Sites, sacredness, and stories: Interactions of archaeology and contemporary Paganism

WALLIS, R. J. and BLAIN, J. (2003). Sites, sacredness, and stories: Interactions of archaeology and contemporary Paganism. Folklore, 114 (3), 307-321.


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Folklore has, until very recently, been at the fringes of archaeological research. Post-processual archaeology has promoted plurality in interpretation, however, and archaeology more widely is required to make itself relevant to contemporary society; so, contemporary folkloric practices vis-à-vis archaeological remains are once again receiving attention. In this paper we examine contemporary Pagan understandings of and engagements with ‘sacred sites’ in England. Specifically, we explore how Pagan meanings are inscribed and constituted, how they draw on 'traditional' understandings of sites and landscapes, and instances in which they challenge or reify the 'preservation ethic' of heritage management. From active interactions with sites, such as votive offerings and instances of fire and graffiti damage, to unconventional (contrasted with academic) interpretations of sites involving wights and spirit beings, Neolithic shamans, or goddesses, there are diverse areas of contest. We argue archaeology must not reject Pagan and other folklores as 'fringe', but, in an era of community archaeology, transparency and collaboration, respond to them, preferably dialogically.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © Informa plc
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Identification Number:
Page Range: 307-321
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:15

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