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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Letters to the Editor --
Comments on Chairman's letter (February).
by Vincent Rendel.

Dear Sir,

May I make some comments upon the Chairman's letter in your February issue?

I applaud his wish for "tolerance and understanding" and the need for a "shared experience." But, au dessus de la melee, neither a scholar nor a field archaeologist but only an excessively elderly lawyer with an interest in "local history" and a distaste for dogma, I must record that my own experience in the realm of Kentish archaeology has been that "the young" are much readier to share with outsiders their "burning enthusiasm" than "the establishment" its "wisdom and knowledge." The "personality cult"? Well, I am no prosopographer and an anti-Namierite.

Let me continue my own sermon by saying that I am continually being shocked, irritated or amused (according to the state of my liver) by the disdain of those who practise one discipline for those who practise another. Philologists smack down topographers, Anglo-Saxon experts have no use for classical scholars, archaeologists brush aside historians. Field archaeologists in particular tend to believe that they are "scientists," that there are manifestations called "facts" which they alone are competent to recognise as such and that in the absence of those manifestations "conjecture" and "speculation" are positively disreputable. These are childish fantasies. "What is truth?" said jesting Pilate. Every lawyer (practising a discipline which, if not "scientific," involves at least an evaluation of evidence and some knowledge of the human race) knows that a good deal turns upon the character of the witness and upon the quality of what he is pleased to call his mind.

Yours faithfully,

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