Managing the future of the past: images of Exmoor landscape heritage
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
© 2017 Landscape Research Group Ltd
Reason for embargo
Tarr Steps is a footbridge across a river but it also bridges two temporal landscapes: the present and the ‘deep past’. Although the origins of the site are uncertain, the bridge is often represented as objectively authentic and ‘ancient’. The historicity of this claim is challenged by secondary production of the site. We unpack the discursive construction of the bridge and argue that Tarr Steps’ connection to the deep past is a cultural imaginary based on a selective interpretation of its morphology. This imaginary connection authenticates representation of the site as resembling the origin of a sequence of cultural evolution in Britain. We explore implications of this in relation to three metaphors of landscape used in the cultural heritage management tool called Historic Landscape Characterisation. In so doing, we raise questions about the future of the past, specifically in terms of the conceptualisation of temporality, authenticity and the politics of representation.
We would like to thank the anonymous referees and editorial advice generously given. Material from this paper was presented at seminars in Amsterdam (European HERCULES project) and Exeter. Thank you to attendees for constructive comments and questions. We would also like to thank Devon County Council for their generous support via the ‘Sustainable Rural Futures’ Programme 2009–2014.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge)via the DOI in this record.
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