I was heading for a stone outcrop that I had previously spotted from afar and had identified via Ordnance Survey mapping. It was and is called The Horse Stone.
It sits in splendid isolation with no other outcrops in its vicinity. I guess that at some time in the distant past somebody must have thought that it had the shape of a horse but I can't see it myself.
I moved carefully through the snow - sometimes sinking up to my thighs - and finally reached the outcrop that could easily have passed for an abstract sculpture. I wondered about our ancestors - people who inhabited those uplands. many centuries ago. Archaeologists have certainly identified signs of pre-Christian habitation and burial within a mile of The Horse Stone.
What would they have made of such outcrops? I can't help thinking that such places would have been venerated - places to meet and pay homage to natural forces. The people who lived in faraway times would have had no notion of the geological processes that created such strange, unearthly shapes. If only that stone could speak.
Standing there by The Horse Stone, I bellowed with all my might believing that nobody would hear me for, as I said before, there was no one else about even though I was only fourteen miles from the western suburbs of Sheffield and fourteen miles from the eastern suburbs of Manchester.
Perhaps a house with no head or legs! On a sunny spring day I would honor it by climbing on top and soaking up the sun while eating my sandwich.ReplyDelete
That day back in 2012, I didn't climb on top because it was so bloody cold and if I had fallen I would have most likely died.Delete
The Vikings brought that over and then left it when they went back home.ReplyDelete
Really? I thought it might have been the same space aliens that left Stonehenge.Delete
It does look like a sculpture or like a bigger version of a cairn. It is majestic, especially set off by the stark landscape.ReplyDelete
A thing of rare beauty that speaks of warm seas in pre-history - that is why it has those layers.Delete
Sinking up to your thighs? That's some hard walking!ReplyDelete
I don't see a horse in that stone, but perhaps it has been weathered some since it first go the name. It is lovely to look at.
Maybe the name "Horse Stone" is an altered version of an earlier name. I really don't know.Delete
Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in desert places,ReplyDelete
Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
Hills of sheep, and the howes of the silent vanished races,
And winds, austere and pure:
Be it granted me to behold you again in dying,
Hills of home! and to hear again the call;
Hear about the graves of the martyrs the peewees crying,
And hear no more at all.
Blows the Wind Today: Robert Louis Stevenson.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland 1850. Died in Samoa, Polynesia 1894
Thank you for sharing these very fitting verses. So it is true then - Robert Louis didn't just write "Treasure Island"!Delete
Long John Silver never dies, but your readers should turn to RLS's other fiction: Thrawn Janet, The Master of Ballantrae, The Weir of Hermiston.Delete
In the interest of brevity I omitted the first stanza of Blows the Wind Today.
Those 'silent vanished races' left us with many questions: Google the Picts.
When the conditions were right, they lit fires on those hill + moor summits.
Roberto Calasso was fascinated by the role of ritual fire among the Vedic people of India:
*All the divine forms are present in the fire: when it is first lit and gives off only smoke, it is Rudra; when it burns, it is Varuna; when it blazes, it is Indra; when it dies down, it is Mitra. But the only form in which the fire emits an intense light, without any need for flame, is brahman.*
The supplicant who wishes to attain brahminic enlightenment, made his offering when the embers of the fire glowed in the night.
*Ardor*, Calasso page 40 of my Penguin paperback edition.
Margaret Elphinstone wrote a Calasso-like novel about the Neolithic people of Scotland, *The Gathering Night*.
It stands comparison with William Golding's masterpiece *The Inheritors.
Elphinstone had no written sources for the lives of her characters, and went to anthropological studies of shamans and Nordic pre-history.
Reading Elphinstone last year, I was struck by how spiritually impoverished most of us are, in spite of our scientific knowledge and technology.
J.B. Priestley said we should try to act as if we live under a great mystery; the final page of his *Literature and Western Man*.
Calasso died in Milan in 2021.
His last work, *The Book of All Books* is on the Bible.
Calasso wrote a short book, *The Art of the Publisher* (Penguin) which introduced me to many forgotten names in pre-conglomerate European publishing.
Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape (died 2020) appeared in a YouTube documentary:
*Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry.*
Read online: A Tribute to Roberto Calasso.
Literary Hub. April 2021.
Perhaps it's not called a horse stone because of how it looks but it's use? Who knows. Or maybe horses were used to move the stones? I've had some cold medication so perhaps I should just stop and go to bed:)ReplyDelete
I have tried to research it but to no avail. Sweet dreams Nurse Lily!Delete
Do you really wish the stone could talk? It might have been used for sacrificial purposes of some kind in the past. The outcrop is a rather strange thing in the way it is layered.ReplyDelete
The layers tell us that once the stone was part of a sea floor - long before humans evolved. In the twenty four hour span of Earth's history, humans have only been here for one minute.Delete
I thought the same as Pixie, that the stone could have been named so not because of its shape (which in my opinion resembles a slightly squashed rubber duck) but for its use, maybe a welcome shelter from the wind or shade on a hot day for someone who crossed that area with a horse.ReplyDelete
If I could better explain the location of The Horse Stone to you, you would realise that it is highly unlikely that any horse ever passed that way.Delete
I think it is the chimney stack for an underground home for trolls.ReplyDelete
Do you think spammers live there too?Delete
Good to read that you've stuck to your principles, and in the intervening years still haven't got a mobile phone!ReplyDelete
This is how I have always lived.Delete
Oh so that's was the noise I heard on top of Margery Hill.ReplyDelete
You beast! What would Mr and Mrs Hill have thought?Delete
Meanwhile, someone somewhere is calling 999 and saying, "I hear a man yelling! He sounds like he's dying!"ReplyDelete
Maybe the stone isn't shaped like a horse, but was a landmark for people riding past on horses?
Well, whatever it's history, it is a lonely and lovely piece of the vista.ReplyDelete
I've often wished things I've seen (and dogs I've rescued) could speak to me.ReplyDelete
I've learned sounds can really travel on cold, clear days!
"It sits in splendid isolation" resonated with me. Lovely choice of words, Neil. You are first and foremost a poet. :)ReplyDelete