The Thousand Year Old Boy
The thousand year old boy
In 2006, a group of cavers made exciting archaeological discoveries in a cave in the Burren, a unique limestone landscape in the West of Ireland.
A poignant revelation was also made: the 3,000 year old skeleton of a child. They were able to extract DNA from these Bronze Age remains. The Archaeologists tested this DNA against 150 children from a local school. One boy was an exact match. It turns out that he lives in a house less than one mile from the cave.
This story captivated me and led me to question whether a landscape could hold the individual and collective stories of those that pass over it?
Could a landscape hold the stories of this one boy and the subsequent generations that carried his DNA? Is this rocky landscape really just compressed time, made up of fragmented lives, both organic and inorganic?
As I was expecting my first child while working on this project, I wondered what story would I write on the landscape with such a small ephemeral time-frame? What kind of landscape could exist here in another 3,000 years?
In my work, I use the writer, Tim Robinson’s idea of the ‘adequate step’, where each step in the landscape takes note of geology, biology, myths, history and politics of the landscape. It allows an allegorical landscape full of the intangible to exist. Tim's map of the Burren was also the guide that I used to mark out my own adequate step.
The thousand year old boy explores the Burren as an ancient place, a landscape that acts as a silent witness to the lives of those who have gone before, holding their memories and stories.
The title comes from an experimental music piece by Roger Doyle, an Irish composer whose music explores imagined world music – past, present and future.