High over Shipley Glen, Dobdrudden hill is the highest point over Baildon moor and therefore stands in clear view of Ilkley moor. The look out over the Yorkshire landscape is beautiful, and one can see why our tribal ancestors chose these high places to bury their dead. Dobrudden is a funereal landscape, dotted with cairns and, as a later addition, medieval bell pits lurk in the long grass with deceivingly deep falls. Next to the wall of the caravan park, propped up uncomfortably against a low wall is a beautifully marked stone:
I often wonder if, like pictish stones, the cups reference a lineage or memorialise families. The way cups are grouped, linked together and circled again reminds me of family trees.
I happened upon a page on the Leeds government website, which is quite hard to navigate to from the front page. It details the ancient scheduled monuments in the area with helpful maps on how to reach them, although some of them are out of date and the maps slightly unhelpful. I have been trying in the past six months to gradually work my way through the whole list, in a quest to deeper understand the landscape in which I have placed myself, and to try and shift my focus from the mundane distractions that are propelled to the forefront of our world view.
One of my dearest friends, Simon Bradley, shares my love of deviation from the set paths of modern living and has written a novel about the domination of the Yorkshire Omnibus Company over time in future, waterlogged Leeds. Simon and me have wandered the non-streets of Leeds and its surrounds and have had many an occasion to feel the narrowing of permitted thoroughways bearing down on us. It is my worry that life no longer revolves around the passing of folklore and mythology as a totem of belonging in whereever you are, but instead a clinical familiarity replaces it all, cold to the idiosyncracies of the land.
The ginnels and snickerways are overgrown now, deemed too dangerous although the tall grass suggests even the dark-hearted steer clear. Entire postcodes of Leeds are ghost-towns of neglect, unfashionable and undeveloped they lack the shopping malls and bus routes which renders them unpalatable to the masses.
I love leeds for its strangeness, the dark corners and impossibly confused architecture. Mary Bateman dragging her flayed skin cloak through the meanwood beck under Timble Bridge. I hope, through the story-telling of my friends and I, that these myths are living on and stay within the collective psyche of the city.
I will try and post up all of my explorations of the scheduled monuments (the grey stone and carving of cocidius are already up!) to this blog in the near future.
Not far from Adel crag, we were, a year or so ago, shown a carving of the celtic god Cocidius. Recently both me and my friend Phil Legard have been searching for the carving to no avail, until today when I was wandering through the woods and noticed I was in a familiar grove.
The carving lay here, the Red One sunk in mottled green rock. The tall beech trees give the clearing a cathedralesque quiet, the air is cool and the deep leaf litter slows your tread to a mindful pace. Jack-By-The-Hedge grows near and fills the air with heavy scent.
In the shrine of the war-god I am given courage to continue a difficult path. He is protector of both the hunter and the hunted, the tarot card 9, Adjustment, continually recalled at this spot.
A return visit a week later, darker still and the leaves have started to fall. My mind clear I picture a figure in the trees clad in red, who comes here before battle. What dark days lay ahead I do not know. My heart sways between being as heavy as a stone beneath a stream and being lighter than a feather.
I lives in a small village on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border from the age of 12. My mother had made friends with local gardeners, including an elderly woman named Joan, who had an interest in local folklore and customs. She told me that the woods opposite our house contained a gravestone that she'd never been able to locate but gave me rough directions as to where she thought it might be. The story she told me relating to the gravestone was that a local man in the last century had taken a second wife after his first had died and at her insistence he and she had drowned the two children in the river and buried the children in the woods.
I took the story for granted till some years later when I decided to make a renewed effort to find the gravestone. Based on what I discovered my guess is the woods she directed me to have receded over the many years past since the murders and the memorial is more likely in someone's back garden, or long since lost. The myth of the murderous step-mother also proved false. The children were slain by their own mother - whether this was a deliberate corruption as it was told to me or just the archetypal repetition by which mythologies become born over time, I do not know.
