Tuesday 20 November 2018, 5.30PM
Speaker(s): Martyn Barber
What do we experience today when we visit Stonehenge? The stones and their surroundings have been greatly transformed over the last century and a half, as the desire to know more about the monument’s origins and purpose has grown alongside concerns about its long-term stability and its presentation to a paying public (as the Office of Works put it in 1935, “our whole aim is to enhance its beauty and dignity by producing a little more seemliness and order”). Drawing on contemporary accounts and archival material, I want to take a closer look at the causes, aims and motivations behind some of the key interventions at Stonehenge during the later 19 th and early 20 th century. Viewing the recent history of Stonehenge through a narrative that sees a privately-owned and neglected ruin transformed, via essential maintenance and repair, into a unique expression of Neolithic beliefs and achievement rather overlooks the complexities underlying that transformation.
Martyn Barber is Senior Researcher in Historic England’s Aerial Investigation & Mapping team, having worked for Historic England and some of its predecessors (RCHME, English Heritage) since 1990. Recent and current research has focused on post-medieval and modern developments in and around both Stonehenge and Avebury. He has also been exploring episodes in the history of archaeology via the personal archives of key figures, especially OGS Crawford.