Thursday, 31 January 2019

A barrow by any other name …




A Barrow on the Downs in Sussex, and to Barrow at the tip of northern Alaska … this at least takes me in the direction of Canada!

Panoramic view looking down over Alfriston village,
Cuckmere River is in the valley

 The community of Barrow, Alaska named after Sir John Barrow (1764 – 1848) who was a promoter of Arctic voyages, though appears not to have visited this part of the world, except early in his life he had been to Greenland …

Utqiagvik
(Barrow splodge in blue - sorry!)


The phenomenon ‘polar night’  which occurs when the winter sun disappears for about two months started to reappear to give Barrow some natural light …






Inupiat child from
about 1960
The community of Barrow in December 2016 officially restored the Inupiat’s native name Utqiagvik … which referred to the indigenous Inuit’s derivation ‘a place for gathering wild roots’.



Utqiagvik has been home to the Inupiat for more than 1,500 years – about the same time that the Anglo-Saxons settled Alfriston, on the Downs in East Sussex, in the 5th century AD …



… sometime around 4,500 BC Neolithic (Stone Age) man roamed southern England, cleared the woodland and started farming …


Some of the South Downs Park notice at the
site of Long Burgh
Their funerary mounds are the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape … Long Burgh has only relatively recently been cleared to be declared a National Monument within the new National South Downs Park …


… it overlooks the Cuckmere Valley and is 56 metres (184 feet) long, with a width of 20 metres (65 feet) … so as you can see is quite substantial.


 
Long Burgh - looking south west over
the Cuckmere Valley
Unfortunately the barrow over the centuries has been ransacked, with the finds being considered of little value – now however with our technology so much more could be ascertained from the bones, grave contents, surrounding soils and pits … but too late …



English (Welcome to Barrow) and
Inupiaq (Paglagivsigin
Utqiavigmun)


… while in Barrow, Alaska archaeological digs are going on, and as things come to light in England more archaeology is being discovered …



That is the Polar Night at Barrow and Long Burgh Barrow the ‘Ancient Guardian of Alfriston’ … so now I can skip over to concentrate on finishing my Canadian posts … before coming back to other subjects …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

62 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

A graveyard was exposed when we were kids and we all went searching not thinking what had been disturbed giving our finds to a historical society. in later years all was placed back to where it belonged

Sue Bursztynski said...

Sorry, can’t help thinking of Tolkien’s Barrow Downs when reading your title! :-) Of course, a barrow is an ancient tomb, in real life OR in fantastic fiction. What a shame about the lost chance for archaeology! It has happened a lot over the centuries, what with people hauling away stone for building elsewhere, mummies bring ground up and used in medicine, mummies being publicly unwrapped in the Victorian era... and who was that supposed archaeologist who used dynamite to blow open tombs? Ack! Still, there is probably plenty more ancient stuff in the UK, waiting to be discovered, every time some road or new building is being dug - and only a few days since they finally found Matthew Flinders...

Rhodesia said...

Sad that it has been ransacked. I wonder if all we knew then in life what we know now if we would have made any difference. Keep well Diane

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Although a lot was lost because of treasure hunters of the past it seems they only really scratched the surface. Now that sites are regularly investigated before any new developments take place all kinds of things are being discovered in all sorts of unexpected places. Of course, archaeological methodology could progress in the next hundred years to a point where our excavations today will be seen as unnecessarily destructive.

Chatty Crone said...

Well, I have been lucky enough to have gone to Barrow, Alaska - I had no idea where it had received it's name. Interesting.

Nick Wilford said...

Nice link between Sussex and Alaska. The South Downs made me nostalgic. They really put a lot of effort into those barrows. Even with the treasure gone, the landscape alone tells us a lot about our ancestors.

Elephant's Child said...

Fascinating - as your posts so often are. Many thanks. Archaeology, like history, is an interest I developed relatively late, but it is very strong (and of course both interests feed the other).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shame they didn't know what they'd found and the site's contents lost.
Not sure which would be weirder - two months of dark or two months of light.

Hels said...

