April 19th, 2021


Whoniversaries 19 April

i) births and deaths

19 April 2011: death of the much missed Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith (companion to Third and Fourth Doctors, 1973-76; various appearances from then on, culminating in her own series from 2007 to 2011).

ii) broadcast anniversaries

19 April 1969: broadcast of first episode of The War Games. The Tardis lands in what appears to be a first world war battlefield, and the Doctor is sentenced to death by firing squad.

19 April 1975: broadcast of first episode of Revenge of the Cybermen. The Doctor, Harry and Sarah arrive at Space Beacon Nerva to find many dead crew members, a mysterious golden asteroid and Cybermats.

19 April 2002: webcast of "Death Comes to Time, Part 1", which is, confusingly, the eleventh episode of Death Comes to Time.

19 April 2008: broadcast of Planet of the Ood. The Doctor and Donna visit the Ood Sphere and liberate the Ood from their human masters.

19 April 2010: broadcast of The Black Hunger, fifteenth episode of the Australian K9 series. The Department is using an alien device which literally eats rubbish. Darius sees an opportunity to make some money and snatches the device. However the alien virus inside escapes and threatens to devour everything it touches.

19 April 2020: webcast of Farewell, Sarah Jane. Filmed in pandemic lockdown, shown on the ninth anniversary of Lis Sladen's death, this was elegiac and appropriate. (Given that Sacha Dhawan fimed the segments featuring his partner Anjli Mohindra, is this the first Doctor Who to be partly filmed by the Master?)

iii) date specified in-universe

19 April 2011: setting of most of Closing Time (Eleventh Doctor).

Kathedralen uit de steentijd, by Herman Clerinx

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Een allée couverte is meer rechthoekig dan een gewone dolmen, die over het algemeen redelijk vierkant is. De ingang bevindt zich aan één van de twee smalle uitein-den. De twee lange zijkanten en het uiteinde waar de ingang zich niet bevindt, bestaan uit grote, platte, rechtopstaande stenen of draagstenen. Oorspronkelijk was de ruimte tussen de rechtopstaande stenen vaak gevuld met kleinere keien, of stopstenen, maar daarvan blijft na al die duizenden jaren niet veel over. Bij de Belgische dolmens zie je er alvast niets meer van. A gallery grave is more rectangular than a regular dolmen, which is generally fairly square. The entrance is at one of the two narrow ends. The two long sides and the end where the entrance is not located consist of large, flat, upright stones or orthostats. Originally the space between the upright stones was often filled with smaller boulders, or stopstenen, but not much of them remains after all those thousands of years. You don't see them at all with the Belgian dolmens.
Having hugely enjoyed the same author's book on Roman remains in the Benelux, I was delighted to find that he had also written this on the megalithic monuments of Belgium and the Netherlands (I didn't spot anything about Luxembourg). It's shorter (160 pages rather than 400), because there is much less to say. The first hundred pages look at the lore around the ancient stones, looking at mythology, history and the evidence from archaeology, not just locally but also in France, Britain and Ireland. The last sixty are a gazetteer to the Belgian and Dutch monuments themselves. This breaks down pretty easily geographically, because almost all of the megaliths in the Netherlands are hunebedden in the province of Drenthe, which are found nowhere else. (There's a few other bits and bobs near Eindhoven and Maastricht.)

I was pleased to see that I have been to at least half of the Belgian megaliths, though I am keen to fill out my list. (Maybe even next weekend.) I wish that Clerinx had also said a bit more about tumuli, of which we have several in the woods near us. I remain deeply sceptical of the widely held theory that most portal tombs were originally covered with earth or stones, which have worn off or been taken away over the years; I don't really see how that could work as a natural process, and I don't see why people would not have removed the large stones as well as the small. Clerinx points out that in fact relatively few of them seem to be associated with burials.

One interesting point: archaeology in the Netherlands is restricted to rescue digs on sites that are about to be destroyed by new construction, of buildings or roads or whatever. Since the Hunebedden are not under threat, there has been very little archaeological investigation of them. I realise that since so much of the land surface of the Netherlands has literally been brought above the waves in the last thousand years, there's not perhaps as much to find as in most countries, but it still seems to me that the Dutch are missing a trick here by ignoring relatively undisturbed environments.

Anyway, well worth tracking this down. I see that Clerinx has a more recent book, looking at megalithic Europe more widely, but meanwhile you can get this here.