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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Healing at Stonehenge

Thanks to a Current Archaeology reader for drawing my attention to this.  In an article called "A healing journey through the Stonehenge landscape",  in issue 17, Carly Hilts describes an innovative scheme for helping people with mental health issues or emotional problems.  A charity called the Restoration Trust brings people together in a caring environment in the "ancient landscape" of Stonehenge and Salisbury Plain -- with performances, craft activities and mutual support mechanisms designed to provide a sort of "heritage therapy."  The project is dubbed "Human Henge".  So far so good, and of course we wish the organizers ad the participants well.

Bournemouth University is one of many institutions involved, and Tim Darvill is apparently running a complementary research programme.  I wonder what that's all about?  According to the article, TD's ideas about Stonehenge as a "prehistoric Lourdes" are being used -- and the article unquestioningly trots out the usual stuff about the bluestones being quarried in the Preseli Hills, about the proximity of healing springs close to the rock sources,  and "long oral traditions of healing properties." The so-called concentrations of cairns around the springs, and the presence of rock art, are deemed to demonstrate the "special" quality of the local waters -- a quality then transferred to Stonehenge through the transport of monoliths to be used in the construction of Stonehenge.  It's all nonsense, of course, and there is no oral tradition of healing associated with these springs, no greater concentration of cairns than elsewhere, and no greater incidence of rock art. 

Sadly, somebody is inventing evidence here, promoting it through a rather dubious channel (namely the Human Henge project), and misleading some very vulnerable people into the bargain...........

Should one laugh or cry?


TonyH said...

Isn't T. D.'s insistence on their being healing springs in Preseli betting and counting on the Welsh public's awareness that there are, indeed, quite a lot of healing springs all over Wales?

But I take Brian's word that there is no oral tradition of healing springs in the Preseli hills. Brian John IS the Preseli's prime Local Historian. My impression is that Tim Darvill has rather exploited a tradition, generally held throughout much of Wales, but which probably is not present in Preseli.

TonyH said...

Timothy Darvill was awarded an OBE in 2010, according to Wikipedia.

BRIAN JOHN said...

The prime local historian for this part of Preseli is ET Lewis, who researched meticulously and wrote widely on social and historical matters. If there were oral traditions of healing springs in the area around Mynachlogddu, he would have known of them and he would have written about them. There is NOTHING in his books to support Darvill's contention. In fact, I have often wondered why there are traditions of healing springs in other parts of Pembrokeshire, but not in this area!

Myris of Alexandria said...

The correct response it to go to their main web-site and read and then donate. It is a small charity mainly run on good will with some very sensible archaeologists and heritage bods involved.
They are sensible caring people who are doing good.
Ignore the big charities give to this one.
Tim is donating his time and should be respected for that.
Not one of your better or kinder posts I am afraid.

TonyH said...

Well (pun), I have just this minute discovered this. The Walking for Health Group here where I live in West Wiltshire is meeting quite a distance away at Woodhenge this Friday for a walk in the Stonehenge Landscape. Perhaps Prof Tim D will magically appear from behind an American visitor and convince them they are in a prehistoric Lourdes....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris, if you had read the post carefully you will have realised that I have no problem at all with the charity or the good work that they are no doubt doing. I wish them the best of luck, and applaud their desire to help very vulnerable people. And if Tim Darvill is giving his time to helping out, that is to be applauded too.

My gripe is with the writer of this article and the manner in which she has promoted some very dodgy ideas in the context of this charitable work.

Alex Gee said...

Dear Brian.

I beg to differ with your opinion of this charity. It represents what is best described as peddling false hope! As I've stated on many occasions before. I live near Glastonbury, the last resting place of all the frauds and Charlatans who took part in the great travelling project of 1985 to vandalise and despoil every beauty spot in South Central and Southwest England; (I wept to see their despoilation of Savernake Forest: the playground of my youth!) Culminating in the " Battle of the Beanfield" where the fine officers of Wiltshire Constabulary gave these scumbags their just deserts.

It is not admirable to offer false hope or exploit for financial advantage, the weak, vulnerable, gullible, terminally ill, and recently bereaved etc.

What such people need ( like my sister in law who is most probably going to die of lung cancer in the next few weeks, or my wife who has survived breast cancer) Is not crystal fucking healing or the pseudo medical alternative bullshit therapies peddled by Tim Darvill and the charlatans who created this little money spinner.

