Over the coming pages you may be fooled into thinking that when it comes to archaeology I know what I’m talking about. If that ever happens and god forbid, I want you to remember my brothers favourite ‘my brothers a total knob’ story.
It looked like the kitchen at a house party just after the lightweights had gone to bed. Our first ever visit to Glastonbury festival, and as we made our way up the hill towards the stone circle field, the faint sound of distant drumming lifted with the early morning mist. We’d been told it would build to a fabulous crescendo and eager to join in the sunrise fun we both picked up the pace. Glastonbury virgins we may well have been, but when it came to getting smashed we were total slags.
I can’t quite swear to the facts, but sometime later he asked – So what do you reckon then?
On reflection it was probably obvious he was actually talking about the carrot wine we’d just scored off a semi-comatose hippy, but what with one thing and another I was a bit confused. I surveyed the scene before me: hundreds of the great unwashed, dancing, drumming, laughing and lounging amongst the upright stones of a prehistoric circle. What did I reckon? Well it was obviously a deep continuation of an ancient practice of festivity and ceremony that had taken place on that very site more or less unbroken since it was first built four thousand years ago. Total bollocks, yes I know. But I’d just finished my first year studying archaeology at university and even then showed early promise talking knowledgably about things I didn’t know.
But I should have been weary the moment I opened my mouth. He’d been pouring over a free newspaper that morning like it was the manual to a brand new gadget; a goldmine of uninteresting information and he wasn’t shy about sharing. Wondering round from gig to gig was a bit like listening to your dad on a Sunday drive – if your dad happened to be off his box and wearing a dress on his head.
I continued regardless: here you see the recumbant stone, a classic alignment intended to reference the mid summer sun. These were a farming people, and the Bronze Age mindset was not just one of reverence, but mastery over the suns cycles… blah blah blah blah blah… what I don’t know about archaeology just isn’t worth knowing… blah blah blah blah blah…
It was about this time he stopped saying ‘that’s bollocks’ and started stopping passers by. ‘Eh, listen to our kid; he really knows what he’s on about.’ By this stage I was drawing a crowd. Not a massive one, but your average street performer would have been proud. And in between drumming up custom, he would throw in a couple of cheeky questions of his own – his Tony Robinson to my Mick Aston. ‘When was it built again? How old is it? So how long ago was the Bronze Age?’
When I got bored of my own voice, which wasn’t for quite some time, we walked back through the green fields and tried to find our tent. Every now and again he would laugh to himself muttering something about ‘Bronze Age’ and ‘4000 years old’ then breaking down in hysterics.
Turns out the hippies built it in 1990. Bastard.