Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday 26th May

There is not much to write about today, we sat outside Pets for Us, or some such place, because it did not open till 10.30 LS moaning about how religion affects us to the smallest degree. Did point out that it was Sunday and a day of peace, the hordes had yet to arrive at Chelmer Village outlet, and so we watched a man get out of his taxi car, unload a heavy ruck sack or two.  The other ruck sack was for this enormous brown and white husky type dog which also jumped out the car, which he strapped onto the back of the dog. Now you don't see that very often in crowded Essex.

I wanted some wild bird seed, Asda had run out and my dove was complaining about lack of food. What the birds are going to do when we move, heaven knows, and I have brought plenty of seeds to leave and even written a note to the new owners about feeding my little crowd of feathered friends.

Do love the constant battering of Blatter, and although I won't show it, this from the Observer this morning summed up a lot of people's feeling.  Tomorrow is the 30 year old anniversary of the 'Battle of the Beanfield', written by one hippy - Tim Vince - who seemed to have made 'good' i.e. money.....

To return to gypsies, which I haven't actually talked about but Weaver of Grass mentioned the local horse fair in her corner of the world.  Gypsy horses are always to be found grazing on forgotten pieces of land, here it is the water meadows by the river.  I sometimes fear that horses that do not make the grade get eaten, or sent over to France which is sad..

Long gone but a favourite, think he must have been the stallion for the herd

the horses always loved it under the cool green of the willows

Saturday, May 30, 2015


1912 photo of Wade's Causeway

1912 old photo on the net

Wade's Causeway
I am fascinated by this stretch of road, I become obsessed by the detail, the folklore, there is a WHOLE chapter on Wade the Giant sometimes thought to come from Scandinavian folklore, he has a wife as well called Bel, and if you write books on history, the etymology of names will take you back to Celtic gods and goddesses and paths that lead you down deep and mysterious ways.  All theorised of course.  The more prosaic medieval story tells of two castles being built by these two, miles apart, and the causeway joined them, one was Mulgrave Castle, not sure of the other.  Wade as memorials in standing stones, there are two, it is a bit like King Arthur, who managed to dance round Wales and Cornwall in all their ancient scheduled monuments, an 18th/19th naming by antiquarians.
But for now I will focus on bleak moors, trashed by the way by Bronze Age settlers, it was originally forested.

Wade Stone North
The above first photo taken I believe in 1912 is of the revealed 'supposed' Roman road across the Wheeldale Road.  Let it be said at the outset I believe it is Roman, the evidence gathers at a pace when you read the research report of 1964 by R.H.Hayes and J.G. Rutter.  Map photos of the time drawn point to a linkage between Cawthorn Roman Camps and the above road over the moors, travelling on its way through Grosmont on to Lease Rigg, and then presumably to Malton or Derventio which has a whole host of roads, one of course being South to York.

The supposed route onwards towards the East coast is maybe difficult to work out, Sandsend further along the coast has also been put forward, but along this stretch of the coast Roman signal forts have been identified.  Logical therefore that if you are making roads, to take them to the coast for supplies and also back south towards York,  a northern capital, Ebaracoru.  The Romans also had trouble with the Brigantes tribe up here, a show of strength had to be made, a building up of infrastructure as they made their way further north must have happened over the years.

Taken from R.H.Hayes and J.G.Rutter

One of the reasons it strikes me as Roman, are how the engineers surveyed the route.  Taking the highest point between two readings, they often followed prehistoric stones, barrows and trackways which also topped the high points.  There are several stones that follow the modern Wheeldale road across the moors further on, now whether these have been moved in more recent times to help the traveller across snow covered roads may be one reason, but the marked Roman road also has Bronze Age cists abutting the road, an indication of 'sighting'.

