Apropriação de Tintagel Castle

tintagel-castle-painting

“Tintagel”, William Trost Richards (1881)

Quando estive em Tintagel Castle pela última vez, durante a minha quarta visita, ainda não tinha começado o recente processo de “Disneyficação” levado a cabo pelo English Heritage.

“Myth, Magic and the Marketplace: The preservation and interpretation of Cornwall’s heritage within a spiritual tourism context” é um texto académico escrito em 2007 por Chantal Laws e Susan Stuart. Apesar de desactualizado e mal pesquisado, no que diz respeito a definições do âmbito dos Estudos Pagãos e dos Novos Movimentos Religiosos, se conseguirmos ler através do ruido, este é um registo realista acerca da intersecção da cultura popular com o abrangente conceito de “espiritualidade”, tal como está associado à chancela ‘Arturiana’ e ao marketing turístico em Tintagel. Foi exactamente por isso que me ocorreu que os cérebros do English Heritage (que desde Abril de 2015 se cindiu, dando lugar a numa nova organização chamada Historic England) devem tê-lo lido, para tirarem ideias.

Há quase três anos, tendo em conta o que estava a acontecer em Stonehenge, para mim era fácil prever o que está agora a passar-se em Tintagel. Foi nessa altura que eu recorri àquele ‘paper’ pela primeira vez, porque entendi o que as autoras tentaram definir com a expressão “espiritualidade Arturiana”. Afinal, eu pude experienciar esse fenómeno durante a minha primeira visita, no Verão de 2001. Isso foi antes de eu deixar de ser turista, sair à aventura e me mudar temporariamente para a Cornualha (Cornwall ou Kernow, na Língua Kernewek). Regressei várias vezes e fiquei sem pressa de partir. Pude estabelecer um contacto próximo com a população Cornish, à qual foi concedido estatuto de minoria étnica, em Abril de 2014. Fiz amigos entre os Bardos do Gorsedh Kernow, artistas, produtores e activistas pelos direitos daquele povo, que fizeram questão de regressar ao seu belíssimo ‘pais’ de origem, depois de anos a estudarem em Inglaterra, sem medo de enfrentarem os desafios impostos a quem teima em viver na Cornualha.

A aldeia de Trevena, Tre war Venydh, entretanto apelidada de Tintagel, devido ao famoso castelo nos rochedos, é um destino turístico doméstico, para famílias de todo o Reino Unido, para caminhantes do percurso costeiro, e para visitantes interessados nos Tintagel Cliffs, Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), assim como nas atracções turísticas. A área apresenta desafios ao turista comum, devido a dificuldades de acesso físico ao promontório e à ilha, ao estado das ruinas e às escavações arqueológicas que aí têm lugar. No entanto, o estudo que referi concluiu que o chamado “turismo espiritual” é um segmento de mercado em crescimento e muito apetecível para quem explora o local e para toda a vila. Ou seja, a interacção entre espiritualidade, religião e turismo, alimentada pelo “conhecimento” romanceado da história de Tintagel Castle, que opõe Lenda e História, cria a possibilidade de uma experiência pós-moderna, a meio caminho entre o lazer e a peregrinação.

Surgiu a necessidade de o núcleo museológico, como instrumento ideológico e político que é, se adaptar a esta “franja espiritual” da audiência e expandir o ângulo de influência do imaginário Arturiano. Ora, o English Heritage, sendo uma poderosa alavanca da Propaganda Inglesa, sabe muito bem que Tintagel Castle é uma base estratégica para controlar a forma como a História é apresentada às hordas de turistas, “espiritualizados” ou não, britânicos ou estrangeiros, que vão em busca de entretenimento e não da verdadeira História da Cornualha, do povo de Kernow e, em particular, de Tintagel Castle. Nada de novo aqui! E foi precisamente isto que motivou a minha correspondência com Mr. Alex Page, do English Heritage (ler na íntegra, abaixo).

