Monday, July 26, 2010

Lumps and bumps

I'm curious.

The landscape's mysterious man-made lumps and bumps are tantalising. Silent clues to the past which I so wish could talk. Who built what? And why? What were their lives like? Who trudged, spat, shivered, loved, lived and died? Kids must have been kids....what games did they play? I just ache with wanting to know.

Doreen has beguiled a young archaeologist into giving us a conducted tour of a local Iron Age hill fort - the Beacon Ring.
I've cancelled all other engagements - this is a 'must do' opportunity.

The Beacon Ring is about a mile from where I live and a fairly significant landmark. Two huge masts which transmit television signals across mid-Wales dominate the site. They're quite useful - meaning we can always spot somewhere near home.

The earthwork is a fortified site built on the southern reaches of the Long Mountain, before Wales and England emerged as separate nations. We were all Britons then. To celebrate the Queen's coronation in 1953 it was someones inspired idea to plant the area - a well defined upland 'ring' with stunning views to east and west - with a mixture of Beech and Sequoia spelling out 'ER II'. That's commemorative, arboreal graffiti if you like, as if giving it a description makes this destructive planting of an Ancient Monument any more excusable. The detail is visible only from above of course. You can check it out on Google Earth.
Here is the view, looking north west over the Severn plain towards the Cambrian Mountains. Anyone approaching from this direction and  intent on wreaking destruction would be out of breathe and good for nothing after the steep climb up the bank I think.

CPAT have now acquired the site and plan a study of the site which will involve not only archaeological investigation lasting decades but also the removal of trees and restoration of the land to more sympathetic use. Hurrah for them.

These lumps and bumps are so well defined but have apparently not been surveyed before although the site is quite well known - being allegedly the place where St Elystan/Edelstan (and who gave his name to Trelystan) died in battle around 1000AD and a place where many skirmishes must have taken place in those restless times. Hard to imagine now, as we stand and look out on the quiet landscape spread beneath us, and hear only the rustle of a faint breeze through those commemorative beech trees and the 'gronk' of Ravens dancing on the wing.

My imagination has already gone into overdrive. My mind's eye sees men lugging earth and stone to construct ditches and banks - with tools a modern builder would laugh at. I see battles and bitter winters when a wicked wind howls up the valley......but there would also be days like today where under summer skies we can amble slowly through knee length grass and pick sweet wild berries.....

Tell me more. Let there be treasure, something. Gold. Post holes. Anything.


Pondside said...

Oh I wish you lots of wild imaginings and dreams - and a post hole, path, buckle or piece of flint. What a treat of a day you'll have.

Wipso said...

Oh lucky you. I'm really hoping you come back and share it all with us. I'd really love to be able to unearth treasures but I doubt my knees wouldn't be up to it these days :-) Have a great day.
A x

rachel said...

That's going to be such an interesting outing! I love the history that is under our feet, barely noticed, and welcome any opportunity to learn to look at it with understanding. Have a great day, and take some photos for us!

Twiglet said...

How exciting!! I hope maybe just one little treasure is unearthed - a perfect link to the past.

Frances said...

If I were able to step into that vista you've shown us, and to learn a bit of its history, my imagination would also be leaping around.

I am very much looking forward to hearing what you'll see and learn. Please do share some more with us.

(Just looking at that view would make me take out my painting gear!)


elizabethm said...

Synchronicity again! I have been up on Penycloddiau today, our own stone age fort. Sounds wonderful to go up with an archaeologist, lucky you!

Fennie said...

They are wonderful aren't they these forts and I wonder who built them exactly and how. The builders must have had plans, working models, dimensions - all of which presupposes writing. Someone must have given a commission, skilled workers must have been recruited, timber sourced, a labour force fed and watered. What a work! I'm glad they are removing the trees.

Pam said...

I googled it and saw all the pictures. It looks magical! Keep us informed won't you, of how the restoration goes.

Sallys Chateau said...

I love historic sites like that too and to have a guided tour is an extra bonus, brings it all wonderfully to life although sounds like you should have been accompanying the guide with your vision !!

MBNAD woman said...

Sounds like a fab day.
Mad x