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From Antiquities to Heritage

From Antiquities to Heritage: Transformations of Cultural Memory

Anne Eriksen
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    From Antiquities to Heritage
    Book Description:

    Eighteenth-century gentleman scholars collected antiquities. Nineteenth-century nation states built museums to preserve their historical monuments. In the present world, heritage is a global concern as well as an issue of identity politics. What does it mean when runic stones or medieval churches are transformed from antiquities to monuments to heritage sites? This book argues that the transformations concern more than words alone: They reflect fundamental changes in the way we experience the past, and the way historical objects are assigned meaning and value in the present. This book presents a series of cases from Norwegian culture to explore how historical objects and sites have changed in meaning over time. It contributes to the contemporary debates over collective memory and cultural heritage as well to our knowledge about early modern antiquarianism.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-299-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Anne Eriksen
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    In 1742, Vicar N.J. Bjerregaard started digging into a barrow in his parish of Lardal in Vestfold, in southeastern Norway, hoping to find ‘relics from the heathen past’. But despite the best efforts of the peasants he had hired for the work, the vicar was disappointed. The mound contained nothing but some fragile ceramic pots, a piece of rope with a brass handle and a bit of woollen cloth. So much for the glorious past of the noble forefathers (43 queries from the Government Office 1743, ms 181, Lardal, query no 41). Knowing their life and deeds well from the...

  5. 1 Heritage and Cultural Memory
    (pp. 14-28)

    A distinction between the contemporary concept of heritage and the general phenomenon that humans tend to value certain remains from the past is fundamental to the discussions in this book. Th e actual expressions that this evaluation of relics from the past acquires are subject to historical change. Heritage, as it emerged in the later parts of the twentieth century, with heritage studies as its corollary, is one such historically specific expression. As has been pointed out, both the theoretical premises and the empirical definition of heritage studies are somewhat vague (see, e.g., Harvey 2001: 319f). This is probably not...

  6. 2 In Search of Ancient Heroes
    (pp. 29-45)

    When he hired local peasants to open the barrow in the hope that inside it he would find antiquities, the vicar Bjerregaard in Lardal (see Introduction) was not acting on a mere idiosyncratic whim. Hunts for ancient burials were frequent all over Europe in this period and part of what was becoming common antiquarian practice. Though the digging was not without elements of the treasure hunt, this type of antiquarian project has been seen as the beginning of modern field archaeology (Piggott 1989: 62; Schnapp 1996: 275ff). In the context of this book, anticipatory aspects are less important than the...

  7. 3 Antiquarianism and Epistemic Virtue
    (pp. 46-63)

    Among Norwegian eighteenth-century scholars Gerhard Schøning (1722–1780) stands out, in part due to the large number of works he published and in part because of the great authority he is ascribed by his contemporaries. His main fields were history and antiquarianism, though some of his works also concern natural history. Moreover, Schøning worked as a topographer, and in minor works he discussed issues of economics and agricultural improvement, the reasons for bad crops and the question of public store houses for grain. In this chapter, Schøning’s work will be employed to discuss the ways he navigated between different disciplines...

  8. 4 Ruins and Time
    (pp. 64-80)

    With the exception of Schøning, antiquaries in eighteenth-century Norway took little interest in old buildings or remains of buildings. One reason might be that they could not be related to the heroic world of old Norse literature, as no building was older than the Middle Ages. Considering the general ignorance about the exact age of ancient constructions (see, e.g., Chapter 5 in this volume on the age of the stave churches), it is, however, of greater relevance that a lack of interest in built constructions can be regarded a common feature of the antiquarian tradition (Choay 1999; Sweet 2004; Hartog...

  9. 5 Mediaeval Monuments
    (pp. 81-98)

    The nineteenth century can rightly be called the age of the historic monument. This applies to what the French historian Maurice Agulhon has termed the ‘statuomanie’ of the period, which is his name for the veritable sea of public monuments and memorials that were erected in towns and villages in honour of historical events or deserved citizens during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Agulhon 1988). Equally important in the present context is that the designation also describes the growing interest in preserving or restoring ancient constructions, in Riegl’s terms making unintended monuments out of the remains from the past,...

  10. 6 Museums to Preserve Our Past
    (pp. 99-115)

    In 1825 a museum was opened in Bergen, on Norway’s western coast. Apart from the collections of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Trondheim and those of the new university in the capital (from 1811), this was the country’s first public museum. Behind it was W.F.K. Christie, a man of considerable political experience, but without any scientific training. After returning to his home town after a parliamentary career, he spent his energy on a number of projects to improve the urban infrastructure and to build up a civil public sphere. Following Christie’s example, similar museum initiatives were...

  11. 7 Monuments and Memorials
    (pp. 116-131)

    Without much distinction, the term ‘historical monument’ has been used from the nineteenth century onwards to refer both to ancient objects and constructions turned into monuments and to monuments erected to commemorate somebody or something. Both types – intended and unintended monuments – came to work as publicly accessible materializations of collective memory, national as well as local.

    An important reason for this merging of two kinds of monument was the idea of age value and its position within the historicity regime emerging in the nineteenth century. According to Riegl, the idea implies that objects cherished for their age no longer were...

  12. 8 Cultural Property, Cultural Heritage
    (pp. 132-148)

    In 1925 a booklet was published in Bergen with the entreating title ‘Tordenskiold Back Home to Norway. Answers from Norwegian Women and Men’.¹ It was published by a society calledNorrønafelaget Bragr.The name, as well as the archaic-like form of the New Norwegian language used in the texts, indicates an advocacy of a left-wing programme of nation building parallel to that of the Norway’s Youth Society (Chapter 6 in this volume). The book contained a number of letters or brief commentaries, all solicited from a question posed by the Bragr society: would Norwegian men and women support a claim...

  13. 9 Heritage and Presentism
    (pp. 149-165)

    The key to the success of the term heritage is the conceptualization of the past as property – personal, familial, national or other. As was pointed out in Chapter 8, an important implication of this is that what defines objects as valuable is not their age, as was the case with antiquities, nor their historical consequence, as for monuments, but rather the interest of some living subject who takes on the role as heir. In this way, heritage is basically anchored in the present of the inheritors, not in the past of the inherited objects. Furthermore, this also implies that in...

  14. References
    (pp. 166-173)
  15. Index
    (pp. 174-179)