Sunday, August 18, 2013

Twilight of the Celtic Gods… & other pre-Christian delicacies…

I was in the United Kingdom from the 9th of November 2011 to September 26th 2012. A few days after I got into Yorkshire to Marsden on the 21st November 2011, I went to the Village of Uppermill, which is over the Pennines, right on the border of Yorkshire and Lancashire, or Greater Manchester, right near Saddleworth. In fact, I think it USED to be in Yorkshire, but now is in Saddleworth, which is a civil-parish. Stan, Caitlin's husband, told me about a stone face in a bridge in Uppermill, and he wanted to show it to me.

We first drove up Manchester Road out of Marsden past a few pubs on the top of the Pennines. There were two pubs near each other up there. One of them is called The Carriage House and our morris team danced there near Midsummer 2012. The other is named the Great Western. The Great Western was pointed out to me for a reason. Back at the Fortean Times Unconvention (Nov 2011) in London, Andy Roberts’ son Kai was there - I never got introduced at the time, but Caitlin knew him as she had taken photos of the Huddersfield area for his book - which is about
local folklore and stuff- like what his father Andy writes. Kai lives on the other side of Huddersfield from where I was, and I later met Kai just before I went home to Australia in September 2012. Caitlin revealed that Kai's book mentions hauntings of a couple of boggarts - and one of them was at the Great Western. Found that rather interesting.

At Uppermill, we saw not only the stone head in the bridge, but a few other stones that had some mystery to them.
The Stone head on the bridge

A carved stone said the bridge was re-built in 1986
but I'm not sure of the age of the head
The 'ravenstone' in the park next to the library has
even more mystery

The day before New Years Eve, I went with my Uncle Gareth to Ilkley to do the Cup and Ring tour. I had brought with me the book Twilight of the Celtic Gods by Andy Roberts and David Clarke) again to the UK to read again, and see what I could mentioned in the book (last time I brought it, I got Dave and Andy to sign it for me). I had brought the book with me to my Aunt and Uncles place for Xmas, because I knew my Uncle Gareth would have liked to read it - I even left it with him to finish reading – for 9 months! We happened to look through it for any local stones and found in Ilkley that there was a Goddess on a stone in the Ilkley Parish Church. The Goddess 'Verbeia' (according to Andy and David's book) was apparently an altar stone that was Roman in the church. What would make more sense was that the stone was found in the river.

Verbeia, a River Goddess?
'She of the Cattle' - was the Goddess of the River Wharfe in North Yorkshire (one of two Roman altars found in the north-west corner of the church - probably Demeter, Goddess of the fields or her daughter Libera (Persephone) or a local Celtic deity similar to Demeter.
So in we went to the Parish Church. What was more of a touristy thing were the Church’s three Celtic Crosses that have been in the churchyard for years and eventually moved inside for protection and saved from pollution. 

All about the Church, nothing of the pagan idols in it.
It does not amaze me that some of the literature that you can get on these kinds of historical relics is very Christian in the way of thinking - there are never any cited dates of possible creation or who made them. An academic would cite everything if they wrote the brochures on these things. It was the same with the Shoreditch Church brochure back in London - uncited Christian tripe made the writings completely dull and unbelievable. No dates or years were ever cited on the Shoreditch brochure. It felt the same here - the Christians who write this stuff that tell you nothing about an objects true history, tells me that it might not have been even a Christian creation - many brochures written up do not seem to want to acknowledge the ancient pre-Christian past. I'll bet any money that there was a Celtic or even Roman religious site in the same spot, thus trampled on.


If Christian worship began there in 627 AD then clearly NOTHING else would have been worshipped there before then at all (note sarcasm). There was probably 'no such thing.'
I am amazed the Church indulges in such acknowledgments
It's an Earth Goddess! Not an earth goddess
Anyway, we then drove up to the Panorama Rocks that were put in a park next to another Ilkley church. This is right on the edge of the Moor.

Achtung! Caged Rocks for your safety.
Cup and Ring stones bite!

I am not sure where the original placement of these rocks were on the moors – as it was a wet day, I did not make time to read the information board.

We got even wetter going up along the edge of the moor walking to the
Swastika Stone - which was carved on a rock overlooking the valley towards Addingham. The carving is worn away and on a stone next to it is a Victorian reproduction that is clearer to look at.

The original Swastika Stone - thousands of years old?
(Some of these symbols have been carved on mammoth tusks)

The 19th century reproduction that is next to it
Gareth and I got quite wet today - and were only going to get wetter. We were on a mission to get to the Badger Stone. He also wanted to go to the  Twelve Apostles stone circle but there was no way we were going to make it - we would have been too wet by then, and it was getting dark.

Looks nothing like a Badger

...But a lovely example of Cup and Ring carvings..
A late start to the day, water, dark clouds, moorlands of any kind, and a winter's day a week after midwinter do not mix well.

We were drenched! And beginning to get cold. It was best we headed back home and not further into the misty droll Ilkley Moor or Burley Moor, as it was getting dark and we were not well equipped for a jaunt over boggy moorland and sphagnum moss...

Back in Marsden, a couple of weeks later in January, I was invited out to the pub with my friend Angela for a drink after we had spent the day at the Marsden Infant and Nursery School helping the young kiddies make their Imbolc masks. It was then when I told her about the Great Western boggart, and she told me about the Green Man in Marsden Park.

She said that nobody knows how old it is, but that it was concreted there years ago. I did not see it till about month later when Ang and I went for a walk around behind the primary school to look for her stolen compost bin (a kid had said he'd seen it there). Just as I walked toward the rotunda, I asked where the Green Man was and she said 'there' and pointed right behind me - below a monument was the green man. Lovely!

The mysterious Marsden Green Man


This year, a friend of mine got into carving on slate, and as I loved the Swastika Stone, got him to carve this for me…
My own swastika stone!
A little bit of Ilkley Moor and Yorkshire in my world….

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