Ann Wycherley lived a poor, cold and violent life by all accounts. She was born in Market Drayton and lived there in the workhouse on Shropshire street. At 28 she was unwed and had two children, aged 2 and 4. She left the workhouse to elope with a lover that December and drowned her oldest child, a toddler, in Chipnall Mill pond, the side of the Bishop's woods known as Hell-hole, having walked the three miles out of Market Drayton, crossing the staffordshire/shropshire border.
Bishop's wood is a lonely place, the sloping banks of trees seem to distill any available light to the barest of shade. The medieval glass houses would have been abandoned years before Ann stood with bloodied rock in hand but the ancient track-ways through the trees were the only route onward to Cheswardine. The snow would have been deep, the winters of 1835-38 were particularly harsh and unforgiving, the workhouse rags would not have afforded much warmth. Her inevitable capture some 8 miles further west at Baldwin's gate, enroute to Newcastle under Lyme, gave no mention of her companion although much was made of the fact she was simple and coerced into slaughtering her child by this shadowy figure.
In March she was tried by Judge Baron Gurney where she claimed to be pregnant to delay her execution but as it became clear she wasn't with child she was hung outside Stafford Gaol, May 5th 1838.
I spent much of my teenage years looking for the memorial, apparently a stone erected in the memory of the child at the spot where she left her in the snow that day, but I never found it. Ann Wycherley was buried in the gaol grounds at Stafford, the infant river Sow flows down from Bishop's wood to where she lays.
The grey stone erratic boulder overlooking Harewood house and across to Almscliffe, stone 399 on the Boughey and Vickerman survey. Its very easy to locate for rock art, a bridleway through some imposing gates opposite a turning to Wike on the A61 road lead up to New Bridge over the river, the grey stone is on the hill 340m SE in Grey Stone Pasture (appropriately!) on the left just before you reach the woods and bridge, theres a large oak tree on the hill behind it too. The concentric circles of the carving face west towards armscliffe, the natural rock boulder mirroring the silhouette of the outcrop in minature form, the midwinter full moon of the bronze age would have set behind Almscliffe viewed from this point. We visited for the winter solstice sunrise of 2009 and the glow over the valley was beautiful.
The 7 circles without inner cup remind me of some circle lightning I saw as a child, ever decreasing mirroring without end. We elaborately disguise our feelings and thoughts to give ourselves the impression of change but ultimately the patterns remain the same. Microcosm of life on a microcosm of the focus of this area. Almscliffe draws the eye from a full circle around it, from all points you notice its mushrooming intrusion on the landscape.
I've been particuarly interested in Paul Bennett's findings about Almscliffe's Faerie's Parlour, the existence of which had also been confirmed to me by a climber friend. Apparently its a very small enclosed tunnel which you can crawl so far comfortably but then becomes extremely claustrophobic. This tunnel supposedly leads from Almscliffe to emerge out from under the bridge I mentioned below the grey stone at Harewood. The Northen Caves entry on the cave however details an exploration by Royal Park middle school in the 70's.
The tunnel has been an obsession now for months! We have explored it to at least a depth of 50 metres, but time and fear has kept us from our goal.
Me and my friends have created an E-book related to Almscliffe, and music to accompany the text.
I'd like to think this is a project which will grow with time, as we didnt cover everything we discovered due to time limitations. Specifically the connections between almscliffe and the grey stone, which are referred to in the local folklore of Rombold the giant. He lived in Ilkley, on the moor, and frequently argued with his giantess wife. One arguement resulted in a chod of rock being thrown from Ilkley at the retreating giant, and where it landed it formed Almscliffe and a smaller piece, the Grey stone.
The maze-like corridor systems of asylums for the mentally ill remind me of the twists and angles of a labyrinth, ultimately the patients entered through the same grandiose administration blocks, with the repeated clock towers' eye recording the moment, and mostly they stayed there till death, living out the same daily patterns, a series of monotonous movements designed to instill a sense of quiet unquestioning confusion.