It is not a 'straight' road

Cambered effect still showing under the grass, and edging ditches showing green


Suspect this was a drainage channel

water collecting, 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday 29th

Whats with football? Not a game I watch, since childhood the idea of chasing a ball round in whatever form has never appealed.  But there is FIFA wrapped up in corruption to do with money laundering, tax evasion, etc, etc.  Blatter the president and head of these bunch of cronies  fumbles and stumbles and says yes it is a good thing this corruption has been found out.  For heavens sake, extradite them to America put them in jail for fraud, and then please can the news media turn to more important things!
But once in my 'mother hen' role of looking after students, had the daughter of one of the FIFA directors from Brazil.  She arrived with her friend, one cold January afternoon, the Brazilian students always seemed to come in the middle of winter, from a  hot climate that was somewhere in the region of 40 degrees.  She arrived tearful, 18 years old, blonde and attractive, and somehow her mother in Brazil must have known the state of her daughter, for the phone rang at that precise moment and a long conversation ensued.  Pot of tea round the table and she soon settled in, a week later she was off up to London for the weekend to a party and there I was worrying about buns and ovens, hated to think I might send one of my students home pregnant because I had not read the 'riot act' or its equivalent.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday 28th

This cartoon made me laugh yesterday, and the point of inclusion? Is to take your mind of the following which is nagging at my mind but does not have to be read by all and sundry, it is just a meander over a landscape which I so delight in...

Cawthorn Camps

"Archaeological investigation has led to a re-evaluation of Cawthorn. Long considered a group of military practise camps, it is now clear that the well-preserved earthwork remains include two forts, one with an annexe, together with a temporary camp built to a very odd plan. "

When we move we should be but a few miles from these enigmatic Roman earthworks, why two forts for a start? There are also tumulus within the fort, and one outside, telling us that previously prehistoric people  had also lived in the area. The 'Roman' Wade's Causeway road that stretches for a mile across the moor lies but a couple of miles to the east of the escarpment that the forts dominate. Mostly the road has been written as a 'Roman' road, though it is not an exact match, and it has been said that it could be late Roman, even Saxon, or later or not even a road at all, take your pick. The arguments for it have stretched over centuries and it is now classified as 'unknown road' and from the following long detailed Wiki history we are no better in our knowledge of who built it than the antiquarians of a hundred years ago! And just to draw attention to earlier use, it has been proposed that....

As a neolithic boundary structure - Wade's Causeway
"There are some objections to the interpretation of the structure as being a road at all, including the fact that several burial cists along the structure's course protrude through its surface by up to 0.4m,highly unusual for a road surface. Since 1997, authorities including English Heritage have accepted the possibility that the structure may not be a road. Archaeological consultant Blaise Vyner suggested in 1997 that the structure may be the collapsed and heavily robbed remains of a Neolithic or Bronze Age boundary wall or dyke. There are other Neolithic remains on the North York Moors, including boundary dikes, although Knight et al. report that the later Neolithic is very poorly represented archaeologically in the North York Moors area and neolithic use of the moors was likely very limited in extent. Bronze Age presence in the moors, including earthworks, is well represented generally in the archaeology of the area, and therefore is a more plausible origin."Taken from the Wiki link"

 Drawing lines along the landscape is something  Roman engineers were good at, Hadrian Wall come to mind, or even the Antonine Wall built further north in Scotland, which had such a short lived life.  Also I have read somewhere that the Cawthorne Camps could be part of a line from the east to west coastlines, there is a link to the Lease Rigg fort further east and maybe to Malton.  But it is reasonable to assume that whatever the camps were initially built for they were for keeping law and order in this rather desolate wild part of the moors.
Practice camps, means exactly that, bored soldiers made to dig trenches and banks, there is long occupancy of these camps, Saxon grubenhaus were also found.  One day I shall dig out the investigations that have gone on here but for now contemplating an enigma that cannot be solved because the written word went astray a couple of thousand years ago and one can only theorise till the 'cats come home' 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2012 photos

The ford at Wheeldale


We are slowly moving towards that moving date, actually it has not been agreed on, though we are constantly nagged by the people who are moving into this house, they want to be in by next week for goodness sake, though the solicitors haven't done their job yet!  Every day for LS is sorting out cupboards, today we go to get old correspondence shredded at Witham.  Sunday he spent the afternoon listening to old tapes of his parents and grandparents.  Me, I'm sorted, mostly into baskets, the potted plants have been reduced in the garden so that there is not too much heavy stuff, do not water said the removal man last week, so we wait for dates and boxes......

