Druids want Charlie reburied

The prehistorican skeleton of a boy known as “Charlie” was discovered near the Avebury standing stones back in 1929. Since then it’s been studied and displayed at the Alexander Keiller museum.

Now the Council of British Druid Orders has asked for Charlie and several other similar human remains to be reinterred.

Rollo Maughfling, the archdruid of Stonehenge and Glastonbury, said: “Beyond all the other philosophical, scientific and religious arguments, in the end it comes down to something called common human decency.”

Fellow pagan Arthur Pendragon added: “These are human remains – you wouldn’t dig your grandmother up from a churchyard.”

Okay, first of all, major :rolleyes: @ “Arthur Pendragon”. You wish, buddeh. Secondly, archaeologists are not at all pleased that this petition is actually being taken seriously by English Heritage.

They think — correctly, I’m sure — that it would create a scary precedent. However, there is something of a parallel with Native American tribes in the US and Aborigines in Australia reclaiming the remains of their ancestors for reburial.

The difference here being that “Arthur Pendragon” is descended from “Charlie” only in a self-conscious, contrived way. He chooses to identify as a Druid, yes, but I’m not sure that entitles them to the same consideration as tribal authorities.

On the other hand, some of the controversies over remains in the States involve tribes that have no specific evidence that they are descended from the skeletons, so who’s to say, really.

15 thoughts on “Druids want Charlie reburied

  1. Stone henges predate druidism (by millenia). The idea that they were built by “the druids” is outdated Victorian scholarship. I guess Rollo and his fellow travellers didn’t get the memo. Or maybe they believe that Merlin really brought Stonehenge from Ireland.

    1. Excellent point. I think they take a larger “pagan brotherhood” view of the matter. Their religion seems to be a compendium of outdated scholarship and Asterix books, so they assert a so-called spiritual bond to pre-Christian England to legitimize what looks to be a flight of fancy (viz Arthur Pendragon).

  2. In Israel most human remains are treated as “Jewish” in that after all scientific examination is complete the remains are turned over to a special group of religious Jews who rebury them. This includes the Canaanite burials that I’ve excavated. And let me tell you, Canaanites were not Jewish. They were the enemies of the Jews! But they still get proper Jewish burials all the same. The exceptions are Bedouin, Muslim, and Crusader burials, I think.

    So there is a parallel that doesn’t involve ancestry or in the case of my dear dead Canaanites, religion.

    I still think these particular druids are wacko, for what it’s worth. Someone tell Arthur – I would TOTALLY dig up my grandmother, if she hadn’t donated her body to science already.

    1. Intriguing. I wonder what the rationale is for the exceptions. It’s not purely religious or historical enmity or the Canaanites would be on full display in museums right now.

      Are they considered non-native, in some way? Invaders or outsiders? Canaanites weren’t Jewish, but they lived on the land before Abram because Abraham. Bedouins were (and still are) nomadic, so they can’t quite claim previous domicile, and the Crusaders were there on business. Islam didn’t exist until the 7th c.

      It’s not a terribly coherent position, imo, but I could see such an argument being made.

      Maybe it’s something simpler than that. These guys pissed us off more, ergo, don’t want to rebury they asses.

      1. I think the Bedouin and Muslim bodies are returned to their respective groups. Both groups are still present in Israel and have set up organizations to handle reburial of ancestors. Both Bedouin and Muslim burials are rather distinctive, so they can be identified and the proper authorities notified. Crusader burials are also distinctive in their own way, but no one claims them and so they go into storage. I think. I’m not sure. I’ve never had a Crusader burial on any dig I’ve been on, so I don’t know the whole story of where they go, but I remember someone saying that these burials do not go to the Jewish organization.

        I think the rational is that everyone deserves a proper burial (or somewhere to go) and if you don’t have a group to take care of it, the Jewish organization will step in. (I really wish I could remember the name of it, “Jewish organization” sounds rather odd.)

        1. Ah, that makes sense, thank you. I’m surprised there are no current Christian organizations that take of Crusader reburials. What about the Catholic/Orthodox people who maintain the Holy Sepulchre?

          I think the whole Outremer angle is an underplayed aspect of Holy Land tourism. Probably ’cause the Crusades kind of pissed off the locals. :giggle:

  3. Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians were screwed over by the people who took over their lands. It was not an honestly undertaken screwing over: ie I want your land, I am taking your land and I don’t care what I do to you in the process. No–it was under the guise of a “superior” civilization civilizing a savage one and taming a savage land and making treaties. In other words…legal. However since it turns out that in our current understanding the legality was shady and the civilizing rather uncivil and the whole superior/inferior thing pretty much bogus and a lie (not to mention the whole smallpox in the blanket and inadvertently killing off people with diseases too), there is some effort now to do things differently. As you say these are self-identified “druids” (whatever originally that was is mainly unknown). They aren’t a conquered people. They aren’t a people who’ve been tricked out of their lands. I could self-style myself a Phoenician and demand that museums return to me Phoenician artificats. (Then I could sell them to private collectors. Hmmm…there’s a plan there. That’s how I’ll finance my kids’ education!)

    1. 😆 Now that’s a brilliant idea. I want in!

      I agree with you entirely on the question of conquered/slaughtered peoples having a whole different impetus when it comes to the treatment of ancestral remains.

      However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arthur Pendragon et al consider themselves to be the inheritors of a tradition that was violently eradicated by the Romans or Christianity or what have you. I think it’s an untenable (and offensive) comparison, myself, but then again, I don’t name myself after Disney characters. :giggle:

  4. They seem to have a strong aversion to learning any REAL history of the neolithic/bronze ages–ie, that it wasn’t all fluffy-wuffy muesli munching stone-hugging,and that these ancient people in fact often moved/used bones of their ancestors for ritual and in fact often lost bits especially mandibles! Now ‘Charlie’ himself may well be far from a beloved child laid to rest and now horribly dug up by those mean archaeoligists; in fact he had serious medical problems and came from a ditch in a causwayed camp, a place where,it seems, children’s bones are often found. Make of that what you will! (Ditto the dwarfed and malnourished women buried in the ditches of Avebury and Marden, and young men with arrow wounds at Stonehenge and at a Welsh timber circle.)
    Interestingly, the druids don’t ever seem to watch poor Mr Beaker Pincushion back, despite him lying on display in Salisbury. Just a bit too ‘nasty’ and savage there, I guess, not emotive like a child-burial.

    1. Interesting info about the conditions of some of these skeletons. Digging up and moving bones is a common practice across a myriad different cultures, whether it’s for ritual purposes or just because they need the space.

      The reality is that grandma does gets dug up from her churchyard. All the time.

  5. I have an older brother that was “druid.” For a while.

    He had an alter, a photo of Stonehenge and everything. Of course myself being a bit of a history buff, took me a while to convince him to see the error of his ways. But, he finally came around.

    (Thank God he never considered changing his name to Shannara the War Lock Lord.

    Arthur Pendragon indeed. 😆 It would be funny, if it wasn’t sooooo….patronizing and arrogant. :blankstare: )

  6. I think so many posters miss the point that we as humans bury our dead, and that the proper thing to do would be Put the Body To Rest. Everyone seems to get sidetracked with the Druids, who, regardless of their ways and personal ideals, have the right idea.

    I do believe that bones have a right to be buried. After all, who decides at what point a burial is no longer sacred, and what circumstances decide this? Is it the Race of the body, or the Culture? If it were the bones of the discoverers own family members- I am sure that they would choose to have them buried again, rather than store them indefinitely for fondling and inspection.

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