A Field Trip to Archaeological Conflict Sites

As I’m planning to focus my dissertation on (cue the drum roll, please) HERITAGE my academic advisers in the International Relations program are allowing me to focus 3 of my 6 courses on art and material culture/heritage/archaeology.

I’m currently taking a Battlefield Archaeological course on Art and War, and was invited me to come on their field trip, with the stipulation of doing a brief presentation on Tantallon Castle (also, I frequently audit Methods and Concepts of Heritage on Wednesday mornings, because I’m me – a nerd).


Last Thursday at 9:00, we drove to the Borders area of Scotland and England. It was around 2.5 hours to Braxton to visit Flodden Field, where an infamous Jacobite rebellion happened in 1513. Unfortunately, the area is largely populated by farmland and nearby homes. The trafficking of archaeological artifacts happens here, and at other battlefields by disrespectful individuals; check eBay. Since the early 90s, the community of Battlefield Archaeologists are striving to rectify legislative policies with organizations to secure these areas from trafficking, commercial farming, and urban development. After all, heritage is significant to preserve a site’s historical context because its symbolic of national and cultural integrity.


Our second stop was Berwick-upon-Tweed to see the Elizabethan Fortification. It’s incredible because the fort actually manipulates the land, where it rises gently and drops dramatically. There was supposed to have been a protective moat around it for defensive-offensive purposes too.

Our finally stop was in North Berwick to admire the grandeur of Tantallon Castle. It dates back to the 14th century, sits promontory, and was first constructed of red sandstone, but post-second-siege by King James V, it was remodeled with green sandstone. I’ve heard Tantallon is off the beaten path for tourists, but it’s an impressive castle! If the weather is a agreeable and you can make the quick stop – you should! You’re can climb up winding stairways, and walk on external passageways to see the panoramic view of Oxroad Bay. Mind the wind. It was remarkable and I felt as though I were transported back to my childhood as if I were wildly playing on a playground. I was the last person out at closing time.12141563_10154191704788797_6652216059890848755_n

When I lived back in the states, I made a fuss about ‘how we have no history,’ or ‘our history is destroyed,’ or ‘everything here is too new’… however in my archaeology class, I’m learning how a lot of these heritage sites aren’t protected, except maybe from road and/or city planning. Many battlefield archaeologists in the UK are inspired by the United State’s initiative at preserving their own conflict sites, and are struggling to acquire similar regulations.

Oh, if you were wondering, my presentation went well. Thanks for asking!


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