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Sunday, 31 May 2015

May contain traces of Scone and Rock..

Being as it was half term and I had started a new book, a little research trippette was called for, so I have just returned from a couple of days in what is known in our house, due to a mishearing incident at an early age, as The Late District.

You know when you sit down and look at a map, and it's all 'come hither' with its Historic Site of Interest and Prehistoric Monument stuff?  Well, I fell for it.  And packing not much more than enough sherbet lemons for the drive and wielding a map covered in beckoning red symbols, we set off.  This is not as impressive as it sounds, the Late District is only a couple of hours drive from North Yorkshire, unless you stop for an impressive number of cream teas on the way.
...which I might have. Or might not.  All I'm saying is, Acorn Bank, and a herb garden that can kill you on a windy day.  Anyway.

Our first target was Long Meg, a standing stone and stone circle, located...well, somewhere. On the map it was just sitting alongside a road, a fairly minor road to be sure but still...  Well, we drove for so long that our sherbet lemon supply was severely depleted before we found, half hidden in a hedgerow, overgrown with grasses and with a sign on the gate saying 'Beware of the Leopard', a sign pointing us in the right direction.  Whereupon we found Long Meg.
Long Meg not pictured, since this is looking the other way. Long Meg's backside, you might say..
And it was brilliant! A huge stone circle, all atmospheric and nearly deserted. Honestly, apart from a few people coming and going there was nobody else there. And free!  Well, I researched the hell out of it... although when I tried to take pictures my phone went all pink and peculiar and I had to walk about until it settled down, so either there is some kind of Psychic Activity going on, or my phone had got too hot in the car. So, in fact, had I, and the sherbet lemons had a terrible revenge...

Anyway.  Later, after a boat trip on Ullswater which resulted in my running through a forest for a mile and a half (long story, remind me later), we went to another stone circle, and what a contrast!

Castlerigg was packed! And there was an ice cream van!
99 plus flake not shown
After all the driving and sherbet lemon eating, I was not as indignant about the ice cream as you may have imagined. And, at first, when I saw children climbing on the stones and people eating their picnics, I wanted to be indignant. But then I thought, hang on. If these circles were built by people as meeting places for trading and general chit chat at certain times of year... wouldn't there always have been children climbing over them? Bronze Age parents were no less liable to being distracted than modern ones, and Bronze Age children were probably no less likely to exclaim 'I'm booorrrrrred' and wander off and form clusters with other children to play 'let's see who can break their arm falling off this stone first' and other such games.

 And while the Bronze Age communal feasting may have contained less sausage rolls and cones with flakes in, I can almost bet that people have been sitting in that stone circle while their dogs peed and their children played hide-and-seek among the stones, complaining about the chilly wind for thousands of years.

And suddenly the Bronze Age seemed a lot closer...and thus, easier to write about. Not sure I'm going to be able to look a sherbet lemon in the face for a while though.


angela britnell said...

Looking forward to the Bronze Age story although not sure they had sherbet lemons then!

Chris Stovell said...

Good point about Bronze Age children! Looking forwards to the novel... and if I can read at the same time without getting clotted cream all over it, a cream tea too.