urban prehistory for beginners

15 Nov
The urban prehistorian is a blog dedicated to recording my experiences and engagements with prehistoric sites, monuments and places that lie within, or beneath our villages, towns and cities. The ancient past is all around us, but most of all, it is underneath us. This is because the ancient past is ruined, decayed, run-down, knackered, or sometimes a nice but perplexing landscape feature in a park. And the echoes of the prehistoric past are around us as well: mimicked by fake stone circles in roundabouts, recorded in obscure place names, and in some cases preserved for the public gaze with their own urban furniture – signs, noticeboards, parking spaces and no dog shitting please signs. But why should this matter? Of course we all know that the landscape we inhabit today is an accumulation of hundreds and thousands of tiny little acts, layer upon layer of activity, generations of people doing stuff all over the place. And some of these specific places eventually became our urban places, and slowly these urban spaces expanded, sucking in the landscape and spitting out the past. But we do know this, so why should this matter? As an archaeologist, it is my job to pick up the pieces (literally in some cases) of the past. To make sense of the standing stone that now seems a bit weird because it has a house next to it. To bring back to life the ceremonial enclosure that lies beneath a road, a roundabout and a bus depot. To find out what happened to the megalith that was marked on maps once but it now, well, gone. We all want to know stuff about the past, don’t we? Yet when we look around us the past is all in the present, and it is clear that it has seen better days. But tough shit, that is all we have, the broken stones and flattened banks, the invisible cemeteries and the ghosts of the past. And to be honest, it is pretty easy to jump in a car, drive out to the country, and look at stone circles and henges all pretty and preserved. I like a challenge. So the urban prehistorian blog will document my attempts to extract the pastness from the present, tell the stories of some of our more unfortunate monuments, and maybe even explore some of the mysteries of the past. Good luck with that!
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One Response to “urban prehistory for beginners”

  1. gmacg1 November 16, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    I really look forward to your Urban Prehistory blogs, as you say prehistory can be found in the most unlikely of places…

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