New Mesolithic video by Don Henson, University of York, presented at TAG Bradford in December 2015
◊ Imagined realities in the portrayal and investigation of the British Mesolithic | Don Henson at TAG Braford Dec-2015 | 15-May-2016 Youtube (20min) Academic
“Fiction can be a powerful way of imagining the past. Examining how the Mesolithic has been communicated is part of my PhD research into public perceptions of the Mesolithic. The starting point for this paper is the words of novelist Margaret Elphinstone: ‘In the blank spaces between the words of archaeological narrative lie the buried kernels of all the forgotten stories‘. This paper will explore the dissonance between academic portrayals of the Mesolithic and portrayals of the period in fictional novels and short stories. I will look at the range of narrative elements presented: characters in settings carrying out actions which may be affected by external happenings.
Whereas archaeology of the Mesolithic is good at conveying settings and happenings, I will argue that it is to fiction that we must turn for an exploration of characters and actions. This in turn should deliver a better appreciation of what we should be seeking to recover through our research. We need to move beyond seeing Mesolithic people as hunter-gatherers and towards a more rounded view of them as people, and to think how we might recover aspects of life higher up Hawkes’s ladder of inference than the purely technological and economic.”