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St Andrew’s Church Coke House, Normanby, North Yorkshire, England
St Andrew’s Church, in the little village of Normanby in North Yorkshire, once had two coke-fired stoves burning in order to keep its congregation reasonably warm during those cold, north country winters of yesteryear. The coke fires in the church have long since gone but the church’s coke house still remains. Though in relatively good condition, this elegant little building needs some consolidation to its roadside foundations, as well as a new wooden door on its east side and a new wooden hatch on its west.
Deteriorating roadside foundations and wooden hatch
The northern façade of the Church of Yemrehanna Kristos. Seen here within the cave which houses it
Image credit Stephen Battle/World Monuments Fund
Martin Bailey, writing in The Art Newspaper, reports that a team of British conservators will help preserve Ethiopia’s oldest wall paintings. The paintings are in the twelfth century Church of Yemrehanna Kristos in Northern Ethiopia –
A project to conserve Ethiopia’s oldest wall paintings, which experts believe date to around 1100 or soon after, is due to begin this month. They are in the church of Yemrehanna Kristos, a full-sized building constructed inside a cave in the Lasta Mountains at an altitude of 2,700m. The cave is above a valley of juniper trees and, until recently, could only be reached by a day’s journey on foot or mule from the town of Lalibela, in northern Ethiopia. The church’s interior is so dark that international specialists did not note the paintings’ existence until the 1990s; the first published account was in 2001.
The London-based Ethiopian Heritage Fund, with support from the World Monuments Fund, is undertaking the project. The conservation team consists of two British specialists, Lisa Shekede and Stephen Rickerby; the latter describes the paintings as being in a “highly vulnerable and threatened condition”.
The initial investigation will include in-situ microscopy, along with ultra-violet and infra-red examinations. Paint samples will be tested, partly to determine the original pigments and media used and to identify added materials. There will be small-scale cleaning trials, to test which materials should be used. Monitoring sensors will be installed to record temperature and humidity changes. A separate team from the University of Cape Town will undertake a laser scan survey to create a three- dimensional data model of the church and cave, to map structural movement.
Craddock Moor stone circle to undergo a complete clearance and re-exposure of its buried stones where detected.
Text and images © Roy Goutté.
Living as I do on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall I spend as much time as I can tramping about visiting everything it has to offer, which archaeology wise, is a great deal!
Quite often one comes across a site that has suffered at the hands of those that should know better or wandering livestock, or in fact the very land itself that it is built upon!
One such example is Craddock Moor stone circle (SX248771820), just a stone’s throw away from Cornwall’s iconic triple stone circles the Hurlers at Minions. Erected on peaty soil during, it is believed the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze-Age, it has slowly but surely been returning to Nature and is now a totally recumbent circle of stones due no doubt to a combination of that peaty soil and wandering livestock pushing them over or using them as rubbing stones. Also subjected to nearby quarrying activities and intensive peat workings it has not had an easy ride.
Many of the fallen uprights have totally succumbed to the peaty soil and are now lying buried whilst others are gradually becoming strangled and covered by the chain-mail type gorse, turf and other vegetation that proliferates on this part of Craddock Moor and extremely difficult to work your way through. (See main photo above).
This of course is a huge problem for those responsible for the upkeep of these circles and because of a shortage of funding, not something that can be attended to as regular as they would wish to.
This is where we can and should help out whenever possible. This is our heritage and if we want future generations to have the pleasure that we ourselves are having, then we should offer our services and ‘put something back’ in appreciation of what our great ancestors left behind for us to wonder at.
With this in mind I have been working quietly with our excellent Heritage at Risk officers and reporting back to them when I see damage being done to a site or the likes of a fence needing repairing or environmental problems during my tramping about over the moor. As many of the sites I visit are way off the beaten track I always carry a small hammer/nails/staples/saw in my rucksack to make emergency repairs then report it back on my return in case it needs further work.
This has been very much appreciated and a trust gained. Personally, it has led to me being invited to take part in archaeological excavations and surveys, something I thought I would never do, and recently, with a small team of equally dedicated friends, carry out a clearance of discovery at Louden stone circle.
The work we were trusted to do at Louden was very successful and appreciated and we were able to reveal far more about this Scheduled Monument than was previously known (see here).
I and the team have now been granted permission to carry out similar work at Craddock Moor circle and feel very privileged and thankful for the opportunity.