What they need is proper scientifically based medical treatment.



P.S. A seasonal Fuck you to all the charlatans!


BRIAN JOHN said...

Alex -- I post this on the basis that your opinion is as valid as anybody else's -- but we are a bit off topic here, and please mind the language in future when you are having a rant! Rants are OK, but abuse isn't.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Do try to find somebody who can read the website for you and perhaps explain some of the polysyllabic (means long)words. I am not certain there is much crystal swinging, more modern integrated psychiatric practices and a wish to help. It is better than letting people self-medicate on dead dog scrumpy, that cures nothing only induces liver disease.

Anyway at 21.05 you should be watching our National treasure Ms Lumley.

TonyH said...

We are meant to be focusing on Prof Tim Darvill's 'complementary research programme'. The Current Archaeology article says "Bournemouth leading a complementary research programme, spearheaded[!*] by Prof. Tim Darvill, Director of Bournemouth's Centre for Archaeology and Anthropology, and Dr Vanessa Heaslip of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences."

!* my exclamation mark & asterisk - I just had quite a vivid image of TD with spear, about to launch.

TonyH said...

Back to Prof Tim Darvill.

Along with a lot of what we have tended to refer to on this Blog as impressionable or gullibLe or unquestioning people, Tim in all probability, got carried away at an early age with the Old, Old Story of Bluestones arriving in Wessex way back by means of heavy hefting, i.e. nothing less than heroic human transportation.

I put it to the HonoUrable Members of this Blogsite (we happy band of brothers!), that what has befallen Prof Tim, Prof Mike PP, Julian Richards etc etc, is nothing less than PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPRINTING of that dodgy theory that has been doing the rounds for around a hundred years now.

Since they were youngsters (most of them will willingly and gleefully admit to having first exposed themselves to the Old Ruin whilst still in knickerbockers) they have been swayed by this Preseli Human Transport twaddle. Even the occasional (not to say odd, of course) Geologist seems to have been seduced by such tales of swarthy Proto - Welshmen heave - ho-ing handy orthostats by whichever means was most enchanting during their formative years.

Of all Men, perhaps these are to be most pitied. Should we set up a Charity for their welfare?

AG said...

Myris : I stand by my opinion of this charity. I can understand the long words and

it is "peddling false hope"!.

That is my hypothesis! Your refutation of it;as usual. Consists of attacks on my

IQ, limited educational opportunities and intellectual (or lack of) abilities.

How I envy you the view from your Ivory Tower!

AG said...

Unlike the modern day Swarthy Welshmen who'd never ask for pity or quarter and gained the British Lions a magnificent draw against the Maori!

TonyH said...

AG & Myris

You two really ought to get on better! AG does a lot of caving and as a consequence has contributed his wisdom on the geology, etc he has thus encountered, and Myris is our premier geological expert on matters Stonehenge.

Maybe you two should, in the words of Paul Simon, ''get together and form yourselves an institute'. Enough fussin' and fightin' my friends!! (Lennon & MacCartney).

Myris of Alexandria said...

Good advice. I shall sit here patiently waiting by the river.

Do read the last novel of Comrade Inspector Chen Cao.


TonyH said...

Thanks Myris, will look him out. My wife and I (both Librarians) haven't crossed his path yet. Title of that last book, please?

I took in three different River Avons in the pst few days, the last being at Stratford - on - Avon, which was jam - packed with curious 'selfing' Chinese, including a few Euro - Chinese.....

TonyH said...

Has Tim been captured taking a selfie in situ, purely for publicity purposes?

Myris of Alexandria said...

It is called Shanghai Redemption but the books should be read in sequence to see the full corruption, petite and grande, that is recent China, the legacy of Chairman Mao and that everything is personal.
Plus lots of Li Bo in italics (I have always loved him, he drowned whilst trying to kiss the moon-a dead dog scrumpy too many) and a little bit of 'wind and rain'.
For some books you need a strong stomach there is little Vegan food in them.
They are really great novels even if the endings are always, to these Western eyes, rather weak but the murders are Macguffins (spelling??).
The novels were my find of 2016 or rather I was sent one of the books to see if I liked it. I did and was bought all the others for Christmass.
Still looking for a 2017 author, he/she must have a run of 10 or so novels.

BRIAN JOHN said...

What's this got to do with Stonehenge and bluestones, Myris? I suppose there might be some remote connection -- how best to find balm for the soul etc.......