Beyond Sacred: Recent Pagan Engagements with Archaeological Monuments – Current Findings of the Sacred Sites Project
Issue: Vol 11 No. 1 (2009)
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
Over the last decade, our Sacred Sites project has examined contemporary British Pagan engagements with pasts, focusing on archaeological monuments and associated material culture held in museum collections. Increasingly Pagans are taking issue with problems of disenchantment and reenchantment, opposing landscape exploitation, often equating their (contested) relationships to place and pasts to those of indigenous peoples elsewhere. We present findings and examples from our project, with a particular focus on understandings of the 'living landscape' and how its sacredness is celebrated within today's Paganisms. After a summary of the background to our research as co-directors of the Sacred Sites Project (published in 2007 as the volume Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights: Pagan Engagement with Archaeological Monuments) we indicate tensions and implications for heritage policy and social inclusion in relation to two sites of protest: Southend-on-Sea, where road-building has threatened Prittlewell Saxon Cemetery, and the Thornborough henge complex, threatened by quarrying.
Author: Jenny Blain, Robert J Wallis