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CHAPTER 18 - ‘Pagans in Place, from Stonehenge to Seahenge: “Sacred” Archaeological Monuments and Artefacts in Britain’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

T. A. Heslop
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Elizabeth Mellings
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Margit Thøfner
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

A small, early-Bronze Age timber monument, from c.2050 BCE, was discovered near Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk in 1998. It quickly became the focus of controversy concerning spirituality and locality. Threatened by sea erosion, the site was excavated in 1999. Pagan protestors tried to stop the dig, believing that ‘Seahenge’ (or ‘Holme I’) belonged in situ. Some argued that the site was destined to be eroded, others that its alleged situation on a ley line meant that its meaning was dependent on its relationship to place. Pagan approaches to the past are diverse but sites from the iconic Stonehenge to the less famous Seahenge are increasingly being seen by them as ‘sacred’. These sacred sites range from the well-known ‘honey-pot’ monuments to those that are local and less well known. In their site-based rituals, Pagans honour ‘ancestors’, celebrate rites of passage and the passing of the seasons, and engage with deities, spirits and other beings held to inhabit the landscape. Pilgrimage extends to museums and other collections where excavated artefacts are held. Such ‘visits’ to the Sutton Hoo displays at the British Museum or to the recent redisplay of Lindow Man at the Manchester Museum, for instance, may comprise ritual acts in themselves. The artefacts are perceived by some Pagans as more than objects, possessing their own agency and personhood.

Type
Chapter
Information
Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia
From Prehistory to the Present
, pp. 273 - 286
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2012

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