The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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The Dragon Stone, St Mary And St Bega’s Church, St Bees, Cumbria

View of St Bees priory church, Cumbria, by Samuel & Nathaniel Buck (1739) Wikipedia.

OS Grid Reference: NX 9685 1210. In an alcove of the churchyard wall of St Mary & St Bega’s church at St Bees, Cumbria, is a huge carved stone lintel, which was thought to date back to the 8th century AD? The stone has a very beautiful, but also quite curious, Anglo Saxon carving of a dragon being killed by St Michael the Archangel, and not St George – as was usually the case! Below this lintel stone is a carved Medieval cross. The stone, which is called ‘The Dragon Stone’ for obvious reasons, is also known as ‘The Beowulf Stone’. Inside the parish church, which has grown out of the ruins of the near-complete priory nave, are more interesting carved gravestones and crosses. The Benedictine priory was dissolved in 1538. St Bega (Bee) was a Legendary 7th century Irish princess who came here in order to avoid an unwanted marriage; she founded a nunnery in AD 650 at or close to where the present parish church now stands. The priory church can be found beside the B5345 (over the railway line) at the northwestern side of the village – in the direction of Rottington. The village of St Bees lies 3 miles west of Egremont.

The Dragon Stone at St Mary & St Bega’s Church, in Cumbria.

The Dragon Stone or Beowulf Stone is in an alcove of the churchyard (courtyard) wall, opposite the beautifully carved west door of c.1160. It is a huge, long lump of carved stone bearing carvings that were thought to date from the 8th century, but they are now considered to be from the Norman period – the early 12th century AD, and probably came from a much earlier church that stood here. These carvings are very well-preserved, despite their age. A ferocious looking dragon with its long curled tail is depicted about to be killed by St Micheal, who is cowering behind it with his sword raised in readiness. There looks to be another strange beast, perhaps a dragon, with a long curled tail behind the main dragon, but also a dove of peace inside a circle, which sort of balances things out between good and evil. The strap-work design at the right-hand side seems more like Celtic or Saxon, and certainly not Norman; and at the left-side are two small circles with knotted (connecting) cords running through that look like crosses and, below them another section of knotwork with loops and links. Beneath the lintel stone a round-headed medieval cross with shaped depressions forming the arms. Also out in the churchyard part of a 10th century cross-shaft with Late Saxon carvings and a serpent.

Arthur Mee (1961), tells of more about the village, St Bega, and its church, saying that: “Deep in a valley near the sea it lies, a grey village of much antiquity and charm. Its church is the oldest and finest in West Cumberland; its school is ancient, and so is its bridge; but the oldest of all is its delightful story of St Bega (or Bee) and how she got her nunnery. “

The church has grown from the church of a rich priory which began about 1125 as an offshoot of St Mary’s great abbey in York. The priory was built where the nunnery has stood (from the 7th century until the Danes destroyed it in the 10th), and this church is carrying on its ancient tradition. But the most interesting possession of St Bees is a relic of the nunnery itself, a remarkable stone believed to date from the eighth century.

The Dragon Stone.

“We see it in the wall between the churchyard and the vicarage, where it forms the lintel of an alcove. It is carved with an ugly dragon turning to snarl at a tiny armed figure attacking it from behind. One end of the stone is decorated with plaitwork, and with the knotwork at the other end is a very curious carving which looks like a boar’s head. Standing in the alcove is another relic, a stout stone cross on which the bearers of a coffin would rest their load.

“The cross-shaped church with its fine central tower has been altered in modern times, but the greater part was built only a few decades after the priory. It has a magnificent Norman doorway without equal for many miles. The arch has four rich chevron mouldings, beak-heads of men and serpents, and a ram; and carved on one of the capitals is a figure swinging like a monkey from the branches. Three trefoils on stalks make an unusual decoration at the top of the dripstone, and are perhaps meant to represent the Trinity. The oak door is modern, and has decorated hinges. “

Among the stones kept here as relics are a stoup, a piscine, and a mortar, all of the 12th century. Others are probably parts of still older cross-shafts with primitive carving, and one is the upper part of a 10th century shaft decorated on each side with chain and scroll. There are coffin stones 800 years old, carved with crosses and swords and shears: a very fine one engraved with an archer drawing his bow, an elaborate 13th century stone, and another charmingly engraved with the portrait of 14th century Johanna Lucy in a graceful gown her hair in plaited coils.”

Arthur Mee (1961), goes on to tell of St Bega, patron saint of St Bees, saying that: “She was an Irish princess who lived in the 7th century. As a child she made up her mind to serve God and not to marry, and as a pledge of her determination she kept a bracelet said to have been given to her by an angel. But she was the most beautiful woman in the country, and her father betrothed her to a Norwegian prince. Bega (as she was often called) was guarded so that she should not run away, but on the eve of the wedding everyone joined in the merrymaking and she was able to escape, crossing the sea to Northumbria.

