Glaswegian Nightlife

Crazy_womanGlasgow is a city with more than enough nightlife to keep a visitor engaged once the sun goes down. There are vast numbers of pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as a vital arts scene that assures a good selection of music and live theater almost every night of the week. While I was there, the city center was vibrant and active well into the early hours of the morning, even on Sundays when the weather was horrible and I imagined that locals should be deep in slumber before the start of the work week. Who needs sleep anyway!

The center of neighborhood nightlife, for better or worse, is the pub. I write “for better or for worse” because I found, over the course of the month and a half I was in Glasgow, that the steady stream of alcohol fueling Scottish nightlife quickly wore me down. I’m not normally a drinker, but since the pub is the neighborhood meeting place, drinking is a central, and daily, activity that is hard to avoid. Scarlet Johansson, while she was in Glasgow filming Under the Skin, noted that the city has a real “drinking culture,” and this is true. Scotland has the 8th highest level of alcohol consumption in the world, which contributes to something known as the “Glasgow Effect;” a name given to the fact that those living in and around the city have significantly higher rates of physical and psychological morbidity than people living in other parts of the UK.

Nonetheless, there is something appealing about walking down the street for a pint and being able to socialize with neighbors and their dogs. Yes: the family pet is welcome to hang out along with everyone else at the local pub, since in addition to a drinking culture, Glasgow has a real dog culture as well. If you don’t like dogs, then this is not a place for you to be.

Church_barI discovered more evidence of how important drinking is to Glaswegians when I went out with my nephew one night to the West End for dinner. After having a meal at an Italian restaurant, our first stop was a place called The Lane Bar, which occupies part of a converted movie theater. After that we stopped at The Book Club and then ended up at Oran Mor, which is a bar in a converted Church. All of these places were busy and crowded with hipsters having a raucous and loud Saturday night. This is not unusual in any big city of course. However, what fascinated me was, first of all, that a bar had been incorporated into a movie theatre and, even more, that a Church had been converted into a bar and nightclub. I have seen two other churches in Glasgow that have been converted into apartments and condominiums; which indicates just how far the death of God has progressed in this Scottish city. When churches are converted into bars and living spaces, it seems obvious that religion has lost at least some of its hold on the population. Couple this with the conversion of movie theaters into drinking establishments, and you get a sense of how people’s priorities here have changed.

DownloadedFileMy own favorite Scottish beverage is not whiskey, but Irn Bru, that bright orange-colored, sugary and vaguely citrus-flavored soda possessing pretensions toward somehow being good for you. This is a drink that I never get tired of, and I think that there should be bars established that serve it exclusively. This is, in fact, what I ended up drinking toward the end of most of my nights out. It helped me to flush my system and to wash down the various sorts of deep-fried street foods that are inevitably consumed at the evening’s conclusion; things such as deep-fried potatoes, deep-fried fish, deep-fried haggis and deep-fried sausage. In Glasgow it seems that everyone has their favorite “chippy,” or fish and chip shop, where you can get battered and deep-fried anything, including such bizarre items as deep-fried slices of pizza, meat pies, and of course the infamous “Mars fritter,” a battered and deep-fried candy bar. At the end of a night out on the town, these are the sorts of foods that bring festivities to a close.

I think I experienced something of the “Glasgow Effect” during my stay, as I became very sick for about a week and so missed seeing a couple of bands that I had been looking forward to: Control and The English Beat. Nevertheless, I did get the opportunity to see a couple of other acts, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit. The first was Nathaniel Rateliff, an alternative folk singer from Colorado. This show was at a venue called Broadcast, which is nestled in amongst a number of other small clubs along Sauchiehall Street. The performance space is in a basement underneath the main bar, reminding me of many punk rock clubs from days gone by. The club was packed and the band’s reception was enthusiastic and rowdy. I was surprised that a small, alternative folk band from Colorado would have such a large following here in Glasgow, but it was clear the audience, who stood crushed together while singing along with the lyrics, loved the music. Initially I wasn’t all that excited about it, but as the show progressed, I eventually got into the mood and rhythm the band created. They projected a self-consciously down-home image, with the lead singer sipping whiskey as he drawled on about growing up in the rural countryside, about his great grandfather’s adventures making moonshine, and about his own troubles in love. It was a good act that was entertaining, if not completely convincing.

