Friday, October 31, 2014


The Nutshell Studies;

Yesterday there was a radio programme by Simon Armitage the poet, on an American lady who produced rather macabre vignettes or dioramas of unsolved murder cases in Baltimore in the 1940s, and in fact these cases are still used today to train the police in America.

I recognised a fellow miniaturist, interested in both the macabre history of murder and the need to create a model of the happening, although I believe in this case, being wealthy, Frances Glessner employed a carpenter.  Well I am not so macabre, but do watch the American series of CSI and NCIS for the fascinating forensic work on the victims and which she is apparently the inspiration for, and would have liked my grandson Tom to take a forensic police course at uni, but I think he is turning his studies more to business.

Archaeology of course has the same forensic nature to the unraveling and understanding of the context of the finds, though sometimes it takes many years for the reports to come out, and now as the world changes more and more books are written on the subject.  Years ago we had an annual magazine which was  called WAM (Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine), here would be the latest news and reports on Wiltshire, there would be a general description of a site, small reports from different people on the finds and then the summing up, or 'theorising' as it is now called. 

 Archaeology has taken a different road now, most 'digs' are financed mostly by the universities, except of course those that are privately financed by companies who wish to destroy a site to build homes or a road.  The need to publicise archaeological excavation has become more important in our competitive world, books must be written, sites defended...

One thing that has become apparent with the event of the internet, is the 'selling' of information, you can purchase some articles on line at a fairly high cost, but there is plenty to find free. The Archaeology Data (English Heritage) service has just published for free 85 monograms of various reports, most I believe out of date, so reading last night a favourite 'Saxon bed burial' at Swallowcliffe in Dorset I think was quite exciting - surprising what makes me happy!

Mostly all made from scratch

The Prittlewell Saxon burial

Temporary room dressing, see how dusty it is, the dress was knitted with the finest of needles

And as it is Halloween, and according to some news yesterday that the Americans have spoiled the festival here is a blog on the Welsh tradition......
Or perhaps The Wild Hunt at Halloween, which is a much better sport than handing out sweetie to children ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Creative Commons

Magpies...What is there to say about these colourful, intelligent, playful birds.  I do not like the way they steal other bird's eggs in spring, the great squawks as they fly off in indignation pursued by a motley of defending birds.  But on the whole their presence is welcome.  My last blog covered the 'Boreham Beasts' so  right for this time of the year as Halloween approaches, with its stories of ghosts and the walking dead, in this case headless oxen and weird looking apes.  

But magpies are a favourite bird, and there is this attractive print which I love, drawn by Em, that resides in the corner of a bedroom .  But note the cluster of ancient artefacts around it, this is LS, two totally different worlds on what we see as beautiful.  I love colour, the monochrome of Japanese art (I can almost hear him  begging to differ) which is often brown does not agree with my aesthetics.
Colour, especially at this time of the year is so needed, we went to the Garden centre a couple of days ago to find some house plants, but really  for me to wander round the sparkling baubles in all shades of Xmas, reindeers flash their legs, father christmas's strut their redness and things dangle in bright silver and gold, flashy and tawdry but that is why we have this festival at this drab part of the year.
LS also cooks (we split this) in an apron with magpies on, it is of course from the famous Magpie fish and chip restaurant in Whitby, the Magpie  cooks other dishes, LS almost always has the squid whilst I partake of the delicious fish pie or perhaps sea bass.  Most people though have traditional fish and chips, with mushy peas, bread and butter and a pot of tea, and you can have a friendly conversation with the people next to you most times (the tables are very near each other due to the popularity of the restaurant).  I often wonder how different our southern accents are to these strong Northern accents, but northern people are a great deal more friendly than their southern counterparts, it is almost like another world, or at least you can begin to see the regionalisation of place in Britain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

St.Andrews Church - Boreham

 I had seen this tomb a few years back, and wanted to go again, so as the weather was warm we made the trip out, because it is just up the road.  I thought the animals  were dogs, but now on looking at them this was far from the truth, oxen and apes site at the feet and heads of the effigies.  St. Andrews church at Boreham is rather splendid, the first vicar recorded was in 1203, and there are Roman bricks used in building the church, though of course it is much restored.
Of course the statues were damaged in the Civil War by the Puritans, cannot you not imagine the locals stamping into the church, and knocking the noses off them, and then the heads of the oxen with crowns round their neck.  One almost feels that there is an element of satire going on with apes at the feet of the men, why did the apes keep their heads?
The church itself has a few faint wall paintings, all decorative......

