Sunday, 7 July 2013

THE REAL THING


I'm in the middle of reading Jenny Uglow's biography of Thomas Bewick, "Nature's Engraver", and I have fallen in love with the man. Handsome, in a sturdy Northern way, as a young man his character was a mixture of the mischievous and the strongly moral - irresistible! He was an early campaigner for the kind treatment of animals, he had a great dislike of unfairness and he thought all war utterly pointless.
He also walked a lot - all over the North of England, sometimes with friends, though he was alone when he visited our neck of the woods and saw our local  Neolithic standing stones "called I believe the Devils Arrows".
He was right - they are called that. Legend has it that the Devil once stood on a nearby hill and shouted,
"Borobrigg keep out o' the way, for Aldborough town I will ding down!"
However, he missed and his great stones landed in Boroughbridge.
Their setting now is not quite so picturesque as in the print above. They stand in a line, one tucked behind a gate in somebody's garden, two in a field of wheat beside the A1.

                                                       



Our visit to the stones whetted our appetite for more mystery tours and I suggested a trip to the famous Druid's Temple - not very far away and popular with local teenage boys looking for a bit of quiet contemplation, including, once upon a time, Mr N himself.


It's good walking country up on Masham Moor, though I doubt that Bewick made it this far and if he had he would not have seen this view - this is no lake, it's a Yorkshire Water reservoir.

This is what we came to find - the Druid's Temple, a mini Stonehenge.
Hobbit homes?

This looks rather like an altar...
...is anybody there?

You may have guessed by now that whilst the Devil's Arrows are the real thing - genuine monoliths dating from around 2700 BC - the Druid's Temple is a folly, built by William Danby of nearby Swinton Hall in 1820. Perhaps hoping to create a tourist attraction, he offered food and an annuity to any man willing to live a hermit's life in the temple, speaking to nobody and allowing his beard and hair to grow. I'm quite surprised that only one man tried and he only lasted for four and a half years. Northern softie!

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18 comments:

  1. Folly or not, the temple is very cool. I love that you take us along on all your jaunts......

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    1. Thank you Gayle - We like to combine antiques hunting with looking at interesting things. (And I think we're feeling a bit bucket-listish.)

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  2. Another entertaining post nilly, I agree with Gayle, I love it that you take us along with you on your jollies. The weather is being very kind to us at the moment which makes visits much more enjoyable. I love the final image of you, very atmospheric. jx

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    1. Thank you Jayne - hope Etsy is enjoyable & successful.

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  3. ~ I agree! Magical, truth, folly or not! soo atmospheric! My mind did drift to 'Lord of the rings'....but then it always does get carried away, with your lovely posts...Have a lovely new week, Nilly! summer at long last for us in the north! hugs Maria x

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    1. I was thrilled to see this place - after being told about it by my sons. The youngest just told me he'd been to a rave there! That was news to me!

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  4. Oh how wonderful. Damn it all, Nilly - you always make me want to visit the places you show me and it's not so easy now! However, see it all here is the next best thing. Love the stones and the folly - well - good on William Danby! He made a great place to visit. I'm making a note of all these places and when I bring my children back for an 'English holiday' I think this one might very well be on the list!
    Axxx

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    1. It would be well worth the trip. There's a lovely cafe out there called The Bivouac (they have a website) and you can book a stay in one of their yurts!
      Plenty to see if you venture over the border from West to North Yorks.

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  5. Enjoyable post as always! Thank you for your blog comment, our guide at the Back to Backs led us to believe that there were no others left! Lizzie

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    1. They fascinated me as they don't have them in Kent where I grew up - when I moved to Yorkshire I thought I'd arrived on the set of Coronation Street! (It was 1970!)

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  6. Another enlightening post. I was unaware of nything in this one, so thank you!

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    1. I keep doing my best to intrigue & entertain - thank you for looking.

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  7. What a lovely green spot for a bit of contemplation, folly or not. I know I would love it there. Coincidentally, my son's school play last night was their adaptation of the Hobbit ... the scenerey was not quite as spectacular as that in your photos ;) M x

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    1. It's well worth a visit. I loved taking my children to places like this when they were young - fresh air, nature AND magic. All for free!

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  8. Love that little folly - Just been wandering the stones at Carnac so I too have prehistory on my mind.

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    1. Hope you had a wonderful holiday, Rosemary - I loved the photos.

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  9. Our little bolt-hole is just up the dale from the spooky Masham folly. The last time I was there one of our daughters lay on the slab like a sacrificial offering - somewhat disturbing!

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    1. So you will know what a lovely area this is with so much to see and do - lucky you!

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