This is pure genius. Over at The Megalithic Portal, they are having a competition. Between now and May 31st, they are asking megalithomaniacs around the world to help them locate henges, barrows, mounds and the like on Google Streetview. There’s a lot of turf to cover. Two weeks ago, Google rolled out a deluxe version of Streetview in the U.K., encompassing 95% of the roads.
And the organizers aren’t just limiting the competition to good old Albion. “There are thousands of obscure and unloved standing stones, earthworks etc in roadside locations all over the world,” say the organizers. With a little crowdsourcing and a few prizes to the sharpest eyes, they hope to locate these sites for all of us on Google Earth.
What a brilliant scheme! A few months ago, I posted on the immense fun I had toodling around Pompeii for hours on Google Streetview. An astute reader then put me on to the Google views of Stonehenge, and there went another good hour as I moved around inside this wonder –something I’ve never been able to do in the real world. So the folks at Megalithic Portal hope to do us all a big favor by mapping thousands of other sites, and I think the least we can do is return the favor, by sinking a little spare time in hunting for megaliths.
I have to say, though, that I’m both touched and a little dismayed by some examples they have posted to date. At 7 Ravenswood Avenue, Edinburgh (my father’s home town), there’s a standing stone piercing the sidewalk in front of what looks to be an apartment block. It’s completely encircled by a black iron fence. I suppose the iron bars are there to protect the stone from vandals or careless parkers. But the fence reminds me a little of a miniature prison, dividing the past from the present, the mystery from the mundane, the ritual world from the real one.
Who’s really in prison here?