070622.Stonehenge, Druid Woodstock From Dusk Till Dawn

June 22, 2007 at 11:19 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, hippies, people, Pilgrimage, Salisbury, Sculpture, Supernatural, Wiltshire | 6 Comments

Stonehenge Solstice 2/3: [One], [Two], [Three]
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Our position throughout the night looking east, high up in the inner circle on one of the fallen slabs. This was near the center of the sacrificial mosh pit, where there was a nightlong drum banging concert. Maybe it was music, maybe. It was cheered and had many replacement musicians. The final twilight shot includes the ominous cumulus cloud that here forms a lintel but soon joined with other clouds to block the sun.

Sunset: 9:26 pm
Sunrise: 4:58 am

With that said, I will state that my group was running late…. The bus dropped us off after nine and a good mile or so away from the Henge, nevertheless, we could see the pink-glowing stones. Having now seen the Henge on several occasions and in different lights, I’ll tell you it is like the Taj Mahal, which continuously changes color during the day. However, this being England, the stones are mostly gray due to the overcast climate. Sure enough, before we could get a good shot of the pink stones from afar, a cloud moved in and blocked the sun. This became a theme of the experience: relatively cloudless skies skewered during the final moments by a streak of clouds. Why the ancients ever decided to build the monument dependant on sun-caused shadows in England beats me, but they did – and I came.

Getting There:070620.513.WI.Stonehenge

While walking with thousands of others through the fields to get to the Henge, I began to familiarize myself with those in attendance. There was a good number of students, many parents with children, several elderly and disabled individuals, many adult tourists/hikers, an overwhelming number of twenty/thirty something New Agers, with the rest of the large cast made up of adolescents with Lord of the Ring or Dungeon and Dragon inspired consumes. Also, I met several tourists from quite a far ways away in the US and Canada who came with large families for this event.
Were there any Druids without these pop-culture inspired robes, frills, and walking sticks? Hardly. Somewhere in that mix were the Emos, Goths, Hipsters, and Punks. It’s fair to say that every single person in England who had a shaved head or mohawk was at this event. And one in every two people in attendance had dreadlocks. This will be better detailed in tomorrow’s post on the people there.

Because all of these subgroups were all English, (I assume), they were all quite polite – even the excessively moody ones. One robe-wearing girl (or young woman) with gnarly walking stick, who appeared to be quite old from behind stammered out a thank you when I held a sheepgate open for her. Those words looked like they were killing her. She was supposed to be an elf, or witch, and supposed to be deeply lost in thought – but she yielded to the civilized culture. Very odd.
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Druids:

Early on, the Druids were kind of lame [Lame, Better, Nice]. I saw one solemn adolescent Druid in a brown Franciscan robe with cord being escorted around by his decidedly middle-aged, ordinary, and slightly embarrassed parents. I explained that many of what might be considered Druids at the event owed more to D&D or LotR, and others were more like aging hippies, but I don’t know. The ones that were there had banded together to chant and play on small drums or recorders, truly the devil’s instrument. One group, reduced to hyping modern tourist gimmicks, tried to get folks to vote for Stonehenge as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Only later did I see Druids throwing (hopefully non-human ashes into the crowd) and sprinkling them at the base of each stone. That seemed cool (largely because I avoided being hit with the suspect ashes.)

There’s too many photos to post here, so I won’t try even uploading that many. None were great.

Music:

The center of the Henge had one or two bongo/drum players at all times. There was sometimes a recorder or horn there. These were not Druid musicians, who were forced outside of the Henge with their screeching animal horns. Whenever a musician handed over the bongos to another, there was clapping but no audible change in music. I stayed in the center perched high on a slab for most of the night; the night was clear and the stars were incredible from inside the Henge…and the outside of the Henge glowed blue from floodlights set up by the authorities for that night.
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There were bands of Druids roaming outside with horns and other small drums, but the funniest other musician was a lone bagpiper outside the Henge for a long time. Not one person was listening to him, it was extremely sad and he eventually quit.
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Sunrise:

At twilight, it began to rain lightly and then quit, just God’s way of washing Druid-hippies. I usually hate umbrellas but here they looked interesting in profile and in shadow. It had been clear, if quite cold, all through the night … but as sunrise neared clouds suddenly moved in. It was like a race between the sun and the clouds. Everyone knew when the sun would rise over the hill and they could figure that the overhead clouds’ speed meant that there was no hope in seeing the sun unobstructed. Some left, but others continued to hope since they were only minor clouds….nothing happened. More clouds came and what had been a clear day turned into one that was completely overcast. Thank you England. Twenty minutes after sunrise a very small hole in the clouds cleared that allowed the sun to be seen, if not shine through. It disappeared before I had zoomed in on my third picture.

If I can manage it, I’ll post some videos….and more photos tomorrow.

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070227.Tucking Mill, Pilgrimage to Smith of the Rocks

February 27, 2007 at 12:18 AM | Posted in Architecture, Chisel Marks, people, Pilgrimage, somerset, Tucking Mill | 10 Comments

Copy of 070215.44.Somset.Tucking Mills.WmSmith House
Why is there a car there? Why is it a red car? Someone told me that red coloured cars are the ones most likely to be stopped by the police for speeding or other traffic infringements. (See JC’s comment.)

