Punk Archaeology – Can You Dig it?

There was a bit of a discussion on Twitter about whether punk should be commemorated with blue plaques and nostalgia walks:

“Join your guide Aidan McManus as he brings it to life and introduces you to the seminal historic punk characters and sites. The Clubs, Marquee, Vortex,100, Roxy, Louise’s and Notre Dame Hall,
Strip club gigs, inspirational market stalls and boozers,where was the first Sex Pistols gig? Crash pads, Lesbian club hangouts and The Jam having run ins with the law, this tour has it all!!”    http://www.flipsidelondontours.com/soho-punk-tour.html

For those who were there in the late 1970s, it may seem like it’s contrary to the whole spirit of punk, but for younger generations, the passing of time has made punk a fascinating object of study. We punkgirls were just too young to have been there, so we look forward to doing a ‘punk walk’ to see the blue plaques sometime soon.

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There are flea markets, record fairs and charity shops where you can dig like an archaeologist and maybe find an old 7″ gem or an original piece of clothing, but did you know that punk archaeology is really a thing?

One of the most interesting examples of punk archaeology is shown in this film by Catherine Shaw about the work by Professor John Schofield from The University of York.

John Lydon lived in a bedsit on Denmark Street, London when the Sex Pistols began and the caricatures of himself and friends still exist, preserved by Historic England.

Professor Schofield said: “It had been described as scribblings and graffiti on the walls so we didn’t really know what to expect. But I was very surprised – a lot of the caricatures are very accomplished. They are very clever, very funny ‘Bash Street Kids’-style caricatures of the main characters involved with the band.”

NO FUTURE from Catherine Shaw on Vimeo.

“My view is that anything can be investigated in an archaeological way. It doesn’t matter if you are standing in a cave looking at 30,000- year-old paintings, or you are standing in a building in London looking at 40-year-old paintings made by a Sex Pistol.

“You are looking at marks someone has made on a wall. They have made them for a reason and there are various questions around how and why they made those marks, but these are standard questions an archaeologist would ask, no matter the circumstances. The timescale is irrelevant.” John Schofield

Professor John Schofield with some of the Sex Pistols artwork. Credit Ian Martindale
Professor John Schofield with one of the Lydon cartoons


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Here at punk girl diaries, we don’t mind any amount of nostalgia and punk archaeology. Let’s just see the punkgirls on the plaques, please!

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