“Legend tells us that she was well received by a great lady there, who asked her husband to give her land for a nunnery. He jokingly said he would give as much land as was covered by snow on Midsummer day, and on that morning there was snow for three miles round. Snow has been known on Cumberland mountains on Midsummer day, and possibly the story grew up as an explanation of the irregular shape of the parish. Bega built her nunnery, serving food to the workers with her own hands. As abbess she cared for the sick and poor of the district and became greatly loved.

“Those who declare that there was no Saint Bega assert that the origin of her story is to be found in a ring keep at St Bees until the 13th century, venerated as the bracelet given to Bega by the angel. Actually this was a Norse ring from a pagan temple, taken into the Christian church and referred to as Sancta Bega, Latin for Holy and Anglo-Saxon for Ring; a misunderstanding of these words would account for belief in a saint named Bega. But it is likely that Bega was a real abbess, for the people of north-east England long looked upon her as the protector of the oppressed and the poor.”

Maxwell Fraser (1939), says that: “It has since been demonstrated that no St Bega had any connection with the site, although there was undoubtedly a pre-Norman church there.” W. T. Palmer (1939), adds to the legend of St Bega, saying that: “The place was Christianised by St. Bega, who had been promised all the land that snow lay on, on Midsummer morning. A space of 16 m. by 10 m. was clad in white, and had to be handed to her. In time monks took the place of nuns, and the Prior became one of the most powerful men in the North, though his church and estate were constantly being raided by Scots and by pirates.”

In recent times scholars and historians have considered Bega to be identical with Begu, a 7th century Northumbrian nun and friend of St Hilda. It was Begu who, looking out of her nunnery window at Hackness, had a vision of the soul of St Hilda floating (ascending) up into the night sky and heaven at the very same moment that the saintly abbess had died at Whitby mona-stery, on 17th of November, 680 AD, according to The Venerable Bede’s History. Her death also being recorded in ‘The Anglo Saxon Chronicle’. A passage concerning a bell being tolled for her passing is the first written mention of a bell in recorded history, according to Colin Waters (2003). David Farmer (1982), with regard to St Bee & St Begu being one and the same person, gives the feast-day of St Begu as 31st October. He also says that a sarcophagus containing the bones of St Begu was found at Hackness (c.1125) by the monks of Whitby – after it had been miraculously revealed to them. It was inscribed: Hoc est sepulchrum Begu. These relics were translated to Whitby Abbey where miracles were reported, but another set of relics was claimed by St Bees, says Farmer.

Sources & Related Websites:-

Bottomley, Frank, The Abbey Explorer’s Guide, Kaye & Ward, London, 1981.

Farmer, David, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Frazer, Maxwell, Companion Into Lakeland, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, 1939.

Jennett, Seán (Editor), The Travellers Guides — The Lake District, Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 1965.

Mee, Arthur, The King’s England — Lake Counties — Cumberland And Westmoreland, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1961.

Palmer, W. T., The Penguin Guides (Edt. by L. Russell Muirhead), Lake District, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1939.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Bees_Priory

https://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101336027-church-of-st-mary-and-st-bega-st-bees#.WwSbT7uG9jo

http://www.stbees.org.uk/churches/priory/index.html

https://www.stbeghschurch.co.uk/Articles/249205/St_Beghs_Priory/About_us/History/Father_Gregory_Holden/BENEDICTINES_IN_WHITEHAVEN.aspx

https://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/st-bees-priory/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.


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Chapel And Fountain: Saint-Anne-La-Palud, Finistere, (Bretagne) Brittany

Chapelle-de-Sainte-Anne-la-Palud by GO69 (Wikimedia Commons).

Latitude: 48.135994. Longitude: -4.262185. At the western side of the little Breton village of Saint-Anne-la-Palud in Plonevez Porzay, Finistere, Bretagne (Brittany), 4 miles northwest of Locronan, is the large 19th century Gothic Catholic chapel and pilgrimage centre dedicated to St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary. The chapel (Kerk) is actually a basilica, and is located on Sainte-Anne la Palud road. There have been several chapels on this site – the first founded by St Guenole in the 6th century may have been nearer the shoreline, in the marshes. To the south of the chapel on Sainte-Anne la Palud road, is St Anne’s Fountain (Fontaine de Sainte-Anne), which has been visited for its miraculous properties for hundreds of years by the faithful from the local area and further afield. A few hundred meters to the west is the coast and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean.

Legend tells us that St Anne or Ana was an Armorican (Breton) woman of noble birth who journeyed to Judea where she gave birth to her daughter, Mary. She is said to have been transported there by angels. Later, she returned to Brittany (after Jesus’ birth) and died there? But this Legend seems to be purely a Mythical one, or it was adapted from the Life of another Breton saint Anna (Ana). In Ireland the Celtic goddess Annu (Danu) of the Tuatha De Danann, seems to have metamorphosed into St Anne. Annu was celebrated in May, according to Colin Waters (2003).

