Negotiating archaeology/spirituality : pagan engagements with the prehistoric past in Britain

BLAIN, Jenny and WALLIS, Robert (2012). Negotiating archaeology/spirituality : pagan engagements with the prehistoric past in Britain. In: ROWNTREE, Kathryn, MORRIS, Christine and PEATFIELD, Alan, (eds.) Archaeology of spiritualities. One world archaeology . New York, Springer, 47-70.

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Our Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights project examines contemporary Pagan engagements with pasts in Britain, focusing on archaeological monuments and associated material culture held in museum collections. These engagements take diverse forms, from protesting against road-building and quarrying affecting monuments, and performing public and private rituals at ‘sacred’ locations including sites and museums, to leaving votive offerings / clearing the ritual litter of previous celebrants and taking an interest in the curation of ancient human remains. Discourse between pagans, archaeologists, museum curators and heritage managers results, involving tension, negotiation and attempts at understanding. In this paper we situate ourselves reflexively as scholar-practitioners, summarise our findings pointing to issues of difference and convergence between the interest groups, and focus on pagan interest in human remains, from ‘respect’ to reburial. Issues emerge of competing claims on ‘heritage’, how ‘ancestors’ are constituted, contest to institutional authority and the diversity of pagan voices, from those committed to the ‘return to the earth’ of all excavated pagan remains to those adhering to the ‘preservation ethos’ of scientific archaeology and heritage management. In order to move on from entrenched stereotypical attitudes, all the interest groups need to engage in dialogue and be prepared to re-negotiate their positions.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Page Range: 47-70
Depositing User: Jenny Blain
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2012 09:53
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 00:15

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