Once at High Royds asylum, I climbed through a broken window while my friend waited outside. As I stood inside the corridor waiting for her to step through the sash window slid upwards of its own accord. We carried on regardless, she stepped through the portal as if nothing had happened, although a fear lay inside me of what would happen if the sash flew back down with some kind of supernatural force.
I have wandered those corridors for many hours looking for a mirror that shows me who I really am. The way we search in each other's souls for a deeper truth than we see in our own, a sentence more poignant for its distance from our own hand. Those we have lost we immortalise in moments that are tied to these places. Upon returning to the ever-decreasing maze of passageways left at the hospital I recalled conversations, episodes of time which replay in my mind as I walked through thorn-littered hallways. The ghosts lost in a dream High Royds are very familiar, the place I know in my sleep has windows which close behind us and never let us leave, trapped together in a comic tableaux of our own creation. We left a stain on the slab which cannot be washed clean.
With the joy of almost completely mutually appreciative company we bore on high upon the Chevin. The wind up here is always high to a breathless degree, whipping spirits up despite the fact you nearly always seem to be walking against the blow. The cloud broke often to give us heady spring rays and the view over Otley was so perfectly presented you could pick out shop fronts, possibly the Prince tribute shop if you are in the right mood. We decided to firstly locate Knotties stone, the best known megalithic feature upon the chevin. The track east towards the quarry on suprise view leads alongside the Yorkgate road, just as you reach a point parallel with plantations of trees on both sides of the path you should see a fairly wide stone with a large carving on your left.
Knotties stone has a striking similarity to the Grey Stone at Harewood. The rings and four central cups with a channel drawn out over to the east of the rise of Almscliffe did seem to me to be a deliberate directive act.
Image from Rombolds Way by E.T. Cowling
I can imagine beltane fires being lit here, maybe on beacon house farm, and on the horizon at almscliffe crag and in turn from there north east at harewood. The stone itself was low and unmovable, heavily worn and warm from the sun. We all bowed in turn around it to take angled shots of the shallow grooves and marvelled at the view from the spot. I guess this would be called the 'common' cup and ring as it follows a similar pattern to many in the UK and certainly the majority of local petroglyphs, but I tried on the spot to find some kind of physical relevance to the locality. The classic question in regards to cup and rings, and therefore what you decide when on location what to look for, is undoubtably as to whether they are ornament or amulet, as probed by H. J. Dukinfield Astley in Cup-and Ring-Markings: Their Origin and Significance and many others since . My feeling (greatly influenced by the writings of Alexander Thom and Aubrey Burl) has been that they had a double use as tools to determine astronomical events which had a great significance to the religion of a people who depended upon planning their survival through winters, and also coming together at times of fertility such as May day. If Aubrey Burls interpretation of the evidence from funereal customs in the Rites of the Gods is accurate, the communication between local settlements in times of often dire need were vital for their survival. Therefore beacon points like Almscliffe, the Chevin and Harewood were too essential to the communities and these carvings could have some use in such customs, which I think probably explains the remote hilly locations a lot of cup and rings exist in.
