Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A sense of perspective

As it half term we've had family around to visit, and yesterday I thought we'd take my nephews to see Stonehenge ( click on picture for full view ).

Parts of the site date back between 4000 and 2000 years ago, and you can't help but marvel at the fact that any of it stands at all, let alone what it was for and the mysteries that surround it.

I tried to give my son a sense of the time by comparing to how old he was, but I don't think he quite 'got it'. But then perhaps I didn't when my father and mother took me ( I seem to remember being able to touch the stone and walk inside ). That's my personal perspective of time going past.

The problems we have today will melt away, even the economic ones, and perhaps something of what we are now will be left for future generations to wonder about from their point in time and perspective.

Yesterday was a great day for walking around, the position of the stones has fantastic atmosphere, especially such a bright day.

At the same time I could compare notes with my brother from the north west, where it seems to me the full force of the economic heart attack occurring in our country has yet to make itself felt. Shopping centres still open, business seems to carry on. Down here things are very serious, soon they will be everywhere else also.

I can't help but wonder what sort of shock is coming, is it the type that would have been a poor harvest 2000 years ago, or an unforeseen an irreversible shock like the Roman's invading.

We may have to stand back a bit in time to get the full picture.


Anonymous said...

probably the latter. have a read at this.

Anonymous said...

The Roman invasions werent that bad. Indeed they brought positive things with them. They mainly wanted to conrol rather than to destroy. They left a Celto-Romanic culture that drew on both. This was mainly destroyed by physical invasion by Saxons (although there was significant decline anyway).
Surely a better comparison is with the invasion of us English who didnt just rule but settled and replaced. Although in fact what happenned in different areas seems to have varied alot from high degree of settlement in the south eat/ thames valley/ east anglia to incorporation into Saxon kingdoms. Anglicization was as important as displacement and the creation of England was a long process.
However whatever the continuities it is clear that a Romano-celtish country was transformed into England. Those of us who were on the winning side of this of course dont find it too upsetting.
One man who wasnt was the writer Gildas who wrote in Latin in (it is thought) the Wiltshire area in roughly late 5th/early 6th (i just cant remember). He was writing during a lull in the Saxon advance (stopped for a while by Ambrosius Aurelianus at Mount Badon). He still was a part of a dieing Roman world and could remember, albeit hazily, the glories of teh past. He knew how his people and civilization came to be in its dieing state. It was the fault of Vortigern who first settled the first Saxons in Britain. Subsequently they turned to plundering and conquest and he evocatively tells of the destruction of the cities of Celto-Roman Britain. They are halted By Ambrosius (phps based in Wiltshire and still clearly Roman) but Gildas correctly can see that this is temporary and that complete ruin awaits. He also goes on about religion a lot.
Its hard not to see the parrallel with our own times. Yes economic problems are scary but they will be forgotten by history; demography however is destiny. Not only is demographic supplantation taking place but it is even forbidden to be mentioned that the British or the English exist as a people at all.
History will forget the economic ups and downs but remember how England's long and glorious history came to an end without being aknowledged as England is turned into simply a state and an island rather than something organic with a shared past and any kinship.
Who knows what the future holds but it will the future of some other people who ahve either supplanted or absorbed the English.