"—of Robert Radclif, Earl of Sussex, Viscount Fitzwalter, Lord Egremont and Burnal, K.G., Great Chamberlain of England, etc., 15(4)2; and of his son, Henry Radclif, Earl, Viscount, etc., as above, K.G., Chief Justice and Justice Itinerant of all forests, parks, chases and warrens S. of the Trent, 1556/7, and of Thomas Radclif, Earl, etc. as above, K.G., Chief Justice of the forests, parks, etc., S. of the Trent, Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners and Gentlemen at Arms, etc., 1583; large altar-tomb of alabaster and black and coloured marble, each side of three panels with moulded frames and panelled pilasters; the middle panel on the E., N. and S. sides has a shield with a garter, but the former brass shields are gone; one panel on the N., S. and W. sides has an inscription; the slab has a moulded edge and bears on rush mattresses three recumbent effigies of the three Earls in enriched plate armour with peascod breast plates, swords broken, feet against couchant apes each wearing a hat; garter on left leg of each effigy, heads on cushions and behind them three couchant oxen, much mutilated, chained and collared with crowns; remains of fixing of metal chains round neck of each effigy, and traces of red colour on collar of N. effigy"

Three noble gentlemen with their noses hacked off, you can't take those Puritans anywhere!

These are three oxen at the head of the effigies, sadly they lost their heads to.

There is a certain panache about these oxen, you can see their cloven feet and tasselled tails.

All wear crowns round their necks

This is  one of the apes referred to, at the feet of the men, they kept their heads, or at least two seem to have been glued back on the third is missing.  Though it is not apparent on this photo, the monkeys wore fez hats..
The old archway with decorative panel with corresponding panel on the other side,
This is where the old abuts the new.  You can just see a buttress on the old part, mostly made of Roman brick. Also the coursing is of black pudding stone, stone had to be introduced to flint buildings to hold the flints in the mortar to the rubble wall at the back.  Essex is of course almost has no stone to speak of and flint was used quite a lot in East Anglia, sometimes knapped or just the whole flint.  Apparently 'clunch' is also used in this building (soft limestone rock).....
The detail is very fine, excellent craftmanship, even to the rush matting they lay on

Edit;  LS says why are the Earls of Sussex buried in Essex. There is a simple answer, Queen Elizabeth 1st gave the first earl Beaulieu Palace, now called NewHall, as his residence in his role as steward of the royal estates.

An elephant cries

“How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings – to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses – that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our world…Small wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs, as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds, or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us – and if they still try, we will not likely hear them.” 
― David AbramBecoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

Naamfon settling in happily 
These words are part of the rescue story of this elephant.

"As we stood in silence, smiles on our faces, we all simultaneously drew our breath and said, ‘Did you see that’?? A large tear had rolled down Naamfon’s face and down her trunk. And then there was another and another…. Then, Naamfon gently selected a sweet banana, wrapped her trunk around it, closed her eyes and lowered her head. She stood there, still as a statue for almost a minute, holding on to this one banana…. We stood, wide eyed, almost in disbelief – was she praying? Was she giving thanks? Who knows. But one thing was very clear, she was sharing an emotional moment with us..."          Highlight and right click if you want to go to her journal

This photo was taken by Peter Yuen

This story I came across yesterday, about a 63 year old elephant called Naamfon, who had been rescued by BLES in Thailand, once at the sanctuary the elephants are given a good retirement.  Naamfon owners were not cruel but had to make a living by giving 'tourist rides' on their elephants, but Naamfon was tired and broken and getting old so they let her go with many tears on their part.  I make this point because we see animals suffering but it is because the humans are also suffering....  This organisation and the Moon bears rescue centre pass through my F/B news every day, but to be honest there is a growing awareness in these Asian countries of how cruelty affects the animals, a slow but sure sign that cruel practices are being questioned and eventually right action will be taken.

As for the top quote, I shall write about Abram's book one day, at the moment reading it, some criticise his effusive writing but his description of a 'sky burial' suddenly brought a vivid picture of the Seahenge 'upturned' tree in its circle of wooden posts and it is the point of the written word to at least fill our imagination.....

