The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Original thinking

The Guardian 27/10/09

'The booming interest in archaeology suggests a new quest for identity in a time of rapid change'

Question Time descended into pure farce when Nick Griffin was challenged by Bonnie Greer to define what he meant by the "indigenous" peoples of Britain. It must have been the first time that the Ice Age had been dragged into the heat of contemporary political debate.

What emerged from their conversation was riddled with absurd notions, and no doubt had Britain's considerable army of amateur archaeologists tearing their hair out. For we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented archaeology boom, the public appetite for the subject – TV programmes, museum and site visits and 180,000 metal detector enthusiasts – never having been higher.

There was a comparable surge in interest in the subject during the middle decades of the 19th century; it was the period that antiquarianism – the collecting of quaint objects – began to develop into the academic discipline of archaeology and the pioneers were the barrow-diggers. Often clerics, these men dug their way through hundreds of barrows. In North Yorkshire, Canon William Greenwell dug 400 mounds in 50 years and ended up selling his collection to the British Museum. Alongside them sprung up the county historical societies which began the work of analysing and recording this new area of study.

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danielspaniel Posted by danielspaniel
27th October 2009ce

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