Saturday, March 27, 2010

Things that catch the eye

First red tailed bumblebee I've seen in Essex so far

This rather beautiful Japanese goldwork on a dress taken from a whole book on goldwork, absolutely fascinately but all in Japanese!

Taken from William Robinson 'English Garden Flowers, I love these engravings on steel plate.

The pansies exploded into colour this week in the garden, gorgeously shaded with dark cross faces, and the little lemon viola seen above.
Robinson devotes two pages to these flowers, they are of course developed from the wild violet (or heartsease), that should be appearing in the woods soon. These alpine flowers (Robinson calls them this precious race of mountaineers) were once common throughout Britain, but not so now, the hybrid pansies, developed in Belgium in the 19th century are a useful filler in the garden in early spring. There is a great list of the viola, pansies and heartease bred in the 19th century, probably many lost now, though hopefully not sweet violet - V. odorata

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roman Temple at Bath

In Britain are Hot Springs adorned with sumptous splendour for the use of mortals. Minerva is patron Goddess of this; Solinus 3rd century AD

Relief sculpture of Celtic Head at Aqua Sulis

 His head, his probably one of the finest relief sculptures of a Celtic head in Britain. It is set in the centre of a pediment and is wreathed round with twining oak leaves. There are various symbolic pieces on the rest of the pediment.

Firstly there is an owl sitting atop a helmet in the right hand corner of the frieze, recalling Minerva's bird. There are also various bits that are seen to relate to the tritons, half men, half fish who serve the god Neptune. The head is often referred to as a gorgon's head ( medusa type) these heads were often placed on temple porticos, eaves of buildings, and shields. Ann Ross in her book Celtic Realms also emphasises the strong symbolic imagery of the "tete coupee" of the Gaulish head, which in some ways it bears a striking resemblance to. The two cultures having been blended by a skilful (probably from France) craftsman. It shows the strong celtic influence that existed side by side within the roman period of this part of the country.

Gorgon heads depicted snakes/serpents in the hair but were also found to be linked with healing springs. This head also has a pair of wings, that can be seen in the photograph .So here the craftsman cleverly combined classic roman" gorgon" imagery with the deep symbolism of the "divine head" of the Gauls. The complexity comes though in that Medusa is female whereas here we have a male head. The head would have presented a striking appearance to the people coming to the temple. Its powerful imagery set above the doorway, would imply to the native inhabitants, that they were leaving the sunlit world of their day to day existence and entering into a dark liminal"otherworld" of the celtic culture. This of course would be further enhanced by the hot steamy waters of the spring, and perhaps the "eternal" fire that was part of the temple. A psychological religious drama that the romans were clever enough to combine with their many gods. Aqua Sulis as Bath was called, is named after a celtic goddess Sulis but there is no representation of her, all we have is Minerva, goddess of craft.

The head of the Roman goddess Minerva

This great gilded bronze statue would have probably stood centrally in the temple by the spring and overlooking the sacrificial altar......From Ovid's 'Fasti', commemorating the festival of Quinquatrus, Minerva's birthday Dies admoniet et forti sacrificare deae, quod est illa nata Minerva. (This day reminds us to sacrifice to the strong goddess, for today is Minerva's birthday). Minerva is the daughter of Jupiter and Metis, she was the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce and crafts.

Relief of the Goddess Minerva
She is usually depicted in roman imagery wearing a coat of mail and a helmet and carrying a spear. The Aqua Sulis Minerva has holes on top of the head which would probably have held a helmet. There is no depiction of the Sulis goddess, but her presence is known by the dedications made to her....

"I have given to Minerva the Goddess Sulis the thief who has stolen my hooded cloak whether slave or free, whether man or woman. He is not to redeem this gift unless with his blood.
Priscus, son of Toutus, stonecutter, of the Carnutes Tribe, to the Goddess Sul, willingly and deservedly fulfils his vow)
Quintus Pompeius to Sul Anicetus;

To the Sulevi, Sulinus Scultor, son of Bricetus willingly and deservedly made this sacred offering. (Taken from Roman Britain on the web)

