|26 September 2006
Druid campaign for sacred sites
A retired engineer from Swansea (Wales) is campaigning for ancient burial sites to be considered sacred ground, claiming that academics from Oxford are 'grave robbers'. Chris Warwick, who is now a druid, said places like Paviland cave on Gower should be treated the same way as modern graveyards. A skeleton, about 26,000 years old, was discovered in the cave in the 1800s and dubbed the red lady of Paviland.
Mr Warwick is setting up a group called 'Dead to Rights' to work for the return of remains to such sites. "Our feeling is that it isn't just modern graveyards that should be considered as sacred sites, but anywhere that a body has been buried with ceremonial intent," he said. "We have formed a little group called Dead to Rights, to work for the return of remains to the sites they were buried in and hopefully have them reburied there with due ceremony. The sites would be regarded as sacred thereafter."
Mr Warwick said BBC Wales there were plenty of sites across the world where bodies had been buried in pre-historical times. He said he had decided to sleep in the cave so he could get in touch with the ancestors and find out what was 'amiss' with the burial site. "There's obviously going to be something amiss since the bones and the grave goods have been removed. [I] then try to do what I can to alleviate the balance."
An Elgin Marbles style campaign to secure the return to Wales of the Red Lady was begun two years ago by Swansea councillor Ioan Richard. His campaign was backed by the Gower Society and by Tourism Swansea who believe the Red Lady could become a prized tourist attraction. But administrator at the Oxford museum Wendy Shepherd said there was 'not a chance' of bringing the remains back home. She said, "This goes back to the days when the archaeologists who made finds had the final say on where they should be exhibited."
Sources: BBC News (23 September 2006), icWales (25 September 2006)
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