HomosexualsLater in the month, in connection with the Glasgow Film Festival,  The Homosexuals played at the Center for Contemporary Arts. This was a tremendous show. Originally formed in the mid-1970’s, the first incarnation of The Homosexuals was called The Rejects. They were part of the early wave of British punk rock, playing at the Roxie in London with other legendary acts such as Wire, Sham 69 and Chelsea. I had never heard of them before, and it was only because I had tickets to see a documentary about the life of the lead singer, Bruno Wizard, that I became acquainted with their music while in Scotland. Their sound reminds me of the Buzzcocks, with Bruno Wizard delivering snotty, sing-songy lyrics against a stripped down and raw backdrop of guitar, bass and drums. This is simple, energetic, emotional music from the days when punk was unmarred by commercial aspirations or the desire to please anyone. Watching this band, I was swept away by the driving power of the songs and the passion of the message. Bruno Wizard is a man who has stayed true to his ideals over the course of his life, and his music testifies to this fact. I have not enjoyed a punk show this much for quite some time.

The music scene in Glasgow is quite healthy, even if many Glaswegians are not. I couldn’t help but think how lucky they are to have such a steady stream of great bands playing in their city. After I departed for the US, The Stranglers, Motorhead and Stiff Little Fingers all were scheduled to play. That must be what Sparky Deathcap means when they sing Glasgow is a Punk Rock Town.

Citizens_TheaterIn addition to the city’s food, drink and music, I also sampled the local live theater, attending a performance of Glasgow Girls at the Citizens Theatre. Glasgow Girls tells the true story of a group of seven high school students who, in 2005, mounted a campaign in order to keep some of their immigrant classmates from being deported from Scotland. My cousin Amanda, who works doing educational outreach for Glasgow University, supervised Amal, one of the real-life students who appears in the play, so there was a personal connection to this story that made it especially interesting.

In addition to being emotionally moved by the performances, I was fascinated by the cultural references that occurred throughout this play. Glasgow Girls unapologetically caters to the native audience. It is filled with in-jokes and references directed specifically toward Scots. One character is flattered to think that Peter Mullan might portray him in a movie; Glasgow is sung about as being “basically OK”; Robert Burns’ poetry is turned into protest music; public artworks on the road between Glasgow and Edinburgh put in appearances. I found particularly interesting a line spoken by Noreen (played by Myra Mcfadyen), an older woman who is a resident at the public housing complex where Jennifer (played by Karen Fishwick), one of the Glasgow Girls, lives. In response to the young girl’s lament that all her hard work and effort to keep one of her friends from being deported has resulted in failure, Noreen responds, “Well, welcome to Scotland!” The audience responded to this line with uproarious laughter and a round of applause. It is a sentiment that in many ways seems to summarize the Scottish self-image. Whether it is in the realm of politics or sports, cultural recognition or economic development, the Scots see themselves as underdogs who fight against the odds and often fail to triumph in the end.

This last point – about the Scots as underdogs – is one that I encountered continuously during my visit to Scotland. When I was out on the town, in the pubs and at the night spots, I always tried to remember to ask those around me what being Scottish meant to them. Without fail I was told that being Scottish is special. It is an identity unique, precious and difficult all at once. Scots are proud to be Scottish, but they also have a sense of being like the small kid on the block who needs to fight for respect. From the Scottish perspective, life is not a fun game, but an ongoing struggle against forces that continuously threaten to undermine one’s dignity. A history of English domination, bad weather and poor health are just some of the factors that have shaped the Scottish worldview. Through all of this, however, there remains a stubborn resistance against pessimism and despair. To be Scottish involves exercising a sense of ironic and dark humor toward life and everything it throws at you. There is tragedy here, but it is a good-natured tragedy that, even while it recognizes the inevitability of failure, still affirms life as something worth while.

Edinburgh

By the time the train arrived at Waverly Station in Edinburgh, I felt like shit. My throat was burning, my sinuses were blocked and if I tried to walk for more than a few minutes, a Edinburgh Castlewave of fatigue overcame me. I feared I was coming down with the flu, despite getting a vaccine before leaving for sabbatical. I hoped it would all pass sooner rather than later. The fact that I was booked into a very nice hotel gave me hope that I would have the chance to relax in luxury for the next two days as I recuperated.

