Thursday, January 03, 2008

Suggested by the opening made in Silbury Hill, Aug 3rd 1849

Bones of our wild forefathers, O forgive,
If now we pierce the chambers of your rest,
And open your dark pillows to the eye
Of the irreverent Day! Hark, as we move,
Runs no stern whisper through the narrow vault?
Flickers no shape across our torch-light pale,
With backward beckoning arm? No, all is still.
O that it were not! O that sound or sign,
Vision, or legend, or the eagle glance
Of science, could call back thy history lost,
Green Pyramid of the plains, from far-ebbed Time!
O that the winds which kiss thy flowery turf
Could utter how they first beheld thee rise;
When in his toil the jealous Savage paused,
Drew deep his chest, pushed back his yellow hair,
And scanned the growing hill with reverent gaze, -
Or haply, how they gave their fitful pipe
To join the chant prolonged o'er warriors cold. -
Or how the Druid's mystic robe they swelled;
Or from thy blackened brow on wailing wing
The solemn sacrificial ashes bore,
To strew them where now smiles the yellow corn,
Or where the peasant treads the Churchward path.

Emmeline Fisher (1825–1864)


Littlestone said...

See also Mike Pitts article in British Archaeology here -

Anonymous said...

The following is a post I made in another forum and Littlestone asked that it appear here. It was in fact addressing spiritual beliefs of a past history that I felt we need to take into account today.

"There is a terrible sadness that lies at the heart of all this, the damage that has been done to Silbury over the centuries out of curiosity and the need for treasure, and then the simple truth that what did lie at Silbury's heart was this small mound surrounded by stones with simple offerings.
Taking the subject away from conservation for the moment, and focussing on the spiritual aspect, I believe that archaeologists have to come to terms with a respect for the beliefs of the past. Christianity exists besides many other religious beliefs, secularism strides over christian belief, but it is still respected. Archaeologists have to accept and respect this extra religious dimension when approaching the excavation of prehistoric monuments that obviously have deep symbolic meaning in their past history.
Dean Merewether for all his faults did record what he saw, but he was a man of the church highly intrigued by 'pagan' beliefs, and hardly sympathetic towards them. The stones are part of Silbury therefore should remain inside, they would hardly make an elegant centrepiece in a museum anyway.
The damage cannot be undone and that is what so depressing, but if, as many believe, Silbury has a spiritual meaning, then at least give it back its dignity for a 'remembered' past, and a peaceful future in which there are no further intrusions."


Littlestone said...

See also the link to John Skinner's words posted by sam and Nigel Swift at -

"...he came to a mouth of a passage covered with a square stone similar to that at (nearby) Plasne-wydd, anxious to reap the fruits of his discovery he procured a light and crept forward on his hands and knees along the dreary vault, when lo! In a chamber at the further end a figure in white seemed to forbid his approach. The poor man had scarcely power sufficient to crawl backwards out of this den of spirits..."