I have seen climate change all over the place... hottest temperatures in written history in Australia, millions of dead fish around our coastline, coldest temperatures ever in Minnesota etc. Since Barrow Alaska probably has a limited range of economic activities, I wonder if climate change has been a factor there too.

Kay G. said...

Cuckmere Valley is beautiuful. That is where Richard's mother left instructions for her ashes to be scattered. This is what we plan to do later this year. Thanks for telling me about this mound, I did not know of it.

Jz said...

I bought my trug in Alfriston!
Which has nothing to do with barrows, really... altho' you could use one to collect your finds.

Gina Gao said...

This is so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

www.ficklemillennial.blogspot.com

Botanist said...

Like Sue, my mind went straight to the barrow wights when I saw this post. We had lots of burial mounds near home in Guernsey, including one on top of the hill that you could go in to. Creepy!

Marja said...

Very interesting the English place as well as Alaska. A shame that that side has been ransacked

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
A deligtful comparison of places! YAM xx

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve – interesting that later on the historical society placed the grave goods back … after, I expect, sometime recording and researching the finds. Fun to find – for you as kids.

@ Sue – in my ignorance I hadn’t come across Tolkien’s Barrow Downs – but now I’m enlightened. I wrote a post about Flinders Petrie, Matthew Flinders’ grandson, who aged 8 – protested to workmen shovelling out the contents from a Roman excavation on the Isle of Wight that ‘the earth should be pared away, inch by inch, to see all that was in it and how it lay.’

Then another post on Matthew Flinders, geographer and cartographer, who circumnavigated Australia during two voyages in 1798 – 1803.

You’re right about the ‘rush’ for artefacts and their ‘strange’ uses … I’m not sure which archaeologist you’re referring to re bombing open tombs – could be a number: recent horrors and earlier ones …

Yes … we still have lots of archaeology being found … they’ve just found Iron Age beer in a road works archaeological site in Cambridgeshire on the A14 road upgrade. And as you rightly say Matthew Flinders’ coffin has been found during the new London Crossrail line … that was lucky and very interesting …

@ Diane – lots has been lost to posterity … and I know here in Eastbourne – the Heritage Manager has been very frustrated that so much has been ransacked or just destroyed in properly development … even going back into the1700s - late 1800s = early archaeology …
I think we’d have taken more care … and learnt more probably …

@ John – as you say we are now able to delve deeper into the ground, and we can get aerial shots of the landscape opening other doors. Again – as you say we might be able to do much more without actually unearthing and digging around leaving much of the areas undisturbed: time will tell.

@ Sandie – amazing to find someone comment who has been to Barrow, Alaska … Sir John is a very interesting man I may at some stage write about him …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick – thanks … I think of you and your connections down here … so glad you’ve been able to see this post, which has brought back nostalgic memories of Brighton and its surrounds.

Those ancient peoples really did revere their elders and respect their dead for the afterlife … as you say though we are still finding out a great deal about our ancestors and their lifestyle …

@ EC – many thanks … it’s since I started blogging that my knowledge has exponentially increased and expanded into areas I thought I’d never be interested in … and as you say – so much feeds other interests …

@ Alex – I know I wondered about the two months of darkness, and then two months of continual light … I guess one is born into it and therefore one adapts – everyone else probably just visits for a while … but it does bear wondering about …

@ Hels – temperatures have always changed over the years: the earth adapts – we just seem unable to accept earth’s changes. Though I quite understand people’s concern.

Here I gather erosion is taking place, but the place had been settled for many years before the European came on the scene … with their different outlook on life and different needs – eg whales, surveying of land and Arctic seas, Navy and Army requirements …

It seems the locals rely on subsidence food sources … while some extra income is gained from tourism, arts and crafts, cultural events and the Research stations … it doesn’t appear to be affected by climate change per se …

@ Kay – the Cuckmere is beautiful isn’t it and I can quite see that your MIL would have loved the area – being a local from nearby Eastbourne. Glad I could let you know about Long Burgh …

@ Jz – I can believe you … they feature in our Sussex villages … and I’m sure trugs are used for many a useful gathering basket …

@ Gina – thank you … good to see you – I’ll be over shortly …

@ Ian – I hadn’t heard of Tolkien’s Barrow Wights … lack of education obviously!! Yes – I’m sure some of the barrows/tumuli that we can get inside, could so easily give one the creeps.