Taking into account the physical design of the carving, four cups within a set of 5 concentric rings with a strong line drawn from the centre outwards pointing north east. I wanted to consider the ornamental possibilities of the stone, because although our prehistoric forebearers must have been extremely hardy, practical people in order to survive, the poetry and artistic slant that many megalithic remains possess is undeniable: just look at the carvings at Bryn Celli Du in Anglesey or Newgrange in Ireland, and the poetic acts discovered in funereal rites at places like the barrow at Aldro in the Yorkshire wolds where an arrow head was found deliberately broken and placed pointing directly at the smashed skull of a infant burial. I was interested by the ideas put forth by Gyrus on the dreamflesh blog that suggested the patterns found in rock carvings related to shamanic practices. The river Wharfe lies directly below snaking through the landscape quite spectacularly, truly Gyrus' Verbeia serpent goddess in form. The concept of visionary experiences at these points seems entirely feasible, the altitude definitely lends itself to altered mindscapes, the wind high on the hill creating a kind of roaring isolation of sound. I thought the sites of some carvings could bear comparison to the Taoist shrines atop Mount Tai, supposedly channeling some kind of inherent power from the mountain itself but also its location offering the solitude, peace and altered air pressure to achieve a certain state of mind. Dobrudden necropolis in nearby Baildon moor was also home to a beacon fire, is high up on the landscape and obviously had sacred significance to the people buried there, and again we can see heavy concentrations of cup and rings nearby. The vortex like circles on knotties stone could very well be symbolic of some act of visionary questing, the carving possibly traced in some act of ritual devotion as a labyrinth is. One cannot help but trace these circles on first inspection, it is a compulsion to follow the curve and spiral on its path.
Southward we then headed down the footpath behind the Royalty pub. There was some slight confusion with directions but you can see the Bull stone from the pub if you look carefully from the added height of the style, and from there its just straight across two fields and hopefully avoiding whatever frisky cattle lays in wait that day. The Bull stone, so called because of a whetstone reference, a bull baiting past or a roman fertility remenant from the old road that runs along side it. Eitherway an impressive monolith, deeply weathered from a long upright stance. Just shy of six foot high and with a few possible companions hiding in the dry stone walls nearby. We hesitated to run across the field to meet the stone because of various animal guards, and as I walked up to the stone some horses were bucking alongside the fence a few feet away. The stone stands in private farmland so its probably better to skip along to the farm and ask permission, we didnt for our trip but in hindsight it seems polite with animals in the field. A mysterious stone, not on any of our OS maps but seems to be known locally at least. The rites of spring are often connected to the ancient Mithraic practice of sacrificing a bull, and it seems a strong coincidence to have the Mayday beacon gathering spot atop the chevin so convieniently positioned next to the bull stone, possible location of a bovine sacrifice. Also its interesting to consider that one of the more prominant stones in the Dobrudden necropolis has a carving which has been likened to the constallation of pleiades, which is in the zodiac sign of Taurus, the bull. These Beltane fires seem obvious meeting points at boundary lines between seperate communities where spring festivities and rituals could occur. Almscliffe, the Chevin and Dobrudden on Bailden moor all directly overlook ancient boundary lines, and Harewood, the Township Boundary.
we departed along the path of the roman road, realising that the stone was indeed visible from the road and looked much taller from this perspective than standing next to it. I was struck with the idea of arranging to light small fires at the Greystone, Almscliffe and Chevin on Beltane eve to see the effect.
Last night I had a minah bird found in the fireplace, i held it slick and warm in my hands like august dreamy hot sticky hair. i cannot describe, the endless love, its spirit hopped and skipped through the air a thousand songs of joy to join the pretty clouds of steam that hung above the kitchen table. I dipped it in the water, soap bubbles flash oily rainbows and his feathers split to yellow under the surface, after the flapping wings spray water into the room. Shells catch his bright black eye and swirl down to inspect the fractured surface, a pearl spiral reflected inside, flashed on a retina i see exactly what you see, i feel what you feel i catch the warm air draft free and alone, starving and happy, my body doesnt feel this like you want it to. Then suddenly the jaws of a dog catch the black wing and crush its beautiful design, the perfect seperations twisted and torn, left alone on the floor. i cry for you and hold your broken body.
Before I visit Seahenge, I want to properly explore how I understand it as a working portal to the underworld + death connected to the waking world by dreams and agony.