Sulis has two altar stones dedicated to Sulis and Minerva, and six without Minerva. The Sulevi dedication, is probably the attribution of the three celtic goddesses that are found under this name on the continent. The coupling with the god Anicetus is interesting, on Wikpedia it states that he might be the equivalent of the British Apollo, on the continent he is found as Apollo Anicetus, also as Sol Invictus, Mithras Anicetus at Rudchester, combining Roman, Greek, Celtic German, and Persian this time. Noting that he has been conflated with Sol (sun) it may be interesting to speculate whether this had anything to do with Sulis at Bath being partly a sun goddess. One of the dedications is by a Haruspex named Memor, a person who foretold the future by divining the entrails of sacrificed animals;

Celtic Sulevia - plural form Sulevia or Sule there are 40 inscriptions distributed in the celtic world. They are distinguished from the Matres and have in their meaning "those who govern well" but they are also though cojoined with the Matres at Colchester.

The Matres, though seen as roman goddesses also probably stemmed from the celtic religion, they are often depicted with one breast bare, a basket and children, there is a good example at Cirencester; It is interesting to note that the small plaque with three unknown goddesses may in fact be the celtic equivalent of the Matres.

Celtic women probably had a more equal status than their roman counterparts, one has only to think of Queen Cartimandu or Boudicca to understand that women could rule and were part of the druidic way of life, they are mentioned in classical writing as being prophetesses. This is mentioned in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae but Strabo's description of women, Cimbrian priests, gives a vivid portrayal of their gory role in sacrificing prisoners of war by cutting their throats and then by inspecting the entrails would foretell the victory of their countrymen. (Miranda Green- Druids). She also mentions Veleda the prophetess.

Tacitus in His Histories tells of this person that she was immured in a high tower and that a relative would be deputed to transmit questions and answers, "as if were mediating between a god and his worshipper. A small statue of a goddess found in a well at Caerwent, Romano-Britain town, shows a crude seated female figure with hands clasped. .... describes them thus; " Among all the Gallic peoples, generally speaking, there are three sets of men who are held in exceptional honour; The Bards, the Vates, and the Druids. The bards are singers and poets; the Vates, diviners and natural philosphers; whilst the Druids, in addition to natural philosophy study also moral philosophy". There are druidic women also mentioned in the classical sources.

So if we are to build up a mental picture of the goddess Sulis, it is perhaps not wise to think in terms of the beautiful classical roman goddesses, whose romantic encounters with the gods are the stuff fairytales are made of. It is well to remember that the celts worshipped the forces of nature, such as Taranis the god of thunder,
Sulis if the word is explored can also mean Suil (old Irish for eye or gap) is 'sun'. The "Gap of the waters" could be interpreted as a place to descend into the underworld. Solar worship was also part of the celtic religion, and this area has bronze age evidence of sun worship in the sun disc found on Lansdown. So our goddess might have several roles, keeper of the healing waters of the shrine, a person who also had command over death and the underworld.....

Mercury and Rosmerta with the three cucullati at their feet

and perhaps also the sun Mercury and his Celtic consort Rosmerta, with the three Genii Cucullati at their feet; his small relief depicts the god Mercury and a native celtic goddess Rosmerta, they can also be found at Nettleton Shrub, a romano british shrine dedicated to Apollo and probably a healing shrine like Aqua Sulis, a few miles away Mercury as a roman god is well known


but he was seemingly adopted by the celts as well, as Caesar says; "of all the gods they most worship Mercury. He has the largest number of images, and they regard him as the inventor of all the arts, as their guide on the roads and in travel, and as chiefly influential in making money and in trade. Mercury came to prominence in the 3rd c BC, he is seen as the god of trade, profit and commerce. His attributes are winged shoes, a winged hat (petasos) and a caduceaus - winged staff with two snakes entwined around it. His celtic consort Rosmerta, on the left, can be seen as a native territory deity, her name means "good provider" and she may appear with a basket of fruit, or Mercury's purse. Reading Miranda's Green (The Gods of the Celts), she identifies the little animal by the side of the Cucullati as a ram, and if the three Genii Cucullati are interpreted as mother figures, both the ram and the Cucullati are seen as representing fertility. There is a fairly worn relief of three Genii with a mother goddess found in the following link at Cirencester; there is also a more stylised depiction of just the three hooded men at the same link. There is also another badly worn relief scupture of Mercury at the Roman Bath Museum, this time it is of a single naked figure, with what looks like a bag in the right hand, though again it could be the top of the staff.

