Cairns for the sake of it
Bleak boggy moors on a drab dull day, east wind blows bringing a chill cloudy mood.
Walking across the centuries; imprints of people on the land, from summit down to col and valley.
Lank Rigg, isolated , a focus;
Stone rings surround,
Places named by Shepherd and Herder for millenia,
Treading this land:
Town Bank – homestead
Sheilings – steadings,
Names now forgotton
Marked only by stone, re-arranged,
Cleared clitter ring,
Overlooking sacred summit
Cairn with a view,
Mans modern nuclear monument – or folly everlasting
Memories in bone and stone
Gaze to our future.
Stone cairns static, sentinel
Watching, a calm reminder for the future from the past
Tranquility in rock under a darkening sky.
Guided by an equilibrium of rock and moss.
What are we waiting for?
Notes: The Western Moors of the Cumbrian Fells are liberally scattered with the archaeological remains of pastoralism from, arguably, some of the earliest days of agriculture in Britain. Lank Rigg like its neighbour Seatallan, see my previous blog, are both crowned with large prehistoric cairns.
The suggestion that this was a “sacred summit” to the prehistoric locals here is also supported by the fact that is surrounded by at least a dozen ring cairns and it also has a similar number of round cairns and some long cairns to boot on its slopes and the adjacent fellsides. The more ephemeral features which also found here and have been identified other areas of the Lake District (see here) and elsewhere in Britain, where they are associated with Neolithic and Early Bronze Age features, they have also been recognised in many upland regions of Ireland, see here.
The majority of these features are recorded in the wide ranging and excellent publication by Jamie Quartermaine & Roger H. Leech. Cairns, Fields, and Cultivation: archaeological landscapes of the Lake District uplands, other features mentioned were located more recently by myself.
The term clitter is a descriptive term I am particularly drawn to; describing the litter of stones left around the landscape in areas of moorland, coined I believe, by Bender, Hamilton and Tilley on their research on Bodmin Moor and published in their fine book Stone Worlds.
The clitter-fields of Lank Rigg and Latterbarrow like those on Bodmin Moor are scattered with small ephemeral disturbances many with no apparent function others as potential shelters. Latterbarrow in particular has over ten cairns that are quite incongruous for such a diminutive summit, unfrequented by modern walkers.
The splendidly named Whoap, an adjoining summit above Ennerdale, certainly sounds like a name form an ancient culture