IMG_0458

Mystery in the mist;

Glinting in a clint,

Offered to the mountain?

Well traveled whiteness.

Void between volcanic rock,

IMG_0460

Exploded out of the earth the dust settles

In water forming

Patterns of the past

Layered

In

Deep

Time

Scafell pike 13.05 15 005

A light released from the land

The hand moves to draw

With chalk of childhood

Sediment writes itself

Scafell pike 13.05 15 011

Alien fragment on lofty Pike

Released from bony white matrix

In Grimes, Wolds, Wessex or Antrim

Remote lands – with still echoes

Of times long gone

Hidden in hollow hills.

Mind wanders to downs and dales

Memories held guide the hand

Moved to make a mark,

Scafell pike 13.05 15 014

Diamond lozenges, tightening skins

Scraped by flakes,

IMG_0453

The beating bodhran calls

Rhythm of the wind – resonating rock

Scafell pike 13.05 15 017

Through heavy brow

Owl eyes bring a sharper focus –

Clouds clear

IMG_0466

Elemental tumbled sculptures emerge

Mountains making their own art

IMG_0472

Look close – layered,  lichen

Reflecting  clasts cast in stone

IMG_0468

No scribe engraved these forms.

Red rememberings of hard nicked hands that

Scafell pike 13.05 15 032

Split sharp hornstone,

Ancient prospector for mysterious XI,

Its unknown source – found?

Scafell pike 13.05 15 026

Cris-crossed with rhombic faultlines

Weathered scallops patinated to grey

Scafell pike 13.05 15 029

Crack,

Hiatus,

Time shifts

Settles again

Present

IMG_0463

Falling back into the earth

Joining the ancestors

Scafell pike 13.05 15 020

Scattered all around,

Crag-high memories now burnt bone offering

Crumbling to constituent carbonates

Merging with the future

Acknowledgements, notes, etc

This chance meeting with a flake of chalk took place on top of Scafell Pike, a place full of modern monuments and offerings, to the dead mainly, many of whose ashes lie around the summit cairn, and older structures that could be interpreted as monuments; the Neolithic Axe working sites. There is a continuity here in this wild place, others have discussed the offerings left by people in the Neolithic period at prehistoric stone working sites including Peter Topping, but here we have a modern offering – for reasons unknown. More recently I was reminded of this by a paper given at BRAG by Andy Merion Jones and Marta Diaz-Guardamino which directly inspired this blog following my serendipitous encounter with the white rock. The title of their presentation was Making the Mark: Imagery and Process in Neolithic Britain and Ireland and included a discussion on the Folkton Drums, below.

London 01.03.13 007

The motifs of the owly heavy browed eyes and lozenge hatching are now being found more regularly as a symbol in the Neolithic period from the West Country to Orkney.  But I was particularly impressed by the detail revealed on the Folkton Drums,see here. Although probably not actually representing drums, these were found in a Neolithic round barrow by the good Canon Greenwell in the Yorkshire Wolds, which region demonstrably had a strong connection with the Cumbrian Mountains on account of the large numbers of Cumbrian Stone axes found there, and this got me thinking…

Pete

IMG_2946

Round rings of stone on the fellside

Bedded with bluebells, the ancient home

On terrace banked with rock

Pink Ennerdale Granophyre, ground round by glacier,

Dragged down from Dodds heights

Weathered to fertile soil.

IMG_2944

Now people return to the fold, above Scales Beck

The new-found steading, measured with laser and staff

Drawn with Derwent pencil

Whose core was once wadd from over the pass.

Black and white watches sheep

Where once short cattle grazed.