The first pilgrimages to Sainte-Anne la Palud may have began way back in the 5th or 6th century at the behest of the two local saints: Corentin and Guenole. Land for the building of the first chapel dedicated to St Anne was given to St Guenole by King Gradlon. The present-day chapel dates from 1864. In more recent times: from the 17th century onwards pilgrimages have become more prevalent as have the ‘pardons’ in honour of the saint which take place in the sanctuary of the chapel in late July (small pardon), culminating in the ‘Great Pardon’ on the last weekend of August, each year. Then the procession through the village begins and is always well-attended by the local community. During the ‘Great Pardon’ a painted statue of the patron saint, made of granite and dating from 1548, which is much venerated here, is held aloft and carried on its processional journey through the village from the Chapelle Ste-Anne to the 17th century Calvary and, eventually to the Fontaine de Sainte-Anne. 

Michelin (1983), says with regard to the pardons: “The Breton pardons are above all a manifestation of religious fervor. They take place in the churches and chapels, sometimes consecrated by the tradition of a thousand years. There the faithful come to seek forgiveness for their sins, to fulfill a vow or to beg for grace. The great pardons are most impressive, while the smaller, though less spectacular, are often more fervent. It is well worth the tourist’s while to arrange his trip so that he may be present at one of them. It is also one of the rare occasions when he will see the old customs, perhaps slightly modernized. The procession, which begins in the afternoon, is the most curious ceremony: candles, banners and statues of saints are carried by men and girls; with pilgrims singing hymns, priests, the Blessed Sacrament, and sometimes even several bishops. After the procession, the lay festival is given free rain. As a rule this is a rather ordinary fair. Modern dancers are taking the place of the gavotte but bagpipes and bombards still hold their own against accordions and jazz. Sometimes there are wrestling matches, for wrestling is a traditional sport of the Breton peasants.”  

Virgin & child with St Anne by Otto Bitschnau (1883).

Michelin Guide (1983), says with regard to St Anne, the patron of Saint-Anne la Palud that: “The Cult of Saint Anne was brought to western Europe by those returning from the Crusades. Her eager adoption by the Bretons was in part due to the popularity of the Duchess, Anne of Brittany and her later renown. Patroness of Brittany and mother of the Virgin Mary, Saint Anne was originally invoked for a good harvest. The most famous pardon in Brittany, that of Ste-Anne-d’Auray, is dedicated to her, so is the very important one of Ste-Anne-la-Palud and hence the local saying, “‘Whether dead or alive, every Breton goes at least once to Saint-Anne.”‘ A doubtful legend makes St Anne a Cornouaille woman of royal birth who was taken to Nazareth by angels to save her from her husband’s brutality. After having given birth to the Virgin Mary she returned to Brittany to die. It was Jesus who, when visiting his grandmother, called forth the sacred spring of Ste-Anne-la-Palud. The statues usually portray her alone or teaching Mary to read, very often wearing a green cloak symbolizing hope for the world.”  

C. P. S. Clarke (1919), says: “St. Anne was the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The only authorities for her life are the references in three of the Apocryphal Gospels. Her name does not occur in Christian literature until the fourth century. She is said to have been the wife of a rich man named Joachim, but was childless for many years. One year when they came to the Temple for the dedication festival Joachim was upbraided by the high priest for his childless condition. Cut to the heart, and not daring to face the taunts of his neighbours, he disappeared into the wilderness for forty days, and gave himself up to prayer and mourning. Meantime St. Anne remained in Jerusalem. Each had a vision of angels promising a daughter, who was to be called Mary, and was to be dedicated to God from her birth. Many miracles were attributed to her in the Middle Ages, but the observance of her festival was not imposed by authority until 1584. Feast-day July 26th.” 

Rev. Alban Butler (1936), says under the entry for July 26 that: “The Hebrew word Anne signifies gracious. St Joachim and St Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are justly honoured in the church, and their virtue is highly extolled by St John Damascen. The Emperor Justinian I built a church at Constantinople in honour of St Anne about the year 550. Codinus mentions another built by Justinian II in 705. Her body was brought from Palestine to Constantinople in 710, whence some portions of her relics have been dispersed in the West. F. Cuper the Bollandist has collected a great number of miracles wrought through her intercession.” 

David Hugh Farmer (1982), says of St Anne: “Relics of her were claimed by Duren (Rhineland) and Apt-en-Provence, by Canterbury, Reading, and Durham. The most famous shrine in her honour in England was at Buxton. The Cult has left literary record in three Middle English Lives. It was, and still is, especially popular in Brittany and Canada. Feast 26th July (with S. Joachim); in the East, 25th July.” Henri Queffelec (1972), says regarding Anne Le Berre: “Anne is a name which is given to both men and women in Brittany. St Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the Patron Saint of Brittany and the object of special veneration, called pardons in villages like Sainte-Anne-d’Auray and Sainte-Anne-la-Palud.” 

Fontaine de Saint-Anne-la-Palud by Leon Gaucherel 1844.

Fontaine-de-Sainte-Anne or St Anne’s Fountain is about one-hundred metres to the south of Chapelle-Ste-Anne – at the south-side of the road, beside a wooded area. This originated as a spring of water which flowed at the bidding of Jesus, according to the Legend, when he apparently visited, with St John, his grandmother’s place of birth, or maybe she was still living when he came to visit her? The spring or well has been the site of miraculous cures down through the centuries and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful since very early times. It has been claimed that many, or all diseases, were able to be cured by the waters of the holy fountain, but rheumatism being one in particular. Madness and evil were also healed and warded off by the water. A statue of St Anne, on a plinth, with a young Mary at her side stands looking down over the well basin, the present structure of which dates from  1871. The local church pardons process here to the Fontaine-de-Sainte-Anne every year in Late July (small pardon) and the last weekend in August (the Great Pardon).

