Woke this morning to cloud cover. I guess that summer really has breathed her last breath now. The weather forecast supports that opinion with familiar depressions lining up in the Atlantic. Taking good pictures is so much easier in good light but even so I went out this afternoon with camera in one hand and in the other an Ordnance Survey sheet I'd copied from the internet.
I was looking for the ancient stone circle you can see near the bottom right hand corner of the above map. I knew it would be hard to locate amidst the moorland grasses, heather and gorse and I wasn't expecting anything even remotely monumental - just squat stones arranged by our predecessors - probably more than two thousand years ago.
In those pre-Christian times, the population of the entire United Kingdom would have been far fewer than half a million. There would have been woodland almost everywhere except on exposed moorlands. Nights and winters would have both been very long and the business of simply surviving would have been extremely taxing. People would have been much more in tune with the earth, the rhythm of the seasons and how the stars are arranged in the sky.
Why did they build their stone circles? Communal gathering places? Primitive pagan churches? Astrological maps? Nobody really knows for sure but around the Peak District there are plenty and there are many other archaeological pointers to those far distant times.
After locating the stone circle, I walked half a mile to the north west to another interesting moorland site - Lady's Cross. Why it has that name, I have no idea. A cross or monolith has stood on this site for at least a thousand years. Again why it was put there, nobody is really sure. Was it a parish boundary marker or a guidepost for moorland travellers? I suspect that it was once a place of pagan significance and that as the centuries passed, its original purpose was forgotten and new meanings were applied - just as the cross itself was altered.
I often wonder about those people of the faraway past and what their world was like. Modern society likes to think that as time has passed, humanity has progressed and of course in many ways it has but I can't help feeling that somewhere along the line we lost some of life's best treasures. Being in those atmospheric, mysterious places makes you feel closer to those who went before. Walking where they walked. Breathing where they breathed.
At the stone circle:-