Penrith Winter Droving Festival
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.
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?
Still silent wheel, no crushing here today
Slack chain drive once turning the ritespeed
No current flows today, drawn from the beck head
Held at height rushing down, turning water whirring turbines
Rushing crushing ore falls through the funnel
To rattling riddles, separating slate from mineral
Into the hollow drum of the ball mill.
Balls of steel rumble tumble and grind, silent now,
To flotation tanks of foaming minerals,
Skimmed, dried and gathered by the scavenger cells
Skeletons of empty trucks
Worn artefacts of hard labour, tagged.
Notes: This tour was organised by the Lake District National Park, thanks to Joel Ormond for giving us a grand tour!
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.
A fine little secluded valley with some interesting archaeology.
Today was mostly spent shivering in the icy wind blowing through Bannisdale in the Lake District. I was instructing volunteers from the Lake District Archaeology Volunteer Network in the dark arts of surveying archaeological earthworks. The site in question was an enclosed hut circle settlement at Lamb Pasture that is scooped into the hillside on the north side of this small relatively isolated Lakeland valley. The site is a scheduled monument and as part of ongoing management and conservation works the Lake District National Park Authority require detailed surveys (which the volunteers will in future undertake) of this and other similar vulnerable sites.
Thought provoking observations here
Passage directed, guided
As with knowledge.
In past as in present
To the important places
From the spaces in-between.
Touching the past
But separated still
‘Stand back’ ‘Don’t go there’
‘Ancient monument that way’.
On pilgrimage paths well trod
To move among the monuments
And then to depart.
All images were taken during two visits to the Orkney Islands last summer. For more information about Orkney itself and its amazing archaeology see http://www.orkneyjar.com/index.html or http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/heritage/worldheritage/world-heritage-sites-in-scotland/neolithic-orkney.htm
The archaeology on Orkney is truly amazing, but as I walked around the monuments last summer my thoughts turned to the control and directionality exercised by the way in which the monuments are set out and fenced in. My experience was very much directed and often the fences…
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Getting into the Groove (ed ware)?…
Literally. We may have found evidence of crushed human bone being mixed into the clay used to make Early Bronze Age pottery. While I was looking at the Moseley Height Bronze Age pottery last week in Towneley Hall Museum I saw something that I thought was very exciting. Large white specks in the body of the pot had a very bone-like appearance. I kept quiet about this in last week’s post because I hadn’t had chance to check it out properly, however…
This is the surviving portion of Urn C. It is the bit around the rim and, as you can see, it has been fairly intensively restored since it was excavated in 1950. There are big sections where the shape has been reconstructed (or made up) using plaster of paris and brown paint. The rest of it is original Bronze Age ceramic but, to keep it from crumbling, it…
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Originally posted on Roaringwater Journal:
Altar Wedge Tomb on The Mizen Peninsula In Ireland, the tradition of building megalithic (mega=large, lithos=stone) structures that included chambers to house the dead (such as the Boyne Valley Passage Grave complex, or the Court Tomb of Creevykeel) belongs to the Neolithic period, which ended around 2500 BC. About this time,…