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Part 3

The following is Copyright © 2016-2020 by Clayton Barker, all rights reserved. It was published on the editorial page of The Burford Times, Feb. 18th 2016, in Burford, Ontario, Canada.


The ruins of an ancient Roman Fort (Signal station) on the grounds of Scarborough Castle, Yorkshire, U.K., photo by C. Barker, 2015.



In this year 2016, human beings claim ownership over nearly every inch of the globe - How does such miniscule, multi-celled-organism, such as a human being, end up having so much power and control over an entire planet? Will it always be this way? The former is easy, if you understand the basic history of the world and how mankind has harnessed nearly every aspect of his surroundings to survive, and also understand man’s occasional desire for world domination. However, the latter is unknown, as we can only hope that we will continue to cling to this “big blue ball,” endlessly - status quo.


In College I studied Urban Design and part of this program included Environmental Psychology. This course was by far the most interesting of all the College courses I took. Environmental psychology is the study of the relationship between the physical environment and human behavior. It focuses on both natural and man-built environments, and it looks at how people notice and perceive their environment. The course also looked at “territoriality,” which is a term associated with nonverbal communication that refers to how people use space to communicate ownership or occupancy of areas and possessions. (Wikipedia).


A very old former village pub in Staxton, about 7 miles from Scarborough. It was built in 1649 as can be seen by the date stone near the apex of the gable end. This is where my ancestors would have come to “water” up, as the intersection in front of this building was known as “The Beck Hole,” which is the place where three springs come together and pumps had been installed nearby for drinking water and water for livestock. The fiddler out front is of course yours truly on my U.K. visit autumn 2015. The “Beck Hole” was also the location where the village of Staxton held their street dances, as far back as the 1600’s. Photo by E. Cooper, 2015.



Burford’s first peoples did not have any concept of land ownership, and though their villages and cemeteries were protected by wooden palisades, they did not consider the land under their feet to be an “own-able” item. On the other hand, they did however exhibit territoriality and understood that though they did not personally own land, they did however control large areas of land in the name of their people for seasonal hunting grounds. When the early settlers came through this area, on their way to what is now Detroit, they remarked in their journals on the fact that there was carved “totems” at the junction of the Thames River and somewhere south of the present-day city of London, a very large tree in the middle of the “road” that had a carving of a “cat” on it. This is said to have been the territorial boundary of the former hunting grounds of the Erie people, who were also known as “the people of the cat.” (Maj. Littlehales & D. W. Smith journals 1793).


Museums all over the world display and house the remnant traces of ancient civilizations and through these finds we are able to learn about past civilizations and how they lived. Going back nearly 12,000 years ago, the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, in the present area of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, was the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic age. It has been identified by archaeologists as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel.” Though Mesopotamia is considered one of the six greatest civilizations of the ancient world, it still became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control (Wikipedia).


The Roman Empire was also a major ancient civilization that came and went over the last 2000 years, and they managed to leave their mark on the landscape all over Europe and Britain and in the Middle East. Who knows, maybe they would have owned much of the world by now, had they not “fallen.” They were great “control freaks” some have said, but also great recorders of nearly every aspect of their daily lives. Because of this, they also had great control over their own recorded history and the way future walks of life saw them.


In the history of North America, other great civilizations, which still exist, came to this continent in search of a new world and a chance at a clean start. They had hoped that they could create a better civilization far from their homelands in Europe for their children and children’s children. These included the Vikings, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English who, at one time or another, believed this part of the world was going to be their very own someday…





This is one of Burford’s oldest remaining former Hotel/Tavern stands, built in c1822-23 possibly by the Ives Family.

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About The Author


Tenants of The Land, PART 2


Tenants of The Land, PART 1