Seahenge is a Bronze age (contemporary to doll tor, main lifespan of stonehenge) monument, discovered at Holme in 1998, although local residents have suggested that various other seahenges appeared and dissapeared regularly along the shifting sands of the coast for many years prior to this. Francis Pryor thought that its place on the coast, situated in the Fens gave it a spiritual significance of bridging the gaps between the living world and the afterlife. Looking at the smashan burning grounds on the banks of the Ganges its easy to draw similarities between the two funereal practices, the reversal of the menstrual tide as the body and blood decay and are absorbed back into the Rainbow Serpent flowing of the seas and the rivers. Excarnation occurs, the bones are broken and the soul can be freed. Aubrey Burl theorizes in Rites of the Gods that the breaking of cremated bones, an act which appears to have been common throughout the UK's neolithic burial sites, was seen to free the soul, although skulls and jaw bones were often kept as totems for ritual use, or placed in mortuary houses to preserve the power of a communitys ancestors. Trephination similarly can be seen as a way to release the demons/spirits causing pain in the head, and the breaking of the bone releases the pressure and the demon. Evidence of trepanning goes back 40,000 years in human civilisation, an example from the Thames, near Hammersmith shows a hole in the head, seemingly deliberate in shape and with five years worth of regrowth of bone. The skull is between 3 and 5 thousand years old, a similar time frame to stonehenge and seahenge. The use of trepanning as a migraine relief mechanism makes sense to the sufferer, a release of pressure.
The migraine trance I have found myself in often leads to an internal exploration of the ability to transcend physical boundaries, in the many hours spent lying alone in bed, unable to sleep or move because of the pain you need to become adjusted to the sensation, otherwise it can be hard to keep a hold of your self. In disconnecting with the pain through trancework I have found it possible to find within it useful techniques and easier ways to achieve that state of mind. Entoptic visions are a nuisance in a public situation, but within a controlled state can bring one closer to visionary experiences. The visuals could be likened to descriptions of psychoactive drugs, geometric shapes and colours, flashes lights and strange auras. I've been told on several occasions that when ill, I lie with my eyes open but unconscious of whats going on around me, I contemplate nothing, pain becomes a distant echo. It sounds like a melodramatic statement, but many times I have felt rising panic at the situation, the unbearable pain and pressure feels like it must give way to some catastrophic internal event and death will soon follow. Cluster headaches have often sent me falling to the ground, seized by some terrible force that seems certain to kill me, or drive me to kill myself with the crushing agony of it. The connection between migraines and death, the trance-like existance of the migraine sufferer seems obvious to me, it binds you to follow a cycle of rebirth, feeling estatic at the pureness of becoming pain-free again, giddy and alive after days of isolation, darkness and complete introversion. The migraine dream, where the onset occurs before you wake, are always of death, and dying. The pain crushes you and you feel the slow inevitability of dying, or being dead and knowing no end to the paralysed pain. Through controlling your breathing, the pain does not nessesarily go away, but you move away from it. The state of mind you have control over does not need to correspond directly to the physical complaints of your body. The only unfortunate effect of becoming disconnected from the pain is that you no longer struggle to keep the pain under control, I have gone whole days without drinking or attempting to eat, or take painkillers which ultimately will prolong the migraine. The life of a migraine sufferer is often interspersed with these long contemplative times when they can do little else but think of their pain, I think it helps to try and use it productively if possible.
Seahenge is now preserved in wax and on display at Kings Lynn museum.
this is 'Applehenge', the replica constructed for the Time Team programme on the excavation of Seahenge. There was some controversy surrounding this structure, due to the fact no planning permission was obtained for it to be built, and the Oak used for the centre was a protected tree. Its location in an orchard in Norfolk is now unadvertised and very low-key, presumably due to these problems.
Despite the issues with Applehenge, I couldn't help but feel the value of reconstructing the monument in full size. The aging of the timbers since the programme was aired, with Ivy curling up the centre tree, gave it a somber air of beauty. It is very easy to imagine the place bedecked with funereal adornments, lone yggdrasil in the marshes with a rain-washed figure prostrate on the upturned roots.
