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As you have heard, sometimes

archaeologists find and learn about sites
through methods that don't involve any
We often call this remote sensing.
That is, looking at sites from satellite
imagery or using scientific methods to
sort of look underneath the earth to
figure out what was there before we start
to dig, if we ever do.
Some people however, use methods that are
even more remote.
That is, by thinking that they might be
able to talk to people from the ancient
past or use their psychic abilities to
find ancient sites.
One of the reasons why this sort of thing
seems to be relatively popular is
because, of course, we all wish could, or
at least, I do, wish we could travel back
in time and talk to people directly about
what they were thinking and what they
were doing in the past.
Unfortunately, we can't.
And so, we use these other methods to
recreate their histories.
One man, however, went a little bit
farther than that.
And I want to use him as something of an
example of what kinds of things people do
in the way of psychic archaeology.
Psychic archaeology is of course a form
of pseudoarchaeology.
That is that we don't really think that
anybody can talk to the past and then
figure out things about the ancient sites
that they are working on through
communication with ghosts and things like
But there was a man named Frederick Bligh
Bond who was working in the early 20th
century at a site called Glastonbury
This is a rather famous monastery in
And it was occupied at least through the
11th through the 16th century and
functioned as a major church and
However, by the time the 20th century
came around, the place was largely in
A rather picturesque ruin with pieces of
the church still remaining and other
parts of the sites were peaking out of
the ground.
A very appealing place.
However, the site at a nearby monument,
named Glastonbury Tower now, also had
developed some associations with local
mythologies and early Christian stories.
That is, there were stories of druids who
had lived there, ideas about Celtic
mythology being tied to the place, and
then also stories of King Arthur and the
Holy Grail.
So this is the kind of place that's
really right for some pseudoarchaeology.
Now, Frederick Bligh Bond was actually an
architect and we was kind of well trained
in medieval architecture and things like
He actually worked for diocese as an
architect for some time.
As so in 1907 he was given permission to
work at Glastonbury Abbey and do some
And people were really impressed with his
He found at least 2 chapels that people
hadn't know where they were before and
other aspects of the site he
reconstructed and figured out a lot of
things about the monestery.
It wasn't until later in around 1920 to
22 that Mr Bligh Bond started behaving a
little strangely.
And it seemed that he was digging in
strange places without any real rhyme or
And it turns out after he was dismissed
from the site in 1922, he admitted that
he had been doing all of his archaeology
with the assistance of ghosts.
Now Mr. Bligh Bond said, that he had been
informed about how Glastonbury Abbey used
to work and what it used to look like.
By ghosts that he spoke to through a
Through a practice called automatic
That is the medium would hold a pen in
his or her hand and a ghost would speak
through her and help her write down
Frederick Bligh Bond talked to a number
of different people through this process
of automatic writing.
Mr. Bligh Bond claimed to talk to monks
who lived in the monastery in the 11th
Unfortunately, those monks seemed to talk
to him in the 20th-century English that
he knew well, with the occasional "ye
olde" and things like that thrown in.
Now, anyone who has tried to read Chaucer
knows that reading medieval English isn't
really the same as reading 20th-century
He also heard from those who spoke Latin.
But some says that the Latin is rather
"Bad School Boy" Latin that Mr Bligh Bond
might have remembered from his High
School days.
Now the thing is Mr Bligh Bond was quite
successful in his archeol, archaeological
investigations of Glastonbury Abbey
and some might ask well, how did he do it
if he didn't talk to ghost and didn't
learn the secret of the abbey.
From the monks who had already lived
Well, as it turns out, Mr Bligh Bond was
actually something of a good
He was trained in medieval architecture
and was an architect himself.
And so he knew quite a lot about the
ancient buildings that he was studying.
And it seems that he probably actually
did the sort of things that a good
archaeologist would do at such a site.
That is, he surveyed the land carefully
before he dug, looking for bumps and
changes in the landscape that might
indicate that there were walls
Remember, much of the abbey was still
preserved in ruins, and so if you found a
line let's say, in the ground, that was a
bump that followed the trajectory of
another wall, you might be able to trace
it to find the rest of the wall, and
things like that.
He also consulted, we think, literary
literary and archival information that
was available to him.
So, for a medieval church, there were
letters and documents and things like
that, that one could look at to learn a
little bit more about how the place
functioned in antiquity.
And finally, he used comparative
In the Middle Ages many monasteries in
England would have been arranged in very
similar ways.
They all needed a refractory, they all
needed a type of church, they all needed
certain aspects that every building would
have had.
And so by using that comparative
evidence, looking at the ground and
studying ancient documents Mr Bligh Bond
found certain chapels in places where one
would expect them to be based on that
And so while he was very successful, it
doesn't actually prove that he had the
help of ghosts.
There are many people who try to figure
out things from ancient sites using
psychic or other methods.
One very popular one is called dousing,
which some of you may have heard of as a
way to look for water.
This is also a method of using a y shaped
stick, or bent rods, to walk around and
detect ancient sites.
Strangely this also happens a lot in
England, but people who use dousing
actually is it turns out how to know
better accuracy than random chance.
So when you're looking for ancient sites
I strongly recommend using satellite
imagery survey archaeology or other forms
of remote sensing.
And just trying to commune with the past
in other ways.

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