Mystery in the mist;
Glinting in a clint,
Offered to the mountain?
Well traveled whiteness.
Void between volcanic rock,
Exploded out of the earth the dust settles
In water forming
Patterns of the past
A light released from the land
The hand moves to draw
With chalk of childhood
Sediment writes itself
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,
Diamond lozenges, tightening skins
Scraped by flakes,
The beating bodhran calls
Rhythm of the wind – resonating rock
Through heavy brow
Owl eyes bring a sharper focus –
Elemental tumbled sculptures emerge
Mountains making their own art
Look close – layered, lichen
Reflecting clasts cast in stone
No scribe engraved these forms.
Red rememberings of hard nicked hands that
Split sharp hornstone,
Ancient prospector for mysterious XI,
Its unknown source – found?
Cris-crossed with rhombic faultlines
Weathered scallops patinated to grey
Falling back into the earth
Joining the ancestors
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.
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…