Final evening I watched a Television present known as ‘Digging for Britain’; a new present which makes an attempt a new format archaeology magazine and clearly as a replacement for the lengthy working business tv present ‘Time Team’.
Firstly I feel the title of the brand new show is value a mention; ‘Digging for Britain’. Just because it puns on titles like ‘Working for….’ or else ‘Rooting for…..’ Britain – the show’s title has some overtones of patriotism; as if the digging, so to talk, is being executed within the identify of and for the better glory of Britain?
Now this patriotic flavour in the title you may assume is fortuitous or else of no actual significance; unintentional to the words used. Yet please remember it later on on this essay after i write about a number of the digs flagged up by the present as its showcase gadgets.
The present is a gazetteer of current archaeological works going on around the UK in 2016, spending 5 or ten minutes air time on round half a dozen high-profile digs across – as was yesterday’s show – Southern Britain.
There is loads I wish to say about the show itself and also about the levels of investment and extent of works being made at the moment in archaeological works in Britain. Each of those issues of concern I need to talk about are political points. Firstly, the present itself:
First up on the present was an archaeologist on a dig by the River Avon near Stonehenge. This man who was main the dig; he was the identical man who for twenty or more years had been a leading archaeology presenter in the aforesaid ‘Time Team’ present which this ‘Digging for Britain’ present seems to be an try and substitute and update. Now this can’t be coincidence that this man shows up on the primary airing of the first present, and in pole position – a present which replaces his former present. No reference was made to ‘Time Team’ nor to the man’s former involvement in different Tv exhibits about archaeology. Thus the present began it seems to me in the best way it meant to go on; by it failing to be candid and up entrance; and so failing to give the appropriate context of the show.
The old ‘Time Team’ was introduced I believe by a special Television station, and so commercial causes may be cited by the new present for not acknowledging the man’s 20 or so former years in Television archaeology. In addition it cannot be coincidence that the man was first up on the brand new present because of the actual fact that he’s a familiar face to the show’s viewers; an emphatic link with past Television archaeology. And but no mention of such a link was really stated. The man was introduced by way of his title and occupation and position in life; simply as if he were one other or a new face on Tv. This selection of the new present ‘Digging for Britain’ deciding to ‘cash-in’ and ‘draw off a little bit of collateral from’ the former Tv present ‘Time Team’, while at the identical time wholly ignoring the existence of that ‘Time Team’ and so of the man’s long affiliation with that programme; this selection of the presenters of this new present to make use of this man up front appears to me to have been underhand in its refusal to supply all the details to viewers; leaving viewers to put two and two collectively in the event that they were in a position to.
The actual fact is they wished to ‘cash in’ from former programme ‘Time Team’s’ fame and affectionate following; but at the identical time not to sully their own present by inviting comparisons by introducing outright references to ‘Time Team’.
Now this might seem slightly factor and nothing to get upset about; but it set the tone for the brand new present, and what followed as you will notice follows swimsuit with this strategy to its viewers, and in regard to rather extra weighty issues.
Now archaeology will not be a neutral research politically-speaking. It is completed by an immensely privileged social class of individuals; it uncovers and celebrates history however normally in such a manner that what is dug up is because it had been bestowed virtually ‘hallowed’ status; and this hallowed status is most hallowed when the story behind the artefacts – and it is a story created by the archaeologists themselves – is about things like buried treasures and a ruins of kings palaces, about what could be very sanitarily referred to as by the diggers themselves ‘high-status’ finds and digs.
In this way, and the finding of King Richard III’s grave a couple of years ago in Britain typifies this outlook – archaeology on this mild is a little bit of a fairytale occupation; one thing in it is very often present as infantile and puerile. These callow points specific themselves in the clear show of so much emotional funding and jubilation which is apparent when ‘big finds’ like hoards of trove, caches of jewellery and of kingly and princely items – often in graves – are dug up and cleaned off and placed in glass cases for public show.
These finds turn out to be public property and are presumed to be owned collectively by the nation; and so are became issues upon which to focus a satisfaction in nationhood; and a way of adhesion and community; and a price to being British and so forth. This metamorphosis of the objects discovered when they’re positioned on public show happens not across the nation; there are whole droves of persons who’ve zero interest in these finds and plenty of extra who’re solely casually fascinated; and others but still who pay solely lip service to their significance. Many Britons, most of us, don’t give much more than a hoot about these finds. They are treasures for only some of the population; the aspirant would-be educated center lessons who are their dupes; and the toffs who see the political clout and strategic use this stuff possess for their very own use in instances of national wants; Agincourt; Magna Carta; Bluff King Hal; Kings Alfred and Arthur; ad infinitum.
These are than the cosy and disingenuous ‘shared heritage’ stories, for we must remember we’re all in this collectively, which are woven around the objects in glass cases and politically-speaking they’re vitally important in their use as cement across the bricks in a strongly constructed house of privilege and in its gerrymanderings.