These funerary monuments prevail in the UK, as too Brittany and presumably the rest of France, and thus too in your home Island of Guernsey … I’m glad you were able to experience a visit into one …

@ Marja – it’s just so interesting what went on around the world in different places; sadly tumuli were ransacked over the centuries – the ransackers didn’t understand or appreciate the value of the finds …

@ Yam – just finding a place called Barrow, which had reverted to its Inuit name fascinated me … love learning things and then linking them – however abstractly …

Thanks so much everyone – just glad my funerary field monuments appealed and now I can pop back to Canada to post on other visits I made before I left … so they’re recorded here on the blog … cheers Hilary

Joanne said...

a double Barrow post. Very interesting. And I suppose as the Barrows are ransacked for treasure - the plunders take their haul in a wheelbarrow?
Always interesting posts - thanks.

Lisa said...

One of my favorite delights in visiting the UK was seeing barrows. They always conjure up another time, another kind of life. I didn't know about the "Barrow" in Alaska, but am glad they've re-named it, even if I don't know how to pronounce the "new" name!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a pity the barrow was robbed! I'm sure, as you mentioned, that there must be so much we could find out about the residents' lives with our technology.

I would have a tough time without the sun for 2 months!

jabblog said...

My comment froze!

History never stands still, which is what makes it so interesting.

Jacqui Murray said...

That was interesting. That time so long ago--it fascinates me. I haven't heard of 'barrows'.

Yolanda Renée said...

I made it to Prudoe Bay but not Barrow which was just a few miles away, well 198 miles to be exact but just seeing the Arctic Ocean, even though frozen was a treat.

I can't wait to see what other adventures you take us on!

I'm thrilled for you that you are home and happy!

Inger said...

I have never been to either Barrow, but still found this interesting. And I love how you get inspired by things others may not pay attention to.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

So many things have been lost over the years. It's sad.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Living in an area with two months' worth of sunshine and two month's worth of darkness would be terribly trying, to say the least. The people who live there are obviously used to it, though. They're heartier souls than I.

It's horrifying how much has been lost from history because of looters and ill-conceived "progress" and development. Even worse are the priceless artifacts that have been deliberately destroyed through war and/or religious fanaticism.

Still, the past has a lot to teach us. Archaeologists do their best to uncover and share its secrets. And so do you. Thanks! :)

Have a wonderful weekend. Cheers!

Liz A. said...

Two very different locales...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne - yes ... I hadn't seen the cleared (Long Burgh) barrow up above village. Early they'd have been pillaged for whatever treasure could be found ... now it's illegal to do so - but still there are night-raiders around ... in today's age I'd guess thing's be carted away in a 4 x 4 or SUV ...

@ Lisa - that's great ... and there are lots of tumuli around here in the UK of varying sorts - different eras and different cultures. I was trying to find a link across to north America, so I can scoot back to Canada for my postings! Then Barrow turned up as just getting its sunlight back til it disappears again in November, which interested me - two months of darkness ... oh I too can't pronounce the Inuit names ... and never got a chance to learn.

@ Elizabeth - in those days the rough wanderers might have got a bit of cash for any 'finds' - but it is such a pity, now we can delve so much further via bones and teeth ...

Me too - it is getting lighter now ... but 2 months without sunlight would be a shock and a trial ...

@ Janice - oh sorry ... things do happen ... thanks for coming back and commenting again. History doesn't ever stand still does it - and we're living it at the moment ... it will be more interesting once they've resolved the way we're going ...

@ Jacqui - there was lots going on in this landscape of ours ... man was pretty inventive over the millennia. Barrows or tumuli - the funerary mounds found scattered in Europe ...

@ Yoland - gosh that's a long way north - I'd love to get up there and would have loved to have visited northern BC when I was over. It must be amazing just to see the Arctic.

