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Old 12-23-13   #21
Katharine
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Default Re: new visitor center for Stonehenge.

It doesn't matter what it was used for, or who made it, or why. What matters is what people are using it for NOW.

Every tradition was at some point, made up. They're as valid on the first day as a thousand years later. No one can claim Stonehenge isn't a religious site, they don't know; and we can be fairly certain the druids did use it religiously. They may have found it and made up their own legends about how it came to be, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't have adopted it as a religious center, especially after realizing its astrological importance.
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Old 12-24-13   #22
ffetcher
 
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Default Re: new visitor center for Stonehenge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katharine View Post
It doesn't matter what it was used for, or who made it, or why. What matters is what people are using it for NOW.

Every tradition was at some point, made up. They're as valid on the first day as a thousand years later. No one can claim Stonehenge isn't a religious site, they don't know; and we can be fairly certain the druids did use it religiously. They may have found it and made up their own legends about how it came to be, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't have adopted it as a religious center, especially after realizing its astrological importance.
The current tradition of Druidry at Stonehenge dates back to the Victorian era. Before that we have no evidence either way. Yes, a tradition is valid from the point at which it becomes a tradition (a folklorist friend suggests that that's the point where people will turn up even if you don't publicise it. There was a fledgling tradition at Walsingham from the early 1950s, but it really started getting serious when Pope John-Paul II granted the Solemnity of Our Lady, and it's been fascinating watching it develop.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree about unrestricted access to the stones themselves. Even if Druids did use it when they were originally around, and there's no evidence for or against, the site is so significant that I wouldn't want it invaded by many of the crazies I've seen in past years and at other nearby sites. I remember going there for the solstice in the days before they were fenced (essentially beforee the 'battle of the beanfield') and I wouldn't want it to go back to being like that.

As a comparison, although the root cause of the collapse of nearby Silbury Hill was careless back-filling of an excavation in the 1920s, virtually all the actuial damage was caused by people ignoring the notices that said 'don't climb'. It's now unlikely that the damage can ever be repaired.

I'm happy that 'the Druids' get access for the midsummer sunrise, but then of course if you limit access to 'small groups', it's a question of which 'small groups'. There are many revival/recon groups who could have a similar claim, the only difference being that the modern Druids got there first. This is a little bit like me suggesting that being Wiccan I should have access to the living room in Dorothy Clutterbuck's house.

As I said before, what worries me is the 'feature creep' that means much of the landscape is inaccessible to ordinary people, meaning that to get a reasonable view of the stones you have to pay. We drove back up after breakfast (Wetherspoons' eggs benedict are well recommended) and as far as we can make out, there's now no realistic disabled access even to the south end of the cursus without going through the visitor centre.

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