoric child displayed since 1938, be reburied. This is thought to be the first time that either the National Trust or English Heritage have recieved such a request. Sebastian Payne, EH chief scientist, says they will follow the process set out in recent DCMS guidence. Lindow Man, say COBDO "is another candidate for reburial" (British Archaeology March/April 2007; 9).

Whilst its easy to dismiss this group as a bunch of crazyees (and even easier to do so if youve ever met any of them)it does have some quite frightening implications for archaeology if taken seriously by the powers that be. Similar situation to america soon? :face-huh:
Surely there are no druidic ancestral remains that are pre - victorian, let alone prehistoric? I don't think the Council of British Druid Orders has any serious claim on any non historical remains, and hopefully the DCMS won't waste too much time and money in deciding to reach for the 'application denied' stamp.
Are we going to now spend the future batting back claims from middle class Home Counties drop-outs who want to climb on the Celtic mysticism bandwagon (but only in a pick-and-mix fashion - leave out the bits we don't like, and pretend prehistory was one big Glastonbury love-in) - try going to the Maesgeirchen council estate in Bangor and see what real Welsh people think about it.

Maybe some archaeologists (the CBA?) ought to put in counter requests in to the National Trust and English Heritage - something about stopping important archaeological and heritage sites being used for and associated with half-baked psuedo-religious quackery perhaps... Sad
This was reported early last week in a long feature in the Guardian, too. Online version is here:,00.html

What is really frigthening is that some museum directors appear to think that this is actually a good idea...
"Some in the museum community say it is unfair for scientists to impose their world view on pagans. "We think that there is actually an intellectual argument for pagan claims to be taken seriously," said Prof Bienkowski, "It is a different world view which, actually, like the scientific world view can be neither proved nor disproved. It is actually our responsibility to take those views into account." What right, he asks, do scientists have to speak for the bones either?"
(The Guardian, Febuary 5th 2007).

I am usually a fairly politicaly conscious with regards to archaeology's colonial and neo-colonial past and problems, but let's face it British Druids aren't the same as Australian Aboriginal groups or Native American tribes!
We could set up our own 'genuine' ancient religion (just as valid).

And here's the clever bit...our ancestors were in favour of scientific study.

Lindow Man, say COBDO "is another candidate for reburial"

Surely archaeologists saved Lindow Man, anyway. If they hadn't, Percy Thrower would have spread him as mulch all over the Blue Peter garden.
Posted by Gog:
Quote:quote:our ancestors were in favour of scientific study
Well, some of them might have been, but others probably not...

Seriously though, the 'druids' have no better claim on these 'ancestral remains' than anyone else of long-term British descent (me, for instance), and nor have they any real arguable claim to a shared religious affiliation with these 'ancestors'. The whole thing looks to me like a publicity stunt.


to let, fully furnished
Publicity stunt or not what worries me more is that some of the theoretical discourse which has led to the surge of relativism in archaeology in the past 20 years seems to finally catch up with the public. Consider the following statement:

"Other pagans are less impressed with what science has to offer. "Any story that is reconstructed from that data will be an imagined past, which usually turns out to be a blueprint of the present imposed upon the past," said Mr Davies.(The Guardian, Feb. 5th 2007).

This could be taken straight from some of the theoretical text books of the late 1980s and early 1990s (i.e. Shanks and Tilley etc.).
Now it justifies some peoples personal and ideological agendas.
Totally agree! Postprocessualism sowing the seeds of its own downfall.

There is a good example in one of Hodder's books (cant remember which one) where he gets really angry with 'mother earth cattle worshippers (or something)' at Catal Huyuk when they tell him that his theory is b****cks. However, all he can do is say 'their opininon is as valid as mine and all I can do is write my theory down and disseminate it as a counterpoint'. NO ITS NOT; THEY'RE MAD

Of course, this is all 'deep' philosophy/ sociology but I for one am m proud to say that I believe in a shared reality. I think its high time that, although we need to acknowledge it, we as archaeologists dont become obsessed with relativism. After all, Im far more interested in saying things about the past, not just proclaiming in abstract language that 'we cant actually say anything becasue itll be wrong'.

Its time for a paradigm shift. No more archaeological studies solely of the 'imagined individual' but lets combine it with decent data collection at the level of societies; a sort of 'aware' processulaism without the old pretense of 'science'. Once we do this we can powerfully go on the offensive against the druids...

BTW all the above is fairly tongue-in-cheek! Time for a cup of coffee I think!


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