My adventures will I hope be rounding off my Canadian posts ... things ticking on til May at least ... but I'm glad I'm back - it had become a trial: though of course then I missed out so much.

@ Inger - I only know this Barrow because it's an area I visit quite often ... yes linking these was a little tenuous - but it's garnering comments - so must be good inspiration - thank you ...

@ Holly - I know much has gone ... still we are still unearthing treasures ...

@ Susan - for the Inuit it's their life ... for us early explorers it was just the life they were leading: no choice --- the conditions must have been really difficult.

I know - even in the 1950s and 1960s in the name of progress and greed much was just ignored here - and makes a mockery of life at times. Now of course we're dealing with worse - the wanton destruction of treasures and heritage sites ... so, so sad ...

There is still a lot to discover - which does reveal itself at times ... and we have lots of very old records that help our archaeologists and historians ...

@ Liz - very different locales - yes!

Cheers to you all - thanks for your visit and for your informative comments - enjoy the weekend - Hilary

mark koopmans said...

2 Barrows a world apart - and there was me thinking the only "barrow" was at the end of a wheel...

There's a Roman gravesite about 20 mins from me in Spain and the local town had a great idea of building an overhang with see-through glass so you can "walk" around the site, but sadly this must have been years ago and now you can't see through the glass... :(

L. Diane Wolfe said...

When I was in grade school, we had a student teacher from Barrow, Alaska. Otherwise, I never would've heard of it.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Wow what an interesting post, I really enjoyed this

retirementreflections said...

This is a very interesting comparison, Hilary. Thank you for another very thought-provoking post. Hope all is well for you there.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mark - yes ... the connection is a bit tenuous - but interesting (I think!). Couldn't easily bring wheelbarrow in ... but that's got an interesting history too!

Fascinating about your Roman graveside - I guess they hadn't taken into account glass cleaning ... there's a few here in the UK - Chichester Cathedral has one, as some do in London ... showing the Roman Wall now underground, but excavated and opened up for viewing behind glass.

@ Diane - how fun to find another commenter who knows about Barrow - I wonder if she was one of the few residents of Barrow - population about 4,200 back in the day ...

@ Jo-Anne - thank you ... it was just different and now I'll remember Barrow, Alaska as too the Barrow above Alfriston ...

@ Donna - strange connection ... but that's my way! It's cold here and we even had a little snow last night ...

Thanks to you all - for those of us in the cold = keep warm, for those in excessive heat I hope you can find somewhere cool to spend the day ...

It snowed here briefly last night and there's a spattering left on the Downs - we don't usually get much - cheers to one and all - Hilary

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. You haven't really left Canada have you?
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s usually uxorious Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Vallypee said...

What an interesting post, Hilary. I'd never heard of Barrow in Alaska before! I know the feeling of wanting to keep writing about a place after having left it. I do it in a minor way with my blogs too, but more extensively in my books :)

M Pax said...

It's too bad about the long barrows. I've always been really curious about them.

Debbie D. said...

Fascinating, Hilary! What a shame the archaeological potential was lost due to ransacking in England. Nice tie-in between the two places. Can you imagine being without daylight for two months? That would be awful, to me!

Rhonda Albom said...

It's somewhat amusing that Sir John Barrow never actually visited the town named after him.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bazza - yes I'm back in the UK ... things didn't quite work out - but loved the place.

@ Val - well I hadn't heard of Barrow and its lack of light for 2 months ... but I was fascinated.

I had things I wanted to write about before I left ... so will finish those; the best thing has been being able to learn about western north America ... and thus write about aspects of it ...

@ Mary - most of the ransacking was done centuries ago, yet it now still happens despite legislation.

Archaeologists and scientists around the UK and Europe are still investigating tumuli/barrows when new information comes to light. Local historians write up the stories of their areas ...

@ Debbie - sadly today metal dectorists are scouring areas to find buried treasure ... then of course things can go missing, but often treasure troves are found and experts evaluate ... under the UK 'Law of Finders' ...