Esta “charity” independente, que tem crescentes liberdades para angariar fundos como melhor lhe aprouver, introduziu uma série de “inovações” no complexo de Tintagel Castle, de forma a tornar o local histórico mais apelativo para o grande público e a permitir um aumento do fluxo de visitantes. A juntar a um novo centro interpretativo, existem planos para uma ponte de ligação entre o promontório e a ilha, foi gravado um baixo-relevo representando o suposto rosto do lendário Merlin, espalharam várias placas de sinalização ao longo do percurso, cravaram na rocha uma estátua de bronze de grandes dimensões e discutível valor artístico, para além de muitas outras intervenções que violam os regulamentos do Scheduled Ancient Monument, do referido SSSI, da AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), entre outros. Por fim, o que os responsáveis não tiveram em conta é que o mesmo estudo que mencionei também concluiu que no “turismo espiritual Arturiano” valoriza-se mais a qualidade da experiência e a autenticidade do que a quantidade de turistas, obrigando a uma abordagem sensível e sustentável.

“The legend that King Arthur never died is still extant, and it is said that he haunts the dark Tintagel cliffs and the ruins of the old castle where he was born in the form of a red-legged chough.”

in “North Cornwall Fairies and Legends” (Notes), by Enys Tregarthen, Author of ‘The Piskey-Purse’. With introduction by Howard Fox, F.G.S. Illustrated 1906, London Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., Ltd.

 

Recomendo vivamente a leitura atenta dos seguintes artigos e fontes:

“The Tintagel Controversy”, Dr. Tehmina Goskar (31 March, 2016)

“Authority, authenticity and interpretation at Tintagel”, Dr Tehmina Gorkar (29 June, 2016)

“A Cultural Insult a day”, Chris Dunkerley (Cornish Bard, Kevrenor), Australia, 26 April, 2016

Kernow Matters To Us

The Cornish are a Nation – an information page run by ‘Kernow Matters’ NGO

 

Segue a minha correspondência com Mr. Alex Page, do English Heritage:

26 April 2016

“Dear Mr. Page,

I’m writing from Lisbon, Portugal, to urge you to consider the way Tintagel Castle is being managed. I generally trust the English Heritage discernment and I don’t have the ambition to change your views, but I ask you to take notice of mine, on this matter.

I grew up in Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape, and though I’ve always been critical of several less than optimal aspects concerning the management of its many historical sites, I’ve never had a reason to pen a letter such as this. I consider the situation at Tintagel to be an extreme one. I’ve refrained from writing to the English Heritage in previous years, about Stonehenge, where I’ve been, on the occasions of rather private group visits. I will refrain no more, when it comes to Tintagel Castle.

Since 2001, I’ve travelled to and lived sporadically in Cornwall and I’ve been a recurrent visitor of the site. One of the times I’ve been there, in July 2004, I couldn’t actually visit the castle because the path had been closed, due to strong winds. Despite any inconvenient, I’ve always felt honoured and privileged to have experienced an undisturbed Tintagel Castle. As for its connections to the Arthurian legends and whimsical characters, I’m more than happy to purchase as many glossy books as I can from the EH shop, but I don’t need any other stimuli for imagination. Doubtlessly, the best souvenir I keep is a memory of the dignity that is intrinsic to one of the most prominent historical places in Cornwall and the United Kingdom.

Although the English Heritage is getting worldwide attention, as the media reports on a number of superfluities being added to the site, this kind of publicity is hardly good publicity. Personally, I will continue to travel to Cornwall and visit the many historical sites, gardens, and other places of outstanding natural beauty, but I’m sad to inform you that I will avoid the ornaments that have been imposed onto Tintagel Castle. Especially, I shall not visit the site if the proposed bridge is built, because it won’t significantly improve the accessibility, while it will interfere, appallingly, with the magnificence of the headland and island. As a visual designer, I don’t need to replace the glorious image I keep in my mind with a substandard one.

Finally, I sincerely hope the people of Cornwall will be heard.

Kind regards”

A resposta de Mr. Alex Page:

10 May 2016

“Hello,

As you know, Tintagel Castle has a rich and varied history and, following the opening of a well-received exhibition in 2015, we have now launched a new outdoor interpretation scheme that will help people to further understand the history and legends of this internationally important site. The scheme contains a number of interpretation panels across the site telling the history of Tintagel from the 5th century to more recent times, as well as several artistic installations inspired by the site’s legends.

Tintagel Castle has a unique story, where archaeology, history and legend are intertwined – all of which are now explored on site. Since the Middle Ages, Tintagel’s legends and literary associations have played a key role in shaping the castle, and the importance of these legends is widely acknowledged by historians and archaeologists. We believe that understanding how these legends shaped Tintagel’s history is crucial to understanding the site, and our interpretation both explains this and places these legends within the context of the site’s overall history and significance. The exhibition we launched last year was praised both for its use of the Cornish language as well as its contents. Combined with the new interpretation, visitors to Tintagel can now get an even better overview of its history – from the artefacts discovered there to the legends associated with it.

