Thursday, 6 January 2011

Yesterday, after lunch, the sun really shone; not a weak, watery substitute for the real thing but a good bright orb in the sky. And what a difference it made. Suddenly, as you will see from the photograph, there was colour again.

The farmer and I went walkabout with Tess. The hazel catkins were beginning to show, as were the alder catkins. I am determined not to photograph them until they begin to break into colour though. But fat sycamore buds showed up well in the sunlight, so I did photograph them for you. What a welcome sight.

We walked round the perimeter of our land and then cut across a field to look at a sheep which lay in an awkward position, so that we thought it might be dead (sheep do tend to die suddenly, without warning). Of course, as we approached it, it got up and ran off.

But walking back across the field we came to a little mound with a little 'moat' around it. The farmer stopped and pointed it out to me (I would have walked past it without noticing it, it was not very obvious). He told me that there used to be a tree on the mound and in the days when there were horses on the farm, the horses used the tree as a scratching post, thus making the 'moat' with their front feet. Even though the tree died they left it there for the horses, but when the last horse was replaced by a 'fergie' (about 1947 I think) they felled the tree for firewood.

But the little mound has stayed and will do so forever unless the field is ploughed at some point. But as it is a pasture rather than a meadow that is not likely to happen any time soon. But future generations will never know how the mound was formed will they?

So many little bumps and dips pepper our fields - the rig and furrow system still remains visible as do the medieval terraces and lynchets. And so many treasures lie undiscovered in the ground beneath our feet. The little watch fob in the photograph was discovered by my brother-in-law, using a metal detector, in one of our fields. The stone is a carnelian and the mount is silver, hallmarked 1832 - once somebody's treasure. We can speculate that it belonged to the farmer who owned the field, but we shall never really know who lost it and when. Interestingly, the field where it was found is called Peacock's field - was the man who lost the fob called Peacock or does the name go back further than that?

All these little mysteries make life so interesting. I read this morning an article in the Times by Matthew Parris about visiting the 13th century homes of the Pueblo Indians in Mesa Verde National Park. The farmer and I visited them some ten
years or so ago. So exciting to climb the little ladders and stand where those earlier men stood. But we do it every day here in our fields, or when we climb ancient stairs worn away by time, or when we stand in ancient buildings, or indeed when we cross the road. For the earth stays as it is - it is only we humans, and animals too of course, who come and go.

Today's aros: An old photograph, an old object, catches a moment in time.


MorningAJ said...

That's a lovely sentiment in today's aros. I studied archaeology as a mature student because I have always had a love for things in the past. Not history, with its kings and dates, but real things belonging to real people - like the watch fob.

Sadly our weather down here in the East Midlands was grey and damp all day yesterday. A bit of winter sun wouldn't go amiss, so thanks for sharing yours!

Dartford Warbler said...

I feel exactly as you do when I am out in our small fields. They were once part of a farm on the edge of our village. I found out, some years ago, that some tenant farmers in the 1800s had the same unusual surname as my paternal grandmother, who was born about five miles away. Now the search is on to see if I really have returned to my roots.

We have found old coins, a buckle and bits of gate fastenings, as well as old horse shoes. Digging out a gate post revealed bits of clay pipe. There is a real feeling of continuity. We do not "own" land, we simply husband it as best we can for future generations.

Reader Wil said...

Food for thoughts! We, humans change the face of the earth continuously!
You asked me about the history of the window glass. I found among other articles this:
"The history of glass windows is actually more interesting and older than you may think it is. The production of glass has been occurring naturally for millions of years but it is the discovery of manufactured glass that leads us on this exciting journey. The first instance of glass being made by mankind can be credited to the Mesopotamians who manufactured their own glass as early as 3500 B. C. The people of Mesopotamia used this man-made glass for simple uses, such as decorating pots or other vessels.

The actual fist use of man-made glass for the purpose of windows seems to have occurred with the Romans in the 1st century A. D. Excavations have revealed glass windows were present at this time and the Romans were known to use glass for decorative purposes, such as mosaic tiles. The rise of the glass window at this time seems to coincide with the introduction of churches and places to worship various deities. Much of the fragments of window glass found from the time of the Romans is coloured, suggesting that they were stained-glass windows from such places of worship.