We have always watched 'Heartbeat'  which is set in Goathland, in the evening, mostly for the music, and they always show a favourite spot of mine in the introduction, and of course when someone has to fall off a bridge it is Egton Bridge they do it at, there are three bridges to be precise, the pack horse one, railway and road.  You can tell it is March and very dull, probably cold as well from the following photos...

pack bridge over the River Usk

This is Robin's Hood Bay, typical little street of all the seaside villages on this part of the East coast, tiny cottages back to back huddled against each other.

 cheerful favourite photos of children....

North York Moors, their bleakness is fascinating

Me, slightly overawed by Northern cities, remember going to Ikea with Darron afterwards (LS please note Ikea is in Newcastle) to buy a table and chairs, and as we sat in a McDonalds saw the 'Angel of the North' from a distance. My one great trick at the university by the way was tripping over a pavement and falling, much to the amusement of Tom...

Newcastle, I went with my son-in-law to take Tom to visit the uni there, what fascinated me in this enormous city was the rabbits round the university and living on traffic islands, never seen that before.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday; 26th May

Yesterday whilst I spun, I watched All Aboard - A Canal Trip along the Kennett and Avon Canal, 118 minutes long it was watched in two sessions.  About 5 miles of travelling slowly with a fixed camera, no talkover, no music just the slipping musical sound of water, bird song, the swish of an occasional bike wheel on the canal path.  This has been the time when the BBC have returned to 'slow' the Handmade series, the beautiful 'Dawn Chorus' set over three sites, and absolutely marvellous camera work introducing us to those rare birds that live elsewhere in this country.  Should our conservative government ever let that horror Rupert Murdoch near our beloved BBC - there will be blood on the carpet, or at least its equivalent in red paint....

The canal trip started in Bath, past Bathampton, funnily enough you could not see The George pub from the boat because the camera was fixed on the water ahead and this was a joy, the eye followed the course of the canal. Bathampton is where I would usually start from, we used to take Mark at about 5 years old to cycle along the towpath, Moss in his day plodded along happily.  The Limpley Stoke valley was beautiful, and of course after Dundas Aquaduct you will eventually arrive at the pretty town of Bradford-on-Avon.  The canal follows the River Avon, and of course there is an old railway line as well.

Words were digitally produced on the water, and one fascinating fact was the canal was seen as a defense line in the second world war, and had those funny pill boxes set along the path.  It reminded me of the course of the Roman road from Bath to Chippenham, and when I get the next book I have ordered, about the Roman Wheel Dale road, a similar 'straight line' seems to have been drawn by the Romans in the battle against the native inhabitants.

Dundas Bridge Aquaduct, the canal boats pass over the River Avon here. @ Creative Commons

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Matching words to paintings

 Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
Thomas Merton

Eric Ravilious - The Water wheel.  Ravilious painted this whilst at Capel-y-ffin in the Black Mountains.

Just wondered if Ravilious was staying with/at Eric Gill's place.  Love this painting, so ordered and graphic.

Edit; He didn't.. See James Russell article


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Embroidery; The Magna Carta

Lovely video of the making of this  embroidered 13 metre Magna Carta, so timely when we are seeing the apparent erosion of the Human Rights Act by the present government.  Based on the words of Wikipedia, a font of knowledge and one of the best expressions of freedom around..

Magna Carta Embroidery at the British Museum  video also.

The one clause of any importance remaining is about law...

No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land.

