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Shadow SitesPhotography, Archaeology, and the British Landscape 1927–1955$
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Kitty Hauser

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199206322

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199206322.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 August 2021

The Archaeological Imagination

The Archaeological Imagination

Chapter:
(p.30) 1 The Archaeological Imagination
Source:
Shadow Sites
Author(s):

Kitty Hauser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199206322.003.0006

Rudyard Kipling’s stories for children Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies were first published in 1906 and 1909–10 respectively. In these stories, Puck (Shakespeare’s Puck of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and the last ‘fairy’ to survive in England) meets two children, Dan and Una, in the Sussex countryside where they live in the early twentieth century. Puck introduces the children to various historical characters—a Roman Centurion, a Norman Knight, and so on—who tell them stories about the past, and in particular the history of their locality. In these stories it is the land itself that is the bearer of historical meaning, as revealed by Puck and these messengers from the past. Indeed, time and space are seen to be inseparable, since a place and its features are often literally constituted by what has happened there. ‘Puck’s Song’, the opening poem of Puck of Pook’s Hill, makes this connection plain:… See you the dimpled track that runs, All hollow through the wheat? O that was where they hauled the guns That smote King Philip’s fleet . . . Puck reveals to the children the antiquity of some of the landscape’s features:… See you our little mill that clacks, So busy by the brook? She has ground her corn and paid her tax Ever since Domesday Book…. Sometimes it is a past that has left no trace that Puck restores, through storytelling, to the landscape:… See you our pastures wide and lone, Where the red oxen browse? O there was a City thronged and known Ere London boasted a house…. Puck, who is thousands of years old (‘the oldest Old Thing in England’), is the witness of the history of the British Isles since ‘Stonehenge was new’, and has an epic memory. All of history is available to him, both impossibly distant yet immediately present in his mind, as it is in the landscape he inhabits, which bears the marks of the past. The figure of Puck is a literary device through which Kipling could liberate himself from the limitations of written history, for within the frame of the stories, Puck’s testimony as the witness of time—however fanciful—is indisputable.

Keywords:   Avebury, Coventry Cathedral, Dorset, Le Corbusier, Neo-Romanticism, Scotland, Wales, archaeological imagination, genius loci, preservationism

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