30th September 1971 the Death of T.C. Lethbridge

T.C. Lethbridge portrait by Black Sheep artist Hebbs

Today we honour the great British adventurer, author and hero, T.C. Lethbridge, the Cambridge University academic whose Timothy Leary-style volte-face midway through his illustrious archaeology career saw him newly transformed into a visionary of Blakean proportions. Out went the excellent but orthodox archaeology books about prehistoric boats and the lifestyles of the Picts, in came volume upon volume of highly conjectural though archaeologically-informed brainstorms, and each with a highly controversial title – The Legend of the Sons of God, Witches, Gogmagog: The Buried Gods, Ghost and Ghoul and The Power of the Pendulum. While Lethbridge’s erstwhile cronies soon kicked him out of their club, the great man found an almost Catherine Blake-like consort in his second wife, Mina, and the final twelve years of his ambitious life saw the evermore portly Lethbridge pursuing his adventures within more psychic dimensions. It could be argued that Lethbridge would have slipped into total obscurity had it not been for Colin Wilson’s masterful biography in his 1979 epic tome, Mysteries. Most of my own generation of Lethbridge fans seem to cite Wilson’s work as their first introduction to Lethbridge. Thereafter, however, the books once searched out spoke for themselves; every one was a slim gem – often of no more than 75–100 pages in length. Far from being fanciful, they were clearly the work of a man’s life experience (and a rich and cultured experience at that). Even better, when he took risks he admitted that they were risks but at all times offered to his reader a complete and highly thought-out worldview. That his legacy appears to have only been taken up by artists, rock and rollers and freaks says much about the manner in which Lethbridge portrayed himself. He was a swashbuckler. He was an Indiana Jones. He was adversarial in all things.

[Written by Julian Cope]

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