... and conclude prehistoric people were'nt entranced by natural nature. They may have been scared by it, they certainly were trying to control it, but they weren't inspired by it.
Sorry to be an old curmudgeon posting yet another late night ramble! And thank you, Gladman, for continuing to read my muddleheadedness.
The pleasure's all mine. No, really. Just knowing that some people are actually thinking about such stuff (when in a position to do so) ... and prepared to put forward an opinion. I may not necessarily agree - as I happen not to in this instance - but how tedious would it be if we all agreed all the time? Another cucumber sandwhich, vicar? The thought sends shivers down my spine.
My primary issue, as with most things, I guess, is that of definition. Consider the term 'raw nature'? Can there be a definitive meaning applicable to all members of society today? Let alone across millennia. For what it's worth, I think not and that it is a highly subjective term constantly in flux, dependant upon the foibles of contemplator. I know people who consider the simple act of spending a night in a tent to be extreme behaviour beyond their comprehension. Walk around a rainy central London and observe people huddling beneath umbrellas with expressions so pained that any comparison with a Dartmoor storm is rendered academic. They believe it to be extreme so, for them, it is. My own interpretation of experiencing 'raw nature', I guess, would be something like 'any situation where I am in a landscape or environment which places me outside my normal experience of living upon this planet, outside my normal terms of reference, outside my comfort zone... a situation where I am forced to turn off the 'autopilot', forego the complex web of inter-person relationships that guide our actions for the vast majority of the time and focus solely on my relationship with the planet and its weather systems'. Yeah, me and it. In a very real sense I am, of course, a part of it already, being composed of its elements, but how many times can any of us say we actually contemplate that connection in 'everyday' life? Exactly. I only really do so outside of 'everday' life. Think, 'you know, there really is so much I need to try and comprehend above and beyond bloody Jessie J's sexuality?' And for me these times are upon mountain tops, with forests, moorland. That is 'raw' nature for me. Raw instinct, natural reaction, no need to consider what anyone else is going to think. No compromise.
As I think I said before, it is surely complete folly to try to place ourselves in the 'heads' of the people who lived before with our 21st century mindsets. Although anatomically the same as us - as so no doubt capable of the same emotional responses to specific stimuli - they, like us, must have shaped their world view according to how - and where - they lived. If you happen to live deep in the countryside you are probably not fazed by it.... might well hate the 'boredom', isolation, weather etc (I work in central London and tolerate it at best. Members of my Welsh family think London is awe inspiring and would love to live there instead of Wales). So I agree the ancients would probably not have been inspired by their immediate surroundings, the village they lived in. If the rich folklore relating to metaphysical gods, spirits, monsters - not to mention the dangers of wild beasts - is anything to go by they might well have been terrified of what lay beyond, if only at night. But that was life. My equivalent of central London.
But what about when they left their own 'comfort zone', ventured beyond the scope of their normal day to day experience... went to somewhere 'special'. Did they, like I believe I do, experience their own perception of 'raw nature', connecting to the planet in the manner I, again, believe I do? For me the placement of our surviving monuments is key. I do not accept the majority are in 'ordinary' locations... Consider our upland burials. As far as I'm aware humankind has never populated the high peaks of the UK mountains to any degree, those settlements that do exist (e.g Carrock Fell and Ingleborough) being very much extreme, later exceptions. So why the need for upland cairns if the people living in the valley settlements below were so pragmatic. Why toil for goodness knows how long to erect such an awe inspiring monument as the cairn which still crowns Tinto? Why not just stick a cist within a small cairn in the field next to the village. Why intern a burial within the near 3K summits of Corn Du and Pen-y-Fan? Why populate the rounded summits of Y Carneddau with great burial cairns? And why the (apparent) very specific placement rendering them, in many cases, invisible except from specific angles. In my opinion (based upon extensive observation over the course of over twenty years) their is credible evidence that the Bronze Age inhabitants of the UK viewed the uplands as a 'special place' detached from, yet very relevant to, their everyday lives. Perhaps the intention was to 'control' the high places, to wrest control away from the earlier gods by placing their own VIPs on high (although this would raise the question of why later Iron Age peoples did not in turn destroy hilltop cairns when constructing their hillforts, instead of generally retaining them?) I therefore think not, not when even the largest cairn fades to nothing in the vastness, even superhuman back breaking efforts like the Tinto cairn almost an irrelevance... No, I think they regarded the uplands with at least the same awe as I do, considering such landscapes the appropriate environment to act out metaphysically influenced ritual... inspired by the landscape itself.
So much has changed at lower level over the millennia that the question is more open. However, once again, why did the long barrow and long cairn builders living in undulating landscape systematically take so much care in placing their tombs upon false crests.... why was it so important that, unlike the Bronze Age monuments, these had to be seen upon the skyline by everyone. Why not plonk them beside the village if the landscape was just something that was 'there'? Why the care? Indeed it could be argued that, just as the upland cairn or round barrow mimics - or at least echoes - the mountain or hilltop, the long barrow did the same in respect of the undulations of the lower ground.
So, in my opinion I feel that there is much evidence that our ancestors took a very significant, in some cases overwhelming, degree of care to ensure their burial monuments - where possible (an important caveat) - were placed apart from their normal day to day surroundings in 'just the right spot'. Open stone rings - i.e. those with no apparent burial function, so assumed to have functioned as 'meeting places'(?) - would, I guess, have been subject to different siting criteria.... easy access, perhaps via, or at least in the vicinity of water, near established routes to facilitate the exchange of axes... featuring celestial alignments (where available - but a must for RSCs, I would have thought) to allow some priest-engineered theatre...
Reply | with quote
|Posted by GLADMAN|
5th May 2012ce
Sense of Place (moss, Apr 01, 2012, 09:57)
- Re: Sense of Place (tjj, Apr 01, 2012, 19:09)
- Re: Sense of Place (GLADMAN, Apr 01, 2012, 20:00)
- Re: Sense of Place (tjj, Apr 02, 2012, 22:30)
- Re: Sense of Place (ryaner, Apr 20, 2012, 21:48)
- Re: Sense of Place (BuckyE, Apr 21, 2012, 03:39)
- Re: Sense of Place (The Eternal, May 05, 2012, 22:55)
- Re: Sense of Place (Littlestone, May 06, 2012, 10:52)
- Re: Sense of Place/Wildness (Sanctuary, May 07, 2012, 14:15)
- Re: Sense of Place (tjj, May 21, 2012, 12:57)