 

Sources and related websites:-

Butler, Alban (Rev), The Lives of The Fathers , Martyrs And Other Principal Saints, Volume III, pages 839-40, Virtue & Company Limited, London, 1936.

Clark, C. P. S., Everyman’s Book Of Saints, A. R. Mowbray & Co Ltd., London, 1919.

Farmer, David Hugh, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Michelin, Tourist Guide – Brittany, London & Clermont Ferrand, France, 1983

Queffelec, Henri, Un Recteur De L’ile De Sein, George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., London, 1972. Originally pub. in French Language (1945) by Éditions Stock.

Waters, Colin, A Dictionary Of Saints Days, Fasts, Feasts And Festivals, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire, 2003.

Photo by GO69    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Chapelle_de_Sainte-Anne-la-Palud

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapelle_Sainte-Anne-la-Palud

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Anne

http://www.infobretagne.com/sainte-anne-la-palud.htm

http://fontaines.bretagne.free.fr/presentation2.php?id=95

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2018.


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St Corentin’s Chapel, I’le de Sein, Finistere, (Bretagne) Brittany

St Corentin’s Chapel on I’le de Sein, by Ji-Elle (Wikimedia Commons)

Latitude: 48.041993. Longitude: -4.867500. At the far northwestern side of the I’le de Sein at the sacred place called Goulénez, just 8 kms off the Finistere Coast at Pointe de Raz, (Bretagne) Brittany, stands the restored chapel dedicated to St Corentin (Cury), a 5th century Celtic saint who became bishop of Quimper; he was apparently also the adviser and confessor of King Gradlon le Grand – whose Breton kindom of Caer Ys (or Is) was both legendary and, almost certainly, mythical. Quimper eventually being the location of his new royal palace. The lonely little chapel, of ancient origins but restored in the early 1970s, is a short distance from the rocky seashore of the island’s northwest coast. There is also a holy well/spring and close to that is the ‘Hermit’s Garden’. St Corentin’s Chapel and holy well have long been a place of pilgrimage and veneration for the islanders themselves; but further back into the mists of time the island was home to the druidic priestess, Velleda, and then the Romans probably camped on the island, which ‘they’ were to call: Insula Sena. To reach the site: follow the Route du Phare coastal path around the north and northwest side of the island.

The Insight Guide (1994), says of the island: “Bretons call Ile de Sein Enez Sun, and it is suggested that this helps to identify it as the Isle of the Dead, a burial place of the druids. It is also said to be the Romans’ Insula Sena, a mysterious island where sailors used to consult an oracle tended by nine priestesses.”

The Insight Guide (1994) adds: “The home of King Gradlon, Is, was protected by a dyke and the key to its gates was always carried by the king. His daughter, named variously as Dahut or Ahés, had become attracted by the Devil in the shape of a handsome young man. The Devil requested that she steal the key to the gates that protected a dyke surrounding the king’s palace at Is. At the Devil’s request she stole the key and opened the gates allowing the sea to pour into the city. King Gradlon managed to escape on his horse with his daughter clinging onto him for dear life, but a voice from heaven informed him that he could only be saved if he ditch this evil spirit. He did this, and the sea withdrew, but his kingdom of Is was completely submerged and destroyed.

“The king then chose Quimper as his new capital for the kingdom of Cornouaille, and his statue stands between the two towers of the cathedral. For the rest of his days, he lived a life of holiness and piety, helped by the first bishop of Cornouaille, St Corentin. As for his daughter, Dahut, she became a mermaid (siren) known as Marie-Morgane, and today still lures sailors to watery graves,” according to the Legend.

The Insight Guide (1994) goes on to say that “As for St Corentin, he is remembered for his diet, which consisted purely of the flesh of one miraculous fish. Each day he would eat half of the fish and throw the rest back into the river, only to find it restored to full size the following day. Corentin was one of the first Celtic religious leaders to move to Brittany in the 5th century and, like the others, he became a saint.”

David Hugh Farmer (1982), says of St Corentin that he was: “Cornish founder and patron of Cury in the Lizard. He was a Celtic hermit who later became a Bishop in Brittany. An ancient cross stands near his church; in 1890 a fresco was discovered in Breage (the mother-church of the Lizard), which depicts him in cope and mitre with a pastoral staff. Beside him is a fish, from which he was reputed to have cut and eaten one slice each day, without any diminution in the size of the fish. An ancient Breton cult in his honour was revived by a private revelation in the 17th century, when several old shrines there were restored. His feast (translation?) at Quimper is the occasion for presents of blessed cakes. Ancient feast: 1st May.”

