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Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Flimston Erratics -- Sacred Stones!


I have just scanned this from an old slide which must be at least 50 years old..... relevant to the discussions we have had on thi blog about the presence of erratic boulders from the St David's Peninsula down on the limestone coast of South Pembrokeshire.

Because these erratics have metal plaques fixed onto them, and are therefore turned into objects of commemoration and reverence, I suppose we can refer to the stones as "sacred."  So the objects are inherently interesting.  But we should remember that there is a very strong utilitarian component here as well -- the stones in Flimston Churchyard were not "revered" because of their colour or their provenance.  They were used because they were different from the other bits and pieces of limestone lying around in the area, and because they were simply available in the locality.  They are not even "orthostats" or pillars -- they are actually rather ugly boulders.

I have always argued that exactly the same principle applied with neolithic cromlechs and Bronze Age standing stones and other features in West Wales and elsewhere.  Stones were always used because it was convenient to do so.  Reverence was not an inherent feature of the stones prior to their use -- reverence came afterwards, when the monuments created were invested by later generations with symbolism and (sometimes) with the memories of the ancestors.

So in all of this I am light years away from what Colin Richards tends to write into his articles about stones and quarries......  of which more anon.

6 comments:

TonyH said...

Messrs Colin Richards and associates perhaps would do well to think reflectively about the place and the sheer longevity of boulders and rocks of different geological periods and provenances in the physical landscapes he and his colleagues visit in their work as archaeologists, or specialists assisting his work. The landscape is NOT all about what human beings have done to alter it, over the relatively insignificant period of time Humans have walked the earth. This is what Geology and Geomorphology will teach them if they show some humility and spend a little time learning about it e.g. via an Open University specialist one-off course. No doubt Brian knows what is available. Even Sir Tony Robinson of Time Team has sought to help us understand Geological and Geomorphological processes in a separate Channel Four series which I thought filled a gap in TV education.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- didn't know that TR had done that. Good for him! How long ago, Tony?

TonyH said...

Didn't see them all, but it seems there were at least 3 episodes, entitled Gold; Ice; and Volcanoes. The whole series was titled Birth of Britain [Channel 4]. TR's Wiki entry probably gives the date; or Google the keywords already mentioned for more info generally. Not that long ago. He's done other things too. We maybe have a potential ally in TR, who possesses so much more of a brain than Alas Poor Baldrick....he's nobody's fool, and can think for himself.

TonyH said...

A little more on Sir Tony R. Wikipedia quotes him as saying "I'll use my new title with abandon to highlight the causes I believe in, particularly the importance of...heritage.....adding I'll slaughter all unruly dragons". Well, well, well, anyone thinking what I'm thinking??? Tony, come and join our gang.

TonyH said...

A very similar argument, about later generations investing places with memories attributable to previous generations, when that realistically could not be done was heard on BBC Radio 4's "Making History", by Historical Geographer Bryony Mc donnaugh of Nottingham University and Hull University, on 14/01/2014

TonyH said...

Briony McDonnaugh is a closer approximation to the lady's name. Download of programme [details above] available from the Making History website at BBC.co.uk. Date of programme as above.