The Appeal of History

This is the opening to Rowland Parker’s wonderful book, Men of Dunwich, about a thriving mediaeval port that was lost to the sea. He wrote another, The Common Stream, which I have but cannot find. Must be buried at the back of one of my book cases. I was woken the other night by a loud bang – pile of 20 books fell over. Reading is more dangerous than people think. anyhow, here’s Rowland:

Deny the historian, or the story-teller, the right to speculate, and either you encourage him to serve up a series of unrelated facts, often dull and indigestible, or you drive him to take refuge in a silence broken only by the frustrating observation that ‘nothing is known’. That is particularly true of the Dunwich which must have been there in the first four centuries A.D. Contemporary documentary evidence is nil; later documentary evidence extremely thin. Archaeological clues are as rare as the bits of amber which, it is said, can sometimes be picked up on the beach from among the millions of pebbles which they so closely resemble. ….excavation … was all done by the waves; little of the evidence was seen; still less recorded.

 

 

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