The Soldiers at Stonehenge exhibition (which we featured earlier here) opened yesterday at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre with this early black and white footage of World War I soldiers beamed onto the Monument’s stones. While no-one can deny that the footage is dramatic, is this really the way to commemorate those who fell in the Great War or to treat one of the world’s most iconic ancient monuments?
It’s not the first time that an ancient monument has been used as an advertising board; in the last few years both the Cerne Abbas Giant and the Uffington White Horse have been used in advertising stunts. More recently, we highlighted how Morrisons, the UK supermarket chain, beamed a baguette advert onto the Angel of the North sculpture by Antony Gormley (the supermarket later apologised after anger grew over its decision to use the sculpture as a billboard).
We can’t help thinking that English Heritage’s decision to beam footage of World War I soldiers is motivated more towards attracting people to its current Soldiers at Stonehenge exhibition than actually paying homage to those men and women who never returned to their homelands from that terrible conflict on foreign soil.
Worrying too is that this use of ancient monuments and works of art may set a dangerous trend where a, ‘If attracts the punters let’s go for it.’ mind-set becomes acceptable. A mind-set that stands in stark contrast to the gentle appeal by the people of Twyford to save their Town Hall (see below) and its associations with World War I.