Sunday, 4 January 2009

Semerwater and The Carlow Stone.


Stocks on the village green at Bainbridge.

We have just been out for a jaunt on a cold, hazy, frosty Sunday afternoon. The farmer deserves a medal for ferrying me round various places gathering enough photographs for an entire week of blogs!


I thought readers of my blog might like to see our local lake. There are very few natural lakes of any size in The Yorkshire Dales. Semerwater is three miles round and about forty five feet deep in the middle. It was formed by glacial erosion. The last glacier to recede left behind The Carlow Stone, which is in the forefront of my picture. Legend has it that the devil lobbed it there and that the Druids used it as an altar for human sacrifice!!


It is a hidden lake and anyone driving on the main road through the dale would completely miss it. It lies three miles to the South of the village of Bainbridge, down a quiet, narrow lane. As you go over the hill the lake comes into view in the bottom of the valley - Raydale. You could be forgiven for thinking you are miles from anywhere. There are a few farms dotted about but other than that the hilly landscape is empty.


Roughly along its edge, but standing well back and hidden from view, there are three villages - Marsett, Burtersett and Countersett. I shall write about them another day.


It seems that the lake was most probably the site of an Iron Age lake village built on piles out from the shore. The destruction of this village has given rise to a lot of folklore surrounding Semerwater. One story is that an angel came down to earth and decided to test the charity of men and went to the village asking for sustenance. Everyone refused him and slammed the door in his face until he got to the cottage which housed the poorest, most destitute family in the village. They invited him in to share what little they had. As a result this verse arose
Semerwater rise, Semerwater sink
And swallow all save this lile house
That gave me meat and drink. (lile=little, this is a word still used round here.)
On Summer evenings the more susceptible swear that they hear church bells ringing from the church under the water!
The overflow from Semerwater becomes the River Bain, at two and a half miles long one of the shortest rivers in England. It flows through the village of Bainbridge, where there are still medieval stocks on the village green (my other photograph), where local miscreants were pelted with vegetables and worse in the Middle Ages. There it flows into the River Ure.
Today we had the lake almost to ourselves as it lay serene and half-frozen in the winter sun.
In Summer time it is a different story.


28 comments:

Leslie said...

I love the stories you tell and the pictures. I can almost imagine myself there, too.

It is cold here today and cloudy. Yesterday was like a Spring day.

Thanks, for sharing. Hugs

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a beautiful spot, and how evocatively you describe it. I like the three -sett names too, and wonder what these mean.

I love the angel story too!

HelenMHunt said...

Great photos and some really interesting stories.

Bdogs said...

The stories seems exactly to fit the mood of your photograph of the lake. My memories of Yorkshire in winter all wear shades of gray. But beautiful.

Bdogs said...

stories seem...seem...

Kayla coo said...

Ghostly stories and beautiful landscapes.
Local ledgends are our link to the past.x

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely history lesson, thanks

Rowan said...

Semerwater looks so serene and beautiful and the stocks are interesting, I don't think many places have the original stocks in the original position. I wonder whether there are any traces of the Iron Age lake village under the water. I remember a Time Team programme where they excavated one - in Wales I think it was.

willow said...

Your little spot in the world is so incredibly charming. Do I say this every time I visit? Well, it is.

Your word verification is torruss, BTW. You wouldn't happen to be a Taurus, would you?

Kyfarmlife said...

I love old history and folk lore...beautiful pictures! I am not able to leave comments due to my internet problems, most everyd ay, but God is smiling on me! Just letting you know I stop by every day and as usual I'm not dissapointed in your posts! :D
Rachel

Leenie said...

I "flew" over Bainbridge and then three miles south to Semerwater on Google Earth. "Saw" Countersett just north of it. Virtual traveling is fun--thanks for the guided tour!

Kyfarmlife said...

Stop by my blog when you get a chance, there is a little something waiting for you to pick up!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Thanks so much for showing us this hidden lake. I love its haunted history and would love to hear the underwater church bells myself!

BT said...

What a wonderful and interesting entry Weaver. There are similar big stones on The Burren, an area of limestone pavement near here. They call any big stones like that 'Giants' Footballs'. They were, of course, also left behind by glaciers.
Bring back the stocks I say!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cold here too Leslie and a light covering of snow this morning.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The addition of sett at the end of a village name, Raph, means a place where you kept cattle (from the Norse saetr) and dates back to Viking times - there were many Viking settlements in this area.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks, Helen

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Bdogs - shades of grey just about sums up here today when it is bitterly cold.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Kayla and Crafty Green poet - you both seem to like legends - I agree they are one of our best links with the past. Ronald Blythe says our best link with the past is often the scent of flowers, which will not have changed down the ages.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Rowan - I don't know where the evidence comes from about the settlement on the lake, but there must have been something. I do know people have found iron age spear heads on the lake side.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sorry to disappoint you willow, but I am Scorpio.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sorry about internet problems Rachel - these little things are sent to try our patience.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Keep up the virtual travelling Leenie.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pamela - there is a lovely ruined church on the lakeside in a pretty little village called Stalling Busk

The Weaver of Grass said...

BT The farmer and I once visited your country and spent the day at The Burren - it poured with rain all day but it looked such an exciting place. We stayed on a farm in the village of Adare - lovely countryside.

Dragonstar said...

That's a really enjoyable virtual tour. One of the things I like most about blogging is all the fascinating information about places I don't know.

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh a pretty little lake and stone. Love reading all this info about places I've never seen.

Woman in a Window said...

To have that much history in an area is dumbfounding to me. Our history is so young and is only a smattering of grubby men in the bush. (Give or take...)