The approved plan is to firstly carefully remove all the turf/gorse/general growth off the now recumbent stones so that those above ground are clearly visible to the public who at the present time give up the will to live seeking the circle out! Once done, the ‘missing’ or buried stones that we have detected will be neatly exposed to their upper surface (not below) so that they can be recorded. If no more than an inch or two beneath the surface they will be left exposed, but if much deeper and a danger to livestock and walkers alike, will be re-covered on the completion of the work once a full survey has been carried out. The important thing is that we will then know far more about this circle than we previously had.
I have already photographically recorded the site prior to work commencing with digital stills and a video and yesterday (the 3rd October) made my first working visit in preparation and anticipation of our start next week (weather permitting).
Whilst I was there I just had to reveal a stone not fully seen for years. For me, that moment when an apparently shapeless stone just breaking the surface also sees the full light of day is rather magical as it turns from being ‘just a stone’ to a stone that was once selected by our ancestors some 4,000 years ago to fulfil a purpose that we may never get to fully understand!
As I mentioned earlier, the chain-mail type gorse/turf mix covering many of the stones is a devil to cut through and quite time consuming but well worth the effort if we can once again have something worthwhile to see and learn from. As they say… watch this space for updates…
In the meantime…
If you would like to get your hands dirty and join our small team during our work on the circle before winter really sets in you would be most welcome. Just leave your details on the Comments page and I will get back to you ASAP.
Just a word of warning though for the faint hearted. Before any work can be done we have a half-mile walk with our tools to get there… and back again, with no shelter if the weather turns foul on us, so our working days will be carefully selected!!
Image credit The Times
We don’t often get involved with British political issues but when they sink to this level of gimmickry it really has hit rock bottom (pun intended) and something needs to be said. We refer to the Labour Party’s latest publicity stunt to win votes (election day in Britain is today) in the shape of an eight foot tall ‘megalith’ with six ‘promises’ from their party’s manifesto ‘engraved’ on its surface. Is the text actually engraved or has it been painted on? Or is it a transfer of some kind? If Labour wins the election however its leader Ed Miliband plans to erect the megalith in the garden of 10 Downing Street (assuming he’s able to get planning permission from Westminster City Council that is!).
The Urban Prehistorian sums up our own feelings on the Ed’stone gimmick perfectly when it writes –
Are we fooled by these megalithic metaphors of power and permanence? Do we accept that when a pledge is carved into rock by machine or chisel that it has more resonance and reliability than a promise spoken, a paper manifesto, a ministerial tweet? Would this infamous pre-referendum promise, printed in newspaper form just before the independence referendum in Scotland in September 2014, have really been any more trustworthy or powerful had it been carved on a tablet of stone?
No we are not fooled. Miliband’s promises are all very well and good but where is HERITAGE in all of this? In fact where is Heritage in any of the five or six main political party’s pledges? As a country we have not even ratified the Hague Convention to protect cultural property in time of war. Shame on our politicians for not doing so, and shame on the megalithic gimmickry this election campaign has sunk to.
The Trippet Stones is the name given to a stone circle set in a somewhat isolated and windswept part of Bodmin Moor, on Manor Common, Blisland, Cornwall. The circle is a Scheduled Monument (number 1928 in the Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Record) and is located at SX13127501.
Every now and again you witness something that totally astonishes you, and when that something is an action that goes totally against everything you hold dear, then it can often leave you both speechless and seething with anger inside.
We have all spoken out many times against the wanton damage, defacing and destruction that is all to often associated with stone circles, whether it be the more nationally known iconic ones such as Avebury and Stonehenge or those of lesser stature spread throughout the land. One of those lesser ones, although certainly iconic in Cornwall where it resides, are the Trippet Stones… a Scheduled Monument (see specifically section 28 in the link).
On the 5th of July 2013 this was the astonishing scene filmed at 2pm when, as the video shows, cattle were purposely driven across Manor Common causing them, on the whole, to enter and pass through the circle thus creating a situation where a Scheduled Monument was seriously put in danger.
Unbelievably, just one week earlier, Natural England seriously warned the Commoners about farming vehicles being driven through and too close to the circle. Although a vehicle didn’t enter the circle on this occasion but did get very close to it, this is surely the most extreme example yet as to why monuments such as the Trippet Stones need physical protection as a matter of great urgency as words appear to mean nothing. Today the Trippet Stones… next week?
Another part of the jigsaw comes to light
Following my day at King Arthur’s Hall on King Arthur’s Down on Bodmin Moor helping out with the clearance of gorse, I (extreme right above) returned a couple of weeks later to have a closer look at the stone ‘revetment’ that had made its presence known when a lower section of the inner east bank fell away. This is quite a breakthrough and possible pours water on the general archaeological belief that this monument is simply a medieval animal pound. I’ve never believed that and hopefully now this apparent revetment wall has been exposed it will encourage the powers that be to carry out a full excavation of the bank at least and a dating of the site which sadly in this day and age is still missing.
