Albion, ancient sites, Art

Hills and crosses

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Sunday morning dawned damp with a promise of sunshine and we eventually headed out towards Bakewell to explore a hillfort. We knew it was there somewhere and had seen a likely site from the church on the other side of the valley. We drove to the lane we needed to walk to the hill. Or so we thought. The hillside certainly looked ‘suspect’ and in keeping with others we have seen. Now, however, it also looks like a golf course. We continued to climb, the wind roaring in the trees that cover the hillside, catching sight of odd features that seem reminiscent of other such sites, and a clear view of Fin Cop from the hairpin bend in the road. A lane led off on a nice level path from there… we, of course, continued the long, steep climb to the top, knowing by now that the sign saying ‘unsuitable for motor vehicles’ had lied and we could have driven. On the other hand, there is something important about the expenditure of energy at these places… and something special about walking the path, in contact with the land itself.x hobhurst, ballcross, bakewell, sheffield weekend 031
We were not sure what we were expecting to find on top of the hill… we certainly got more than we bargained for though, seeing the evidence of a settlement at least three thousand years old in the landscape around us and, in a very special moment, watching the clouds part and the sunlight stream down on Fin Cop, that distant, high hillfort we still need to visit. We had this once before where a hill was lit for us. It had taken some time to be able to get there… but when we did, our visit was memorable. We took it as a good sign and as we descended by the straight route back through the woods, I wondered if our visit to the ‘faery castle’ might have been the key that would finally unlock Fin Cop. We can only wait and see.

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Next there was lunch on the riverbank where the Wye runs through the little town. The shallow water is home to a huge number of ducks and opportunistic seagulls as well as the trout that seem to hover in the fast flowing stream. There are always tourists, winter and summer, though the turning year thins their numbers and it was the quietest we had seen the place for a while.

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Our final job in the town was to have another look at one of the Saxon crosses in the churchyard. It is a pleasant walk up the hill to the church and the birds seemed to be in attendance, awaiting our arrival. Once again new details sprang to light as we approached but my companion was curiously uninterested. He seemed preoccupied as we stood discussing the possible symbolism of the swirling carvings I got the distinct impression that there was more going on here than appeared on the surface. Time will tell… perhaps.

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We sat looking out over the valley for a while, eyeing up the hillside we had just climbed before calling in to the church in search of refreshment… there is a small café in the south transept. Apple juice in hand we took a closer look at one of the windows. We have, of course, been here before on several occasions, but there is always something else that you may well have seen but which has not really registered. While I enthused over the window, my companion remained curiously abstracted… definitely mulling something over, I thought. We headed back to the car. We still had a stone to find.

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