This morning, I was reading a news piece about Stone Henge, and it got me thinking about ancient relics and historic sites in worldbuilding.
Do you have any ancient monuments in your world? Weather-beaten standing stones, ancient halls, temples, palaces, great statues or obelisks. Do your people know who built them, or when, or why?
They might come from a time long forgotten, and stand as mysterious objects that no one understands, or knows the significance of. They might come from an ancient civilisation that had knowledge far beyond those living now. Advanced technology, or medicine, or scientific understanding. This knowledge can be lost, or forgotten, or it might have been eradicated by war or persecution.
They may be relics from long-dead religions, books written in extinct languages that few can read. Or that no one can. Monuments to gods that people have turned their backs on. (I wonder how those gods feel about that?)
Relics from a previous time might be treasured and protected, or they could be torn down and destroyed. Studied, or feared. What myths and legends surround them? What superstitions?
An ancient site might be the focus of pilgrims, travelling thousands of miles to be healed, to seek enlightenment, or to walk in ancient footsteps. It might be a cursed place; feared and avoided. Or it might be lost and forgotten. Perhaps people still hunt for it, while some deny its existence. Perhaps they walk past, over, or under it every day without even knowing it’s there.
An ancient relic or curse can be the catalyst that begins your hero’s journey or quest, or it can be one of the many obstacles they face along the way. It doesn’t need to be a passive piece of the background, it can take a central part, or even become a character in itself.
When you’re creating your world, don’t just think about how your people got to where they are today. Also think about what previous generations left behind. What endured, and what didn’t. And what effect it has on the modern world.