Whenever Stonehenge is mentioned in the media, the journalist responsible for the written or filmed piece invariably adds some background to whatever the current story may be by mentioning any one of a number of aspects of the place, such as the mediaeval belief that the monument was built by Merlin, the fact that the bluestones came from distant Wales, the supposedly contentious belief that the ancient Druids were linked to Stonehenge and so forth. New archaeological discoveries in or around Stonehenge do not exist in isolation as far as the media are concerned, because there’s a wealth of relevant elements that any remotely well-informed journalist can add to any story about the place.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I read this piece in the Independent, covering the re-excavation of St Piran’s Oratory in Cornwall. We learn that this ruin is supposedly one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Britain, that St Piran was the patron saint of tin miners and that’s about it.
Neither the BBC, with their page dedicated to the Legend of St Piran, nor indeed the St Piran Trust, have anything else to add to this tale of yet another excavation in Britain. It’s as if I find myself living in some bizarre parallel universe, one where William Blake wasn’t prompted to write Jerusalem, where Jerusalem didn’t become our most popular patriotic song, where no mediaeval church gatherings decided that Christianity took root in Britain before there was a church anywhere else, where no tales of Jesus and/or Joseph of Arimathea exist in the West Country and where absolutely no one has ever written a book, fictional or otherwise, investigating the possibility that during the time he effectively goes missing from the Biblical account, Jesus spent as many as 18 years living in Britain.
I’ve said this before, but I feel compelled to pose the questions once more. Christianity is the world’s biggest religion in terms of followers and Christ is of course the central figure of this religion. He is effectively missing from the Biblical accounts between the ages of roughly 12 and 30, but numerous legends – as well as, in my opinion, other more tangible evidence – place him in Britain at this time. One might reasonably suppose that the church in Britain, with its declining congregations, would be crawling all over the West of England, South Wales and elsewhere to see if there was so much as a fragment of truth to the increasingly popular idea elsewhere that William Blake was alluding to an historical event.
As it is, the church shows just as much interest in this idea as they do in the not altogether unthinkable notion that a physical artefact known as the Holy Grail is hidden somewhere in the same region, so while they continue to blithely ignore any and all evidence in favour of these strange events, I’ll go on collecting it to the best of my ability.