Hand holding thunderbolt (Taranis the Thunderer)

In all this it is sometimes unwise to rely on the stories of classical writers, the myth being translated down through the centuries.

Relief fragment of Diana and Hound

This is a particularly fine relief of the hound, but Diana seems to have disappeared, it must be compared to the Nettleton Shrub relief, which is to be found in the essay "The Temple of Apollo" further down. The Roman Diana is often represented in a short skirt as a huntress and her companion is not a dog but a deer, therefore the celtic version seems to favour the hunting hound as the companion, and as dogs seems to be important to Iron Age Britain - they were after all one of the riches that Caesar speaks of when he comes to Britain - again that wonderful blending of images to local beliefs seem to have happened. Also it must not be forgotten that dogs were probably sacrificed as well.

Penultimately, there are two more paired gods to speak of. There was an altar to Mars Loucetius and Nemetona (Mars Loucetius means brilliant Mars) which of course relates to the "sacred grove" and has many place names on the continent and also here in Britain. Mars Loucetius not only has a roman god in its name but also a celtic one. Starting with Mars who although a deity of war, is also a deity of agriculture, protection and healing has been combined with the celtic god of lightening. Pairing the lightening god with the sacred grove goddess and we have trees.

Drunemeton means sacred oak groves, so the idea of great oaks struck by lightening is a pretty vivid image. The blending of two different sets of gods, and how it was done, we will never know, perhaps because such things were not read about by the populace, it was the priests who transformed the ideas of the cosmic world into its natural and human world imagery. Religion is a form of control and yet the natural world is not controllable, foolishly sacrificing creatures so that luck would prevail is a very superstitious custom, but occasionally it would be nice to go back in history and view all the endless dicussions that must have taken place as to how to interpret the gods. Or were all those celtic and roman priests cynically playing the power game to subdue the local populace.

The three celtic matres/ geni cucullati?

The three celtic goddesses. This small votive plaque was found at Bathampton Down. It must represent the equivalent of the three roman matres relief sculpture that can be found at Cirencester,. It is obviously early and fairly crudely portrayed. Three is of course one of the "magic" numbers that are found in Celtic literature, and it must also be remembered that in this south west area, the three hooded spirits genii cucullati are also found so its symbolism may cover several aspects. Not forgetting of course, the old stone religion of the three faces of the mother goddess figure - crone, maiden and mother, though of course this is only a theory and can never be proved. Its interesting because of its native appearance, no hint of romanisation, the heads though joined at the same level at the shoulders are all different, it maybe that it has something to do with the gaulish Sulivae.
The Luna goddess was also worshipped at Bath, she is traditionally associated with fertility, there were parts of a priest's headdress together with a moon shaped pendant found in the excavations.

Note; The following photo shows a head from Bath Museum, this head is of a roman matron, probably from a stone tomb, depicting an elaborate coiffured head found in Walcot street; there are a couple of places on the web that describe the latter head as Minerva - not true says she.

This is the Luna goddess, shown here with the other Roman depiction of females, mainly because of her hair style; she is represented by several names in the Greek/Roman myths, the moon frames a rather mutiliated face and she holds some kind of staff.. The next photos will be a miscellany of what else was at Bath Museum

The fiery hot roman springs

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ted Hughes

An announcement this morning Ted Hughes is to have a memorial in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey, as he is one of my favourite poets I'm not surprised, which poem illustrates him best? Pike or Hawk perhaps ..
It is only 12 years since his death but Ted Hughes is to be recognised as one of Britain's greatest artists as a memorial is erected to him in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner.
The memorial for Hughes, who was Poet Laureate from 1984 until he died from cancer in 1998, will lie in the south transept, alongside monuments for William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake and T S Eliot. He is the first poet to be so commemorated since Sir John Betjeman's memorial was erected in 1984.
The decision to place memorials in the Abbey rests with the Dean of Westminster, Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said not every Poet Laureate was granted the honour.
"Deciding within a few years of people's deaths that they will be remembered in hundreds of years' time is of course impossible. And yet, it is sometimes right to make such a decision, as deans have done over the centuries. By no means every Poet Laureate has been commemorated in Poets' Corner. But the overwhelming weight of advice I have received suggests that this is the right decision," he said.......
In the dark violin of the valley
All night a music
Like a needle sewing body
And soul together, and sewing soul
And sky together and sky and earth
Together and sewing the river to the sea.

