Sacred sites, contested rites/rights: contemporary pagan engagements with the past

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Blain, J. ; Wallis, R. J. (2004)

<p>Our Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights project ( examines physical, spiritual and interpretative engagements of today’s Pagans with sacred sites, theorises ‘sacredness’, and explores the implications of pagan engagements with sites for heritage management and archaeology more generally, in terms of ‘preservation ethic’ vis a vis active engagement. In this paper, we explore ways in which ‘sacred sites’ --- both the term and the sites --- are negotiated by different interest groups, foregrounding our locations, as an archaeologist/art historian (Wallis) and anthropologist (Blain), and active pagan engagers with sites. Examples of pagan actions at such sites, including at Avebury and Stonehenge, demonstrate not only that their engagements with sacred sites are diverse and that identities --- such as that of ‘new indigenes’ --- arising therefrom are complex, but also that heritage management has not entirely neglected the issues: in addition to managed open access solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, a climate of inclusivity and multivocality has resulted in fruitful negotiations at the Rollright Stones.</p>
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