Map of I’le de Sein (North)

St Corentin or Corentinus, was a native of Armorica (Brittany), but he may have visited the southwest of England and maybe Wales at some point. At least one church is dedicated to him at Cury in Cornwall, where he is called St Cury. However, he was more likely a hermit living on the I’le de Sein (440 AD), a small island in the Atlantic, just off the Finistere coast, and later at Plomodiérn near Ménéz-Hom in Crozon. St Guenole (Winwaloe) was his disciple. Indeed, St Guenole also has a church dedication on the island. Corentin established a hermitage and church on the island and imparted his holiness into the waters of a well there. The site being of pre-historic importance. A modern wood statue of the saint stands inside the tiny chapel along with one of the Virgin Mary, and other Breton saints. Eventually, King Gradlon installed Corentin as first bishop of Quimper, in Cornouaille; the Cathedral of St Corentin now stands on the site of his church. He died at Quimper in 460, 490 or 495 AD. His feast-days are 1st May (translation) and 12th December.

Henry Queffélec (1945 & 1972), says of St Corentin’s hermitage on I’le de Sein: “the Chardin an Iarmit, or “‘Hermit’s Garden”‘, was situated on the western end of the ile de Sein next to a small chapel dedicated to St Corentin. Although the chapel has now fallen into ruins the site is still regarded by the people of Sein as a place of pilgrimage and special veneration. Cambray in his Voyage dans le Finistère of 1794 described the chapel and garden.”

Queffélec adds that: “There is no evidence whatsoever that the chapel dedicated to St Corentin was ever destroyed by fire or that its stones were used to build another church on the island. This chapel, unfortunately, has simply been allowed to fall into ruins and very little remains of it today.”  [The chapel was, however, rebuilt in 1971 by the people of the island and the priest.] 

He also adds more information with regard to the History of the island, saying that: “In early times, the ile de Sein was thought to be the haunt of supernatural beings. In the first recorded mention of the island in 43 A.D, in the work of the Roman geographer, Pomponius Mela, we are told that the Insula Sena possessed an oracle which was served by nine vestal virgins who had the capacity to control the elements and cure the apparently incurable. This tradition is later exploited by Chateaubriand in Book IX of Les Martyrs (1809) in his description of the sacrificial activities of the Celtic druidess Velleda some of which take place on the “‘ile de Sayne, ile venerable et sacrée”‘. In the Middle Ages , the ile de Sein is caught up in the Arthurian legends and according to some  storytellers, is the birthplace of two of the most accomplished magicians, the wizard Merlin, and Morgan La Fée.” 

Sources and related websites:

Insight Guide, Brittany, (Ed. by Brian Bell), APA Publications (HK) Ltd., 1994.

Farmer, David Hugh, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Queffélec, Henri, Un Recteur De L’ile De Sein, George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., London, 1972. Originally pub. in French Language (1945) by Éditions Stock.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ile_de_Sein

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corentin_of_Quimper

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%8Ele_de_Sein

http://audierne.info/la-chapelle-st-corentin/

https://www.breizh-poellrezh.eu/bretagne/%C3%AEle-de-sein/

http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/gradlmby.html

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.

 


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Dolmen of Fontanaccia, Plain of Cauria, Corsica, (France)

Dolmen of Fontanaccia, Corsica, by Cardioceras (Commons Wikimedia)

Latitude: 41.529559N. Longitude: 8.918266E. On the Plain of Cauria (Plateau de Cauria), 15 kms to the southwest of  Sartè (Sartène) on the Island of Corsica, (France), stands the most famous Corsican Megalithic structure: the Dolmen of Fontanaccia, Funtanaccia Dolmen, or ‘Stazzona  del Diavolu’ (the Devil’s Forge), which dates from the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age. This very important prehistoric burial chamber (table tomb) is located in the Dept: Corse-du-Sud, near the end of the D48A road, southwest of Sartène, and near Tizzano on the southwestern coast. From Sartène follow the D21, D48 and D48A roads going southwest to the megalithic monument. The Dolmen of Fontanaccia with its huge, flat capstone-table and six massive stone supports, is thought to be up to 4,000 years old (the 2nd -1st millennia BC). About ½ km to the northeast of the domen is ‘The Alignment de Stantari’, a group of fifteen menhir statues, while 1 km to the south of those another prehistoric site composed of forty-six standing stones known as ‘The Rinaghju Alignment’.

Olivier Jehasse (1992) says of this prehistoric site that: “Between Sartè and the sea, left of the valley which arrives as far as the port of Tizza (Tizzano), extends the high plain of Cauria, an old place of the prehistoric period. This place overhung by a granite mass is above all famous for the Dolmen of Fontanaccia, that the popular tradition transmitted in the last century by P. Merimee, calls ‘”A Stazzona d’U Diavulu”‘ (the forge of the devil). This beautiful monument, well conserved, is composed of 6 slabs which support a table 3.40 meters long and 2.60 meters wide. The room sitting approximately 40 centimeters deep in the earth measures 2.60 meters long, 1.60 meters wide and 1.8 meters high. These funereal buildings, of which a dozen examples are known in Corsica and scattered in all of the western world, are slightly older than the Casteddi which are characteristic of the island’s prehistoric era.  If their roles in the rural communities of the 2nd and 1st millennia B.C. are difficult to understand, the presence of such monuments, in the middle of the plains, or in the hills or at a peak’s edge, bear witness to the presence of social structures on the island, magnified by these collective tombs, dating to late antiquity.”