In the dark skull of the valley
A lancing, fathoming music
Searching the bones, engraving
On the draughty limits of ghost
In an entanglement of stars.

In the dark belly of the valley
A coming and going music
Cutting the bed-rock deeper

To earth-nerve, a scalpel of music

The valley dark rapt
Hunched over its river, the night attentive
Bowed over its valley, the river

Crying a violin in a grave
All the dead singing in the river

The river throbbing, the river the aorta

And the hills unconscious with listening.
Taken from Three Books -Remains of Elmet, Cave Birds, River by Ted Hughes

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wood Anemone - Anemone Nemerosa

This bank of anemones can be found on the track that runs through the Nettleton Shrub valley by  the little brook.

This photo shows the delicate wood (or wind) anemone with its finely dissected leaves, it nestles amongst dog mercury, a woodland plant which is supposedly an indicator of old woods. But it is the white starry anemone that is the subject. Apparently, according to Marjorie Blamey (The Illustrated Flora) there is a yellow one as well. It belongs to the somewhat larger family of pasque flowers, monkshoods and that dainty elegant flower of the garden - larkspur.

Grigson has many local names for the anemone, bread and cheese and cider, candlemas cap, chimney smocks, drops of snow, Moll o' the woods, moon-flower and so it goes on..

Its actual name of anemone is borrowed from the Greek legend of Anemone Coronia, because the flowers nod and shake in the wind, and the Greeks called it Daughter of the Wind.
And to pasque flowers, they have become garden flowers because of their beauty, pasque of course since it blooms at Easter, William Turner gives an apt description...

The firste of these Passe flowers hath many small leaves finely cut or jagged, like those of carrots; among which rise up naked stalkes, rough and hairie; whereupon do grow beautiful flowers bell fashion, of a bright delaid purple; in the bottom whereof groweth a tuft of yellow thrums (stamens) and in the middle of the thrums thrusteth foorth a small purple pointell; when the whole flower is past there succeedeth an head or knoppe, compact of many graie hairie lockes, and in the solid parts of the knops lieth the seede flat and hoarie, every seede having his own small haire hanging from it'

A concise description of a flower that I have never been able to grow, though it has acquired the name of Dane's Blood or Dane's Flower, (unusual beauty deserves unusal origins says Grigson)
But it did grow on the Devil's Dyke and Fleam Dyke which were associated with the Danes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yellow Archangel - Galeobdalon luteum

Well to the naming of things, Grigson says of the yellow archangel 'that it is one of the prettiest woodland flowers' so why is it called Weasel's nose, weasel - snout?(which means weasel-stench)
In Somerset we have bee-nettle, dumb-nettle, snuff candle; Wiltshire - stingy-wingies. Notts; dead-nettle, deaf and dumb.....
Grigson muses on the name archangel, why so, as a dead-nettle it does'nt sting is one answer. The above photo shows a dead horse-tail frond, which gives it an instant location in my mind. Up on the Lansdown, down a little track to a small copse of trees, if you were to take a very small overgrown path to the left, there is a great patch of horse - tail (supposedly bought to this country by the Romans), and it is here that the deer can occasionally be found.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Loss of biodiversity

The names alone should cause anyone whose heart still beats to stop and look again. Blotched woodwax. Pashford pot beetle. Scarce black arches. Mallow skipper. Marsh dagger. Each is a locket in which hundreds of years of history and thousands of years of evolution have been packed. Here nature and culture intersect. All are species that have recently become extinct in England....

As a child I watched chalk downlands, where rare orchids and wild strawberries, adonis blues and marbled whites, whitethroats and hobbies, flint pits and burial mounds had survived since the Neolithic, being wiped clean by ploughs, to produce grain that fed nothing but the subsidy mountains. Now I watch the remaining scraps of our collective memory erased to grow biofuels which produce more greenhouse gases than the petroleum they replace......

So says George Monbiot in his article on the Naming of Things, the loss in this country, let alone in the world of all those insects, birds and wild plants we allow to pass into extinction.

