Tuesday, August 08, 2006

These beautiful stone heads - headstops - are to be found on either side of the doorway to St Etheldreda's Church in the parish of Hyssington a few miles from here. I would like to think they were ancient but suspect they were part of a Victorian rebuild in 1875. Clwyd Powys archeological Trust suggests the Church's origins were post Norman Conquest but there is not much of its antiquity in evidence - a medieval font and a Tudor pulpit are the most obvious remnants.

But 'modernity' isn't a crime - it was a beautiful place in which to pass a sunny Tuesday morning; in the lee of Corndon, overlooking the Camlad Valley and the distant Kerry Ridgeway. I have a partner in crime, Doreen, who is also in pursuit of her ancestors, some of whom lie in Hyssington. She had noticed that there were Crosses buried there too - hence our visit to check it out. I photographed the stones - and it would be nice, and neat, to think they were my antecedents - but I can't make the dates and names add up. The Cross family - lead workers to a man - flourished in these hills and floundered when the industry stuttered to a halt in the closing years of the 19th century. If, out there, someone who was part of the Cross diaspora reads this, please get in touch.

Whatever uncertainties, I do know this: that my forefathers would have known this landscape, its seasons and ceremonies. So I walk in their footsteps and surmise, these words in my head:
We dance around in a ring and suppose
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

- Robert Frost

This stone caught my eye too:
Ye Soul is gone but here
Ye body Lies hopeing through
Christ in glory for to Rise
I hope in Jesus Christ Who
died for me from all my Sins
Will quickly Set me free

Words in stone for the common man. For me, calligraphy doesn't get much better than that.

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