Beyond the brink: Beachy Head as a climbing landscape


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Gilchrist, Paul (2012) Beyond the brink: Beachy Head as a climbing landscape International Journal of the History of Sport, 29 (10). pp. 1383-1404. ISSN 0952-3367

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This article closely interrogates the cultural meanings and embodied history of climbing Beachy Head on the south coast of England. The history is traced through the escapades and accounts of leading protagonists, such as Edward Whymper and the famed occultist and mystic Aleister Crowley. The article contends that Beachy Head offers an enduring topography of mortal terror which can be seen through Romantic depictions of the cliffs in art and literature in the early nineteenth century and in the semiotic meanings attributed to the Head by climbers as they negotiate the steep and crumbling face. The article argues that an enduring ‘chronotopic’ relationship between climber and surface, geography and memory, persists on the Head; its dark reputation as a famed suicide spot is reaffirmed in the embodied agency of adventure climbers as they activate topological memories of British Alpinism at the site and so continue to mark it as a perilous space defined by risk and victimhood in ways that limit its wider sporting appropriation.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Beachy Head; climbing; landscape; Alpinism; Aleister Crowley
Subjects: L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology
L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology > L311 Sport and Leisure
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1080/09523367.2011.648620
Faculties: Faculty of Education and Sport > Chelsea School
Depositing User: Converis
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2012 11:13
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2015 15:31

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