Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where there's life...

Gallo-Romano bridge
Two contrasting experiences this week. On a mission in Callac, I happened to find myself near the Gallo-Romano bridge, a potentially rather fine sight but reeking of neglect and insignificance in its present state. I would have thought this was something to be rather proud of anywhere, but especially in a commune not overly endowed with cultural interest. Some local people seem unaware of its existence and certainly not inclined to rate its survival high on the heritage ladder.
I visited the new Maison de la Mine in the small village of Locmaria Berrien on the last day of its summer opening. What admirable energy, goodwill and practical sense have seen the creation of this little museum by the association ASAM! The small but carefully crafted exhibition brings to life the social and economic history of the nearby lead/silver mine in the forest. The mine was once one of the largest in France and there are various visible remains on the ground which always arouse the curiosity of walkers and retired engineers. Now they can stroll or drive up to the village and find out everything about those somewhat sad remains - or better still, go to the exhibition first, in order to understand the context of what can be seen in situ. The guided visit to the display of artefacts, models and documents given by a volunteer when I was there was exceptionally good, and I hope all the immense work of the association will be rewarded with large visitor numbers next year.
I don't expect many will bother to seek out the Roman bridge or that a very small association will be formed to provide a context and assessment of its local importance. And yet money is poured into totally artificial and pretty spurious heritage like the Valley of the Saints, which garners greater publicity and interest than either the genuine article like the dying bridge or the totally laudable work of a dedicated group like ASAM who have breathed life into a real historical  project.

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