Albion, ancient sites, Archaeology, Art, spirituality, Sue Vincent

Rombalds Moor

Dawn over the Cow and Calf

There is a place the heart calls home, I think, for each of us. Sometimes we are lucky enough to live there. Sometimes it simply lives within us and pulls at the heartstrings, calling us. It may be the place you were born, a place you were happy, or a place that takes hold of your heart and begins a romance that lasts a lifetime long.

These are the places where the innermost self touches the heart of the land and Mother Nature herself reaches out to us, drawing us to her, teaching us her ways and letting us listen to her heartbeat as we lay our head upon her breast in silence and wonder.

For me, it is that ancient range that forms the backbone of England, the Pennines. These weathered hills run northwards, separating East from the West, rising in Derbyshire and running to the end of England. But this is not a geological essay. It is, quite simply, a love affair.

There is a magic about the moors for me. The rock and iron grey of the clouds may not fire everyone’s imagination. Many cannot see their stark winter beauty. But I defy anyone to be unmoved by the rising of a pale golden sun from the purple mist of heather that blooms from horizon to horizon in a brief burst of glory.

 

The sons of dawn will greet the liquid Light,

Lustral gold on heavens canvas glowing.

Painted magic banishing the night

Gilds the dream of every Seeker’s knowing.

Wings of morning flutter on the breeze,

Crystal raindrops scatter diamond bright,

Feathered choirs haunting in the trees

Bear the Seeker’s soul in joyful flight.

These hills run in my blood. The oldest members of my family that I remember, my great grandparents, were born in their shadow. One of my earliest memories is of walking the moors with my great grandfather and my mother, a bar of chocolate in one pocket, an apple in the other and water from the many streams to drink. He would tell of courting my great grandmother and walking  the ten miles across the moors from his home near Bingley to hers in Ilkley. They would meet for a brief hour and he would walk home the same way in the dark. His heart, he said, rising to sing with the skylark.

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Later his son, my grandfather, taught me the lore of the moorland. He showed me the ancient stone circles, the figures carved in the rock, eroded and softened by time. We speculated on their origins and meaning as we searched for fossilised seashells high above the valleys and found flint arrow heads among the heather and bracken.

I learned of the old people who had called the moors their home. He taught me the legends and folk tales and we tracked the barguest’s footprints in the soggy ground beside the sparkling becks as we walked.

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It was to this little patch of Yorkshire my heart ran when it was hurting as a child and through my youth. I would walk alone and never once felt fear. The moors took me in and healed the hurt. The tears shed there were dried by the wind and kissed away by the touch of heather as the moors opened their heart to me and held me. There was a day with my own sons, full of love and laughter and adventure that shines in memory still, sparkling as fresh as the water in the beck as we built a dam with pebbles. And a day of grief when I took my partner home and gave his ashes to the winds

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The magic runs the length of the Pennines for me. There is something in the very stones beneath your feet and the way the clouds come down to play amid the bracken and dry stone walls. But there is a tiny patch that calls to me in spring more than any other. Today, as the sun shines and the first hint of spring warms the air, that longing seeps into my very bones and calls me home.

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I live far south of Rombald’s Moor, but a little piece of my heart wanders there still. The edge of the moor where the Cow and Calf rocks hum with tourists in summer marks only the edge of a magical realm, where altar stones are carved with ancient gods and the profile of a Giant Rombald himself juts out from the moor to watch over the valley. Of course, some folk call this the Pancake Stone, knowing it only as a glacial remnant or as a rocking stone only an honest man will ever move. I know different. Here sleeps the giant after whom the moor was named.

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This is the landscape I have been writing of in the new book. It was for these stones and legends, this love, that I began it, wanting to preserve and share the essence of what was handed down through the generations of my own family. Reading through and editing, in front of a computer screen far in the south, my heart, like my great grandfather’s over a century ago, rises with the skylark in joyful flight over the moors of home.

 

Tall the cliffs of stone

That mark the entry to my heart’s domain,

Wild and empty in its vastness

The solitude of living earth.

The wind lifts the heart

And bears it through the storm

To where the lichen crusted rocks

Cling to the clouds.

Part of my heart remains there

Scattered with the ashes of a lost love

Mingled with the joy and pain of memory,

Of childhood wonder and a lover’s kiss.

Deep the roots which bind me to that land,

Like the weathered pines that cling for life

To the purple hillside…

Genuflecting, but standing, still,

Naked in the mist.

Or the great stones,

Ice carved in aeons past

Into a landscape of dreams,

Marked by ancient hands

With figures of Light,

That I may stand beside them,

Millennia apart,

And recognise my kin.

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24 thoughts on “Rombalds Moor”

  1. What a heartfelt post. It is so true that a place can be lodged in your heart and stays with you no matter where you live. I feel the same about the Canadian prairies.

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  2. What a beautiful writing straight from the heart and the soul. I truly felt what that might be like and wished I had a beautiful memory like that one from childhood or adulthood. But I think sometimes we have to create our own place of beauty and peace and joy from our own hearts and our souls. Of late, I have been dreaming of such a place and imagining how I would make it my very own place, away from the crowded cities and up into the mountains a little bit. I see my garden and fruit trees, and a beautiful view all the way around of nothing but the nearby hills and mountains and lots of trees. The yard is fenced, and it is up on a private dirt road. So I guess even if we weren’t so lucky to have a place that felt fully of beauty and peace and quiet joy, there is still that place that we can find within. Perhaps someday I will come face to face with my own, but until then, it will live in my dreams. Thank you kindly for your beautiful sharing, and I will look forward to your book. You are such an amazing person.

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  3. Oh, Sue, I am so deeply moved by your exquisitely expressed words and your beautiful poetry. I have moved around a lot and seem to take my contentment and happiness with me (fortunately!) but if I could have a little cottage near the estuary in Laugharne (Dylan Thomas) I would love that as it’s the place I’m most fondest of in Wales. (My mother was Welsh and I was evacuated to South Wales in the second world war.) That said, I’m happy to be retired in Spain. Light and peace. Hugs xx

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  4. Few people have grown up in such a remarkably beautiful place, AND have had their great grandfathers and grandfathers walk them through the land and tell them all the family stories. You are blessed, Sue. Really! Thank goodness you are writing about this. May I suggest / recommend that you write a YA book? Children are desperate to feel part of a family. Combine that with moors and stories and…you know what I mean. You are the one who can tell the story that children will love to hear and need to hear. Period!

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      1. That’s always how it is. And I hate it. If I could only have five minutes with my grandmother who was born and raised in the log house, where I stayed as a child and listened to the trains go by. We don’t realize how fortunate we are until much later, when our grandparents have passed on. I will say this again and then leave you alone – you need to/should write a YA book. Young adults are desperate to learn and know. It’s a hot market, and you have the stories. Okay, enough pushing, Jennie. 🙂

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        1. I have many memories that I cherish, Jennie, but I would need the right story to make a book… and so far, that has not materialised.But it is something I would like to do if I can…. many of the stories I was told a sa girl are already preserved in Sword of Destiny.

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