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David Charles Harvey

Managing the future of the past: images of Exmoor landscape heritage

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  • Timothy Wilkinson, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  • David Harvey
Tarr Steps is a footbridge across a river but it also bridges two temporal
landscapes: the present and the ‘deep past’. Although the origins of the site
are uncertain, the bridge is often represented as objectively authentic and
‘ancient’. The historicity of this claim is challenged by secondary production
of the site. We unpack the discursive construction of the bridge and argue
that Tarr Steps’ connection to the deep past is a cultural imaginary based
on a selective interpretation of its morphology. This imaginary connection
authenticates representation of the site as resembling the origin of a sequence
of cultural evolution in Britain. We explore implications of this in relation to
three metaphors of landscape used in the cultural heritage management tool
called Historic Landscape Characterisation. In so doing, we raise questions
about the future of the past, specifically in terms of the conceptualisation of
temporality, authenticity and the politics of representation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLandscape Research
Pages (from-to)862-879
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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