Monday, 30 July 2012

The Druid Stones

This small stone circle is also known as the Druid's Circle and is situated just beyond the northeastern edge of the southern end of Harwood Dale Forest on Standingstones Rigg close to several cairn and barrow. There are originally thought to have been around 24 stones here with the 15 that remain set into a low 14 metre earth bank, the circle itself having a diameter of 8 metres - it is possible that the earth mound extended over, and covered the stones but has since been eroded away leaving the circle visible. The tallest of the stones measures just over a metre in height while most of the others are much shorter and many are leaning outwards. In the centre of the circle are three uprights which are believed to have formed part of a burial cist - four of the stones from this cist were decorated with cup and ring marks and have since been removed to Scarborough Museum. Harwood Dale probably dates from the Bronze Age.

The majority of stone circles found in Britain are often situated on open ground - this may be due in part to the relativly modern practice of de-forestation and land cultivation. The fact that this stone circle stands on the boundaries of Harwood Dale forest gives the visitor the opportunity to easily imagine what the site may have looked like when is was completely surrounded by dense woodland. 

This image shows three stones on the outer edge of the circle - the one in the centre has what appears to be a large pre-Christian cross carved into it, whilst the large stone on the left has a small hole running diagonally from North to South through it's centre.

In the foreground of this picture are the three stones at the centre of the circle, which are believed to have made up part
of the burial cist.

This elongated stone is all that remains of the cist burial chamber - the depression to the right is probably where the body would have been laid out.

The Silver Birch tree ( like the two pictured above ) may have played a part in some of the rituals and ceremonies performed on this site in ancient times. The tree has strong fertility connections with the celebrations of Beltane, the second, summer, half of the Celtic year (nowadays celebrated as May Day). Beltane fires in Scotland were ritually made of birch and oak, and a birch tree was often used as a, sometimes living, maypole. As birch is one of the first trees to come into leaf it would be an obvious choice as representation of the emergence of spring. Deities associated with birch are mostly love and fertility goddesses, such as the northern European Frigga and Freya. Eostre (from whom we derive the word Easter), the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring was celebrated around and through the birch tree between the spring equinox and Beltane. According to the medieval herbalist Culpepper, the birch is ruled over by Venus - both the planet and the goddess. According to Scottish Highland folklore, a barren cow herded with a birch stick would become fertile, or a pregnant cow bear a healthy calf.
Trees Of Life - Mythology And Folklore Of The Birch

Genus Loci - The spirit of place

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Slyke - A Journey Into The Interior

The Slyke refers to the small, open stream that ran, and still runs beneath the road, down Bagdale, emptying into the harbour at Dock End near the railway station. It was tidal as far as Bagdale Brewery. In the early 1800s, it was still possible to fish from the houses around what is now Victoria Square. During heavy rain or high tides the stream swells in size, and buildings in Linskill Square, Station Square and surrounding areas are still subject to flooding.
A History Of Whitby & Its Place Names by Colin Waters

These images are taken of the Slyke near to it's source on the outskirts of town.

A Scream

I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, 
feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and 
the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing
 through nature.
                                                                                                                                  Edvard Munch 1895

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hidden Forests - Pt1 ( Small Beginnings )

Alpines On Sleeper

Cryptoforest  - A Definition by Wilfried Hou Je Bek

The root meaning of the English word 'forest' is “a large area of land covered with trees and plants”. Etymologically the word is derived from the latin 'forestem silvam' and it has had it's current meaning at least since the 9nth century when the word 'forest' appeared in Old French. Special interest groups may use narrower definitions. Biology proposes that all properly drained lands left to themselves will eventually become forested as the final phase of ecological succession.
Cryptoforests can be described by at least one of the following terms:
1) Feral forests (Planted tree zones, for instance along motorways, that have been allowed to become wild to the point that their wildness has started to overshadow their original function.)
2) In limbo forests (Areas that feel like forests but technically probably aren’t; states of vegetation for which lay-language has no words.)
3) Invisible Forests (Forests that have become cryptic, forests in camouflage, no known examples.)
4) Precognitive forests (Lands that are on the brink of becoming forested, lands in which one can 'see' the forest it will bear.)
5) Unappreciated forests (Forests regarded as zones of waste and weed, forests shaming planners, developers, and the neighbourhood.)
6) Unknown forests (Forests nobody knows about.)
Like the concept of 'weed', the concept of a 'cryptoforest' is not a biological way of relating to nature but a cultural one. It names (urban) landtypes in which nature has been given the space and time to create its own order using the materials (seeds, roots, nutrients, soil conditions) at hand. Cryptoforests are precognitive glances on post-crash non-human landscapes, diagrams projecting wildness and future possibilities, laboratories of dada-do-nothingness, camera obscuras of fear and desire, relay stations of lost ecological and psychological states. Cryptoforests are wild systems grown inside a world that is barren and poor; wild is equated not with chaos but with productiveness at a non-human level of organization. What starts with weeds ends with a cryptoforest, what starts with brazen survivalism, with weedy plants eking out a living against all odds, slowly but determinedly creating the conditions for the emergence of a network of species that is both flexible and stubborn, unique and redundant, lean and resilient. Many animals may live there, humans may eat from it.
In the first use of the word, cryptoforests were taken to mean those fallowed, forested lands that could serve as the seeds and catalysts for full urban reforestation.