Jehasse (1992) adds more with regard to the Bronze Age in Corsica, saying that: “Starting from 2200 B.C., the Bronze Age makes a turning point for architectural invention. This island is covered with castles, fortified complexes, and huts grouped around circular or rectangular buildings having various functions. Very well preserved in the south and in the regions of Porti Vecchju, Livia, and Taravu, these complexes are also to be found in Balagne, in the Golu Valley near Ponte Leccia, in the Niolu region and in the hills overlooking the Aleria hinterland. The appearance of these complexes, moreover, is a sign of the transformation of this island society, where human groups differentiate themselves one from another. This evolution is still more clear cut in the area of religion. Collective funerary monuments Stazzoni or dolmens were built. Southern Corsica is once again the region richest in vestiges of these monuments: Stazzona of Funtanaccia and Cardiccia near Sartè, the Stazzona at Taravu and Stazzona of Appiettu near Alacciu. They are also to be found in the northwest in the Agriate region near the village of Santu Pietru of Tenda and in the Niolu region near the village of Albertaccia. This presence of death in monumental form on the peaks and in the highlands is one of the hallmarks of this epoch.”  

About 1 kilometer to the northeast of the dolmen, at the center of the Caurian plain, is another prehistoric site called: ‘The Alignment de Stantari’, a group of fifteen granite menhir statues. These strange carved stones were probably erected some-where between the 13th and 7th centuries BC? Stantari meaning “man on his feet” in the island’s language. The stones measure between 2.78 and 2.91 in height. And another 1 kilometer to the south of these statues is yet another prehistoric site: ‘The Rinaghju Alignment’, which is composed of forty-six granite standing stones in two parallel rows. The tallest stone being 1.50 meters high, according to Olivier Jehasse in her work of 1992.

Sources and related websites:

Jehasse, Olivier, Corsica – Island of beauty, (English Translation: Ilene Steingut), Edition: Plurigraf, Narni – Terni, Italy, 1992.

Photo of Dolmen of Fontanaccia by Cardioceras at:-  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=The+Dolmen+of+Fontanaccia+in+Corsica+(Wikimedia)&dcr=1&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=ASbisxkJrL1XIM%253A%252CpTPng18DJJg4KM%252C_&usg=__vaeUDHgVv13_Xpkjoa7G0YoN3Co%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiig_T_qq7aAhVIPBQKHb9kCckQ9QEIQzAE#imgrc=ASbisxkJrL1XIM:

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmen_de_Fontanaccia&prev=search

http://www2.culture.gouv.fr/public/mistral/merimee_fr?ACTION=CHERCHER&FIELD_1=REF&VALUE_1=PA00099114

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=9501

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=9519

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.

 


Pompey’s Pillar And Sphinxes, The Serapeum, Alexandria, Egypt

Pompey’s Pillar and Sphinx at Alexandria in Egypt.

Latitude:31.182515  Longitude:29.896394. On the rocky hill called ‘The Serapeum’ near the center of Alexandria, Egypt, are three monuments dating from the Roman period. The ornate granite ‘triumphal pillar’ or monolithic column (over 20m high) has wrongly been called ‘Pompey’s Pillar’ (it was probably erected to honour the Emperor Diocletion (297-300 AD) when he saved the city from famine. The pillar is also known as Awud as-Sawari (The Horseman’s Pillar). The two monuments (at either side) are Roman copies of the Sphinx, although much smaller than the more well-known Great Sphinx at Giza. Both are made from pink granite and of an earlier date than the pillar; they show the body of a lion and the head of a man. The Serapeum, at the south-west side of the city, on Shari Amûd al Sawari, northeast of the Catacombs of Kom al Shuqqafa, was the site of the Temple of Serapis and the Sanctuary and Library buildings, which were built either by Ptolemy I or III, the ruins of which are now the Acropolis Archaeological site. The  city of Alexandria was conquered by Rome in 30 BC. Pompey the Great was murdered in Egypt (48 BC).

Old Postcard showing Pompey’s Pillar at Alexandria, Egypt.

The Insight Guide – Egypt (1988) says of the site that: “Long before Alexander arrived on the scene, this hill was the citadel of Rhakotis, dedicated to the worship of Osiris. The Ptolemies in their turn built a temple of Serapis on its summit. Here, with a collection of 200,000 manuscripts given to her by Mark Antony, Cleopatra endowed the second great Alexandrian library, which was to remain attached to the Serapeum until the temple itself was destroyed by a Christian mob; and thus here, for 400 years, was the most learned spot on earth. Today not much of the Serapeum remains: some tunnels in the rocks with crypts and niches and a few marble pillars. What the Christians wiped out in 391 A.D. later vicissitudes have put paid to. But the principal attraction, a solitary 72-foot (22 meter) high pillar of pink Aswan granite, seems to touch the sky defiantly and when European travelers arrived in the 15th century it caught their attention. No scholars they, but since they had heard of Pompey, they named the pillar after him and said his head was enclosed in a ball at the top. It actually has nothing to do with Pompey: according to an inscription on its base, it was dedicated to the Emperor Diocletian in 297 A.D. and it may once have had an equestrian statue on top, which would explain its Arabic name. Even less is left of the temple to Isis that once stood on the hill than of the Serapeum. You can see a statue of Isis Pharia, found near the site of the Pharos, as well as two granite sphinxes.”  

