Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Engaging with the Past: Books

This - according to Wikipedia - is what
books look like (for those who don't
see too many of them)
Over on a metal detecting forum near you, a detectorist who wants everyone to know he was at the Weekend wanderers rally at Lenborough and actually saw the coins shares his 'theory' that Emma of Normandy (she of the Encomium Emmae Reginae) - on no grounds that I can discern except the coins were all unworn - had Cnut mint coins with the image of Ethelred II (his predecessor and her former husband) to 'legitimise' his reign ('Re: The Saxon Coins of the hoard found by the Weekend Wander').  There is no real discussion of the idea but member "littleboot" (Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:55 pm) says something very revealing:
Totally fascinating. I think women were written out of history in relatively recent times....the 'modern' era....and it was assumed that they had no standing. Yet women like Emma and Empress Maud etc were major players in the politics of the middle ages. I am once again indebted to Detecting and fellow enthusiasts of our wonderful history for filling in the huge gaps left by what passes for the teaching of History in our education system. Not to mention the failings of the expensive experts in the Heritage sector to inform and share knowledge effectively with anyone but their own circle.
They are called "books" Littleboot. Books. Metal detectorists with their "Them and Us" view of the world always want everything handed to them on a plate and because they don't get it, tend to play the victim. No expert in the heritage sector dropped everything to produce a post on a metal detecting forum for Littleboot and her friends to follow up with the traditional emoticon-filled one-liners. She never had the opportunities others had because she was failed by her teachers - in my own didactic  experience, it's not the teaching that is the problem, it's the learning.  (For the foreign reader in UK libraries and bookshops there are a awful lot of books on a whole host of female protagonists in the history of the UK, that metal detectorists do not know of them, let alone read them as a non-destructive way of engaging with the past is another story).

Again we are faced with the situation that archaeological outreach to achieve 'best practice' can only be as successful as the cognitive abilities of the 'partners' which condition the degree to which they are capable of benefitting from it and applying the knowledge gained to what they do. 

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