Sunday, August 23, 2009

Aylesbeare Common

I get off the bus on Aylesbeare Common, a couple of miles outside of Aylesbeare village to have a short detour from my main walk, which will be walking back over the distant hills into town.

Aylesbeare (pop.527) is only famous in this country for one thing and that is the disappearance on 19th August 1978 of Genette Tate when she went missing aged 13 whilst delivering newspapers. Her bicycle and scattered newspapers were found lying in the middle of a country lane only minutes after she had been speaking to two friends. Her story was all over the newspapers at the time and still turns up sometimes, although her disappearance remains a mystery and is unsolved, unfortunately.

I am here in the middle of nowhere to take a look at the tumuli which are marked on the map as being around here somewhere. Actually they turn out to be really easy to find and are very close to the main road indeed. It is strange to think that the bus that I travel to work on and all the traffic that hurtles past this spot are within spitting distance of these tumuli which remain largely ignored by folk here. I myself have hurtled past these tumuli, not knowing of their existence until I was browsing the map one day and spotted them. To find these things all you need is a local map and a bit of curiosity although it does help that there are lots of these things around here. I have in years past found similar mounds hidden in woodland which were not marked on any map which I suppose must mean that they are still undiscovered.

I like to stand on them and survey the countryside around to see in what way they might relate to the landscape, markers on distant hills, gaps in hills, prominent trees, stones etc. and this facility is good here as the tumuli have been recently cleared of growth. This is quite unusual as most are left to grow over and so it is a good opportunity to have a look at the unadorned shape of the tumuli and also their possible relationship to the surrounding landscape.

On the next nearest mound stands the remains of a very large tree. This tree, being right on the skyline of Aylesbeare Common was used as a marker for navigational purposes by the sailors of old and was known as The Lone Pine. The tree which though dead remained standing for many years was planned to be felled but a note was found attached to the tree stating that the person who felled the tree would be cursed, the note being signed at the bottom by The White Witches of Aylesbeare. The tree fell of its own accord a few years ago leaving a tall and lovely shaped guardian stump.

Anyway, I take some photographs and must get on. It is a long walk back and the walking hasn't even really started properly yet. The photo's shown here are partly from my second visit, but in the next posting there will be photo's from the remaining part of the original walk in which I have the immense pleasure of seeing the route back from here for the very first time.


nobody said...

No metal detector John? There could be gold in thum thar tumuli. They're pre-Roman yeah? Would pre-Roman things have anything in them? Anything worth a witch's curse?

queenofthenile said...

Your story about the White Witches and the Lone Pine is magic. The last photo is very strong and more than a little phallic.

Are they thistles, the lavender patches of wildflowers? And what about the yellow ones?

john said...

Cheers Nobody. No metal detector for me though there could well be things from the bronze age in them. As far as I understand, these were used as burial mounds and people were buried with their bits and bobs, but I don't think I'll be rootling about in them, I reckon they are best left alone really.

The oldest things I ever found were two large stone age hand axes that I found as a kid, lovely Acheulian ones they are.

I was walking on a gravel path one morning behind a church and this hand axe had just slid off this exposed face and rolled into the middle of the path, it fits into the hand lovely and is a great piece of work. I took it home and showed my brother so we both went back the next day to look for more and I found another which is a big teardrop shape made from orange coloured flint.

It's funny to think that they are possibly tens of thousands of years old and that nobody had held it in their hand for all that time.

Cheers Queenofthenile

And thanks. Yes it is a bit phallic but it also reminds me of a figure too. It seems to have two wings stretched up and a head in the middle, at least to my eyes. It is quite alarge stump, the height of which doesn't come out in the photo's so well.

The purple flowers are heather as it is all moorland up on the top here, not much else will grow. The yellow flowers are Tansy, I think.

john said...

I said moorland in the previous comment, I meant heathland of course, sorry about that.

Penny said...

hey john: weirdest thing.. the first three pics made me think of war.
death in war

john said...

Cheers Penny. Hmm, that is weird, though first impressions and intuition are usually telling us something.

It may be that in clearing them the bare earth reminds us of a nomansland type place and then there are the dead trees and the piled wood. I get what you mean though.

john said...

Oh and the tumuli are probably graves as well. It could also be that those interred died in war, but I am just guessing now.

Penny said...

now I feel as if I rained all over your pics, sorry for that.

I was just so taken back by my perception of the pics.

john said...

No That's fine Penny, I thought your observation was interesting, I really like to hear what impressions people get from the photies and anyway there's already plenty of rain in them (smileywinky) and it sends the brain of in some new directions, so is good excercise.

I am often surprised by what the pictures look like myself when I get to see them later, after I've taken them. Anyway best get on, I think I've just quit my job! What fun! (smileything)

nina said...

Ok, John, impressions: Little Big Horn is one. Eerily similar present emptiness where decisive warring once took place. Looking at your photos, you can hear the trumpets, see the flags carried by men on horses, charging forth, fueled by God's will.
Beautiful landscape, yes, very, but the karma is palpable.

Thank you, your part in it all is much appreciated.

nina said...

Aha! Penny sees the same.

queenofthenile said...

Haven't stopped wondering since I read your off-the-cuff comment, john. Did you quit your job?

john said...

Apologies for the delay in getting back here.

Thanks Nina for your impressions and kind words, they are much appreciated too.

Cheers Queen of the nile, yes I have walked from the job. probably not the most sensible thing to do but I got fed up with having to fight battles that have already been fought over and over and decided I didn't want to work for a company that treats its staff in such a bad way, ah well onto the next!