Thursday, 4 October 2018

Britain's Heritage Preserved (?)

Good news, one of these buildings has been saved from demolition by developers:

photo: SAVE Britain’s Heritage

The problem, any heritage values it possesses will soon be dwarfed by the Paddington Cube:

photo: SAVE Britain’s Heritage
I see this as a very apposite analogy to what the same country are doing to the archaeological heritage within its national territory. Part of the archaeological heritage is preserved, but the larger part is simply being trashed by happy-go-lucky (but law-abiding) 'metal detectorists , ripping up the contexts and pocketing some of the pieces, but throwing away history and context as they go. Yet as the Paddington Carbuncle shows, it is the context that matters, the one cannot be fully appreciated without its surroundings.

I suppose we could look at it another way, the pretty turn-of-the century brick building could represent the PAS database, a sample of the nicer things that some of the collectors have taken as a sop to criticism and a pretence of 'preservation'. The uglier mass behind it is the mound of decontextualised artefacts ripped from their context that are the elephant in the room that supporters of PAS pretend (so desperately) not to see. But for those that know of the carbuncle, that problem cannot be unseen.

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