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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Chris Scarre

Scarre, Chris (2006). Consolidation, reconstruction and the interpretation of megalithic monuments. Arkeos 16: 13-44.

Author(s) from Durham


Megalithic monuments are visible and enduring marks upon the
landscape. From this it follows that the archaeologist who excavates
one cannot simply close the project by backfilling the trenches and
returning the site to arable or pasture: the preservation and consolidation
of the monument itself must be addressed. This obligation raises
major ethical and practical issues, above all as to what form the preservation
should take, and how far archaeologists or others are justified in
intervening and modifying the extant remains. Then there is the further
issue of visitor access. It is generally recognised that archaeologists
have a responsibility to convey the results of their researches to the
wider audience. It is, after all, on behalf of the public that most of their
work is undertaken, and much of it is funded by national or local government
institutions. For many kinds of site, archaeologists may discharge
their public obligation by explaining (in print or in person) the importance
and significance of the work that they have done. Where a visible
and enduring monument is concerned, however, the responsibility extends
much further, and includes arrangements for public presentation
and visitor access.