IMG_2949

In the shadow of Scales Knott

The fertile delta lies with cup-marked slab

IMG_1615

Soon peat and bracken reclaim the cairn-fields,

Just now laid bare

Before the swelling fronds

Return to cloak the land

IMG_2910

Across the lake above Rannerdale’s green fields

Whiteless Pike’s pointed pyramid

Another ancient homestead’s blue banks

IMG_2939

A squint of the eye, the lights right and they’re there

IMG_2938

Soon they grow,

Even deep enough to hide a dog

IMG_2937

 

Notes: Bluebells seem to like prehistoric sttlements! The complex settlement features at Scales Beck cover a broad chronolgy and the recent discoveries of hut circles and a cup marked slab would suggest  that this stretches back at least to the later prehistoric period. Amongst the the numerous features are cairn-fields and post medieval farmsteads and a series of rectangular “bothy” or shieling structures which surround but are discrete the core settlement site on the delta. The latest phase of settlement was first noted in  1936 by Nicolas Size and recorded more fully by Thomas Hey in 1945 who considered some of the features to be “Native British” in origin, these can be seen in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society . The more enclosed nature of the settlement at Rannerdale also suggests that this is a later prehistoric feature although it was previously considered to be a later deserted settlement. Both these structures have now been surveyed by the Lake District National Park Archaeology Volunteers to whom thanks are due, out in all weathers, fine and not so good.

IMG_2962

 

 

 

 

November 2015 - March 2016 208

Crystals of bright barytes bond to dark grey galena,

Tallow candlelight on felt caps to bright bulbs on hard hats,

From Mines Royal to motionless museum, a near half millennium has passed,

Still sheep graze on grass above this deep dark mine.

November 2015 - March 2016 190

White eyes in smudged faces emerge into the light

Ore dumped in grizzly hopper, drawn by belt

Worn through the layers to rings, contours of a mountain?

November 2015 - March 2016 196

Still silent wheel, no crushing here today

November 2015 - March 2016 193

Slack chain drive once turning the ritespeed

November 2015 - March 2016 192

No current flows today, drawn from the beck head

Held at height rushing down, turning water whirring turbines

November 2015 - March 2016 194

Rushing crushing ore falls through the funnel

November 2015 - March 2016 197

To rattling riddles, separating slate from mineral

Into the hollow drum of the ball mill.

November 2015 - March 2016 198

Balls of steel rumble tumble and grind, silent now,

November 2015 - March 2016 200

To flotation tanks of foaming minerals,

Skimmed, dried and gathered by the scavenger cells

November 2015 - March 2016 203

Skeletons of empty trucks

November 2015 - March 2016 207

Worn artefacts of hard labour, tagged.

November 2015 - March 2016 195

Notes: This tour was organised by the Lake District National Park, thanks to Joel Ormond for giving us a grand tour!November 2015 - March 2016 189

Coledale Mine was worked from Elizabethan times, by German miners employed by the Mines Royal, and finally ceased work in 1992 when it was gifted to the National Trust. The machinery was to be scrapped until it was realised that this was probably the last remaining example in Britain and so it was all brought back and reassembled! The processing mill must have been an extraordinary dusty and noisy place to work and serves a a tribute to the fortitude of the men who worked this site over the centuries. It latterly it was worked predominately for its Zinc and Barium bearing ores but was also mined for lead and silver in the past. The vagaries and fluctuating fortunes of mining meant that it eventually closed due to a roof fall which buried the loco and was the final straw. These mines were thrifty places and there was widespread recycling of metallic items and power provided by hydro-electric turbines latterly, indeed much of the machinery present still dates from the 1920’s.

November 2015 - March 2016 206

 

“Cairnholy Joe” – a man on a mission; to enlighten visitors to the eponymous chambered cairn so that they might understand the meaning of this “monument”. Now this is not a conventional view purely based on the archaeology – way too prosaic – much more than that it is an aesthetic view of the world seen through the lens of the remains of this most architectural of prehistoric structures. Now there are many simple yet impressive Neolithic structures around the country but not many people seem to spend so much time observing the world from one such place these days.

Christening, D & G 012

It seems many people you meet who have visited here also encountered this aesthete whose name it turns out is Joseph Proskauer who describes him self on his blog as: “Lives with his wife and many other creatures, slightly below the surface of earth, toward the point where the sun sets in the dark days of winter – as seen from Cairn Holy.” Unravelling the mysteries of Cairnholy appears to be his destiny. He has studied in infinite detail the relationships between the stones and solar and lunar alignments so that the eight standing stones of the forecourt perform as some sort of complex sundial fulfilling the necessary calendrical functions  and spiritual insights of the Neolithic people who constructed it.