Scammonden Bridge with its huge cutting looms over the road skeletal, back arched and punctuated with ribs of concrete, it's vast irregularity unnerves. Saddleworth moor is just beyond and, reinforced with repetition, reminds me of the many car journeys, the points along the way at which my Mother would tell me the same stories along the way. The sign bluntly points out that this is the highest motorway in england. 1442ft above sea level,
there seems to be a silent mark of the ascent a few moments before as simultaniously, everyones ears pop at the change of air pressure.
saddleworth moor, where they buried those kids, creeps along beside you. Its not a pretty moor, it looks cold and empty, like a house derelict before its been lived in. The sky meets the ground in a hazy confusion, the road splits to allow for stott hall farm, the sheep look grubby, small and too natural next to the endless stream of mechanical speed, mud is pasted on their wool, the farmhouse, the concrete underpass.
My mind feels the burden of dozens of imprints of this journey, the same words spoken at the same points along the way. I have begun to see, at the pennine way overpass and as the huge cathedral cutting of scmmonden bridge towers above, a naked human corpse, bloated and blue stood upright in the road ahead. My mother's edema ridden body remembered from a hospital bed appears to me, preserved on a road that has formed me. Countless journeys along here, every one either with her, telling me the same mythologies as if i'd never heard them before, or without her and knowing when she'd say it. It is a chemical tic I can't shake, it will live with me forever, her morbid curiosity in the lost childrens' graves now haunts it. Dont dally, think of Lesley-Ann, buried with her plastic beads further down the valley at Hollin brown knoll, her features were preserved by the peat like Tollund Man. As Yorkshire turns to Lancashire, the road becomes lost in thought.
The Godstone is a small, christianised monument in a churchyard in Formby, north of Liverpool. It supposedly used to reside in the village green but was moved to its position in the churchyard, and inscribed with a cross, and steps to symbolise the ascent to heaven.
"Until recently Roman Catholics were buried here, and the coffins carried three times round this stone, presumably (as in other instances) following the way of the sun. The custom may be very ancient, and indeed a pagan survival. Roman Catholics, moreover, in visiting the churchyard, used to kneel down and pray before this stone."
We couldnt find it for a good while, we looked all around the church, and into the trees further back but eventually after splitting up to curb the boundarys found it to the west of the church at the furthest point of the churchyard there. It was smaller than we expected, but very sweet and joined by a few other similar sized boulders. The carving was unusual, an abstract sigil rather than a stern reminder that, as it has been said to describe this rock;
•" where God hath a Temple, the Divell will have a
chapiiel: where God hath sacrifices, the Divell will
have his oblations."
We were dusted with snow as we took our photo, and then the skies grew heavy with it. The car got fairly stuck and we foolishly meandered back towards the sea to find Gormley's Another Place. The drive back across the pennines was sickeningly slow, slippy and tiring.
Doll Tor, a minature bronze age beauty tucked away a little south of the better signposted Nine Ladies stone circle, north east of the ruined stone circle Nine Stones Close. A small cairn lies next to it, which seems to be slightly rearranged every time we visit. The cairn contained a cist which held a cremated female burial.
This bead found at the circle during an early excavation is thought to be from egypt, from around 1300 BC.
The circle was vandalised during the spring of 1995 and reconstructed in 1997 by a team of archaeologists, restoring it to bronze age condition. The photo in Julian Cope's Modern Antiquarian shows it meddled with,
. During a Heathcote excavation in the 1930s three of the stones were mysteriously smashed overnight, you can see the (deteriorated) cement joins holding them together.
The relatively modern woodlands surrounding the stones give it an atmosphere of calm and solitude that is missing from its companion Nine Ladies. I try to picture the place alone atop a moor as it must have been every time we visit and fail, I take solace in the fact that, tucked to the side of the proto-temple of the andle stone, its location always bore it more to the shelter of its landscape than to crown it. The quarry a few feet north of the stones is shockingly close, and gives me quiet horrors as to what could have been the fate of this place. I presume the local interest in archaeology borne of Thomas Bateman who lived in Birchover and excavated this site in 1852 saved it from certain doom.
