Cee’s B&W: Older than 50 Years

Lanyon Quoit

Proudly

they stand,

ancient stones

steeped in mystery,

weathered

and windblown

on the lonely roadside,

sheltering

stories of times

long past.

Men Scryfa

Name

carved in stone,

black feathers bathed

in blood,

 warrior

fallen in battle,

legend

unforgotten.

Men-an-Tol

Crawling

on hands and knees,

scrabbling and

squeezing,

hoping

and praying

that aches and pains

are drawn away

by weathered stone

during undignified

rebirth.


This post is for Cee’s Black and White challenge. This week’s theme is older than 50 years. The pictures I’ve chosen to share are of three ancient stone monuments in Cornwall. These are all definitely older than 50 years!

The first picture is the Lanyon Quoit, the most well known of the Cornish quoits due to its position beside the road between Madron and Morvah. It dates back to the Neolithic, though its exact age is unknown. It sits at the northern end of a long barrow, though whether it was ever actually covered in earth is debated. Until 1815, when it collapsed in a storm, it had four support stones and was tall enough for a man on horseback to shelter beneath. One of the stones, unfortunately, was so badly damaged that when it was reconstructed nine years later only three stones were used, leaving it smaller than it had been previously.

The second is the Mên Scryfa. This is thought to have originally been a prehistoric standing stone, though it has an early christian inscription carved into its northerly side (dating from the 6th-8th centuries) for which it is most well known. The inscription reads ‘Rialobrani Cunovali fili’ in Roman script. This translates to ‘Rialobranus son of Cunovalus’. The names then translate further into ‘Royal Raven son of Famous Leader’.

The third picture is of the Mên-an-Tol, an arrangement of stones thought to date back to either the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. Its exact configuration has changed many times over the years. A sketch of the site made in 1749, when it was first archaeologically investigated, show the stones at right angles rather than in their current straight line. There are also several other stones still buried in the area and it has been suggested that the standing stones were actually once part of a stone circle, with the holed stone either at the center of the circle or at the entrance to a nearby tomb. Local folklore says that climbing through the hole can cure your ills. I decided not to try it.

Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Buildings #2

This is my second entry into Cee’s Black and White Challenge for the theme buildings.  I decided that I may as well post the rest of the pictures  I’d originally intended to include in my last post seeing as they were all ready to go. These ones are a little less ‘vintage’ than the last set.

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Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Buildings

This is my entry into Cee’s Black and White Challenge. This week’s theme is buildings.  As I’m sure you can tell, I spent a little longer playing around with the editing of these this week. I thought a vintage effect would fit the subject matter quite nicely. I’d love to know what everyone else thinks.


I do actually have lots more pictures that I’ve edited (and I may still post them later in the week) but I decided that these five photos worked well as a set. They were all taken around Lincoln (UK) and perfectly illustrate the differences between the two areas of the city.

Lincoln is a city split by the aptly named Steep Hill. ‘Downhill’ has traditionally been the poorer area, the home of the lowers classes and the site of industry. The first three pictures in the gallery, taken beside the River Witham, show the mixture of modern and industrial era architecture that is common to the area. Whilst you can also find the occasional older structure they are not all that common. Uphill Lincoln, on the other hand, has always been the home of the wealthy and has lots more buildings of advanced age. That is where you find the Cathedral, the Castle and the Medieval Bishop’s Palace, as well as many other old structures, including those in the photographs above. This is the area that tourists tend to visit.

The stone-built buildings in the last two pictures are known as The Jew’s House and Jew’s Court and are situated on Steep Hill itself. Jew’s House is believed to be the oldest surviving townhouse in England, dating from the mid-twelfth century.  Jew’s Court is of a similar age. The story goes that they were seized from their Jewish owners in the anti-semitic fever of the late thirteenth century, exacerbated in Lincoln when a young boy named Hugh (Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln) was murdered and his death was blamed on a Jew.  This anti-semitism culminated with the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.

I’d like to believe that all such divides between classes and cultures has gone from our modern society. Unfortunately I know that isn’t true.

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If you’d like to know any more about either Lincoln or the medieval treatment of Jews in England you could have a look herehere or here.