After some interesting discussions around the subjects I was advised to cross the neighbouring field where a dead straight path had been worn, presumably by himself and his “pupils” (or was it Alfred Watkins Old Straight Track!), and approach the forecourt and observe – this is how it looked.

Christening, D & G 013

Christening, D & G 014

Christening, D & G 016

Christening, D & G 017

Christening, D & G 018

Christening, D & G 010

Now being one who is interested in the relationship of prehistoric archaeology has to  landscape I noted that it appeared that the focus of the structure from this direction was one of two rounded hillocks on the skyline; perhaps echoing the female form. Wrong! I should have been observing the stones – in particular;  that whilst the four stones on left hand side of the forecourt curved in a slight arc those on the right were straight, but also the three outside stones of each side both rise to the right (north). These are certainly intriguing observations although I was not paying enough attention at the time to remember the import of this piece of the jigsaw.

Christening, D & G 009

Of course there were many other observations Joe made including the unrecorded weathered  pecked area of rock and cup mark on the edge of one of the southerly orthostats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Virtually invisible when the sun is high but on return to the stones in darkness and controlled lighting it came alive.

Christening, D & G 195

In darkness my own senses were heightened, as peoples must have been in prehistory when viewed at night – the stone would be seen to dance in the firelight – hearths were found in the forecourt when the site was dug by Stuart Piggott and T G E Powell, whose report can be seen here.

Christening, D & G 200

Moon dog stones!

Although Piggot and Powell found a cup and ring marked slab placed in the chamber along with a slab disturbed from the cairn marked with cup and rings they missed this marking of the facade stone. We can pehaps only speculate when this mark was made as it was likely that the walling between the orthostats would have covered this mark when the structure was first built. This is one of the rare occurrences when cup and ring marked rocks are found within a chambered cairn the other notable example being in Dallaides Long Cairn, also a rare piece of burnt jadeite axe from the Italian Alps was found here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So people have been doing pretty strange things here for millenia. On reflection despite Joe’s apparent disinterest in the factual elements of the archaeologists excavations and his apparent oversight that the reconstruction of the facade sixty five years ago means that it is most likely that it was not as we see it today when it was first built. His reconstructions of the points of the stones with clay may also be speculative but we can perhaps never be sure that it was not so and that the things he sees in this structure are as not valid as the interpretations put upon these most architectural of structures by archaeologists. Maybe it is as important how these structures feed back to modern people, be they believers in Neo-paganism, Wicca or Witchcraft,  Earth Gods or Goddess’, any of the more mainstream religions or combinations of any or all of these. Who knows if it was not always the case that from their inception people have drawn different inspirations or energies from these places.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Acknowledgements and Notes; Thanks to Joseph for stimulating conversation! I was reminded of my meeting with Joe after seeing a blog by Upland Pete on Cairn holy. These meetings came about from a cottage rented below Cairnholy in 2012 and occupied by three archaeologists (rock art fiends) a story teller and an architect, thanks Kate, Tertia, Debbie and Anthony.

Pete

“Burnt Mound”, not a very auspicious title for a rather enigmatic monument – a place for heating rocks to heat water – first found from the Later Neolithic-Early Bronze Age some four and a half millenia ago –  a mundane description of their form and contents of hearths, troughs and heated rocks. Yet these were probably places of drama where poorly chosen hot rocks split and splatted around the hearth, probably why the Meur Burnt mound had an enclosed hearth – see a short animation of this great reconstructed site here.

Rocks Hot 004

There has been considerable speculation as to what was going on at these sites and now after excavations we can see there are certain common themes that run through, or should that be flow thorough, these sites. Water from a small stream by way of a cut or small leat was introduced into a trough this was then heated by dropping hot rocks, heated in embers, into the water, simple! The rocks were then discarded and generally form an open horseshoe crescent around the trough; the question is, was this used for cooking, sauna or mashing malted barley?