The people who ‘do’ archaeology on this nation are practically all of them tutorial academic establishment personnel. Their bread and butter on their dining tables is positioned there out of public funds, with some icing on the cake within the form of prime up of fees paid by college students and their families. Thus for the educational personnel working in this area their curiosity is always in serving the persons who pay their wages: no, not the common individuals whose taxes their wages are however to obey and make due consideration always to that place the place lies the actual power to cut them off at a stroke; that’s, with the governments of the day.
Thus final night time on the ‘Digging for Britain’ present there was a lot reverie and astonishment at finds which ‘might be royal’ and from a ‘royal palace’ dug out at Tintagel. Even venerable King Arthur obtained a mention and was brought close to becoming truly a historic personage by the show’s presenter. Likewise, there have been what are termed virtually idolatrously ‘high status’ finds displayed as taken from different digs across the land in 2016. And of course the obligatory accompaniment of lauds and hallows about Sir This and Lord That who were we are instructed ‘very necessary people’ in their areas of their day in history. The show was very a lot a fantasy journey down the lane of Merrie Englande.
Who is it who ought to care about nobles (misnomer) and about royalty (name given to these with ample assets and ambition and sheer brute violence who usurped and dominated their methods to the highest – same as these days) particularly these who are lengthy dead and whose lives were spent pursuing their very own greatest pursuits at giant; and at the expense and casualty of the peoples they were able to dominate – no change there.
The one individuals who should care about them are those whose lives are led in a CloudCuckooLand of woven romantic glamours about what had been in reality previous atrocities and historic injustices. Even their descendants in office, the politicians, only care about them as a result of they’re useful instruments to them. We, the governed and the provided for by our governors, yet right now are largely hereabouts doing what we do with most of our lives for his or her sakes and benefits. They need us to supply them with the ability and wealth and sway they so dearly covet – for what good is being king of a kingdom when one has no topics to move around like little items on a board? What good is wealth when there’s nothing made which is on the market or able to be pillaged? With out us, life for them is hollow and without attraction. As Dylan sings:
‘You‘re only a pawn of their game’
Thus provision of archaeology programmes, indeed of historical past programmes for the most half, is offered in formats which under a guise of conserving to historical accuracy are in truth praising to the skies the outdated raiders and robbers and murderers and killers who took the titles of nobility or royalty to cover their multitudes of sins, and in doing so, in praising them, the presenters of programmes reinforce the fairytale of fine Queen Bess and of The Iron Duke and of all those with ‘chummy’ epithets and connected anecdotes who are actually wedded to the nationwide mythology and to their fantastic names.
These are our Great Men – and some Nice Girls – and the archaeological finds and their surrounding mythos and charisma are all at one with these Great Names and with their perfidious deeds, so that as a package deal we ‘hallow’ all of it as an awesome bunch of hype and make obeisance before its shrine of idolatry.
What took the biscuit within the programme of last night was a ten minute look at Salisbury Plain, significantly at the massive Ministry of Defence sequestrated lands in that area, that are put aside to teach individuals how to kill different folks and not be killed of their doing so. The story is a bit involved however please bear with me – it’s definitely worth the ride.
The Battle of The Somme was fought in France a hundred years ago this yr 2016: certainly one of a handful of infamous battles in World War 1 which took the lives in whole of ten million combatants. The Somme gave to us 60,000 casualties on its first day.
Final night time on Television was brought into our residing rooms an archaeological dig of what revealed itself to be a WW1 training ground for making British troops prepared for battles just like the Somme. This was trench warfare. The coaching floor was duly uncovered, with assistance from a map discovered to be in the collections of an area museum; a map quite detailed and which imitated in some ways the format and panorama of trenches and enemy positions etc on the Somme and so on. (I apologies for the vagueness of some of this exposition; numerous it is because of an identical vagueness of the detail as given within the programme).
The dig unearthed an in depth coaching floor. The archaeologist in charge right here we were knowledgeable was a ‘military archaeologist’; an ambiguous time period which might imply he specialised in digging navy stays or else that he was a man related with the military – or each. I believe he was both – a British Military archaeologist – not someone who’s going to present a model of The Somme unpleasing to his employer.
From this giant, a number of hectares, and complicated but yet a single training floor unearthed on Salisbury Plain had been extrapolated for general consumption by viewers, and extrapolated all in the great tradition of weaving the mythos and within the framing of public responses, have been that this coaching ground’s existence proved that the casualties at the Battle of The Somme were not a case of ‘lambs to the slaughter’ as folks historical past commonly has it – in the hearts of those that care at all about it in our day; but as an alternative that one single training complicated showed that British Army troops were well prepared for the battle; that The Borderers, the regiment identified to have educated there (amongst others) achieved all their aims on the primary day of the battle and misplaced few casualties. The conclusion of this dig sought to show around the folks view of WW1 history ‘at a stroke’ and so defend the British Military Chiefs of Workers and the Institution itself by attempting – for me in my very own opinion – a whitewash of what really occurred.