House of Geologist William Smith (1769-1839)

“Another claim of Monkton Combe to fame is as the starting-place of the science of geology in this west country. At the hamlet called Tucking Mill at the western extremity of the Parish on the now abandoned canal, which stands a house which bears a modest marble tablet with the inscription—

In this house lived
William Smith
The father of English Geology

“This ingenious pioneer of science was born in 1769 and became a mineral surveyor and civil engineer. In 1794 he was appointed engineer to the Soon Coal Canal, the one which used to pass through Monkton Combe but is new extinct and superseded by the Railway to Hallathrow. He bought this house, now the office of the Fuller’s Earth Factory, and made it his residence, and also traveled much about the country observing strata. He was the first to lay down the important formula of the identification strata by their characteristic organic remains, the great key to unlock the definite order of organic succession in the crust of the earth. (vide Prestwhich Geology, vol. ii, p. 190). He was also the first man to frame a complete geological map of England and Wales. A reminiscence of his country home remains embedded in the nomenclature of Geology, in the name “Midford Sands,” given to a certain formation found at the top of the Upper Lias and at the base of the Oolite series. These “Sands” were exposed in the making of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, the long tunnel between Bath and Midford being cut through them. They are found also at other places in the hills around Bath.” – D. Lee Pitcairn and Alfred Richardson, An Historical Guide to Monkton Combe, Combe Down and Claverton (Bath: F. Goodall Printer, 1924) 29-30.
Clearly the original marble tablet was removed and “re-erected” in 1932 (possibly this refers to more than the plaque.)
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Ironically, he was sent to King’s Bench Prison for debt after he published his famous map and others merely plagiarized his work without paying him. It’s all over the internet today, and for this post I merely lifted it off a random site without credit to the site or payment made. Thankfully dead people don’t really need royalties, and they wouldn’t be valid anymore since he’s really dead…been so for a while now. (See Barbara’s comment.)

William Smith’s geological map of England and Wales (and part of Scotland) published in 1815:
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070203.Bath, Be Careful Where You Bathe

February 3, 2007 at 9:18 PM | Posted in Actors in Period Costumes, Architecture, Bath, Corinthian Order, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, people, Pilgrimage, Ruins, Sculpture, somerset, Supernatural | 12 Comments

A photo from back in October during the filming of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.061007.049.Somset.Bath.Bath St.Filming Austen's Persuasion near the Cross Bath
Here, terminating the Ionic-ordered Bath Street’s (formerly Cross Bath Street) western vista is the Corinthian-ordered Cross Bath, with the John Wood Building of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist as its background. On page 126 of The Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol (1958), noted architectural critic Nikolaus Pevsner described the street as a the “finest piece of formal planning at Bath,” and “a perfect piece of design made especially attractive by its modest easily manageable size.” The pictured Cross Bath east façade was designed principally by Thomas Baldwin, completed in 1784 to replace the Elizabethan structure. The Cross Baths have been heavily remodeled since then, most recently in 2003.

cross bath

Miracle of Miracles:

James II’s consort, Mary of Modena, who followed her sister-in-law’s failed attempt at an infertility cure at the Cross Bath and succeeded. Exuberantly expecting a male heir, the Earl of Melfort commissioned and then erected the Melfort Cross at the site, just three months after the 10 June 1688 birth. Descriptively almost a metaphor of Robert Campin’s c.1425 Annunciation Merode Altarpiece, the monument itself was referencing that Biblical subject too literally. The costly marble monument rose from the center of the baths and was composed of a Trinity-referencing three Corinthian columns “springing from a pedestal and supporting a dome, surmounted by a cross with a crown of thorns. Around the dome were three cherubim holding aloft a crown, scepter and orb.” A dove, clearly representing the Holy Spirit, descended between the columns toward the bath, implying the miraculous conception of Queen Mary, soon to mother of a king of three kingdoms. Should this monumental message be missed by the Protestant majority, it was spelled out with numerous religious and political inscriptions, dedications and heraldic shields. An embarrassed Corporation maintained the monument until the Glorious Revolution later that year when the Melfort Cross became a memorial for the Catholic cause. A slow process of dismantling ended in 1783, the same year Baldwin drew up his plans for the new Bath. However, given its expense and quality of workmanship, Melfort Cross fragmentally resurrected around town as decorative parts of shopfronts and in the North Parade Gardens, as late as 1907.

All facts and historic images came from Manco, quoted text from page 65.
See Manco, Jean. “The Cross Bath.” In Bath History, ed. Simon Hunt. Gloucester: Alan
Sutton Publishing Limited, 1988. 2: 49-84.
Melfort Cross

070116.Salisbury, The Tragic Treasury-6

January 16, 2007 at 12:11 AM | Posted in Architecture, Cathedrals and churches, Light and Shadow, Pilgrimage, Reflection, Salisbury, Sculpture, Supernatural, Vaults, Wiltshire | 18 Comments

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This abyss, this lightless void
this abyss of world destroyed
this abyss, all deep, all wide
this abyss of being denied

 

Even in the darkest forest
Fireflies are flickering…but not in
this abyss of black increase
this abyss without surcease

 

Even in the deepest ocean
is a little moonlight…but not in
this abyss of night unbound;
this abyss without sound

 

Even in your bedroom shadows
There is something moving…but not in
This abyss, this all-below
This abyss; this death, this “no.”

–“This Abyss”by the Gothic Archies.

Hey, I won’t be checking this very often for a week or two but will get back to everyone after that.

060927.Glastonbury, Tor Pilgrimage Site

October 17, 2006 at 7:28 PM | Posted in Cathedrals and churches, countryside, Cows, Glastonbury, Overcast, Pilgrimage, Ruins, somerset, Towers | 4 Comments

060929.040.Somset.Glastonbury.Tor.St Michael’sTower.14thC.Pilgrimage

I really like this picture. It’s the one on Glastonbury Tor where I was almost tipped by the cow after trying to push her to the center of the path. It is an extremely steep hill. Overlooking the town, the Tor, Celtic for hill, was an old place of pilgrimage.

Cow is walking to St Michael’sTower, 14thC

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