Here is the video I shot on my revisit showing the revealed stone walling and my personal thoughts on both it and the site in general. Apologies for the wind rush which accompanies the video in parts but filming anywhere on Bodmin Moor always carries the risk of this when you only have a basic camcorder with no external mic.
A guest feature by Roy Goutté.
King Arthur’s Hall viewed from the southern end of the western bank. Roughtor can be seen rising majestically in the background
On the 16th April I joined a working party from TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) of Cornwall to clear some of the gorse off the banked enclosure known as King Arthur’s Hall on King Arthur’s Down, a part of Bodmin Moor. Always a fascinating place to visit, the day turned out to be far more exciting than I ever imagined! For a more descriptive article on King Athur’s Hall go here.
The TCV crew plan their strategy for the day with Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service archaeologist James Gossip to the extreme right explaining their brief
The volunteers remit was to remove the largest and most evasive gorse that was beginning to encroach onto the standing stones that line the interior of the enclosure from the banked area but not the plant life and James was there to advise and oversee the work. Visually it was the easterly bank that was suffering the most so that’s where work began. King Arthur’s Hall is a fascinating place and the only monument like it in the UK but it has never been dated and only lightly researched officially, but a site I would dearly love to know more about. Spending time working on its banks gave me this opportunity in a most unexpected way.
The guys I was working with were a great bunch and very friendly and worked really hard. It actually surprised me how quickly the very tightly packed gorse that inhabits Bodmin Moor was dealt with and how dry the ground surface on the bank was underneath it all considering all the rain we have been getting in this area. Knowing that adders frequent the moor it was something I was well aware of whilst working my way underneath the gorse because it acted as perfect cover for them, but luckily we never encountered any.
The area we dealt with first was so dense that it was covering the top of many of the remaining upright stones as well as many fallen and angulated ones and hiding the bank behind them like a blanket. Seeing the stones becoming slowly unveiled was like a magic moment to me as this eastern bank has in the main remained hidden from sight during the many visits I have made whilst researching. The gorse roots themselves are quite long so we were told to cut them at surface level and not to pull them out of the ground because you could damage the archaeology which lay beneath. Occasionally however, the long-armed cutters we were using didn’t do their job properly and jammed as we were pulling them away and did pull on the roots. This happened on one particular occasion as the lower level of the inner bank was reached at one point and due to the extra dryness of the soil here, a small ‘landslide’ took place. It was then that the unexpected appeared, because, as the earth fell away, it exposed something I’d never seen behind the uprights before… an apparent ‘walled’ area immediately behind the standing stones looking very much like a possible revetment to the bank.
Inner-face of the eastern bank at King Arthur’s Hall at a midway point along its length. Stones 1 & 2 are two of the main façade or upright standing stones associated with this enclosure
Stones 3, 4, 5 & 6 are what appear to be a series of horizontal ‘walling’ stones exposed when the loose bank fell away. These stones lie behind the façade stones and may be a form of original revetment to prevent the bank from encroaching against the main uprights. No further investigation or probing took place as this will be left until another day. To the best of my knowledge this stonework structure has never been noted before and it would be lovely to think that I may have been there on the day that it was first discovered. Whether or not it continues around the whole site is something we will just have to wait to find out as we were not allowed to investigate further, but it is a mouth-watering prospect. Having James on site to witness it was a real bonus as well particularly as it was his first visit. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that more investigative work will now be carried out leading to a greater understanding of exactly what we have on our hands here and a possible date to go with it. Discussion on-site was that it may have well have been used as a pound in more recent times, but why go to all the trouble of hauling stones around from wherever they came to keep animals in when it would have been far easier to just erect a timber stockade to the top of the banking. There is far more to this site than what has been generally accepted I personally believe and it ‘feels’ much older.
More open view of Stones 1 & 2 showing the stonework behind
An aerial view of Stone 2 showing the horizontal low-level ‘walling’ running behind it. The dark area on Stone 2 shows exactly how far the gorse and bank had extended to, thus blotting everything beneath it out
The eastern bank and façade stones prior to gorse removal. Once a continuous row of upright stones, many of them now lie buried or angulated. This photo was taken in May 2012
The eastern bank after clearance. A very rewarding days work carried out by TCV
The difference a day makes. A small bank collapse and the inner stonework reveals itself
A guest feature by Littlestone.