My nephew is the manager for a chain of restaurants in Scotland, and he was able to secure a couple of complimentary nights at the Waldorf Astoria for me in the city center of Edinburgh. I have never stayed in such a high-end hotel in my life; and absent my nephew’s kindness I would never have been able to afford to do so. When I arrived in my room, I was amazed by the view. Edinburgh Castle sat framed in my window like a scene from a postcard. That night, the same scene was illuminated by colored lights, like something out of tourist brochure.

I was sick, but I was also in Edinburgh, so I did not want to waste my time. After lying down for an hour or so, I felt strong enough to venture out of my room and into the streets. I had visited this city a few times before – as a child, and with my mother and with my wife on two separate occasions a few years ago – but this time I was looking at the place with special eyes. I wanted to get some sense of how this Scottish city differs in atmosphere from Glasgow. With a limited amount of time, and depleted physical vitality, I decided to set off to visit a couple of locations that I had never been to before: David Hume’s grave and Calton Hill.

Scott MonumentWalking down Princes Street, one thing immediately becomes clear: there is no mistaking Edinburgh for any other place. Unlike Glasgow, which is in large part nondescript in its appearance, Edinburgh is distinctive and unique. First of all, there is the castle, sitting atop a hill overlooking everything else. Dating back at least to the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle is located in a commanding position. It is impossible to ignore. Additionally, there are spires everywhere. As you walk down the street, they punctuate the skyline, like jagged rocks on a mountainous terrain. The most imposing of these spires is the Sir Walter Scott Monument, built in memory of one of Scotland’s most treasured literary figures; the author of such classics as Waverly and Ivanhoe.

HumeMonuments to, and statues of, literary figures are to be found everywhere in Edinburgh; and this is another aspect of the city that makes it quite unique. I don’t think I have ever been in a city where artists and writers are so central to the spirit and identity of the place. In addition to Sir Walter Scott, there are monuments and statues dedicated to Robert Burns, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Adam Smith, and of course David Hume, the great Scottish skeptical philosopher who is one of my heroes. Why his statue depicts him bare-chested and adorned in Greek robes is an anachronism that mystifies me, but the fact that his image occupies a prominent place on the Royal Mile is nonetheless exciting.

Hume's GraveHume’s resting place is in Calton Cemetery, which sits toward the opposite end of Princes street from the Waldorf Astoria. By the time that I had made the approximately half mile walk, I was already beginning to feel poorly. Nonetheless, here I was, in the place where the remains of the author of An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding lay buried! The inscription on his grave, like the Greek robes on his statue, is puzzling. It reads:

Behold I come quickly. Thanks to GOD which giveth us the victory, through our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Hume was a notorious atheist, so this inscription definitely seems out of place. Perhaps those left behind had a need to tame the radical nature of the dead philosopher’s ideas, making them less troubling and more palatable to the mainstream. That could also be the reason for the robes on his statue. After all, isn’t that what philosophy is all about; being Greek and dead?

NeedleAs I walked away from Hume’s grave, I looked downwards and saw the first of a series of discarded hypodermic syringes that, as it turns out, litter the cemetery. I immediately thought of the book Skagboys, the prequel to Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. In that book Renton, the junkie main character has anal sex with one of his girlfriends somewhere around here. It seems that this place is, indeed, a magnet for junkies. How much more depressingly appropriate could it be that they choose to shoot up in a graveyard? Exploring further, I was alarmed to find a discarded cell phone with its battery removed lying near one of the crypts. This, I realized, was probably not a good place to be walking alone unless I wanted to get robbed, so I hastily made my way back onto the street and started up the road to Calton Hill.

Calton Hill 1David Hume’s presence is still felt at Calton Hill. There is a “Hume Walk,” established by the philosopher in order to encourage the people of Edinburgh to get some exercise; ironic since Hume himself was quite fat. The walk winds up and around the hill, leading to the top where there are panoramic views of the Calton Hill 2surrounding landscape. From one side you can view Arthur’s Seat, a picturesque rocky mountain that juts up above the city. From the other side you can view the old town, and in-between you can see the Firth of Forth and the new town. The top of the hill is also adorned with a number of monuments, including a Greek styled temple and a building in honor of Admiral Lord Nelson.

