Tuesday, 23 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Standards (Nine)

Take a trip to the Nine Standards lying at the far east of Cumbria on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, if tramping the coast to coast long distance walk across England then this is the half way point.  The lichen and moss growing on the top of the sign post may give a clue that
it can be wet up here, it was the day we were there. Lying on the main watershed of England, rivers flow west to the Irish Sea and east to the North Sea. Full waterproofs at this point with the water running down the hill in streams, the mobile phone in the rucksack ahead would never work again.  This is a popular walk but we only saw three people all day, two of who were a pair of damp coast to coasters.
Don't be distracted by the two cairns, the 'teeth' just visible on the ridge is our destination which are
the Nine Standards, probably the last time to be able to photograph them all together, when the top is
gained it is tricky to get them all in one photograph.  It is rather like one of those Zen rock gardens where one rock is always out of sight, the viewer being only being able to be see all of them together after enlightened meditation. Perhaps I'll concentrate on
one.  The rain stopped on reaching the standards, the clouds swirled down in the valley and whirled round the surrounding hills.
No one knows why or when these structures were constructed. They appear on 18th Century maps and are mentioned in documents going back to the 16th Century. Some say they were built by the Romans or the Britons to look like an army, or perhaps they were built to delineate a border, for this was the old boundary of Swaledale and Westmorland.  A 6th Century Welsh document describes a defeat of the invading Saxons by Britons in the mountains north west of York at a place called the "toothed mountain", a vivid description of the Nine Standards.  These sentinels pointing roughly North North East

are of different shapes, another mystery. Maybe these sentinels are as old as Stonehenge or Carnac, no one knows. They stand exposed to the worst of weather, the freezing and thawing of the cold parts of the year makes them start to fall apart. They are never left to fall down, people want to see them there watching over the valley, connecting through the centuries to the people who lived in these northern hills.  The last rebuild was in 2005.

A postcard of the Nine Standards in their winter coats. I haven't figured out how the photographer has taken this picture looking down on them because they are on flat ridge, perhaps a ladder or standing on the
 orientation table further on with a zoom lens.
Earlier on I said we had met two coast to coaster, the third person we met was on our return down,
a man out for a afternoon stroll who told us there had been thunder storms further down the valley and a walker had been struck by lightening. Maybe the Nine Standards are always at the eye of a storm.

Step over to ABC Wednesday where there are lots more words beginning with the letter S


Sylvia K said...

What fantastic photos and history! I really love your post for the S Day! I'm fascinated by such ancient history, particularly since I was born and raised in such a young country! The information you've shared is really fascinating! Thank you, Joy! Hope your week is going well!


Roger Owen Green said...

love the rock sculptures, or designs. fascinating, esp w snow.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Y. Ikeda said...

It is very interesting post. I like history, especially the one that is still controversial!! Maybe there is something buried under the Nine Standards...
Thanks for sharing and commenting on my blog.

Paula Scott said...

Incredible images and story told. I see where Andy Goldsworthy has gotten his inspiration from.

mrsnesbitt said...

Up a ladder, on a ridge, in the snow-brave photographer!
Snow expected here = what about your neck of the woods?


Gattina said...

What a beautiful place ! I only know the English South East coast.

Joy said...

A theory is indeed that it is a burial site Y.Ikeda but never been a archaeological dig.

One of Andy Goldsworthy's sheep folds is near here Paula. Not as nice as my local one of course, LOL.

I heard the radio say the snow is on the way up the coast to you Denise, no sign here yet.

Lesley said...

These are wonderful looking standings. I like how each one is different. I even like the mystery surrounding them (though you have given a very vivid description and good history)

Cheryl said...

These are gorgeous and your shots came out just right. I love that they keep being rebuilt. What a loss if these beauties fell to ruin altogether.

jabblog said...

Very interesting! It's good to know that they are not allowed to fall into disrepair since they are such striking landmarks. They look marvellous covered in snow - like little old men :-)