Landscapes Past, Landscapes Present

I was reflecting on the ways in which we encounter the past in the landscape.  Some times we carry it with us, through our preconceptions about a particular landscape or our knowledge of its history: we find what we are looking for ?

Other times, a landscapes pastness is often encountered through stumbling across archaeological sites: forgotten mounds of earth, piles of stone, roofless empty buildings…

It is easy therefore to consider such sites as simply testimonies of times past: to see them as dead and no longer really part of a functioning landscape.

However, when you visit many archaeological sites, if you look closely, you will see the different ways in which plants and animals continue to interact with them: nettles growing on the locations of middens at old settlements, lichens and mosses growing more on the north side of prehistoric standing stones, birds creating nests in walls, rabbits colonizing mounds…

In a sense, no matter how fragmented, damaged or forgotten archaeological sites are they are still always actively part of the landscape. Perhaps, we just need to look at the past differently… ?


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