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Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

EH and the obsession with certainty


I got this message from a friend who has just visited the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre:

"I was at Stonehenge today and they did have your books for sale at the new shop but the exhibition is still sticking to the Wainwright / Darvill / Parker Pearson theory with no ifs or buts -- just presented as fact, not even "some geologists think...." 
 Very weak exhibition actually with all the hype and the new space I thought they could have done better."

This is all rather depressing.  I've been hesitant to comment on the content of the new exhibition until I have seen it for myself, but I now have a number of messages from visitors who cannot understand why EH apparently only deals with certainty -- ie the certainty which certain senior archaeologists have manufactured on its behalf.  For a start, it's rather disrespectful to those geologists and geomorphologists who have, over the years, argued forcefully that there was glacial involvement in the transport of stones; and secondly, it seems pretty arrogant to me that EH assumes that Joe Public cannot cope with scientific uncertainty, or with having alternative interpretations of something which is -- let's face it -- still a complete enigma.

13 comments:

A. Friend of Someone Else said...

I thought you had abandoned anonymous postings on your blogg.

BRIAN JOHN said...

So I have. Just discovered how to do it a couple of days ago. All Anonymous submissions now go straight into the TRASH Can.

This is Silly said...

But doesn't Brian's post amount to an anonymous person's input.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Hello Silly Person

For better or for worse, my name is what it is, and I'm happy with it. I am no more anonymous than MPP, TD or GW, and am perfectly happy to say what I think, on the record. What's your name, by the way?

A friend of a silly person said...

Brian, I believe you've missed the point. If you decide to post a comment and say it is from a friend of yours, then you are granting that person anonimity, which is exactly the same as if the person had signed his/her self Anon.
Your actions are ambiguous.

It is your logic that's silly, not me.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- I see what you are on about. The only reason for not giving my friend's name was that I got the message privately, and I have not checked with her that she would be happy for her name to be used in the blog. In case you are wondering, I do not invent things.......

One could go to ludicrous extremes here. Shall we all stop making assertions about anything, or reporting on anything, unless we cite chapter and verse every time? I don't know about you, but I ain't got the time to go chasing after all the contributors to this blog and asking them to provide me with full references to back up all their points.

TonyH said...

Yes, in a nutshell, what the Stonehenge Visitor Centre's exhibition could do with is less "Eureka!" and rather more of an admission that things known so far on matters related in particular to Stonehenge and the provenance of its stones, Sarsen as well as Bluestone, remain very enigmatic.

I believe that the exhibition area will have different subject matter each year - I remember reading this in the first "Current Archaeology" magazine write - up earlier this year. Perhaps someone will confirm this to us?

TonyH said...

Another way of looking at the E.H. Approach is to say that it is really just an extension of what, from memory I think Brian has repeatedly referred to as MPP's Closed Hypothesis approach, namely, we will, from the outset simply dismiss (disrespect would be more accurate!) the Glacial Hypothesis and exclude it completely from our thinking, because We, the Archaeologists,know best, can attract funding, and 'All Live in a Yellow Submarine' and Wear Yellow Day - Glo Jackets to emphasise our VIP status.....'and our friends are all on board, many more or them live next door'.

Imma Hypocrite said...

"In case you are wondering, I do not invent things......."

"I also write fiction -- and have now written eight volumes in the Angel Mountain Saga"

" I ain't got the time to go chasing after all the contributors to this blog and asking them to provide me with full references to back up all their points."

Is that the reason you banned Kosta?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Contributors are not banned if they behave well -- in your case, if you don't stop making stupid points, you are destined for the trash can.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Because I don't want you to make mistakes, and because I wish you well, I want you to know Imma is NOT me.

I have no trouble identifying myself, as you know.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Kostas -- aware of that!

TonyH said...

Brian, I think that English Heritage at the aforesaid Visitor Centre would be worth your contacting and asking if they intend CHANGING their exhibition, as conjectured in my earlier comment. You, and other fellow geomorphologists and glaciologists, might have an input into a future display on the continuing debate on Glaciation and Glacial Landscapes. I did quote what the Current Archaeology article on the Visitir Centre stated in an earlier Post, easy enough to find with the Search Engine I'm sure.