Monday, October 27, 2014


Something to brighten up the day
Well no history today, life has slowed down somewhat, and we make plans to go to Whitby in November.  The cottage will need some work, there are houses to look at, LS has found  another house to view, situated between a church graveyard and the pub, we will see. Our neighbours are flying South in their motor home today to Spain for several months to ride out the winter.  They came for coffee over the weekend with a list of all contacts, it will be sad  not to see them around.  Next weekend there seems to be people coming to look at the stuff for sale in the studio. The drying boards and the workbench seem the thing most people want.  I fancy what I call the 'rolling beads'  or rosary beads as LS calls them, these are used to polish the papers  on the scrolls and perhaps the silks which will also be kept... Other stuff will go to the British Museum, there are scrolls as well to be sent to Cyprus as slowly LSs life unfolds into retirement.

Neatly wrapped in tissue paper, goodness knows what..
What else I must gather my courage and go to the Dog's Trust Rescue centre this week and look at the dogs there, this hanging on and not deciding is because of the indecision about selling this house, and of course whether it will sell and I hate the sight of those dogs waiting for owners!  Also, this has been negotiated, to buy a dog cage for the car, as the car is LSs pride and joy... I am a coward over this project, having had animals all my life, being without one for the last five years has been hard, though I have cultivated the birds in the garden to be tame but now there is no longer work in the studio the bargain was set that I could have a dog! hurrah

Though of course there are these two poppets in the garden. Meet Fleabag hiding behind the pots

As winter folds in, the things I miss most are flowers, so perhaps just the perfect form of a rose, to remind that the seasons always come round

The same rose fading into a beautiful shade of  grey-purple/

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Duality - telling stories

  • And he came his way towards a river valley, and the bounds of the valley were forest, and on either side of the river, level meadows. And one side of the river he could see a flock of white sheep, and on the other side he could see a flock of black sheep. And as one of the white sheep bleated, one of the black sheep would come across, and would be white; and as one of the black sheep bleated, one of the white sheep would come across, and would be black. And he could see a tall tree on the river bank, and the one side of it was burning from its roots to its tip, and the other half with green leaves on it.
    • "Peredur son of Efrawg" (Jones and Jones, 1989, p. 211)

The Voyage of Maldun;  There is an Irish Celtic story about this young man Maldun who sets forth to avenge a death, during his journey he comes across many islands, mythical places  in which to have adventures with red eared cows and giant horses that eat each other.  But there is a small story about black and white sheep, and I have read a different version than this one, but to put it simply in its narrative, the shepherd had two flocks of sheep, one was white, the other black, and every now and then he turns one  sheep around from flock to flock and this turns them from black to white.  Now you can ponder that story, and its implied philosophical thought, and in this instance this interpretation taken from this blog....

 "On this island, the duality of black and white is reconciled, and it is demonstrated how things are far more shifting and fluid than that. This then is the nature of the Otherworld; it reconciles duality. 
 Due to this nature of the Otherworld it would be impossible to say that it is very distant, because in the same breath we must also acknowledge the closeness of the Otherworld. To dwell solely in either of the two extremes would be to deny its own nature. Certain psychologies might tend to identify the Otherworld with our psyche; the inner realm of the human mind and soul, and that the going-ons there are reflective of our own processes. Other people might lean towards the more spiritual or mystical understanding of the Otherworld as an actual place, a spirit-world, inhabited by very real beings. However, I think that neither of these views are incorrect. Both are attempts to pigeon-hole the Otherworld into one or another extreme; real or imaginary. We have seen from the island of the black and white sheep, however, that the distance between these seeming opposites is only as far as the other flock. What is actually important is that no matter how we understand the Otherworld, in all the stories in which it plays a part, those who experience it are transformed."