@ Rhonda - that's what I thought about Sir John ... but he's such an interesting character I wanted to remember him and perhaps write about him later on ...

Thanks so much to you all - I'm just delighted you can all see 'the connection' I drew through the post - cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

I had to look up barrow:)
Hope your weekend has been grand.

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Heather: How ironic that you should mention the word "barrow." Right now I am in Costa Rica and yesterday we visited a local market, where there were a number of what would have been referred to as barrows in an old London market, with barrow boys touting their wares. I thought of that immediately as I was struck by how many "best products" I could buy at "lowest price in town!" Miriam bought a lovel piece of local jewellery and a sun dress so we did our share for the local economy!

Keith's Ramblings said...

A fascinating piece connecting somewhere I know well and walk regularly, with something I knew nothing about!

Nilanjana Bose said...

How sad it was ransacked - so much lost to history. Hope your week goes well.

Mark Noce said...

I love the barrows in Britain and Ireland. So mystic and pregnant with atmosphere :)

Nas said...

Hi Hilary!

Many thanks for this fantastic and interesting post. I learn a lot as usual when I visit you!

Deborah Barker said...

Love your musings Hilary (though I am still not sure how to pronounce Utqiagvik) I wonder what we will leave behind for out descendants to discover inthe ground, hundreds of yearsfrom now...plastic? Sobering thought. But we will have sorted that out by then of course :-) X

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - lots of barrows to chose from ... but these two tied in I was pleased to say ...

@ David - I'd spotted you were in Costa Rica ... the right place at this time of year - though I know you're back now. I imagine 'the barrow boys' were out for the tourists and I guess locals sometimes - so I'm glad Miriam was out there supporting them. I could have used other Barrows - in fact there's one I will use ... but anon ...

@ Keith - I guessed you would know that area through your walking ... but the tie in to the town with 2 months or so without sunlight, or full sunlight fitted my bill for northern America.

@ Nila - yes sadly lots of ransacking and it still goes on - the disregard for people's property or history - not good examples of humanity ...

@ Mark - certainly if we can put ourselves back into those timelines ... I'm sure we could learn lots from them ... mystical and atmospheric definitely ...

@ Nas - thank you ... it was interesting to write up and see the connections ...

@ Debbie - they are musings aren't they ... and I most certainly don't know how to pronounce Utqiagvik: I never got the opportunity to learn that side of First Nations' language and pronunciation ...

If our descendants can read in the future - there'll be lots for them to appreciate - as well as lots of horrors that we will inevitably leave behind ... plastic may well be one of them ...

Thanks so much everyone - great to see your comments - enjoy the rest of the week - cheers Hilary

Vagabonde said...

After all my years speaking English (as a 3rd language) I did not know the meaning of the word barrow. I only knew a wheelbarrow. Your post was most interesting and enlightening. It is so surprising that archeology can still find thousand year old artifacts. Just read in the paper that new mummies were discovered in Egypt. Because of my husband’s long illness I had not kept up with blogs and did not realize you returned to the UK. Did you find it change somewhat? Moves are stressful, but at least it is your country and you have family and friends there. Here in Nashville I know no one or the town, I get lost and it is not easy. I hope everything will turn out the way you wish.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Hilary! Your stories about barrows are fascinating. But man often ransacks past treasures. Sometimes this helps in discovery. Sometimes it's a nuisance.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Vagabonde - thanks for your comment ... I know you've travelled loads and must have a huge wealth of knowledge. Archaeology is certainly uncovering lots here in the UK - and it's good to see what the past was about.

Not much has changed ... I was only away a year - some things yes, but minor really ... just life moving along and utilising more technology, while lots of new builds within pockets of unused or industrial land within the towns - I've so far visited.

It's much better being home ... and I'll settle as life goes on. Good luck with getting to know Nashville and your new life ...

@ Denise - yes ransacking still carries on - greedy peoples or in the very old days ... perhaps a need to find something of value so a few pennies could furnish a meal or two. Yet as you say ... man keeps finding things ...