It was not until the 13th century that the manufacture of glass for windows really took off. The skill of producing sheet glass had been mastered by the Germans in the 11th century and perfected by the Venetians by the 13th century."
Though I don't know if only rich people could afford to have glass windows. Interesting, isn't it?!

steven said...

weaver the wealth of layered history in england is astonishing! i'm glad for the sunshine!!!! very!! steven

Arija said...

What a lovely and thoughtful post. Yes we all fade away yet leave our footprints behind. Fey people feel the energy, be it good or not so, that is left behind. I remember when going inside Agamemnon's tomb I could not pass the doorway for the guardians of that sacred burial place which had long since been stripped of all contents by grave robbers. . .yet I could not pass for by sentinels . . .

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

I am amazed and a little ashamed to note how much you have been writing since my last visit! I've just been back to 28 Dec catching up and have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your walks, libraries, glass in windows, family history, computer bugs and your river of stones contributions! I can't seem to get fired up!

Heather said...

A fascinating post Pat - the little watch fob is so lovely - real buried treasure. I often wonder what has caused the contours of fields as we drive through the countryside. Our house was built about 30years ago on the site of a farm. I would love to know how old the farm was and if there are any ancient sites nearby.
I saw that our snowdrops are pushing up through the cold soil today - lovely thought.

Linda said...

I read a book by Sharon Butala from Saskatchewan. In the book she talked about the prairie lands in the middle of Canada and how they have mostly been plowed under for growing wheat. Butala met a rancher in Southern Saskatchewan who owned a tract of prairie that had never been plowed nor planted with wheat. The native prairie grasses still flourished through out this tract of land and the stories of the First Peoples were left undisturbed in rock circles and burial sites still to be discovered.

This land tract has since been left to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and they are connecting this land to a similar adjoining tract in the US. The last I heard they were reintroducing buffalo herds there, to roam across the prairies undisturbed once more.

The book is called "Perfection of the Morning" and it is in these golden discoveries and our connections to them that our mornings become perfect, Isn't it Weaver? Thank you for sharing.

Phoenix C. said...

These little bits of history are so warming and so vital for our culture too. I love the story about the tree and the 'moat'!

This is one of the reasons I'm so appalled about the proposed sell-offs of our forests. Such irreplaceable treasure of memory, story and living history.

The Weaver of Grass said...

If you come to this page please do read Reader Wil's comment about glass, which I spoke about the other day. She has kindly done some research for us.

Thanks Wil.

Penny said...

A post to ponder, think about thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good to see that bud. Even if you're buried beneath another abundance of snow, it'll be there working hard.

I love the tree story. The 'fergie' replacing the horse. We went to the late summer open day at the biggest of the local farms and there sitting quietly between a pair of hydro-ride giants with air-conditioned cabs and two-way radios was a little grey Ferguson. It was completely ignored by the kids swarming over the massive wheels and jumping into the lowered grabs of the working tractors. Just me leaning on its little ridged bonnet remembering when it was either a grey fergie or a red Massey-Harris!

ChrisJ said...

The watch fob is beautiful. But as for the little mound some one will probably pronounce it an altar of human sacrifice or a long forgotten king's tomb. It amazes me how much of conjecture soon becomes historical fact.

ChrisJ said...

The watch fob is beautiful. But as for the little mound some one will probably pronounce it an altar of human sacrifice or a long forgotten king's tomb. It amazes me how much of conjecture soon becomes historical fact.

BT said...

What a marvellous post Weaver. It was almost like reading a travel guide and I so enjoyed it. My brother is an archaeologist at Cambridge. I love the little watch fob, so beautiful, what a find. I bet if you did a proper 'dig' you'd find all sorts on your land.

I knew Matthew Parris, he used to be president of our Operatic Society in Matlock and I also used to see him in the swimming baths, where he went every day I think. I'm so glad I made the effort to catch up with your blog.