First, a definition: A‘mythos’ is a set of beliefs or assumptions about something, with its supporting narrative.
The mythos…. is that monuments in the Stonehenge area …. had a ‘national’, ‘unifying’ role for ‘Britain’ at a time when ‘Britain’ had a ‘unified culture’ and was isolated from continental Europe, and that as part of this process of unification, animals to be consumed in feasting were transported from as far as ‘Scotland’..........
Anyway, there are a few other interesting points from the article, with which I concur.
The continued promotion of Wessex-centred prehistory through the aggrandising ‘national’ role for the Stonehenge area, is not only a problem for those working in the archaeology of Scotland……
Features of media coverage:
• ● core/periphery issues – the persistence of an interpretative ‘grand narrative’ for late Neolithic Britain, based on interpretations of material relevant only to a limited area;
• ● the over-interpretation of limited evidence to reinforce grand narratives;
• ● subsequent promotion of these overstated interpretations by university media offices keen to demonstrate the ‘reach’, ‘relevance’ and ‘impact’ of externally funded, over- head-bearing research, particularly to funding bodies and mindful of the REF process;
• ● anachronistic and inappropriate references to modern politics, especially Brexit, actively promoted in press releases and interviews;
• ● a scientistic rewriting of thepast poorly related to existing models of the prehistory of Britain.
The interpretative inflation we have already mentioned occurs in distinct stages in this uite of publications and promotions:
*the data and relatively restrained preliminary interpretation in the first part of the original academic paper;
*then, less tentatively, in the later part of the paper (and in the Abstract) more far- reaching interpretation, with less support offered;
*even more ambitious claims in media releases prepared by the universities, incorporating direct quotations from the authors;
*in the media, working from the press releases, to create attention-grabbing headlines and soundbites, further amplified through some interviews with the lead authors; and affected by the media outlet’s own political angle.
Discussion: prehistoric mythmaking, contemporary politics
We hope that we have demonstrated that the mythos has been developed on a sparse evidential base to reinforce what we would see as an outdated vision of a prehistory based on ‘luminous centres’, indeed a particular ‘luminous centre’ – the Stonehenge environs (Barclay 2001, 16, 2009, 3).