You can look across from the edge of the woods by the circle to Robin Hoods Stride, and easily walk it should you wish to, I imagine with the trees clear you could view Doll Tor from Nine Stones Close and vice versa. We've seen many offerings and ribbon on the trees, but haven't once chanced upon any other visitors at any point, and we come here often. Halloween was particularly special, we put a lamp in the middle of the circle, the boys climbed the Andle stone in the dark (the girls + jeff sensibly abstained) and the stars were bright in the sky. We do sort of think of this place as ours, as I'm sure many other people do!
We found a fallen tree, with some rocks beneath its roots just beyond the cairn. There were some carvings on it, possibly a figure and an ear of corn.
The hill borders the RAF perimeter fence and access down to it passes an old associated airfield. The old monuments to life and death stand eye to eye with modern ones. I think the moors have not lost their discourse in the wilderness as planted there by our ancestors. They seem to echo a past from which we have barely evolved. The monoliths and carvings on the rocks may have been a navigational and astronomical aid for nomadic tribes or lone wanderers survive the harsh, confusing conditions on the moorland. Fygela as it was known was a fairly inhospitable place but the dangerous nature of the location itself seems to have imbued it with a spiritual significance to the neolithic population, with many burial howes and cairns remaining to seek a path through what could easily be deadly.
The moorland megalithic sites helped turn the qliphothic moorland into an inhabitable place, to create a balance within a seafaring community whose heart lay out to sea. These monuments now centre around a different danger, the eyes and ears of which look across the world and into the stars. The pyramid on fylindales moor claimed to be the voice of God during the cold war, giving us the three minutes to prove our worth before we faced whatever lies beyond. Talismanic, it promised to exact an eye for an eye on those who wished to destroy us, and protected us with the same terrible power we ourselves feared.
The large pyramid is easy enough to find as it looms high on the hill, we found it on a dark december night in the mist and snow. From the village you can walk up the first footpath you see on the left hand side (going into the village from the Castle Howard estate turning) and walk up the field, bearing right when the sign directs you to do so. The pyramid can be seen in a north easterly direction from the footpath, on top of the prominent brow of a hill.
The pyramid is flanked by 8 towers, which seem designed to hold lamps atop them.
The architect for this folly was the Freemason Nicholas Hawksmoor, described as 'the Devil's architect' because of his use of risky quotations in the religious themes in his work from throughout history, from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and other non-christian ideologies.
We threw caution to the wind by visiting the twenty-eight feet high pyramid with no prior preparation, no map, no real directions beyond a knowledge that the pyramid was on a hill over the village. A dog barked in the distance the whole time we climbed the hill, but when we reached the pyramid there was (finally, short lived) silence. The mist around the hill was below us so we could finally see the stars. One of the towers was partially destroyed and we stood on it to see across the land. The inscription on the side of the pyramid had deteriorated quite badly:
TO THEE O VENERABLE SHADE
WHO LONG HAST IN OBLIVION LAID
THIS PILE I HERE ERECT
A TRIBUTE SMALL FOR WHAT THOU'ST DONE
DEIGN TO ACCEPT THIS MEAN RETURN,
PARDON THE LONG NEGLECT.
TO THY LONG LABOURS, TO THY CARE
THY SONS DECEAS'D, THY PRESENT HEIR
THEIR GREAT POSSESSIONS OWE:
SPIRIT DIVINE WHAT THANKS ARE DUE
THIS WILL THY MEMORY RENEW
IT'S ALL I CAN BESTOW
The pyramid has a tiny door to the rear, you can only access it on special tours but we found a photo of the bust of Lord William Howard housed inside the beehive shaped interior:
Yoinked from Neil Levine's Castle Howard and the Emergence of the
Modern Architectural Subject.
Is there a correct way to disembark from viewing such a magnificant folly, you may or probably will not ask? One of our number log rolled from top to bottom of the ridge on which it stands, and it did seem the finest way to do it. Not so much so that the rest followed suit!