SkinsAt this point the battle taking place inside of my body was starting to reach a fever pitch and I had to find a place to sit down, so I started back down the road, stopping for a bottle of water and a muffin before heading back to the hotel. Along the way, on Princes Street, I passed a Dr. Marten’s store displaying a set of quite interesting advertisements. As part of an ad campaign focused on the notion of “standing for something,” there was a poster depicting a middle-aged skinhead couple engaged in leisure-time shenanigans. It struck me that this was the kind of ad campaign that would not work in the US. First of all, the man and woman in the ad look as if they are well into their 40’s. Second, they are skinheads; a subculture that does not have the most positive reputation. Third, the woman is flipping off the photographer. In the US, this is the sort of gesture that is routinely blurred out on TV. I like the fact that Dr. Marten embraces the tradition and history of the brand, but I also find it surprising (and a bit disappointing) that skinheads can be used for marketing. But then again, I guess things are different here in Scotland.

I ended the day with a veggie burger and an early night to bed. When I awoke the next morning I felt doubly terrible. My throat was even more irritated and I was blowing gobs of green mucous out of my nose. I felt worn out. I decided to eat some breakfast and then take a walk to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where I could wander around at a relaxed pace.

Hanging BodyIt was a short, rain-soaked walk to the museum, and upon arriving I was greeted by the none-to-comforting message “THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE.” This was spelled out in lights on a scaffolding that sat on the lawn in front of Gallery Two. As if to put visitors’ minds at ease, the message “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT” appeared in lights on the front of the building itself. I wandered around the exhibit of surrealist art, enjoying some of the works by May Ray, Duchamp, Dali, Max Ernst, and Picasso, before crossing over into the gallery’s other building where I found myself completely mesmerized by an Redexhibit of work by Louise Bourgeois. The works on display were both paintings and sculptures, but all seemed to focus on themes concerning the anxieties of embodiment. Hanging, black headless bodies dangled from the ceiling like dead sacks of flesh; a giant metal spider occupied an entire room; caged, screaming, red faces greeted visitors in another room; and sculptures of amorphous body parts appeared elsewhere. The mood was dark, anxious and Freudian. In my sick and fragile physical state – blowing my nose, coughing and feeling as if my own body was betraying me – this exhibit really struck a chord.

It was beginning to snow when I left the gallery, and I was feeling close to physical collapse, yet I could not resist walking around Dean Cemetery, which occupies the lot right next to Gallery Two. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a fascination with graveyards that has never abated. I find them sad, peaceful, sobering and ultimately comforting. The idea that everyone must die is reinforced by seeing the graves of all sorts of people next to one another:  the rich and famous as well as the obscure. Everyone dies, and while this is an idea that is certainly disturbing, it is also helps me to realize that death is an inevitability for which no one is responsible. It is not a punishment or an indication of what a person has done wrong, but a biological inevitability. We all have to die in one way or another and in this sense, none of us is alone. We are all in it together. Dragging myself along, coughing up green phlem, alternately shivering and then Gravebreaking out in a sweat, I had a moment of clarity in that Scottish location. I occupy a body, as did the junkies, skinheads, philosophers and artists who have lived and died in Edinburgh. No monument or work of art can rescue us from our personal mortality, but they can help us to remember the fate that we share as human beings.

Sacrifice in Glasgow and Dumfries/Galloway

DSC04304While in Scotland I delivered my presentation, “Scotland as a Site of Sacrifice” twice: once to the faculty of film studies at the downtown campus of Glasgow University and then to the department of interdisciplinary studies at the Dumfries campus. The experience was very positive, and it was a wonderful chance to meet a number of scholars whose works have contributed to my understanding of Scotland and its depiction in film; scholars such as David Martin-Jones, Ian Goode, David Archibald, Karen Lury, Benjamin Franks and Stuart Hanscombe.

DSC03980Glasgow University was founded in 1451, making it the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world. The main campus is awe-inspiring. There is a tall, gothic spire visible from the distance, and the main building around which the rest of the school is centered looks like a castle.  I delivered my paper in Gilmorehill Hall. From the outside it, like the main building, looks like a structure from the ancient past. Once you step inside, however, the place is completely modern, with a state-of-the-art movie theater, glass enclosed offices, and classrooms outfitted with full technology.