Taken from the Wikipedia Content on Magna Carta which this embroidered representation of this first article of faith between the king and his people was arrived at.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Waking up to a beautiful morning, we agree that it is just right for another visit to the recycle place, heavy bundles of magazines this time, all Britarch goes, and the boxful of Japanese magazines. Yesterday was a bit of a shock, the people who want this house want a moving date for next week, according to the estate agent They are not going to get it because our solicitor is still doing the 'searches'. This house is mostly empty of stuff we don't need, the last place to be tackled is the loft in the garage, a few boxes hopefully.
The studio houses the most books and four gigantic Japanese encyclopedias which are accompanying us.  The new house has no cupboard space or wardrobes, LS is talking of flooring the loft there, as it has proper steps up to it, then we can put a lot of the books from the studio up there.  We argue somewhat as to which studys for both of us, I want to be downstairs in the smaller room, but as he says we talk a lot to each other so therefore I should be upstairs near him, and I do need a craft room....
We have choice in four bedrooms, the en-suite bedroom (never did like such things) is to be the guest bedroom, the cottage furniture if the cottage is sold, will also fit nicely in as well. The car, which is fairly old, has just been serviced and MOTed but there is a large problem looming on the horizon about the failure of the camshaft because of its age, hopefully it will last a few more months.
Slowly we move towards moving!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gods and theories.

Two photos of the same image.  The top one grabbed from the web, this one, my own which shows up the detail much more explicitly.  Curious, can it be down to digital cameras I wonder?

The goddess Luna. Shown in head and shoulder relief, she is supported by a device which shows both full and crescent moons, and horns, as one symbolic disc.  Her hair is tied up to represent sea-shells, showing her rule over the tides, and she carries a staff and thong, or whip, as an emblem of power and control.  This implement may represent her rule over horses, which would integrate this image with the widespread Celtic goddess of horses, who was one of the major native deities.  Cunliffe suggests that this image would have fitted over the facade of the Four Seasons, which he proposes for reasons of architectual harmony.  Curiously the celts reckoned their seasons by lunar and not solar calculations, so the structural possibility of such a placement of the Luna pediment may have some symbolic background that bridges classical and native use, as it is very plain with the solar pediment that fronted the Temple of Sulis Minerva.   Taken from 'The Waters of the Gap' R.J.Stewart

Stewart does not really have an explanation of this pediment, though he calls her the Lunar Goddess, but the detail could mean anything, and of course everything, this is what religion is all about.  The deep mystical power of the gods, whether they be Celtic or Roman.  At first glance she is Roman, the drapes and hairstyle.  We are supposed to read into the shells in her hair an allegiance to the sea, Oceanus is the god of the oceans.  But if you look at the corresponding Celtic male (photo below) he is also surrounded by symbolic images such as this, "In the corners of the pediment are Tritons, half men and half fish, servants of the water god Neptune. In the lower left centre ground is a face helmet in the form of a dolphin’s head."  And one could argue he  also could be attributed to Oceanus.

Or, and of course this is the most obvious, the symbolic hot springs that is Aqua Sulis.  There is also the fact that Stewart says that the Celtic calendar stems from a lunar reading,  though if we look at the Coligny Calendar it is a Celtic Lunisolar calendar, a far more intricate reading of the seasons.

Imagery and symbolism, the rock on which all religions stand, is difficult to come to an understanding of, our first superficial reading blends in with our own patterns of thought, it is more difficult to interpret the thoughts of people born hundreds of years ago.  One thing that can be noted is that the above, thought to be made by a Gaulish sculptor, is a much finer piece of work than the Lunar goddess.

Note; There is still the supposed whip in the hand of our goddess, does she also represent Epona, always depicted on a horse, or even Rhiannon, the Welsh equivalent.  Stewart asks this question for it is the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe, who thought that her figurehead may have been placed over a depiction of the four seasons, and also that what she represents is the pairing of the female with the male, (she may even be Sulis herself) that is often found in the association of these domestic  Celtic gods.