Thanks to you both for coming by and commenting - cheers Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I recently read a novel set in one of the regions where the sun disappears for a few months. I don't think I could ever live there. It seems like it would be really bad luck to disturb a barrow. Too bad people are so disrespectful.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Barrow Alaska is a little far North, but there are communities and archaeological sites on the North West coast a lot older than 1500 years, or even the Neolithic barrows in England. There is proof of people having come across from Russia as much as 15,000 years ago in British Columbia!

Sandra Cox said...

Archeology is so exciting.

Elsie Amata said...

I confess. As soon as I saw Barrow, I thought of the vampire movie 30 Days of Night. ;)

I have a friend that lives in Alaska. She loves it!


Elsie

cleemckenzie said...

Alaska is a fascinating place, and it's either dark forever or light forever. When I was there, we'd be talking and suddenly realize it was 2 a.m. and the kids were playing on the swings. Yikes! Bad mother.

I thoroughly enjoyed the information about Borrow. I've just finished A Brief History of Everyone Who Has Ever Lived, and these Inuit people must have the genes of our extremely early ancestors who came across the straits. Sad that their burial sites were ransacked. Humans are brilliant and they are sometimes downright stupid.

Great post as always.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - I've read a few books set in the northern regions, but not thought too much about living there myself - it must be disturbing ... but I know as the days lengthen here, we don't think much about it - I do in the winter when it gets dark so early!

It's really sad people are disrespectful now, or those who should know better still flout the law or understanding - back when people were desperate: I guess it'd be understandable ...

@ CD - oh yes I know there are lots of sites that are way older than Barrow - I was just trying to link the subject name; and yes I've written about the peoples coming over from Russia those many thousand of years ago ... as too those in Europe ... huge distances we've covered until we settle ...

@ Sandra - archaeology is exciting isn't it ...

@ Elsie - funny what a name conjures up - I live in the simple world without vampires! Wonderful your friend loves living up there ... the cold would get me ...

@ Lee - it must be a wonderful place to visit ... our bodies seem to adapt somehow. I can quite believe you'd all be occupied and talking away before realising the witching hour had moved on to the new day ... as there was little nighttime per se.

I have just ordered that book (on your recommendation!) - the Inuits must be a fascinating peoples ... I'm glad we're finally recognising their values - even if their way of remembering things is via oral traditions, backed up with knowledge of the natural world, art and sculpture ...

As you say - humans are brilliant, but also at times downright stupid.

Lovely to see you all ... and great to have your thoughtful comments - cheers Hilary

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

I hope you're sitting comfortably, my kind friend. Yes, it's actually me leaving a comment!

I do know that the temperature in Barrow, Alaska barely rises above zero. It's actually somewhere I considered visiting. Never been to Barrow on the Downs is Sussex. I've been close to Barrow in Furness but somehow ended up in a dungeon at Lancaster castle.

Thank you for a fascinating post, Hilary.

Gary

J Lenni Dorner said...

Freaking LOVE Alaska and the native people there. This was a great post.

DMS said...

What a fascinating post. I learned a lot reading this post. I have always wanted to visit Alaska (maybe in the summer months). Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

dolorah said...

Strange to think of a People being around for so many centuries. And the area is beautiful.

Michael Di Gesu said...

hi Hilary,

Interesting post... it is sad about it's deterioration and ransacking. ALwasy and interesting read... thanks for sharing!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gary - very slow! But I'll get there ... good to see you here. I bet you know the Alaskan temperatures ... not my scene! Just sorry you never got there - however the South Downs are easier to access, as too Barrow in Furness and Lancaster - both of which I hope to visit in the not too distant future ...

@ JL - delighted you enjoy Alaska and the First Nations peoples ...

@ Jess - yes I'd be a summer months visitor if I ever went ... but it was fun to write up ...

@ Donna - we, humans - of some sort, have been around for far longer than we think ... it is interesting to think back though ...

@ Michael - it is such a pity people want to destroy things in this day and age - but greed comes before sense, I guess ...

Thanks so much to you all for visiting - I might finally be out of my quagmire of an early life back in England - cheers Hilary