The quotation at the top is also of a second duality, this time the burning tree, one half burns the other half stays green,, Conjure that image in the mind for a while, this time the interpretation is of the two sides of the year, the dark side or winter, which we are now entering, and the light side of spring and summer.  All these Celtic myths were translated from the early Christian church monks copying the tales of the pagan world, And it must not be forgotten that christianity also placed its belief system on a whole lot of stories from the past, conjured from thin air? who knows but less spiritual than the pagan world strangely and this paganism has its roots in nature and the creatures that lived alongside the humans, so different from the all powerful god who dominated the Christian world with its tales of sin and redemption.
So although I love these stories, even if it just to muse on them and venture into a world of strange creatures, the thing that brought it to mind was a story in this modern world.  When the M3 motorway beneath the  Hill of Tara was eventually built it is well to remember that a lot of people were angry about this assault on a 'sacred place' the same romantic urge to protect and save a history ran through their veins.  A video records some of the images that flowed through this time, a time when I followed this news with a sinking heart because, as you will see from the security guards that surrounded the protestors this road would be built!  Carmel Diviney one of the protestors has just written a book on the subject 'Tara Calling', to be released in the early days of November, it is well to record modern history as well,,,,,,

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Found at Spong Hill Saxon Cemetery

"First of all, I suggested that the repeated choice of an urn at all – regardless of its precise decoration – was a significant ritual act. I proposed that the urn provided a new corporeality for the deceased; a new ‘skin’ and ‘surface’ that countermanded the fiery destruction of the cremation pyre. I also suggested that the selective inclusion of toilet implements and combs with the cremated dead was connected to the idea that the post-cremation treatment of the ‘cremains’ – involving location, choice of pot and artefact deposition – was about body-building. The cremated dead were revitalised, regenerated and incorporated into an ancestral community through the act of burial in a vessel. In short, the regular choice of an urn at all, was as important as the subtle variations in size, shape and decoration upon vessels."

Howard Williams Blog

If you were to look at my posts there are an awful lot of drafts I note down as my mind drifts through the day.  The above comes from a blog on the net, my reading at the moment is Britain After Rome - Robin Fleming, and she had mentioned the large Spong Hill Saxon cemetery (5th to 6th century AD) at Elmham in East Anglia.  Moving to this side of Britain - the East, has given me a picture of England that is probably more 'foreign' than I realised.  If you have ever read Daniel Defoe's poem on the mongrel nature of the Englishman/woman than you will understand my sense of excitement as I come across the Saxon and the Viking in the churches around here.

Years ago I had been to Spong Hill with the archaeologist in charge, and who has written  a book about the finds, but at over £100 is a little out of my pocket.  At the time we were excavating at the large monastic complex at Castle Acre, and I had only just had my son, a small baby of two weeks, so my ex-husband  had said I could work, though not drawing so I did the wages of the 50 or so volunteers (yes they got paid in those days), and handled the million and one problems that our volunteers encountered.... 

Delving all over the net for pictures of the urns did not really turn up anything, except on the above person's blog, so I shall put some different photos on found in an old book, which as we know circumscribes the 75 year rule of attribution.

The dead in fact according to William's theory were in fact being 'regenerated' and given a new skin and surface.  My mind took a double take, are we as vividly dead as we are alive, did the combs, brooches and often animals who accompanied the cremated pagan Saxon people, point to another 'otherworld', was this hope or a gentle belief easing us into death, a place we could dream of, that moment we look up into the vast universe and try and count the stars, imagine ourselves floating around in space.
Perhaps such optimism is a necessity, but that it should reflect in the spiritual world the things we use in this world is somehow strangely sweet, the hair to be combed, the toy to be played with (in an earlier blog), the feast to be attended to (Bartlow Mounds - Romano/British burial.)  As time travels further back we know that the afterlife was important to many cultures, perhaps it is the only thing that can be said to anchor belief systems, from the beaker mug in the Bronze Age period, the heaven and hell concept of the medieval period and the spirit birds that links us with the gods.....

Not sure why the Sun disc is included in Saxon artefacts.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I caught a snatch of music this morning on Classic Radio, brought back memories of 'Listen with Mother', quarter to two every afternoon, and now children are you sitting quietly, apparently finished in the 1980s. Well it was Faure who wrote it, and it was called the 'Dolly Suite'.

Not much to write about, so I start sorting photos once more and notice some of the porch of St.James, Avebury, with the splattering of the stonework by birds, think it was the swallows who nest there.   Looking through my old blog, I find what I have written about the font of St.James with its bishop seeming to slay the dragon (although I note on another blog they see them as serpents,) underneath his feet, how much I relished the old and new religions.

