Monday, September 26, 2011

road station of the sacred groves

I spend a lot of time travelling on buses or as is quite often the case, waiting around for buses to arrive. These photos were taken on a bus trip returning from North Tawton one evening in July, on one of those occasions when the light and cloud conspire to do something striking, so the camera comes out to record the passing. The weather around Dartmoor can change very quickly, so there is often much drama in its movement.

North Tawton is the place that Ted Hughes brought Sylvia Plath to live back in the 1960s and with all due respect to the people here, it is still a very small and insular town that couldn't have been much fun for a cultivated and sensitive American woman to spend the winter in, more than a bit thoughtless of Ted really.

There are the remains of a roman fort in North Tawton, just over the bridge and to the south, which had the name of Nemetostatio, meaning "The road-station of the sacred groves" and there are other places in the general area which still have similar names, such as Nymet Rowland and Nymet Tracey or Bishop's Nympton. A nemeton was a sacred space of the ancient Celtic religion and names like this are found all the way from Scotland to as far south as Spain and as far east as Turkey, and maybe even further away if anyone can think of any.

The roman poet Lucan gives this seemingly exaggerated account of a nemeton near Marseille (another place which provides traces of very ancient settlement with its 30,000 year old cave paintings)

'No bird nested in the nemeton, nor did any animal lurk nearby; the leaves constantly shivered though no breeze stirred. Altars stood in its midst, and the images of the gods. Every tree was stained with sacrificial blood. the very earth groaned, dead yews revived; unconsumed trees were surrounded with flame, and huge serpents twined round the oaks. The people feared to approach the grove, and even the priest would not walk there at midday or midnight lest he should then meet its divine guardian.'

North Tawton gets its current name from the river Taw, which I have photographed nearer to its source on Dartmoor and which were put up here last year I think. In the Syriac alphabet, as in the Hebrew and Phoenician alphabets, taw (ܬ) is the last letter in the alphabet but then there is also the Welsh Taw, meaning silent, and which describes the river as it meanders across Taw plain on Dartmoor very nicely. We will return to North Tawton soon and have a look round the disused mill.


Anonymous said...

road station of the sacred groves
a rising heart inwardly glows
in mauves and reds and windy greens
beautys center outwardly streams
binding essence spirals far
by thunderbolt and shooting star
a sense of wander fills the hills
the wheels of paradise spin and heal
whispered silent the great immense
divine the moment of loves presence
senses frequent sequence rolls
the lifted moment streams and flows


Anonymous said...

have another poem john,and its always nice to learn about the ancient names of the places,interesting stuff and I should imagine quite time consuming....

respects ....neil

john said...

Cheers Neil and many thanks for the poem, that's very good that.

The research isn't too time consuming really and I like to find out about the places around the area. In comparison to the amount of time I have spent researching other topics it's no time at all and enjoyable as well.

Thanks again

nobody said...

Hey John,

The first picture is an absolute cracker. Next time you are on a bus and see such a perfect scene you must yell at the driver, "Driver, Driver! Stop the bus! I'm busting to take to take a photograph."

And of course should you ever find your bus inexplicably detoured to Tavistock Square you are permitted to smash glass and leap for it. And don't forget to take some photos of the empty seats first.

john said...

Hi nobody. I'll give it a go. Taking photos whilst the bus is moving is good fun though I can't do it if the bus is busy as people will think that I'm either a show off or a daft tourist who has to take photos of everything.

You can't beat the view of the countryside that you get travelling on a double decker though as you get to see over the hedges that usually obstruct all the views in Devon.

And yes whole 7/7 thing, that's another one of those official rubbish narratives. How can they have an inquiry that doesn't mention Peter Powers? Actually if I ever found myself anywhere near Peter Powers I'd leap for it as it always seems that something really bad happens when he's around, there's quite a list which I'm sure your aware of. The reports of people being electrocuted on the trains were intriguing, but who knows?

And enjoyed your post today. Was it me or was that aimed at a particular person. Are you taking powerful drugs or thinking about going mad? Going mad for a bit can be quite a good move, it worked wonders for Britney. Or maybe you could just shave all your hair off. I don't mean to sound rude and glib, but I probably do.

john said...

John will you please stop being so rude to nobody, he doesn't have to come round here and leave his comments you know.

john said...

And stop talking to yourself too.

nobody said...

Rude? Nothing of the sort. My kind of give and take. And yes, who wouldn't want to be Britney Spears? Such a well-balanced, happy, and carefree individual. If only I could sing as well as she could after her voice gets put through that voice changer software. Actually I could now that I think about it. Still, I'd have to tongue kiss Madonna and I'm sorry, but I just couldn't do it. It'd be like licking a drain.