Six Word Story: Purgatory

This post is in response to the Six Word Story prompt provided by Ben Nicholson of A Hopelessly Wandering mind. This week’s theme is Purgatory and I ended up writing not one but three responses to it, plus some accompanying historical information. Hopefully each of the six words works as a story even for those who don’t wish to read the accompaniments! I hope you all enjoy them.


Washed clean – time to move on.

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Image from Pixabay

As soon as I saw this week’s prompt my mind was immediately taken back fifteen years to a university lecture hall and one of my professors explaining how the Black Death, the plague that swept across Asia and Europe in the fourteenth century, brought about many changes in Christian belief. If I remember correctly, he explained that until that time purgatory had largely been seen as a peaceful place where the dead were washed clean of sin in the light of God’s grace until they were pure enough to ascend to heaven.

Macabre darkness advances; fear shifts belief.

Image of a fiery purgatory in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry - created 1412-16

Image of a fiery purgatory in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry – created 1412-16

After the Black Death Purgatory became seen as more of an anti-chamber of Hell within which people’s sins were cleansed through pain, misery and fire. The idea of painful purification in Heaven’s fire had been raised by philosophers before this time (such as St. Augustine) but had not become a part of generally accepted belief. Dante’s ‘Purgatorio‘, written shortly before the plague, had presented the idea of steadily increasing levels of discomfort and suffering as the soul ascended through the seven levels. This idea was taken and expanded on by people in the years after the plague.

The modern definition of purgatory is of a place of punishment and suffering. Whilst it has it’s origins in the Christian belief, it is not only used nowadays to describe a place entered after death.

Repetitive monotony: peeling potatoes for cellmates.

Jail Cells, Jail, Penitentiary, Police

Jail cells – from Pixabay

I apologise for any inaccuracies in my history or theology. My lecture notes are long gone and my text books in storage – the internet isn’t an adequate replacement for such information and I am by no means an expert!

To read the other entries, click the little blue frog.

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Warwick Castle

Last week I visited Warwick Castle, a beautiful fortress on the banks of the River Avon.

Warwick Castle on the River Avon

It was a beautiful day, both weather-wise and as it was spent in the company of my parents and  my nephew. Many of you may know my mum, Millie Thom, as she also blogs and we take part in some of the same flash fiction challenges. She writes historical fiction (Shadow of the Raven and Pit of Vipers) and often posts  about history, as with last week’s Medieval Siege Warfare.  I’ll leave the full post about the history of the site to her (I believe she’s added it to her rapidly lengthening list) and just share a few facts about the place and some photos from the day.

I hope you all enjoy them.

In 1068 William the Conqueror, the new Norman King of England, had a motte-and-bailey castle built on the site of an old Anglo Saxon burh. This was to ensure control of the midlands during the Norman conquest of England. It was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century.

Much of the architecture that can now be seen was added during the the 14th century re-fortification of the castle. It was at this time that the gatehouse, barbican, several towers and the riverside facade were all added.

You can climb all the towers and walk along the walls, getting some great views over both the castle itself and the surrounding town and countryside. Before climbing Guy’s Tower you’re warned that there are 540 steps ahead of you as the route takes you along ramparts and into other towers along the way!

Numerous fascinating figures have had connections to the castle over the centuries but one of the most interesting of these was the 16th Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville (1428-71). This man was given the epithet ‘Kingmaker’ as he had an instrumental hand in the deposition of two different kings during the War of the Roses.

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Nowadays the castle has become what is known as an ‘interactive historical experience’, with both waxwork figures and a host of actors and actresses to demonstrate what life would have been like in the past. Some areas are set up to represent the medieval period, others for the late 19th century. There are living history tents, and even a joust! Some areas are set up to give visitors the smells and sounds of the period as well as the sights.

They have a two different siege machines on display, a ballista and a trebuchet. The trebuchet is the largest working siege machine in the world and demonstrations of it’s use are given – unfortunately we didn’t manage to see that.

There were so many things to see and photograph around the castle that I’ve included barely a fraction of them here. There were some areas, such as The Dungeons where photographs weren’t allowed to be taken and other areas that were just so busy it was impossible to stop to take them. I hope you’ve all had a nice taster of the day, however. Whilst it  wasn’t a cheap day out, and at times it felt more like a theme park than a castle, it was very enjoyable. I would happily recommend the place to anyone interested in history.