The the answer may well be that these were multi-functional structures, however many now suggest that brewing was an integral part of their purpose, see Merryn Dineley’s website and the excellent Billy and Dec’s Bronze Age Beer video. These  sites are ubiquitous, found across Britain and Ireland and are particularly prevalent in Northern Scotland.

Here in Cumbria several burnt mounds have been identified and several excavated and at Sizergh Estate an in-situ timber trough was found; where, in common with other sites waterlogged timber survived due to the boggy conditions .

This rather diminutive version can be found in the valley at Buttermere, the trough would have been where the rushes are,  this one is close to some cup marked rocks, however those found in Scotland take on altogether grander proportions with the permanence of their stone lined troughs, here seen at Liddel Burnt Mound on South Ronaldsay, Orkney Isles.

P1000640

This fine example below is two metres high and ten metres wide and sits in strange juxtaposition with  Eriboll Church, on the north coast of Scotland. Presumably the builders were unaware that the heather covered mound was a place of prehistoric activity producing the heather ale – demon drink of the Bronze Age – see – in true Scottish tradition someone has left a modern offering at the base of the mound, to give some scale to gauge it by.

C2C, Sutherland 284

C2C, Sutherland 292

Now in their wisdom the Edinburgh craft brewers Innis and Gunn have produced their own limited edition version of this ale and so it had to be sampled!

hot rocks 006

Upon a cup marked slab on a sunny evening seemed an appropriate place to sample this herbal homebrew, a mildly bitter beverage with a slight herbal aroma.

hot rocks 001

Bottle conditioned, balanced carefully when carried the half mile from home, perhaps it should have been buried there to condition – its twin might have to endure this fate and brave the bullish cattle’s curiosity for buried things.

hot rocks 007

A few flowers of sheep’s sorrel to cushion the cup-mark while it rests – anticipation…

hot rocks 018

Decanted from its sediment a straw coloured ale with echoes of honey,

Surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains shining bright bilberry green as the yellow, mellowing sun dips towards the north.

hot rocks 011

With a deep draught of strong nourishment, the dying sun carries the cares of daytime away,

Burnmoor - Hot rocks and Peel land rock art 070

Seen through a glass darkly – the burnt amber ale haze’s the sun with swirls of yeasty magic,

hot rocks 028

Sun sets beyond the horizon, while mountains hold the light, changing from bronze to pink

hot rocks 025

Great Gable pulls up its frothy blanket

Rising from the valley to meet its night.

Notes and Acknowledgements: It fell to an inspiring session at TAG; Stoking the Flames:Towards an Archaeology of Fire, to persuade me that burnt mounds were not as boring as they sound! A paper from Lauren Doughton of Manchester University entitled Born of Fire: An exploration of the role of fire and fragmentation in the creation and use of burnt mounds I found particularly inspiring using some experimental firings which demonstrated that these were dynamic exciting and dangerous places to work which in itself must have created a performance and mystique around their use, the more so if we accept that perhaps the primary function was to produce ale!

C2C, Sutherland 294 - Copy

“…other private functions” –  prehistoric revellers from the Bronze Age included?

Pete

“…round and round…” Well I am not sure that it was rock art doodles that the 1980’s songstress Belinda Carlisle was referring to or whether she  was an enthusiastic rock art hound and despite her name she was probably not from Cumbria.

Circles in the Sand 007

However, out here on the sand there are no boundaries limitless space with far horizons leading the eye to distant lands and letting the mind wander. An inspiring place a blank canvas – moved by  to leave a mark – perhaps the same feeling as that which drove prehistoric man, on finding a smooth tactile rounded slab to peck some cups into into its surface.

Circles in the Sand 013

Seen across the Solway Firth distant Dumfries and Galloway, hilly territories marked with cups and rings. Perhaps travelers from Ireland across the sea, to this island in Neolithic times following the coast and estuaries, eventually making their way up to Eden. But here in the Cumbrian Mountains the cups have no such rings, another tribe, another time – the cup makers?