We should name each and everyone of these little creatures, so that their small fates will not go unheeded by us.
Yesterday I rescued a beautiful white tailed queen bee out of the water into which she had tumbled, placing her in the sun to dry under the hedge. The first warm weather brings out these gentle creatures. This morning I remembered that I had'nt started off the seeds of the white nicotiana, an evening flower for moths, the flower itself gives off a luminosity in the gathering dusk, and a sweet scent; there is also the yellow of evening primrose, no graceful creature this plant, ungainly in growth, with its yellow flowers opening one at a time up the stem, it's chief charm is the opening of the flower in the evening which you can watch as it gradually unfold, then bursts open, only to suddenly droop for a few seconds before it recovers its bloom - think of a butterfly or dragonfly leaving their chyrsalis.

The Naming of Things

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The week that was

I seem to neglect my blog nowadays more and more, other things always happening, perhaps I should keep it as a weekly diary.
First of all this week, was the demise of my partners computer. The decision whether to call someone in or buy a new one was eventually resolved and a new one sits boxed waiting to be unpacked, though I note that CPUs are fairly rare now and its all laptops on sale (mostly for high tech viewing of films and pc games). I shall inherit the old monitor which is flat-faced, or at least much thinner than the old one I have.
Today is mother's day, and greetings from my daughter this morning, my son came up from Bristol on Friday (I never get cards from him) and as I had'nt seen him for a few months it was good to see his bearded! face.
Yesterday we went to Hanningfield Reservoir and wandered a still very bleak wintry landscape, though much warmer. It was very peaceful, the geese honking overhead as they flew into the fields, birds danced along the path, a chaffinch with a blackbird, tiny perky wren played around on the logs. Long tailed tits swooped through the trees with bluetits, all common birds, though some would say not common at all. In the distance the 'laugh' of a jay, but no woodpeckers tapping away heralding spring... I spied the leaves of honeysuckle coming out and the hawthorns had tight buds, one thing I notice in Essex not many primroses, the flora is sadly lacking in these woods. Great brown drifts of dead fern cover the brambles in the woods, and there is a thick mulch of dead leaves, hardly affected by the snow we have had.

A protective drake, in a quiet pond

brown and cream, murky waters though clear, no sign of fresh growth yet

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mundon Church

This was the second place we visited yesterday, the little village of Mundon lies just outside Maldon, and I had espied this church a few months back on my map, isolated and lying low in the landscape it intrigued me. Deserted medieval village was my first thought, and probably near to the mark, as the settlement was deserted due to the plague. This is a Tudor church, built on the foundations of a Norman church, and probably Saxon beginnings given its proximity to water and it being on the St.Peter's Way pilgrimage route to St.Peter's church on the Dengie Marsh.

It will be some while before I gather my thoughts on this church, it is redundant and derelict but has been taken under the wing by Friends of Friendless Churches, yes such an organisation does exist.
The church itself was built in the moat of the old manor there, and because it was set on marshy ground, great cracks started to appear and I think it was roofless by the 18th century. It was due for demolition in the 1970s but then rescued to a point, there is still plenty of work to carried out. It is totally unusual having an apsidal entrance of timber posts and plaster to the west front entrance. The grave yard is very neglected, and the church sits next to a large farmhouse (probably the site of the old manor). The wooden south porch is also rotting to pieces though there is some fine carvings.

My partner was very taken with the place, and yet I had a feeling of unease, you can't go into the church (too dangerous), but perhaps the white skeletons of dead trees in a field towards the estuary helped give me the impression of an unhealthy place, that and of course an imagination that tends to run rife. The fields in which these enormous oak trees stood was grazed by alpacas to add to the unreal effect the place had on me. Actually the trees are relict petrified oaks, and were recorded in the Domesday book, a history on Mundon Hall farm and its enterprises can be found here .

The Battle of Maldon - Bryhtnoth

A statue of Bryhtnoth on the South wall of the church
'But English silver is not so softly won:
first iron and edge shall make arbitrement
Harsh war-trial, ere we yield tribute'

One of the earliest poems is about the battle of Maldon, in the year 991 AD as told in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The poem itself is very long and very eloquent, for it is about defeat rather than victory. Again it is about a Viking raid on the English shores, the leader was Anlaf who came with 93 ships to Folkestone and ravaged the area, and then to Ipswich and overran the whole area and thence to Maldon. And there Eleadorman Bryhtnoth and his fryd came to meet him...

