Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Contested Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies, and Contemporary Pagans

By Robert J. Wallis | Go to book overview
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Further controversies and ‘reburial’

‘Desecration’ at Avebury

I opened this book with descriptions of destructive impact on the Avebury monuments, including graffiti on the stones, the lighting of fires and candle damage in West Kennet long barrow. The situation is perhaps reaching crisis point in a landscape which, with free and open access to a wide variety of monuments, is unlike ‘the stones’ of Stonehenge. 1 These examples of damage inevitably point towards future incidents of vandalism, and such direct and destructive engagements with ‘sacred sites’ are of concern to the alternative interest groups themselves, site curators and archaeologists. Antiquity suggests ‘New age crazies’ may be responsible (Antiquity 1996:501) for the graffiti on the avenue stones in 1996, and that the enigmatic imagery used suggests the symbols have a ‘magical’ meaning rather than being associated with the ‘tagging’ of graffiti artists. According to 3rd Stone: The Magazine of the New Antiquarian, the Pagan community may be aware of the individual who defaced the stones and ‘it is hoped that those in the know will not remain silent in this latest desecration’ (edition 35:3). The proprietors of the Henge Shop told me a ‘black witch’ called Kevin claims to have made the markings, believing that by painting the avenue stones he tapped into the universal ‘evil’ energy in the earth at Avebury and channelled it into the world to do its work. The shop owners were not convinced by this hearsay, but it seems no coincidence that the Antiquity article posits a link between the graffiti and similar defacement stating ‘LIVE (= EVIL backwards) 2 at other mystic monuments’ (Antiquity 1996:501). At around the same time the ruin on Glastonbury Tor was adorned with a large anarchy ‘A’ in white paint in 1999, an incident linked by The Ley Hunter (no. 126 Spring 1997:2) to Avebury’s graffiti.

The National Trust and English Heritage, custodians of Avebury, have certainly not had their heads in the sand with regard to these issues and increasing Pagan, Druid and other alternative engagements with the monuments. Addressing the issues comprises a part of the National Trust Avebury Management Plan (1997) 3 and English Heritage Avebury World Heritage Site Management Plan (Pomeroy 1998), 4 and Bournemouth


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Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Contested Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies, and Contemporary Pagans


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