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A guest feature by Littlestone.
The Rudston Monolith
To quote Wikipedia, “The Rudston Monolith at over 7.6 metres (25 ft) is the tallest megalith (standing stone) in the United Kingdom. It is situated in the churchyard in the village of Rudston (grid reference TA098678) in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”
So, to mark this year’s St Valentine’s Day, Moss and I decided to make the 30 mile drive over from where we live in North Yorkshire to Rudston village to see for ourselves the ‘real thing’. Nothing quite prepares you for this ‘real thing’. Photos of the monolith we’d seen before but first sight, and first touch, of this towering Neolithic edifice left us both speechless. If there’s ever a stone that puts its neighbouring church into a shadow this is it. And the fact that it’s stood there for some 4,000 years makes it even more awe-inspiring. As ever, the similarity with other subsumed (Christianised) sites in Britain, seems the same. The Rudson Monolith stands close to a water source. A Roman villa once stood close by and there are Roman tiles in the church walls. There are also the remains of a Roman sarcophagus in the graveyard.
Outlier stone and the remains of a Roman sarcophagus behind it
Googling ‘Rudston Monolith’ will throw up all sorts of info but what intrigued me most, being actually there on site, was the smaller outlier stone in one corner of the graveyard. The stone is of the same composition as the monolith itself and evidently was once situated close to it. Could it be the missing top of the Rudsone Monolith? Did it fall away naturally or was it cut off because it offended past norms of acceptability? Who knows, but here’s an interesting comparison from Brittany in France.
Standing stone on the North York Moors
A Dream of Solstice
Qual e’ colui che somniando vede,
che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io…
Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII
‘Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,
So I live now’, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.
It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges
That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,
Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving
And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the crowd grows still
In the wired-off precinct of the burial mounds,
Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,
Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king’s gold dagger when he plunged it in
To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk
And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow
Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, holding its candle
Under the rock-piled roof and the loam above.
University of Birmingham
Entrepreneurship in Cultural Heritage Workshop
Organised by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham. In association with the West Midlands Museum Development.
Location: The Old Ikon Gallery, Fazeley Studios, Birmingham, B5 5SE England.
2 February 2017.
Over recent years the heritage sector has been hit by cumulative cut-backs in public sector funding, reductions in visitor spend and increasing competition for visitors. At the same time, a multitude of new opportunities continue to emerge relating to technological innovation, new audiences and communication networks and new management approaches. In the context of this developing landscape for the heritage sector, this workshop explores the increasing need for museums and heritage organisations to become ever more entrepreneurial in their approach in order to increase their resilience to the changing environment and also to identify ways and means to build profile, audiences, income and opportunities to communicate the heritage at their heart.
Through presentations by speakers who, in different ways, are involved with innovative approaches to the heritage and museums sector and through discussion, this workshop aims to identify some of the more entrepreneurial management practices of the heritage sector and to explore challenges and opportunities for future entrepreneurial actions.
· Working towards resilience
· Partner working outside of the heritage sector
· The role of the creative industries
· Going global
· Building audiences and income
Confirmed speakers include:
* Dr Chris Ferguson (Auckland Castle)
* Traci Dix-Williams (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust)
* Colin Chester-Head of Buying, The National Gallery
* Tony Trehy (Director, Bury Art Museum)
* Harvey Edgington (National Trust)
* Elliot Goodger- Birmingham Museums Trust Enterprise Committee
Pre-booking is essential.
To book your place go here.
Early-bird rate of £45 ( by 13 Jan 2017).
Full delegate rate of £55 (by 27 January 2017).
Contact: Jamie Davies, Teaching Fellow in Cultural Heritage
0121 414 5616
Staff and volunteers from Accredited Museums or those officially Working towards Accreditation should reserve their place via the events page of the West Midlands Museum Development website: mdwm.org.uk or contact email@example.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
A guest feature by Littlestone. This article first appeared on The Modern Antiquarian in November 2008.
One of two trapdoors with sarsens beneath them
Image credit and © Littlestone
Pulling in to a dead-end bit of road by Alton Priors church (now closed off by a farm gate) I was about to head across the field towards the church when a herd of cows started ambling by with a few of their calves in tow; I held back behind the gate to let them pass (good thing too because the cows were being gently herded forward by a very handsome and very big black bull). Halfway across the field, and between the gate and the church, I passed someone coming in the opposite direction. The gentleman turned out to be the landowner and he told me, as we stood chatting in his field, that his family had farmed the area for more than a hundred years (and that the big black bull was really a bit of a softie).
I asked the gentleman if the church was open and he assured me that it was. I asked him if he knew anything about the sarsen stones under the church floor and he assured me they were there. We talked a little more and then he casually mentioned that I should also take a look at the 1,700 year-old yew tree in the churchyard and the spring that rose close by. I thanked him for his time and we parted.
The church was indeed open. Hot English summer without, cool sacredness within. Just your regular little country church. But where were the trapdoors leading to another sacredness? I ambled about the church for a bit then spotted a trapdoor that was partly boarded over and couldn’t be lifted.* Disappointed, I was about to leave when I spotted another trapdoor. Kneeling alone there in the silence, slowly pulling the clasp and watching as the trapdoor lifted to reveal a sarsen stone below was… mmm… more than a little magical.
I went outside and spent some time under the ancient yew tree in the churchyard – then tried to find the spring that the farmer had mentioned. I found the stream but everything else was too overgrown and the day too hot to look for more.
Alton Priors is a very, very special place. A little church built upon a sarsen circle set in the Vale of Pewsey. I’ve been to a lot of circles but none have had the sense of continuity that Alton Priors has. Go there and be at home (the church is open during the summer months; at other times the key can be obtained from one of the nearby houses).
* Since writing this the larger of the two trapdoors can now be lifted revealing a sarsen beneath. There is also a sarsen under the north-east buttress. See also The Church of St Peter’s, Clyffe Pypard, Wiltshire England.
The British Museum has commissioned two replicas of the early 8th century Anglo-Saxon Franks Casket by sculptor Andrew Lilley. “One option presents the casket in similar colours to the whalebone we see today, while the other has been hand painted in colours that represent how experts believe it may have looked when made.”
The original is on display at the British Museum. The right-hand side of the casket is a replica; the original is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.
More on the Franks Casket here.