Otherwise, all I can say John (in the same state of sobriety I've been in for a month now, which is to say, 'I'll take the madness, thanks') is what a perceptive chap you are. I'm tortured by the muse and she's a cruel woman, and no mistake.


john said...

Urgh, yes Madonna, nasty. She made herself popular over here by buying a big country house and banning access to any of the footpaths that went across it, as is usual with the self obsessed they can't figure out that someone might just want to go for a walk across a place that they have always had access to and are in no way interested in Madonna spotting.

One of the funnier Madonna stories was when she noticed that J K Rowling had made a huge pile of money writing childrens books so she wrote her own and at the launch in England, there she was all dressed up pretending to be an English rose and someone asked her how it felt being described as the new Enid Blyton. "Who's that?" came the reply. Oh dear another fail.

john said...

We don't really even need rich Americans banning us from our rights of way when we have our own home grown beauties like this:

reem said...

It's my pleasure always to see your photos , and i think it's always nice to you to talk with your friend Nobody ,i guess he is cute person and it's interesting to get a friend like that on the enternet ,oh John ,rude ,i don't think so, you are not ,ohh ,sorry i don't mean to be curious , anyway i like the first photo ,there is a reflection of beautiful house on the glass also the golden fialds .

Sacred groves ,which area on this planet is not stained with blood ,our land is beautiful but the human are very ugly ,some people can't see the beauty everywhere around ,they just see the power and the mony and some silly beliefs ,we should keep that beauty deeply in ourselves .

Thanks John and get good time .

john said...

Hello there Reem and thanks, it's always a pleasure to hear from you. I'm glad you don't think I'm rude, I try not to be but it's a fine line between cheeky and rudeness which I sometimes walk with my good friend nobody. I try not to offend.

I expect you're right, he probably is cute, he makes me laugh a lot which I like. Apparently he looks like the film actor Vincent Cassel but we only have his word for this of course.

Yes you are right in what you say in your second paragraph, I very much agree with that and that is a very nice way of putting it. I Hope all is good where you are Reem and many thanks.

nobody said...

Ha ha ha, how sweet Reem is. As for cute, I recall a chap saying of M. Cassel "He's not even what you'd call handsome. He's exactly that kind of cinematic French ugly". Whilst it's true I've only ever had people remark upon the resemblance three times (with lots of staring, a very strange experience), it's also true that I live in a country where no one has ever heard of him. And thank God for that.

And what a marvellous perennial the enclosure of the commons is. I can see a day when you may not set foot beyond your doorstep without you have to pay. "It's the insurance, you see? It's bankrupting the council and private enterprise does the job so much better. It'll only be two pounds a day or ten pounds a week, a small price to pay for what promises to be a much enhanced walking-on-the-footpath experience."

I like this bit -

"He said there was not enough evidence to show that the paths had been a public right of way for an unbroken 20-year period."

Is this a demand that ramblers leave evidence? If only they'd spraypainted their names on the Tor they'd have been let in. Clearly it seems that passing through a place and leaving it untouched is a recipe of getting locked out. "How dare they come in here and touch nothing. We'll teach them!"

What a pack of, um... dreadful people. Is Reem still here? Hullo Reem.

john said...

john said...

A plan was floated a year or so ago to sell all the motorway system to the rothschilds, nothing came of it, so far (hmm, spellcheck recommends that I capitalise the rothchilds but I certainly won't) thinks; when I raise an army... anyway like all bad ideas in this country it'll come back round again and again no doubt, as they always do.

As for spray painting, the landowner of Vixen tor did precisely that when people started walking to the tor, just after she bought the place, keep off/private property signs on the stones.

These people know how to make themselves popular but their desires are backed by our courts, as we have seen. If I ever find myself in the vicinity I will be sure to pay Vixen tor a visit.

reem said...

Hi John , Nobody ,yes i"m still here enjoying John's photos and your conversation with him ,even some words that i can't understand so i get some help from my dictionary ,hope everything is ok where you are .

Yes John we just have some words here from the other ,i think to know someone we need to see him face to face ,eyes talk about our souls and tell the other what realy we are ,well sometimes they lie but not always , also ,did you feel exciting for a moments to see someone you don't know him face to face ?

All the best for you and your friends .

john said...

Hi Reem. There's nothing like meeting someone face to face, as you say. The written word is ok but there is a greater possibility for misunderstanding, still we use what we've got and find out about people as it goes along.

I read some of my own writing back again sometimes and am not always sure what I was on about.

Scrabble is played quite competitively here, it helps us to learn about the language. A dictionary is fairly essential for Scrabble, mostly to shorten the arguments.

Choukran Reem, I hope all goes well where you are. Cheers for now.