Bronze Age Sun disc on Lansdown

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pondering on Mid Wansdyke

My mind has been wrapped up for a few days in following the old Roman road, that takes a straight course over the high ground between West and East Wansdyke, the supposed barrier between two tribal areas? this though  can only be conjecture there is little dating evidence but it is supposed to be post-Roman.  It could also be the boundary line of the Dobunni tribe, Cunliffe mentions the fact that they looked after the sacred springs of Aqua Sulis*

There is  a linking part of the boundary between East and West Wansdyke, following an old Roman road over the higher ground, this is called the Mid Wansdyke.  It skirts Chippenham, following a line to Sandy Lane, or the Roman station of Verlucio, from here it takes a course over the Cherhill downs, past Avebury and of course its Roman settlement and then joins up with  East Wansdyke.  Wansdyke obviously takes it name from Woden, and the boundary has been associated with the Saxons.

The area of the western Wansdyke became the border between the Romano-British celts and the west Saxons following the Battle of Deorham in 577. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Saxon Cenwalh achieved a breakthrough against the Britons, with victories at Bradford on Avon (in the Avon Gap in the Wansdyke) in 652 AD,

The maps following the course of the old Roman road can be seen on Poems, Painting and Photos, the maps themselves rather worn sadly.  Not too confuse myself mostly, is the fact from where the boundary started to the west of Bath, there is a presumed course for the West Wansdyke starting at Maes Knoll  hill fort, going through Stantonbury fort and then getting lost because of later ploughing, the next hill fort out of Bath is Bathampton following the A4 to Box, which is roughly four miles out of Bath. 
  Bathampton has been ruled out, though interestingly, there is the  Iron Age settlement at Solsbury, almost opposite Bathampton and commanding a high position in the landscape.

The A4 is of course an important road, it runs from London to Bristol, and is in places still following the original Roman road, but such main arteries changed direction over the centuries, and an interesting article on  toll roads, explains more.

Bath was late in building Roman villas, but of the several that lie round the city, one of the largest is Box Roman Villa.  Now buried under a church grave yard and several gardens, we had a friend who lived in one of the houses there, with the remains of the villa under the soil in her garden, and she had decorated her house in Roman style.

  © Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
So I meander, but it is in Box rather than going up the steep hill that follows the A4, you can turn right up onto the Roman road that is supposed to be the Mid Wansdyke boundary.  There is another modern road that starts from Bathampton, going over Kingsdown  the Roman road seems to follow it in a parallel course marked on the map. There are also tumuli up on Kingsdown, and therefore the  Roman road must have followed a prehistoric track over the high ground.  You can also see a Roman villa at Atworth, south of the road.

To be continued.... or in the Words of Vortigen..

I fear therefore that we should rule out the option of the existence of Wansdyke here, and accept either the use of the Roman Road as a demarcation line, or the complete discontinuation of Wansdyke on the stretch between the Avon and Morgan's Hill. May the reader choose wisely.

And the poem, which probably sent me thinking about the Wansdyke....


On the byway,
off the highway,
are you resting, chief and churl,
sleeping easy, dreaming sweetly,
under cloud and wind and soil?

One who passes, pauses,
sleeps at night,
then travels onwards northwards,
salutes the sleepers under sod,
salutes the wind-blown leaning grasses,
shares your ancient journey,
shares your god.
 John Kemp.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday 16th May

Today, Saturday, I decided to empty part of the compost bin, as you empty from below, the sight of a wriggling thousand worm strong mat is not for the squeamish. But as I tackled this writhing knot a young thrush ran round the garden as I worked.   It was beautiful, pale brown, its chest skimmed with spots and a little ruff of baby feathers caught behind its wings.  Time passed and it had still not flown, so starting to worry I tried to shoo it into the air but it wasn't going anywhere, and in this garden where cats are daily to be seen - what to do?
So I sat on the lawn with him, it was very tame, and fed him breadcrumbs, till an adult blackbird came down, bullied him over the crumbs and then flew off.  A moment of magic happened, the young bird had a 'light bulb' moment, ran across the lawn, jumped up onto a chair after the adult bird and then to the fence and flew away, nature or nurture I don't know but safety for a few more hours.

