2 October 2011

Antiquity

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:-
Lady's Cross:-

6 comments:

  1. This is the kind of thing that makes me long for England. It's as if I belong there although I've lived all my life in NZ. All I can think of is that my genetic material 'suits' me for England. Very unscientific of me!

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  2. The place on the map that caught my eye is Totley Tunnel. Just how long is it? Is it ancient or modern? Is it for driving a car? Taking a stroll? Bringing the cattle home? Moving waste water from point A to point B? Inquiring minds want to know....

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  3. When I was at Mellor Church last week, I wandered round the nearby excavated Iron Age settlement and not for the first time asked myself why.

    Why did they settle on top of a very large hill? The views are great, but it is exposed to the elements. Surely a valley settlement would have provided more shelter.

    Not to mention being closer to the shops.

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  4. hummm
    Never knew that was there....
    good post YP... YOU ARE BECOMMING A TRAVEL GURU

    a bit like a male judith Chalmers

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  5. KATHERINE But even those of us whose English roots go back millennia, we also long for things.
    RHYMES WITH FUNNEL It is a railway tunnel still in daily use. It is 3.5 miles long and was completed in 1893.
    SHOUTING COCKATOOS Hilltops - easier to defend and less marshy or prone to flooding. Also better TV reception.
    JOHN GRAY Yes, I'm Snake Chalmers which is short for Trousersnake Chalmers! Ooo err missus! Where's yer oboe?

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  6. It is always amazing to me the way you can stumble upon these circles or a standing stone just sitting there in a field with no hooha. They've always been there so no-one takes much notice of them. I must say they intreague me enormously.
    Have you ever been to Newgrange in Ireland? It is a Megalithic Passage tomb built around 3200BC. Mind blowing how clever those people were way back then.
    So much to see and do round every corner it seems. I need to come back for another visit.
    Cheers

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