Norman Porch

Hollyhocks in a cottage garden in Avebury

And as always the 'pagans' have a good time at the Red Lion

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things to pick up

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home. " - Aboriginal Proverb 

Found on Facebook;  I suspect the golden sand or earth was a direct contrast to the grey of outside, the wind is picking up and howls gently round the windows, the storm is yet to reach as it travels down from Northern Ireland and Scotland, down through Yorkshire, the Midlands then us.  Britain is sometimes an exciting place to live in with its temperamental weather, a bit like following the shipping forecast early in the morning as it touches the various places around our long shore line.  One of the baby hedgehogs was clattering around in the fallen leaves yesterday as LS swept the latest batch off the lawn. They are turning into a bit of a 'baby' handful, last night because the back gate was open one almost went out, unfortunately there isn't a gap to squeeze back under.

Fleabag the baby hedgehog!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Moments in time

Wild, wet weather, the beautiful part of Autumn is over, leaves tumble from the maple and lie sodden on the lawn.  How quickly our seasons turn over, a glorious summer, a dry Autumn and now we wait for a storm that covers the Atlantic but hopefully will miss us.  
I love Sundays, it is a rest day as far as I am concerned, a quiet day amongst the working days of the week..  We live in, at the moment, a state of suspense, will this house get sold before the farmhouse we want gets sold, who knows.  Truda wrote yesterday that they are having a 'serious' viewing from a village person.  This house has only been on the market for a week, we have someone coming back for a second viewing this week, they have a young child, and living here with schools on the doorstep and Asda but five minutes walk must seem advantageous.

I have looked at other houses in Yorkshire, ones with garages and fully fitted kitchen, which the farmhouse does not have but LS has his heart set on the farmhouse........

Interval for breakfast;  I had forgotten I had promised to make a fried breakfast, and the doves have been flying past the windows uttering plaintive calls for their seed!

Well on looking for photographs, I get sidetracked, Em had put some photos of golden plover on her blog and I remember when  they came to the downs about this time of the year, the soft sound of their wings as they wheeled overhead, finding them sleeping in the grass, me and Moss creeping up on them to take a photo but can't find it.
golden plovers

Then other photos started to play their memories before me, Goths at Whitby, they have two festivals  in the year and they will be coming this November.  The cottage is always booked on these dates, apparently some people will not have Goths in their holiday cottages according to the agents, but they are very respectable people who just like dressing up of course, one of my internet friends always attends these gatherings....

he is really a pussy cat

Matilda (in purple tights) coming down the 99 steps of the Abbey with my son-in-law

Whitby firemen in Star Wars Outfit, the children are young, and Matilda is really scared of standing by these figures.

The last photos are of a sad moment, the sprinkling of ashes  of someone from the world of megalithic stones, and yet I would like to record it because, it reminds me vividly of a beautiful autumn day when I visited this place alone with Moss.  The day of the scattering  of the ashes was very wet and a long walk to Wayland's Smithy, we all either huddled under umbrellas or wrapped  up in plastic bin bags.  But it wasn't sad people laughed and chattered, I see my son glaring at me for dragging him away from his computer and depositing him in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain, and next to him 'Wysefool' who I always thought of as the guardian of the stones.  A shy lad, and since the photo was taken has died which is very sad because he was so young.

Mark and 'Wysefool'

Wayland's Smithy longbarrow in Autumn

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Solving Mysteries

King Arthur's Hall

"Clearance 2013 and investigation 2014 by Roy Goutte and others as members of The Heritage Trust, revealed a revetment wall built to retain the inner bank. It was concluded that over time the earth had covered over the top of the revetment wall and the, what was once c.140, upright stones now lie buried, recumbent, or standing at an angle. This would suggest that the structure was originally a rectangular enclosure from which the earth was extracted and banked up on the four sides, forming a sub-level `tank? with an `apron? between the excavated area and the banks. It is assumed that the `tank? would have been filled with water, either rising or from rainfall. The question unanswered being how was it drained away? The author attempted to determine the depth of the excavated area which appeared to be shallower at the perimeters and deeper in the middle. 
Investigation on removing turf from what was thought to be a fallen upright revealed a granite paved area with a raised centre line and not a stone at all. It abutted the remains of the facade stone perfectly. 
The monument is considered to have some purpose other than an animal pound and would benefit from professional excavation and scientific dating.  Pastscape"