I ask, The Borderers trained; sure; however did the 60,000 who have been killed or wounded on the first day all pass through Salisbury Plain beforehand? Might they’ve logistically completed so – so many? Did all of the troops obtain targets? No. Or else the goals had been rubbish and the battle completely misconceived completely.
The man in charge of the dig was not launched to viewers as being a British Military archaeologist. And inadequate evidence by far was supplied for justifying the large claims made upon unearthing of the dig and in presenting the conclusions to viewers.
I am not interested on this nefarious attempt to massage history for the sake of ‘getting the file straight’ or else not; and the tutorial aspect of the question is, to quote Chaucer ‘nat value a torde’. The sheer unhappy and brutal attrition and lack of those young lads and their lives having been mown down at their beginnings of adulthood, at a time of life when we as human beings know very little about life and about what it’s able to supply of durability and sureness; these younger lads had no chance given them to ‘make their soul’ within the course of their lives – within the words of the poet W B Yeats.
Such a loss is the horrible thing – and nothing justifies it – not especially a single coaching floor, nevertheless complex, on Salisbury Plain. Wilfrid Owen the poet said on the time and within the trenches quite rightly: ‘The poetry is in the pity’; as is the ache and the grief.
I’d suggest that the military archaeologist had an agenda- as had others on the present – in presenting their findings in the ways in which they did – agendas not navy however political.
Our last however one noble and royal government worked very arduous in 2014 at the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 to tell the peoples of Britain that the people history and reminiscence of WW1 was just a fantasy and a travesty of occasions. They labored arduous to rehabilitate WW1 and its carnage and destruction. ‘Socialists’ were blamed for their ‘propaganda’ which had confirmed the conflict authorities as silly men and the troops as a sort of prefiguration of the Jewish terrors of twenty years later.
This was not the truth. The reality was their model. The reality was that a) WW1 did achieve optimistic issues; b) it was not futile and c) it was not a case of sleepwalking into world battle and d) Germany was the aggressor and to blame and e) generally these politicians tried hard to mould history right into a form they could discover helpful and of solace to their minds. The whole assault on the general public mind in 2014 was an attempt to rehabilitate their very own grandfathers and to absolve them of the responsibility in historical past which they carry.
Simply as magnificence is in the attention of the beholder so to is that model of occasions an observer takes. Ideologically, a phrase which governments in the UK never use as we speak besides pejoratively; and a word which describes pretty precisely the stances of most of our governments lately; ideologically we see many times the politicians willing to cut of their own noses with a view to spite their faces. But it is not from mere ideology; ideology has a rationale and a physique of idea behind it; for these people right this moment who run our nation and who do not know the proper use of words; their ideology is nine elements prejudice and class hatred.
I say hatred however it’s somewhat extra a disdain and a contempt than it is hatred that they really feel for the common person, that one who doesn’t give a monkey’s about their archaeology, and about all of the fairy tales they prefer to weave around their ‘hallowed’ finds, in order to fasten additional the mental shackles on their topics.
They do not hate the decrease orders; hatred is a compliment in that one hates one whom one considers an equal. But these guys and their girls too despise and assume little of common individuals other than as chattels and as things of utility to be managed. Assets.
(Talking of resources I want to put out for you at a future time the enormity of how much wealth and resources are being squandered here within the UK out of Nationwide Revenue by it being fed into funding for archaeological digs; and thus to become an important part of the means that weaves the distorting mirror’s magic spells over us)
My next essay is about the Unknown Soldier; that soldier whose physique was dug out of Flanders Fields and interred in London on the Cenotaph just a few years after the WW1 armistice ended the warfare. It’s a physique which betokens ‘everyman’ who fought and died in the French and Belgian trenches and whose life was cut quick by that conflict. The conception of The Unknown Soldier is directly a wonderful one and yet additionally a dreadful one, in keeping with the spirit through which one admits it into one’s heart.
I shall also be writing in regards to the Germans and about how they took the war and its ending by armistice; and about how males, even those who govern us, maybe especially those that govern us, are driven so as to lose themselves by lurid passions and base ideas somewhat than by making any try and attempt to honour The Lord Jesus of their dealings with their fellow men and women.
(I keep referring to men only because at that time and for most of British historical past it has been all about males. Only in our day have girls ‘come out of the closet’ and confirmed a diabolical wish to grow to be ‘men in skirts’. I’m not in opposition to girls in any respect. I am against injustice and in opposition to unkindness and against any slighting of or disregard shown to The Lord Jesus and his gospel, his life, his mission and His Incarnation. Pintel within the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ can’t read however makes an attempt to learn a Bible. Ragetti mocks him; says it’s no use because he doesn’t perceive the phrases – can’t learn.