One of two sarsens at the entrance to Fryerning Lane on Ingatestone Highstreet, Ingatestone, Essex
The Heritage Trust
And the stones in the road shone like diamonds in the dust.
And then a voice called to us to make our way back home.
Mary Chapin Carpenter.
No, this isn’t about that stirring song, Stones In The Road, by Mary Chapin Carpenter (though it could be) on her 1994 album of the same name, but about the megaliths that lay scattered along our highways, byways, high streets and lanes which, depending on your point of view, can certainly be either, ‘A thousand points of light or shame’.
Two stones (above) in Ingatestone High Street, Essex, almost certainly once formed a stone circle but, sadly, are still there and still vulnerable to damage now as when this was first written. The stones in Ingatestone’s High Street are not the only examples of megaliths used as buffers, pushed onto verges or just left where they are, awaiting their fate to be damaged or deliberately broken up. William Stukeley’s 1724 Groundplot of Avebury shows no less than nine stones in the roads there, all now long gone but once part of the proud Avebury Henge.
Stone on Flowergate (road) in Whitby, north-east Yorkshire
The Heritage Trust
On Flowergate (road) in Whitby, north-east Yorkshire, there is a stone outside the Little Angel pub. It’s not clear that this is originally from a megalithic structure but, as British History Online records, “The monoliths which exist in the parish possibly mark ancient British interments.” so there is a possible connection between this stone and a megalithic site. British History Online again records that, “A diligence commenced in 1788 to run twice a week from the ‘Turk’s Head’ and ‘White Horse and Griffin’ at Whitby to York and another to Scarborough began in 1793. The mail-coach started in 1795 and ran three times a week. A Sunderland coach commenced in 1796. All the coaches ran from the Angel Inn.”* The stone now has steps cut into it and was perhaps used to assist passengers in and out of their carriage, or riders on and off their horses.
Stones on the verges outside The Church of St Barnabus at Alphamstone in Essex
The Heritage Trust
Turning south again there are stones on the verges outside The Church of St Barnabus at Alphamstone in Essex and outside the lichgate of The Church of St Mary with St Leonard, Broomfield also in Essex – both almost certainly pre-Christian sites.
Stones outside the lichgate of The Church of St Mary with St Leonard, Broomfield also in Essex
The Heritage Trust
The examples above of ‘stones in the road’ are just a few of perhaps many more scattered through the country – some with possibly intriguing histories. It’s been suggested, for example, that the stones in the little village of Berwick St James, Wiltshire may have originally been part of the Stonehenge complex (see Dennis Price’s Inigo Jones’ lost Altar Stone from Stonehenge and somewhere called “St James” article.
The London Stone. Source Wikimedia. Image credit Lonpicman
But perhaps the most famous ‘stone in the road’ of them all is the London Stone in Cannon Street, east London. Both the stone, with its receptacle and iron grille, were designated a Grade II listed structure on 5 June 1972. It’s recorded that the, “London Stone was for many hundreds of years recognized as the symbolic authority and heart of the City of London. It was the place where deals were forged and oaths were sworn. It was also the point from which official proclamations were made.” Legend has it that, “So long as the stone of Brutus is safe, so long shall London flourish.” Let’s hope so, and as one of the longest surviving, and most respected ‘stones in the road’, this stone might, perhaps, have lent itself to the 2012 Olympic Games – for what better symbolizes the history and continuity of the City of London, and a place to swear the Olympic Oath, than this stone that lies at its very heart.
And the stones in the road leave a mark from whence they came.
A thousand points of light or shame.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
* From: ‘Parishes: Whitby’, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 (1923), pp. 506-528.
Conservation of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste fresco in Famagusta, Cyprus. Produced, directed, and narrated by Dan Frodsham
The World Monuments Fund reports on the conservation of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste fresco in Famagusta, Cyprus –
For five hundred years, an exquisite Renaissance fresco depicting the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste has remained hidden, forgotten, and neglected on the wall of a fourteenth-century church in Famagusta, Cyprus. The Forty charts the painstaking work of rescuing the fresco from obscurity and ruin, as part of a pioneering project that puts heritage above politics to begin, after decades of neglect, the work of saving Famagusta’s forgotten frescos.
Full feature here.
Kite Aerial Photograph by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation: all rights reserved, used with permission. Note path on the left which leads from Bartlow Church
Kite Aerial Photograph by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation: all rights reserved, used with permission. Note path left of centre which leads from Bartlow Church