Watching handmade whilst I spun the other day, no words just action, as the person went through the making of a Windsor chair, made me look at my chair, which I sit in every day in front of the computer.  As someone who can do woodwork, the machinery and the work is very familiar, the point of a good chair is that glue is hardly used, just dowelling and fitting the struts into corresponding holes in the framework, bracing in other words. It makes you remember all the medieval timber built barns and houses, when nails were hardly used.
My chair I love dearly, it has cushions for comfort, and is rather low to the floor but it is comfortable and would probably be the first thing I would save in case of fire..... And yes I do not know his name WHB, but like to think of him as William, Henry Bennett.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hawthorn,Whitethorn, May thorn - Crataegus monogyna

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.

Taken from The Fairies by William Allingham

It blazes across the country, elegant panicles drip their blossom to the ground. As English as yorkshire pudding, or perhaps I should say as British for it is everywhere, promiscuous like an overdressed lady of the night, with its faint sweet scent.  The turning of spring into summer this is what May thorn is all about, when children danced round the maypole, and young lovers left bouquets of flowers outside the house of their darlings.

Grigson has a hundred names for it at least, it fills the countryside in a riot of white. OE for it is haegthorn or hagathorn, which is usually taken to mean the haw or the fruit.  Children from the past would eat the fresh young shoots, nutty and fresh.

The puritans hated it, it represented vice and sin, though it crept into the churches adorning columns and pews.  It is a supernatural tree, made for fairies, and its power is only equalled by the magical rowan.  Grigson states that Lady Raglan* (The Green man in Church Architecture), that these carvings of the 'green man' are the May Lord or May King.

In Ireland its mythology is strong, you did not spread your washing out on a sacred lone hawthorn, you may be interfering with the washing of the fairies.  Of course it wove its way into Christian stories, none so famous as the Glastonbury Thorn according to the legend of Joseph of Arimathea, which is supposed to flower on Christmas day; it puts its flowers out in winter and then again in May (Crataegus monogyna var. praecox), if a more practical explanation is to be offered.  Grigson says that this story came into print in 1722, presumably a story by the medieval monks of Glastonbury to elicit donations from the people, three thorn trees were to be found on Wearyall Hill.

Thre hawthornes also, that groweth in Werale,
Do burg here grene leaves at Christmas
As freshe as other in May.

 When in the bleak days of winter I look back on this blog, Wednesday's beautiful weather and the flowering hawthorn will be something to remember and be thankful for ;)

Green Men in Wiltshire

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


What can one say about wisterias. exuberant, flamboyant, sumptuous, almost beats bluebells in its colour.  Anyway we caught it at the right moment at Hylands House today.

There is a Chinese wistaria, also similar native Japanese and Korean - Wistaria Chinensis an American one -Wistaria Frutescen, which flowers later and after the leaf has developed.

The first wisteria was brought into Europe by an English man named Captain Welbank in 1816. Apparently one evening in May 1816, Captain Welbank was invited for dinner by a rich Chinese dealer from Guangzhou (Canton). The dinner party was held underneath a pergola covered by flowering wisteria, which the Chinese called Zi Teng 'blue vine'.

No European had ever seen such a similar beauty and Captain Welbank convinced the dealer to give him some seedlings which he took back to England as a present for his friend C. H. Turner, from Rooksnet, Surrey. Three years later, in 1819, the wisteria bloomed for the first time and from there on rapidly spread to many gardens throughout the old continent.
In Italy the Wisteria is known since 1840.

Taken from Curiosity

It's Gone

Yesterday evening the bench sat in its pristine landscape, the great machine had mowed carefully around it, the hawthorn blossoms glowed in the gathering dusk.  But..............this morning the black maria/council van came at 7.15 and took it away, so ends the saga of the bench, which has kept us amused these last few days!

And when I get over another migraine I shall start thinking again and return to a  lunar goddess at Bath, and the Wansdyke when I came across an old favourite link from the past the Vortigen Studies