The Dumfries campus is unusual in that its grounds are shared with the University of West Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway College and the Open University. The whole campus is referred to as “The Chrichton,” which caused me some confusion when I was trying to find it. The idea behind this arrangement was to bring higher education to a region that previously had no established universities or colleges. Although Dumfries is only about two hours south of Glasgow, the town is small and most of the surrounding areas are rural, consisting of farmland, sheep pastures and ruins. This entire southern area of Scotland is referred to as the Dumfries/Galloway region.

DSC04277The Chrichton, like the main campus of University of Glasgow, is home to some amazing buildings. The most impressive is a gothic church called the Chrichton Memorial Church, which was completed in 1897. It stands in the middle of the campus, commanding your attention as you approach. This is the sort of structure that I always imagined as the anchor point of an old and respected educational institution; and it is a far cry from what I’ve become used to on the west coast of the US where most things are temporary and impermanent. There is something comforting about a campus where you know that the buildings have been around for a long time and that they won’t disappear tomorrow. It makes me think, in contrast, of my own school, the College of Marin, which is currently undergoing a radical transformation with most of the old edifices being torn down and shiny, new, modern ones being put up.

imagesI delivered my presentation first at the downtown campus and then drove south to Dumfries the following week. This gave me the opportunity for a road trip during which I  stopped along the way to explore some of the locations where the classic 1973 British film The Wicker Man had been filmed. My presentation deals with this movie extensively, and so this was a terrific chance to do some on-the-ground research that would enrich my understanding of how the actual geography of Scotland is related to its cinematic representation.

Renting a car, I followed the A77 down the west coast, and as I ventured further and further into this area, I developed an increasing sense of an ancient past that has not yet been overwritten by modern influences. I could imagine that the people populating many of these small towns and rural villages live lives in many ways similar in daily rhythm to their forefathers: fishing, ranching, herding sheep, going to church. As always, the driech, grey and drizzly weather contributed a dreary backdrop to the scenery, helping me to feel like there was something mysterious and a bit sad about the landscape.

DSC04105My first stop was Culzean Castle, which served as the exterior for Lord Summerisle’s residence in The Wicker Man. The castle itself was closed when I arrived, but the grounds were open, so I wandered around taking in the spectacular ocean vistas and surveying the castle and its gardens. As I walked up to the structure, I immediately remembered the scene from The Wicker Man when Sgt. Howie meets Lord Summerisle at his home. The approach to the castle is exactly reproduced in the film, and being there gave me a weird feeling like fantasy was blending into reality. It was beautiful, majestic and a bit spooky all at once.

DSC04157I had booked a room in the coastal town of Portpatrick, so this was my stop-off point at the end of the first day. A storm was kicking up by the time I arrived, and the shoreline was a maelstrom of waves crashing against black rocks while rain poured down from the sky. The middle of winter is not the tourist season here, and yet I found myself feeling supremely happy that I was able to see this place under these conditions. As I stood by the shoreline, I was mesmerized by the chaos of the ocean and invigorated by the wind and pelting rain. A Scottish flag, planted in a hill of rocks by the harbor, flapped and snapped in the squall. There was no doubt about the fact that I was in Scotland, the severe, cold wilderness to the north of England.

The next morning I hit the road, this time traveling east on the A75. I dropped south onto 747 so that I could visit St. Ninian’s Cave and Burrow Head, both of which served as locations for the filming of The Wicker Man. The route southwards is very narrow and a bit treacherous. I think I probably pissed off many of the locals with how slow I was driving, but the last thing I wanted to do was to end up careening off of the side of the road and into a ditch, so I continued on at a snail’s pace to Whithorn, where I saw a sign directing me to my next stop.

get-attachment.aspxThe finale of The Wicker Man occurs when the character Sgt. Howie is lured to a rocky beach where he finds the young girl he has been searching for throughout the film. She is standing in the mouth of a cave, which in reality is St. Ninian’s Cave. The location is reached by way of a mile-long walk down a pathway that starts in a cow pasture, goes through a forested area, past a sign warning of dangerous bulls and ends up on the beach. When I arrived at the trailhead, the rain was coming down and I had to trudge through the mud in order to reach my destination. At first I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place as there are no signs directing you to the cave once you hit the shoreline. I looked about and finally found it. In reality it is less like a true cave and more like an indented opening in the rock cliff next to the water.