Alice Taylor (1964) adds to that that: “Among the best-preserved remains of the Roman period in Alexandria are Pompey’s Pillar and the sphinx. The red granite pillar, eighty-five feet high, was erected by Diocletian in 297 A.D. Excavations here have unearthed dozens of fragments of other Roman objects and buildings, but they are only fragments.”

And Taylor (1964) also says that: “In the last years of the Ptolemaic era a succession of rival rulers, constantly at war with each other, fell under the rising power of Rome. Cleopatra VI, the last of them, a woman of remarkable ability, tried her best to save the dynasty.”

And further to that Alice Taylor adds with regard to Egypt that: “Most of the Roman rulers, like the Greek, considered Egypt a “”cow to be milked””, although at times the people appear to have been fairly prosperous. Gradually, despite persecutions, Christianity gained converts. Many sought refuge in the harsh lonely desert, where they created the world’s first Christian monasteries. Later, Christianity became the official religion, known as the Egyptian (Coptic) Church, and the non-Christians in turn were persecuted.”

View of Pompey’s Pillar c 1850. (Wikimedia).

Edith Flamarion (1997) writes regarding Pompey the Great that: “One man especially became the champion of Egyptian independence: the roman imperator (commander) Pompey the Great, wreathed in glory after suppressing a revolt in Rome, clearing the Mediterranean of pirates, and crushing the powerful Asian king Mithradates. In 64 BCE he over-threw the Seleucid kingdom; the following year, he reduced Syria to the status of a Roman province—thereby creating a Roman stronghold in the Middle East, at the gates of Egypt—and took Jerusalem. Auletes made an alliance with Pompey, sending him 8,000 cavalry for his wars and many gifts, among them a heavy gold crown. 

In 60 BCE, though, the pharaoh had reason to tremble, for Pompey allied himself with Julius Caesar, who became consul the following year. The Egyptian king sent to Rome the huge sum of 8,000 talents, which brought him official acknowledge-ment of his authority. Julian law declared Ptolemy XII Auletes “”an ally and friend of the Roman people,””  which made him, in reality, a vassal.

“The looming military presence of Rome may have alarmed the Alexandrians, who rebelled against the ruler. Driven out by his subjects, Auletes fled Egypt for Rome. There, beginning in 57 BCE he launched a campaign of politicking and corruption, seeking to regain the throne of Egypt and to rally to his cause every powerful citizen of the Roman capital. Auletes bribed senators, spending so much that he was obliged to borrow from Rabirius, a wealthy Roman financier. 

“In the meantime, the Alexandrians put his eldest daughter, Berenice IV, on the throne, and sent a delegation to Rome to request the Senate to arbitrate the conflict between father and daughter. While Rome hesitated, equivocated, and consulted sacred texts, Auletes simply arranged to have a number of the delegates assassinated. But Rome was reluctant to commit a large armed force to returning Auletes to power. In despair, the deposed pharaoh left Rome for Ephesus, in Asia Minor. Cleopatra, then about ten years old, remained in Alexandria, where her half-sister now reigned.

“It was then that Rome decided upon a military intervention. One of Pompey’s lieutenants, Gabinius, governor of Syria, marched on Egypt at the head of a mighty army—an expedition in which the ten thousand talents promised by Auletes undoubtedly played a part. Leading the cavalry was a fiery twenty-four-year-old officer named Mark Antony. Gabinius took Pelusium, then Alexandria; Archilaus, Berenice’s husband, died in combat. Auletes entered the Egyptian capital as its conqueror, and immediately had his daughter executed.

“With the pharaoh back on the throne, Gabinius quit Egypt, leaving behind a military guard composed in the main of German and Gallic mercenaries. The Roman Rabirius, Auletes’ creditor became his prime-minister in Egypt.”” And the rest ‘they’ say is History! 

Sources & Related Websites:

Flamarion, Edith, Cleopatra – From History to Legend, (New Horizons), English Translation – Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1997.

Ingram, David, (Insight Compact Guide), Egypt,  APA Publications GmbH & Co. Verlag KG Singapore, (Reprint 2008).

Taylor, Alice, United Arab Republic, (Around The World Program), Nelson Doubleday, Inc And Odhams Books Ltd., 1964. 

Youssef, Hisham & Rodenbeck, John, (Insight Guides – First Edition Reprint), Egypt, Hans Johannes Hoefer, APA Publications (HK) Ltd., 1988.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompey%27s_Pillar_(column)

https://www.ask-aladdin.com/Alex-Travel-Information/PompeyPillar.html

http://brewminate.com/serapea-of-ancient-egypt/

http://tvatravels.com/adventures/egypt/alexandria-city-lost-glory/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.


