But surely a fire is an event that happens to a monument, in the same way
that I would not record the final demolition by bulldozer of a structure as
a monument. The monument in my mind would be the damaged structures and
burnt deposits associated with the fire.
In terms of battlefields, a field became a battlefield for a short amount of
time rather than an area of grass with some cows or crops surrounded by a
fence or hedge. Therefore a battlefield would be a monument because it is a
physical object that was used/made for a specific purpose.
A fire would not be a monument because it is not an object with a specific
use but is an event that happened to several monuments.
Coming at it from a different angle when would you stop recording historical
events as monuments? Working in a coastal area we have a history of regular
inundations that shaped the landscapes and left identifiable deposits;
however the sea probably inundated several times a year burying or damaging
structures on a regular basis. I could spend the rest of my life recording
these events and attempting to map them but it would not tell us any more
then we already know, especially without very accurate dating of the
On the example of Nantwich given earlier, if memory serves me right Nantwich
had several large fires and I would expect it to be a fairly common
occurrence for areas of timber built towns to catch fire occasionally. How
could you possibly interpret any burnt deposit with a specifically recorded
Also evidence of a house fire in Grimsby during 1940 could be interpreted as
having been caused by a bombing raid but could just as easily be a domestic
house fire caused by carelessness.
Historical events should in my mind be left to tentative suggestions in the
descriptions field, or perhaps a separate type field such as Historical
Event on the same level as Monuments Events and Consultations as has been
suggested before. We will never escape the fact that we cannot be sure of
our interpretations though and we should be careful that the public don't
think that we are certain that deposits x is related to fire z.
Sorry for the ramble, I hope it makes some sense.
North East Lincolnshire Council
From: Neil Campling [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 14 July 2006 08:41
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: of Fires, Battlefields and Monuments
That's the trouble with empiricism (or indeed reification), it thinks
that a Monument is some physical thing. It's not: it is an
interpretation. Historical sources, burnt deposits, musket balls,
fields, buildings, etc are all evidence for the interpretation.
I have not suggested we refer to the Great Fire of London as a
"Monument" in speaking about it to the general public, but in a MIDAS
compliant database (using Source - Event - Monument categorisation), it
can only go in a Monuments category, rather than an archaeological
events or documentary source category. The very name itself, i.e.
"Great Fire" is clearly an interpretation (puny in comparison to other
conflagrations in the past!).
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