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OUR ANCIENT BURFORD:

The following is Copyright © 2016 by Clayton Barker, all rights reserved. It was published on the editorial page of The Burford Times, Jan 28th 2016, in Burford, Ontario, Canada.

 

“Tenants of The Land” watercolour 1993 by Clayton Barker depicting the various locations of archaeological finds on a single 50-acre piece of property in the vicinity of Burford. Nearly 11,000 years are represented here in this small collection of both partial and complete lithic artifacts, which is evidence that man has continuously occupied this patch of ground basically since the end of the last glacial period (based on carbon-dating of similar artifacts).

 

As urban development creeps into the agricultural fields that surround our towns and villages, and along our creeks and rivers, we will not only lose all traces of previous inhabitants, ever having been here, but we will lose the chance to perhaps set aside a piece of one of their original village sites for future generations to study, with more advanced technology and understanding.

 

We have ancient places too, as ancient as ancient comes, here in Ontario: dating from just after the last ice age, between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago, all the way up to the contact period and the French Jesuits of the 17th century. But we also have our early Euro-American colonial history and the archaeology relating to it that should also be of high importance to us, especially now since it is also in development’s path and we stand a chance of losing it. These are the remnants that tell of our beginnings and the evolution of our young country and civilization. To us, these are our “Romans” and our “Druids” and should be treated with the same respect. Burford is one of the oldest Euro-American settled areas in the interior of Southwestern Ontario, dating as far back as 1793. Not too many communities in Ontario can boast that!

 

The idea that we don’t have to necessarily up-root or completely dig-up all of our archaeological sites to make way for development is however catching on here in Ontario, though the standards found in the U.K. seem out of reach. Many archaeological sites, including ancient burial grounds, have been left in situ to remain in our midst, along-side our modern developments, but are protected by “Heritage Buffers” or “Easements” or within park dedications, thereby allowing developments to proceed around them. This is a great idea but time is of the essence!

 

TENANTS OF THE  LAND:

Part 1

The following is Copyright © 2016 by Clayton Barker, all rights reserved. It was published on the editorial page of The Burford Times, Jan 28th 2016, in Burford, Ontario, Canada.

 

This statue, located near the pier in the resort town of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula, Scotland U.K., depicts “Highland Mary” (Mary Campbell) gazing “wistfully” southwards to her lover's Ayrshire home. Robert Burns had an affair with her and dedicated poems such as "The Highland Lassie O’ Highland Mary” and “To Mary in Heaven” to her. Photo by Clayton Barker 2015 (visitscotland.com / wikipedia).

 

 

A few weeks ago, I shared a picture of Scarborough Castle which accompanied my column to illustrate my Remembrance Day topic and gave you a glimpse of my recent vacation to the U.K. last fall. They say that if you travel to the U.K. you should at least see three castles, which I did: I also visited Sterling Castle in Scotland, the ruin of a castle at Dunoon, near the statue of “Highland Mary” (Mary is shown in the accompanying photo) and Castle Toward, which was the seat of my ancestral Clan Lamont, located in the middle of a forest not far from Dunoon, at the tip of the Cowal peninsula. I will share info about Castle Toward and my Clan Lamont ancestors perhaps another time.

 

Of all the ruins and castle sites I visited, many of these places are what are known as “Scheduled Monuments.” Scarborough Castle and its grounds, for instance, is a scheduled monument, but so are some archaeological sites, such as the ancient Stonehenge and the grounds around it. A “scheduled Monument” is a monument (site or man-built structure or remnant thereof) of national importance given legal protection under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (U.K.).

 

There are over 260,000 archaeological sites and monuments, architectural objects and marine sites recorded in Scotland, of which around 8,000 of the most important examples are presently scheduled. In England, there are about 20,000 scheduled monuments, representing about 37,000 heritage assets (Historic-scotland.gov.uk / Wikipedia).

 

Similar to the U.K.’s Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, here in Canada, each province also has a set of heritage tools in their toolbox through which the various provincial Acts do their part in preserving our heritage: The Ontario Heritage Act, of course, The Environmental Assessment Act and The Planning Act, are the main three and within these are other major Acts or laws such as the Provincial Policy Statement, within the Planning Act, which has also cut the odd tooth, or so to speak, in the past ten or twelve years so that now it better aligns with other heritage laws.

 

Though many thousands of scheduled monuments are obvious large ruins, many are inconspicuous archaeological sites which are simply grass-covered open areas or parks or natural areas which are set aside and away from adjacent modern developed lands to be protected for future generations to study, who may possess more advanced capabilities or have a better understanding of such things.

 

To my mind, we could learn a lot from the British and other European countries in this respect. I was so impressed at how the English and Scottish care about such things, and I thought of how we have let so much of our “ancient” ruins and sites disappear by the blade of a bulldozer, the wrecking ball (or controlled burnings) or simply by neglect. We don’t think of our sites or buildings as being so important or worthy enough to preserve, here in Ontario, because we think our history is not old enough, or significant enough, yet a lot of the archaeological sites and buildings, which are (or were) in our midst, here in our very own Geographic Township of Burford, are the equivalent to the sites and buildings that are being preserved in the U.K. and in Europe right now - sort of.

 

Click Here to Go to Part 2

 

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Tenants of The Land, PART 2

 

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