Christening, D & G 227

The small depressions where razor clams live starts things off – a pleasing pastime engrossing and mesmerising, had it been a warmer evening there might have been many more.

Circles in the Sand 016

The casts of worms and hollow of clam guiding gatherers to what lies beneath this surface,

From present to prehistoric, people have wandered these strands – searching.

Circles in the Sand 018

The foot print, a temporary mnemonic of people’s passing.

Circles in the Sand 031

Walking, back in time, from three million years

Laetoli, Tanzania to Formby Point, Lancashire,

Nearer in time and place.

Circles in the Sand 038

Wildfowl tread lightly, tiptoeing across the sand, more food for hunters past.

Circles in the Sand 024

In the distance, shingle banks, source of flint to tip their fowling arrows.

Circles in the Sand 009

To the tidal rhythm of the moon, time seems more fluid here, like the sculpted waves transiently formed in crunchy crystaline sand.

Circles in the Sand 025

 Patterns, inspiring prehistoric minds, changing forms from lozenge

Circles in the Sand 019

To rivulets returning to the sea.

Circles in the Sand 029

On shingle banks polished pebbles, rolled round.

Isle of Man 219

Amongst them, set silicate – flint from the sea floor.

 Isle of Man 109

Collect the colours, toffee to purple to grey to black.

 Isle of Man 230

Find an anvil and knap; whack – shatter.

Isle of Man 233

Random razor sharp edges and crushed dust,

Isle of Man 234

The prize, find the keenest edge, thinnest blade; the blacks brittle, toffee’s the sweetest.

Isle of Man 224

Whats left – a cup!

Circles in the Sand 039

A bird wanders off, no arrows here today

 Circles in the Sand 037

Pete

Notes

The ancient footprints made in soft esturine silt or mud that hardened and was covered over with further sediments have now been identified in several places in Britain and across the world the most famous of which  were the Laetoli footprints, over 3 million years old and discovered by Mary Leaky.

There are doubtless many reasons and uses of what have become known a portable cup marked cobbles, but the finding of “anvil stones” in seashore contexts leads one to the conclusion that these were part of the primary seashore knapping process; like this one found by Morcambe Bay Archaeology Society. Other examples can be found in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological society.

MAG lithics 031

A grand post from Heritage Landscape and Creativity on Scottish artists from the nineteenth century AD to the third millenia BC!

heritagelandscapecreativity

‘They are the faults of archaeology rather than art’

LunulaEarlier this year I was privileged to see The Druids: Bringing in the Mistletoe by George Henry and Edward Atkinson Hornel (1890) in the excellent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  Only seeing the original painting does it proper justice and I urge you to visit the Kelvingrove to see its full wonder.

The DruidsThe painting was supported by interpretative signage, one of which explained:

Hornel Landscape Needless to say this required further investigation.

In his biography of Hornel, Smith notes in relation to the composition of The Druids,

The half-sphere of the moon on the background is reflected in the curve of the hill and the shapes of the priestly insignia, all echoing the cup-and-ring markings‘.

Looking at the Druid Landscape, Smith underplays the extent to which the lunar has been evoked through the cool silvery quality of the light…

View original post 1,875 more words

northshorepottery

studio pottery and ceramic sculpture by Jenny Mackenzie Ross

FragmeNTs

from the National Trust archaeology team in the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site

Duddon Dig

The survey and excavation of three longhouses in the Duddon Valley

Neil's Mountains

Exploring the mountains and wild places of Britain and Ireland

The Stone Rows of Great Britain

Big, Small, Short, Tall, Have we got 'em all?

Archaeology Orkney

Blog for the University of The Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute. Please feel free to share any post.

Neolithic And Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium

Annual Conference for Postgraduate Researchers

Stonehenge Neolithic Houses

An English Heritage experimental archaeology project to recreate houses from 2500 BC

Prehistories

Adventures in Time and Place

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

thinking about archaeology

British Rock Art Blog

A Forum about Prehistoric Rock Art in the British Islands

Chronology and Identity

Bronze Age burials in northern England

the urban prehistorian

finding prehistory in unlikely places

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 131 other followers