Relationships between contemporary Pagan groups and those who work in the fields of archaeology and heritage management have been strained for many years due to disagreements over ancient sites and human remains. Inspired by Francis Pryor’s assertion that both groups share a concern for the past, and thus ought to get on better, this publication sets out to offer a better understanding of issues underlying this tension, and to propose
a way to improve future interactions.
The two main sources of conflict that are addressed here are the treatment of prehistoric human remains (namely arguments for the study and display of remains versus their reburial) and the management of places that are considered ancient monuments by heritage professionals and sacred sites by Pagans. Using a combination of ethnographic and literary research, and drawing on case studies from around the UK, the author examines the ideas and events that have led to contestation over these subjects. The result is an engaging book that offers a unique perspective on a topic that has long been relevant to archaeology and heritage.
Contested Heritage: contemporary Pagan groups and the archaeological and heritage professions in Britain, Will Rathouse, BAR Publishing, £44, ISBN 978-1407356969
Review by AB.