Protecting the Past

After watching the video lecture about the Stonehenge site I was interested to learn more about what goes into protecting such sites that are relatively open to the public. Most of the time the actual site or monument is blocked off by at least some form of barrier to keep tourists from causing damage to such historical pieces. Then staff is hired or volunteers are present to prevent tourists and from violating rules put in place to protect these sites and monuments. However, sometimes unfortunate events occur which can lead to the defacing and destructing of important historical pieces, and sometimes there is no recovering from the damage done.

I decided to look into Stonehenge to see if there have been any problems with the site being damaged or defaced in some way, and I learned that unfortunately there has been on a few occasions. The most recent however was during the winter solstice. During the winter and summer solstice, events are held at Stonehenge for Pagan and Druid rituals and celebration. However, things can be taken too far at these events. Just this year after the winter solstice and people had been within the inner circles of Stonehenge, workers found much vandalism left from participants in the previous day’s events. They found gum stuck to Stonehenge, graffiti on the stone, oil that had been placed on the stones to be lit on fire, and even urine and feces from attendees of the solstice events.

What surprises me is the fact that the site is not protected more to prevent things like this from happening. With how significant Stonehenge is and how open it is, one would think that many security measures would be put in place to protect it. Instead however, an almost party-like event is allowed to occur at Stonehenge for what many may call “religious” purposes for the Pagans. I think that places like these need to be restricted more to the public. It is one thing to see the site and to be able to admire what is there, but to deface and damage such a piece of history is a terrible crime to our culture. All we have to remember the past by is through limited writing and the physical pieces left behind for us to view. By damaging these pieces, we are in effect destroying our own history and choosing to neglect to care for the culture brought about by our ancestors. In today’s world there has never been a greater need for protecting our history. With companies constantly pushing to expand and a societal ignorance of our past, it stands to reason that somebody should stand up for these sites that cannot defend themselves. Without these pieces damaged, it is likely that we will lose important pieces of context or information that may allow us to understand more about what the world was like before we entered it.