The Vikings landed on Northsey Island which is a stretch of land in the estuary of the Blackwater river. Such places were easy for the Vikings to hold up in and get away should the need necessitate. Bryhtnoth, one of the five most important people in England, though elderly gathered together his men to ward off the attack of the Vikings. They met them on the banks of the estuary opposite the island, but it is here that Bryhtnoth made a terrible mistake, all to do with honour and gallantry, of course honour does not always win battles. The Vikings had to cross a causeway from the island to Maldon, and Bryhtnoth instead of fighting them on this narrow isthmus and taking them one by one chose to let the Vikings assemble in front of his own army. He also had all his horses chased away so that none of his men would retreat,

Then he bade each man let go bridles
drive far the horses and fare forward
fit thought to hand-work and heart to fighting

the battle was long and bloody, and in the end many of his followers fled, leaving a core of faithful men to fight around their lord; Bryhtnorth was killed and his men gathered round his body defending him till all were killed in the end.

Then they hewed him down, the heathen churls,
and with him those warriors, Wulfmaer and Aelfnoth,
who had stood at his side; stretched on the field
the two followers felled in death

It is a heroic tale and it is probable that the author of the poem was an eye-witness at the battle, it is written in a heartbreaking tone, the wearisome killing and fighting minutely described, the desertion of his own men, Godric, who on Bryhtnoth's death seizes his horse and rides off...

Godric turned, betrayed the lord
who had made him a gift of many good horses.
He leapt onto the harness that had been Bryhtnoth's
unrightfully rode in his place,
and with him his brothers both ran,
Godwine and Godwiy, who had no gust for fighting
they wheeled from the war to the wood's fastness,
sought shelter and saved their lives.

The following are a couple of photos from out trip yesterday to Maldon, it is a popular place, a town of small shops and lots of chinese restaurants! The church is at the highest point and much restored, it sits in a pleasant close.

these are sailing ships from the beginning of the 20th century

The Estuary as seen from a rather steep hill in Maldon, note the old barges

                                                               The side of the church

Extracts taken from Michael Alexander - The Earliest English Poems

A different version of the poem by Wilfrid Berridge -

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Severn Bore

The other night I looked out and saw a beautiful full moon in the sky and remembered the Severn Bore which is high this time of year (Autumn and Spring tides), this enormous wave that travels up the Severn often ridden by surfers. It's magical, mysterious, has it own myths from a thousand years ago, and looking at the mist that clouded the trees in these photos from the Guardian still holds a pull on the heart of those surfers.

But what of the myths? It was Nennius (9th century) in his Wonders of Britain that in a rather garbled fashion he wrote about the Severn, the second story is probably connected with the tale of the Roman soldiers who were caught on a sandbank in the middle of the estuary and drowned, to be found in Lady Elizabeth Guest's The Mabinogion book, and which I must have written about elsewhere!

'Another wonder is the Duo Rig Habren, that is the two kings of the Severn. When the sea is flooded to The Teared [the bore] within the mouth of the Severn, two waves of spume separately convene and make war between themselves in the manner of sea-rams and each proceeds to the other and they collide at one another and again withdraw one from another and again they proceed on each Teared [bore]. This they do from the initiation of the world all the way to the present day'

Another wonder....
There is another wonder: it is the confluence of Linn Liuan; the mouth of that river flows into the Severn, and when both the Severn is flooded to The Teared [the bore], and the sea is flooded similarly into the aforementioned mouth of the river, both it is received into the lake/pool of the mouth in the mode of a whirlpool and the sea does not advance up. And a bank/shore exists near the river, and so long as the Severn is flooded to The Teared [the bore] that bank/shore is not covered, and when the sea and Severn ebbs, at that time lake Liuan vomits all that it has devoured from the sea and both that bank/shore is covered and in the likeness of a mountain in one wave it spews and bursts. And if there was the army of the whole region, in the midst of where it is, and it directed its face against the wave, even the army the wave carries off through the force, by fluid full clothes. If, on the other hand, the backs of the army were turned against it, the same wave doesnt harm, and when the sea may have ebbed, then the entire bank, which the wave covers, backwards is bared and the sea recedes from it....

Of course the bore might disappear if the Severn Barrage that is proposed for the estuary is ever built, we shall see. The long history of using this fierce expanse of water is outlined in this wiki.

"We should not consider out-dated technology, which could impact on the Estuary on an unprecedented scale. Destroying the Severn Estuary – arguably the eighth natural wonder of the world – would be a deadly sin."