Our recent seminar at the University of South Wales, ‘Sacred Stones and Bodies’, held on 28 February 2017, examined the material culture and some of the sacred loci of modern arts and performance festivals. The speakers talked about the sacred stones at the Glastonbury Festival, as well as the rituals associated with ‘festival bodies’.
Dr Jacqui Mulville, a Reader in Bioarchaeology at Cardiff University, talked about ‘Festival Archaeology’, showing how Bioarcheology can be used to explore the way in which the Stone Circle at Glastonbury can take part in the construction of festival Identities. Jacqui examined how festivals can be researched through the application of archaeology. She showed how archaeological evidence is called upon to construct festival identities, both physically, such as the stone circle at Glastonbury, and socially, in the re-creation of ‘ancient traditions’. Jacqui posited that contemporary participatory archaeological research is beginning to map festival journeys and examine the material culture of festival identities.
Dr Maria Nita, at University of South Wales, talked about ‘Bodies, Rituals and the Glastonbury Festival’, attempting to show that the festival journey can be both a solitary one, in which the festival goer establishes a ritualized itinerary through the festival fields, and a communal (ritual) experience. Maria discussed her current research on the Glastonbury festival, focusing on the significance and ritualistic treatment of the body for the duration of the festival. She examined some historical findings that show how Woodstock’s, and conversely Glastonbury’s, iconic naked bodies both displayed a nostalgic memorialisation of the past and ignited the imagination of a generation about the future.
We are grateful to the Humanities Research Institute at the University of South Wales for their support.
Dr Brian Ireland, Dr Sharif Gemie and Dr Maria Nita