See also Heritage Trust Article By Roy

round hut foundation stones

There are moments in history you get a mention in the sensible bodies of archaeology, and this was one of them.  We had all walked over to King Arthur's hall, a place of mystery, meaning that there is no logic to this isolated rectangular monument which could be prehistoric, I will try not to mention the word 'ritualistic'.  Permission was granted by the local EH archaeologist to explore the area in front of the stones, and this is what we did.  Roy is always very eager to get the world moving on clearing the stones on the many Bodmin Moor stone circles that lie beneath the great tors on this moor, he writes books about his ideas and I love his enthusiasm. 

KAH seen from a distance

King Arthur's Hall, lies next to an old green track, there are the remains of an early medieval cross in the ground. You approach it up a long track way, past a prehistoric settlement of round huts and then come to a green where three houses are to be found, this must have been an early settlement place for people still to be living in a somewhat isolated spot.  A twenty minute walk brings you to KAH a sunken pond covered in cotton grass in the summer, deeper in the middle this water pond/sump has no logical explanation.  It was some years ago identified as a medieval pound for stray animals, as manor boundaries meet at this point, but if one knows anything about boundaries during the Saxon and then medieval centuries, boundaries were taken to an obvious point in the landscape, and this would logically have been a strategic (prehistoric point)? maybe.  It of  course needs a major excavation through the bank to explain things more clearly.

It is a place to visit and contemplate, Bodmin Moors is somewhat untouched in some places by the intrusion of modern building, though the Forestry Commission's hand of planting dire evergreens is to be found, why not deciduous trees?  The great tors rear their heads above the watery moors and its stones. One bad habit discovered this year was miniature 'tor' building on top of Stowe's Hill Neolithic settlement, the  mini tors ranged all along the stone wall, and were taken down by a working group this summer.  Odd 'neopagan' ritual perhaps, whatever it is is very destructive on the old wall, and probably typifies the 'selfie' image of people trying to make their mark in life...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Children and their toys

Elegant creature

Twelve and half centimetres high he stands, found in 2011 and recently restored this beautiful enamelled Roman cockerel is second century AD.  But it is the circumstances he was found just outside Cirencester in a Roman cemetery.  Placed next to the head of a two year child, the love of the parents stand out, and also the laughter of the child as he sees this elegant, arrogant cockerel, not quite a toy but a thing to look on and marvel.  Even now after all those centuries ago we can capture the sadness  but also the  happiness of a child accompanied into the otherworld with his favourite plaything.

Cirencester Roman Cockerel 'best find' in forty years.

Monday, October 13, 2014

New creatures

Two new baby hedgehogs have been mooching around the garden today, the first one found was too near a vessel full of water, so had to be rescued, and put back near to the run they have under the shed, and the water safely covered over.  Just wonder if these are the young of the hedgehog I rescued last year from the public footpath by the green one afternoon.  When I picked that one up and put it by the shed it scuttled in very quickly as if it knew where it was.  LS says there have been hedgehogs under the shed for 20 years, so it is nice to see them breeding as well.  The compost bin has been opened at the bottom for the worms....

Almost like the sweet chestnut shells as he rolls himself into a ball.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autumn poems from the 'Old Irish'

Slieve Gua

Slieve Gua, craggy and black wolf-den;
In its cleft the wind howls,
In its denes the wolves wail.

Autumn on Slieve Gua; and the angry
Brown deer bells, and herons
Croak across Slieve Gua's crags

from the old, according to Geoffrey Grigson

Deep in book reading this morning trying to trace the word 'belling'.  I know it is the mating call of the stag, and therefore a word that can be used for Autumn, somehow I have strayed onto Irish Celtic stories and links on the internet.  Finn for one and his poem, another favourite.......

The Words of Finn

My words for you;
Stag ruts and bells,
Winter pours down,
Summer has gone.
Wind's high and cold,
Low is the sun,
Briefer its run.
Runs the sea strong.
Turns red the fern,
Broken its form.
Habit is hearing
The wild goose's song.
Season of ice,
Wings of the birds
Caught by the cold.
These are my words.

I shall have to get to grips with Finn, for there is a story that belongs to him....