It was an unexpectedly moving experience coming to this place. St. Ninian is credited with being the first person to bring Christianity to Scotland sometime around 400 AD. The cave is supposed to have been where he prayed on a regular basis and now, in addition to being a film location, it serves as a point of pilgrimage for the faithful. All around the entrance lie religious mementos: crosses, rocks inscribed with prayers, memorials for dead loved ones, and flowers. This is obviously a meaningful place for many folks, connecting them with a man from hundreds of years ago who devoted his life to his religious mission. It makes sense that this was chosen by the makers of The Wicker Man as a spot in which to depict a confrontation between paganism and Christianity, as both world views really did encounter one another here.

DSC04250Continuing south, my next stop before heading for Dumfries was Burrow Head. Burrow Head is now a caravan park, perched right next to the water, and it is where the final burning of the wicker man took place. I immediately recognized the location when I arrived. A grass lined path leads down a small hill to a clearing, encircled by jagged rocks and crashing ocean waves. In the film, this is where the villagers stand as they watch the burning of their sacrifice on the hill above. Apparently there were three wicker men built for the movie, only one which was ignited. The remains on the shore are those of an unburned wicker man. Although the only things left are two wooden posts embedded in concrete, I still felt a surge of excitement as I reflected on the fact that this was where Christopher Lee argued about the nature of sacrifice with Edward Woodward before committing him to flames in the movie. Here was a not so ancient artifact, marking the landscape discreetly, but nonetheless acting as a significant reminder to visitors of how human beings feel compelled to alter their environment as they make things and engage in existential projects. I must confess that these two posts, despite their plain and simple appearance, were no less remarkable to me than Culzean Castle or St. Ninian’s Cave.

My own Wicker Man pilgrimage was completed by passing through Creetown and Castle Douglas, two more places that served as sites for the making of the movie, before heading off for two nights in Dumfries. After my presentation, I departed northwards, and back toward the west coast for a two night stay on the Isle of Arran. The trip requires a ferry ride, and though Arran is not a complete backwater, there is a feeling of relative isolation that comes from being on an island that is sparsely populated and separated from the mainland.

get-attachment-1.aspxArran is not a big island. It only takes a few hours to drive its circumference, and over the course of that drive most of what you see are sheep, ocean views, and collections of buildings too small to be called villages. I stopped along the east coast in order to take a hike across a sheep pasture to visit an ancient set of artifacts, dating to some 2000 years BC, which stretch out along a protected pathway in the middle of a flat moor. Along the path are a number of “cairns,” or burial sites where ancient tribe leaders have been layed to rest. Each cairn is marked by a ring of stones surrounding a mound of earth. As you continue along, there appear monoliths jutting up into the air in the near distance. These structures become more and more prominent as you advance, looming against the landscape like giant rock blades embedded in the earth. They are ancient pillars, placed in this location for reasons that no one is sure of, but which may have to do with the marking of tribal boundaries or with some sort of religious/cerimonial purpose. As with St. Ninian’s Cave and the wicker man legs at Burrow Head, there was something moving and sublime about these stones. They protrude into the air, standing about 15 ft tall, defying gravity as they jut upwards. Their stark, silent simplicity is dramatic and striking against the otherwise flat landscape. Here is a place where thousands of years ago people lived their lives, pursuing routines that modern humans can’t even understand. I felt a chill looking at this place, knowing that in the distant past there were human beings who methodically placed these monoliths here for some deliberate reason that is now lost. Today they still stand, for no utilitarian purpose other than for people like myself to gaze awestruck and to wonder why they are there.

This week-long adventure to the south of Scotland helped me to understand a number of things. Seeing these locations, walking around them, being in the spots where some of the key scenes from The Wicker Man were staged revealed how the actual geography of Scotland has contributed to the making of this modern cinematic masterpiece. My additional trip to Arran further helped to reinforce the sense of Scotland’s silent, mysterious and yet unmistakable prehistory. The legacy of human culture and religious practices here is ancient, going back to a time even before Christianity made its way to Britain. This landscape and the monuments that adorn it are reminders of the ongoing projects pursued by both prehistoric and contemporary humans.