Time for a short break from our Dane's Pad ramble, by way of another posting courtesy of John Steventon's Outside the Wyre series. Cheers John.
In the past there have been plagues, war, and just plain hard times to erase whole chapters from our history. Hungry people aren't going to have the same moral compass as those who have plenty. The poor farmer may see a burial mound as just another place to grow corn, and see a place like Stonehenge as a source for free stone. We look at these acts with horror, but as Antiquarians we must work with what we have. Like it or not, but each day the book of History moves on, often written over past pages.
For some time now we have had written history, recorded for posterity. Even the written record can be flawed, and even words carved in stone can be lost. Word of mouth becomes our living history, but stories change, and sometimes the people who know the words pass on before they can find someone who cares enough to hear them.
Not everyone cares about the past. Many have enough worries in the day to day business of life. Our history can be meaningful, sometimes important, and often just amusing anecdotes. Those of us who care should remember though that in the long run, nothing is sacred, and nothing lasts forever.
I went for a hike yesterday, here in Ohio, USA, looking for signs of Native life. I found a few pieces of flint that showed me that once upon a time a budding civilisation once thrived here. Thousands of years of history lay here, nearly forgotten. I was in a deep ravine, surrounded by trees, and could almost imagine what life was like back then, in a time before roads and buildings dotted the landscape. I climbed higher, knowing that was where my native hunters would have walked, looking out over the land for game, enemies, or just a nice view. I wanted to see things from their perspective.
High atop the deep shadowy ravine I found a little clearing where the sun peeked through. It shone upon weather beaten stones that were struggling to remain upright. Upon the stones were names and dates carved upon them over 160 years ago, some much longer.
A few people know they are there, but the steep path up the hill has almost returned to brush. There is no sign at all of a church, a village, or civilisation at all. Upon some of the stones are the names of local towns, so perhaps these were people of prominence, once upon a time?
The latest dates were in the 1850's, well within recorded history, and not too long ago for their families to have forgotten them. Yet forgotten they are. Only Nature Herself places flowers upon these graves.
This experience was a not too subtle reminder that time moves on, and even the most sacred of places can return to the soil. It is no surprise then that the world of History can have so many mysteries, so many unanswered questions. Some answers can still be found, though, by simply going for a walk. :0)