Then Derg Corra went into exile and took up his abode in a wood and used to go about on shanks of deer (si uerum est) for his lightness. One day when Finn was in the woods seeking him he saw a man in the top of a tree, a blackbird on his right shoulder and in his left hand a white vessel of bronze, filled with water in which there was a skittish trout, and a stag at the foot of the tree. And this was the practice of the man, cracking nuts; and he would give half the kernel of a nut to the blackbird that was on his right shoulder while he would himself eat the other half; and he would take an apple out of the bronze vessel that was in his left hand, divide it in two, throw one half to the stag that was at the foot of the tree, and then eat the other half himself. And on it he would drink a sip of the bronze vessel that was in his hand, so that he and the trout and the stag and the blackbird drank together. Then his followers asked Finn who he in the tree was, for they did not recognize him on account of the hood of disguise which he wore.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


There was an email this morning from Harriet Harman, (shadow deputy prime minister for the labour party) okay it was only requiring me to fill in a questionnaire form about what I felt about the Labour Party.  Well given the choice of words I had to choose from (they think we are idiots) I deleted the email on the second question in exasperation.  Do these politicians live in a high tower surrounded by their own estimation of their worth, whilst we commoners mouth our fury below ;).  Talk about Gormenghast, and its long corridors to endless rooms for ceremony and dusty old books, that is how I see Westminster!

I have, mostly, always voted Green, knowing full well of course they cannot get in under the present system, but putting my vote into the bag for devolution and maybe proportional representation.  I was at the beginning of the making of the Green Party, called firstly the Ecology Party, think it started somewhere in Chippenham.  We met in a very old spooky house at Corsham, then in people's flats at Bath.  It never really got of the ground, though we worked hard, but if you know anything of the G/P it had a 'red' side to it as well, a socialist order that bounded on fanaticism by a few and this made it difficult to establish itself in the mainstream.  We organised the Poll Tax revolt in Bath, which was attended by hundreds, our member of parliament at the time was Chris Patten (conservative), a nice enough chap but charged with bringing Maggie's tax to the people.....

One of the 'reds' was a person called Derek Wall, I had met him as a lad on one of my ex-husband's archaeological excavations, and he had a lot to say for himself, and to an extent in those early days divided the party so such moderate people as Sara Parkin and Jonathan Porritt left.  I remember him marching into one of our meetings with half a dozen followers and overturning an important vote, always ambitious.
So just maybe I will pick up my political leanings again and take more interest in what is happening. And to the mundane, there is an email from Karen as well, who cleans at the cottage, has just managed to get through a third vacuum cleaner in two years, so a fourth has to be bought, okay it was a secondhand Dyson that was bought a few months back, but I always thought they were indestructible....

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Moss approaching two barrows in the Littledown Iron Age fort
Well I started the day meaning to write about Pipley Woods, an old relict wood that clings to the side of a valley and was part of a sunday walk.  You access it from the Cotswold Way track, it lies next to the Lansdown golf course under which is a Roman camp, but when looking through my old photos did not find any of the wood. And, in the process my computer started to play up, the programme crashed and everything that covered moving pictures and sound disappeared.  Luckily it righted itself eventually but I am now more careful going there.  I fished out of my jewellery box the tiniest memory card which LS says will probably take all the stuff on the large H/D - we will see.
The two links below are interesting, to me at least, the small head might be of the Brigantian Goddess, she wears a town wall on her head as a crown, very Roman! And the other is about a Roman loo seat found near Hadrian's Wall...

an impressed toilet seat manufacturer has pledged a cash sum towards the care of a wooden toilet seat found along Hadrian’s Wall, saying the ancient craftsmanship of the Romans persuaded them to donate.

Well there you are!!

And the last find of the day is a video by Carmel Diviney, it is filmed at Fourknocks, County Meath in Ireland, in a Neolithic tomb.  I knew her from the days when the hill of Tara was under threat from the motorway to be built not far from it.  There were many furious people at this outrage, lots of protest, all of which was covered in the news, in the end the motorway was built of course.

And what has LS been doing, well apparently in touch with Pickering town council trying to find the name of Newton on Rawcliffe's main street, which seems to have three different names for its length....

Roman Loo Seat

Head of Northern Goddess found at Arbeia Roman Fort