Thursday 04 March 2021. Morning

Last night I watched a BBC documentary about the Stonehenge, and a recent discovery that the bluestones that originated from southern Wales had originally stood in their own stone circle closer to the original quarry. The tv team followed the archaeologists for years, as they dug and tested the soil of several possible sites, until they discovered one that was a match with the Wiltshire plains henge.

The mapping of 5000 year old actions and peoples is key in trying to understand their reasons, their culture and their beliefs. In order to know, we need proof. Truth requires evidence.

But 5000 years after the fact, what is truth? And how can it be proven, beyond reasonable doubt?

In my diary I wrote: “Archeologist has a theory. Does some digging and geo-chemical analysis, and draws a pretty staggering conclusion. I know I’m simplifying, I know the programme simplified it but how in the hell can they be sure of anything that old? Could it not be a stone circle from some other blue stone? How do they know all this stuff? Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that, but how much can we take for truth here? And what is really just an estimated guess?” I’ve underlined the words ‘sure’, ‘know’, and ‘truth’.

In a post-truth age of battling stories and versions of events, historical accusations of miscarriages of justice, and of the rich and powerful, stand shoulder to shoulder with conspiracy theorists, influencers, and outright liars who hide behind the flag of free speech for the repressed. Does this mean my ability to trust evidence is ruined by the new normal of non-truth? Or does it mean I’m simply a child of my time nurturing a healthy amount of scepticism and critical thinking?

In some cases, always guided by instinct and opinion, I’m more certain on where to stand: the Trump scattergun, the Dominic Cummings machine, the Harvey Weinstein accusations, or even the Steven Avery case. Others are harder: the Allen – Farrow feud, the Freshwater Five case, UFO sitings, or the Stonehenge bluestones. What am I to believe here? And even if I know what to believe, what to trust: what does it mean?

Knowing a few more facts about these stones – or a case, conflict or statement – does that really mean we know the truth? We will still never be able to fully know what the Neolithic peoples of early Britain thought or believed. Too much time and too many lives have passed between us and them for it ever to be possible to know anything with certainty.

But in the mystery, in the ambiguity of meaning and within the guessing and imagining itself, there is beauty. It can be frustrating and far from perfect, but as a writer it’s exactly what interests me: what does it mean?

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