We strongly believe that the new interpretation elements are not so large that they will negatively impact on the visual appeal of the site, whose massive and rugged character will essentially be un-changed. The majority of the scheme makes use of traditional methods of interpretation, with panels placed across the site exploring 1500 years of Tintagel’s history. There are a few Arthurian inspired artistic pieces including the carving of Merlin’s face which is a small, discreet element of the scheme, tucked away amongst rocks of the beach and haven and designed to complement its natural setting. The area of the site where it is located is constantly changing due to exposure to the elements and we believe that the carving will be a temporary installation, weathered away over time by the wind and waves. The sculpture, titled Gallos (‘power’ in Cornish) is inspired by both the legend of King Arthur and the historic kings and royal figures associated with Tintagel. Feedback to date from people who have visited and seen these pieces in the context of the whole scheme has been very complimentary.

The scheme was submitted for all of the necessary permissions and consents. We commissioned archaeological, ecological and geological surveys/assessments and consulted with Historic England, Natural England and the Tintagel Parish Council. We did not receive any objections, and any mitigation measures required as part of the consent are in hand and the site will be monitored, as recommended. The scheme was also available for all to comment on via the Cornwall Council Planning website and ultimately Cornwall Council made the decision. The proposed new pedestrian bridge is following a very transparent public engagement route, and to date we have held an on-line, and public, exhibition. Both were well received with thousands viewing and commenting on the concepts. The bridge will continue with our aim to help people better understand the Dark and Middle Age period of the site and will vastly improve access and reduce congestion.

Thank you again for writing to me about your concerns. I would like to reassure you that we take our role as caretakers of these sites very seriously and consider all elements very carefully when developing our interpretation.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Page.

 

Historic Properties Director – West

Tel 0117 975 0727 or 07747559940

Fax 0117 975 0701

English Heritage cares for over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites – from world famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to cold war bunkers. Through these we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million visitors each year.

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Finalmente, a minha contra-resposta:

12 May 2016

“Dear Mr. Page,

Thank you for your comprehensive reply. However, I’m afraid you said nothing about accessibility and some of your words work against you. My views remain unchanged, so let’s agree to disagree.

As you know, the duty of the English Heritage is to preserve historical places. Therefore, please, leave the legend to Literature and oral tradition. Metaphorically, it may be valid that legend shaped Tintagel Castle’s history, but the site was not developed because of any legend and, physically, does not reflect their imagery. If the English Heritage needs a place to create an interpretation centre that would precede the visit to the site itself, where panels and artistic installations can be included, maybe Tintagel Parish can indicate a park or garden where the objective can be better achieved. I have nothing against large sculptures, but they belong elsewhere, not on the site and if you think their interference is minimal, I may as well think it is excessive, because that’s subjective. I couldn’t be less interested in the mob’s opinions, frankly. I rather acknowledge the statement and credibility of a large group of independent historians. The English Heritage should not manage a place like Tintagel Castle to try to please a fee-paying public eager to be entertained. Your apologetic need to stress that the elements are “not so large” and that so-called Merlin’s face is a “temporary installation” only confirms that those elements are superfluous add-ons. Historically, and romantically, Tintagel Castle is what it is. What is physically there is visible. What is not physically there is simply inexistent and leaves fertile space for imagination.

As for the term “Dark Age”:

“Medieval historiography has eschewed this outdated term for 30 years or more. It is therefore disappointing that EH has carved it into a slate slab at the site. This is not good interpretation as it is going to perpetuate a very outmoded and unsubstantiated view of the past.” Dr Tehmina Goskar, in The Tintagel Controversy.

I will leave you with the words of Henry Jenner, in Tintagel Castle in History and Romance (1927):

“Altogether, Tintagel Castle, considering how famous it is, especially in modern imitations of Arthurian romances, has singularly little history and not much romance attached to it, when one comes to sum it up, and it was probably not really the scene of the one incident that brought it into notice. Historically and romantically Tintagel Castle is rather a fraud.”

Maybe the English Heritage could find a way to include those words in its “scheme”, as they too are part of Tintagel Castle’s story. I wrote story, not History.

Best wishes”

 

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