The Coronation Stone, Kingston Upon Thames, Greater London

The Coronation Stone at Kingston-Upon-Thames.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 17867 69069. On High Street, just opposite the Guild Hall, in the town centre of the south London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, Greater London, is the 10th century stone monument known as ‘The Coronation Stone’ or ‘The King Stone’. Traditionally seven, or maybe eight, Anglo-Saxons kings (AD 900-1016) were crowned whilst seated upon the stone. This 3½ foot high block of grey-black sarsen stone ‘now’ stands on a grassy area of land close to the Hogsmill River, and is surrounded by ornate blue Victorian railings. The Greater London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, once part of Surrey, obviously taking its name from the stone that has, from an early date, also been called the King Stone or King’s Stone. Originally it stood in the ancient Chapel of St Mary (which had fallen into ruin by 1730) and, in 1850 the Market Place, but in 1936 it was moved to its present position on the High Street; though it could be moved again in the near future to All Saints Church, a building which also has ancient origins.

Coronation Stone, Kingston-Upon-Thames (photo by Philip Halling – Geograph).

According to tradition seven Anglo Saxon kings of Wessex and Mercia were crowned on the Coronation Stone in the ancient Saxon Chapel of St Mary Magdalene which stood in the grounds of All Saints Church, Kingston-Upon-Thames, in the 10th century: Edward the Elder (8th June, 900), Aethelstan (4th Sept, 925), Edmund I (29th Nov, 939), Eadred (16th Aug, 946), Edwy also known as Eadwig (26th Jan, 956), Edward the Martyr (975), Ethelred the Unready (April 978) and, possibly Edmund Ironside (14th Apr, 1016)? However, it is known from History that a couple of these kings were ‘not’ crowned at Kingston-Upon-Thames, as was often thought. King Edgar, who is not in the list above, was crowned at Bath (959), and King Edmund II (Ironside) often thought to have been crowned at Kingston was, in fact, crowned in the ancient 7th century Saxon St Paul’s Church, London, the forerunner of the present-day St Paul’s Cathedral. The first St Paul’s church to be styled as a Cathedral was not built until 1087 AD.

The Coronation Stone, which is probably a lump of prehistoric sarsen stone, sits upon a large, modern granite base-stone which has the names running round it (in large lead letters) of the seven kings whom its thought were crowned whilst seated upon the stone – at various dates between AD 900 and 978, but in more recent times it was used as a mounting block for horses! The badge or coat of arms representing the Royal Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames displays three salmon symbols, and can be seen at many strategic points in and around the town. 

Janet & Colin Bord (1991) say with regard to The King Stone or Coronation Stone that: “It is claimed that seven kings were crowned at this stone during the tenth century, but this is disputed in some quarters. The stone was originally located in the Saxon Chapel of St Mary, but since 1730 it has had several outdoor locations, moving in 1936 to its present site. Whatever its true history, it has now assumed a role as the relic from which the town took its name.”

And also Reader’s Digest (1977) say: “In Kingston market can be seen the stone which gave the royal borough its name. From Edward the Elder (AD 900) to Edmund Ironside (1016), English kings were crowned seated upon the stone.”

Sources & related websites:

Bord, Janet & Colin, Ancient Mysteries of Britain, Diamond Books, 1991.

Reader’s Digest, Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain, Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1977.

The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London, 1961.

http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2591257   Photo (above) of Coronation Stone is © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under their Creative Commons Licence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_Stone,_Kingston_upon_Thames

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1080066

https://lookup.london/kings-stone-kingston/

http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=7208.0;wap2

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.

 

 


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Waugh’s Well, Scout Moor, Near Edenfield, Lancashire

Waugh’s Well (photo by P Smith). (Wikipedia).

OS Grid Reference: SD 8287 1957. On windswept Scout Moor between Edenfield and Cowpe in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, stands the Victorian memorial known as Waugh’s Well, named after the famous Rochdale-born dialect poet Edwin Waugh (1817-1890), who was the son of a shoemaker. The poet often came to stay at a farm on the moors and, very often would visit and sit beside a spring of water, at Foe Edge. In 1866 a wellhead with a carved stone-head of the poet and a gritstone wall at either side, was built to honour the man who would come to be known as the Lancashire Poet Laureate and also Lancashire’s very own “Burns”. Following his death at New Brighton the well became a place of pilgrimage for devotees of the poet, but it was here on the moor at Foe Edge that Waugh composed some of his famous dialect poems, all having a strong Lancashire feel about them. The well lies about ¼ of a mile to the east of Scout Moor High Level Reservoir on the Rossendale Way footpath. The site is probably best reached from the A680 road and the footpath going past Edenfield Cricket Club, and then eastwards onto the moor itself for a few miles towards Cowpe.

Nick Howorth writing in a magazine article (1996) says of Waugh’s Well that: “The well, originally a spring, was converted into a memorial to Waugh in 1866. This was an extraordinary tribute to a man who was not only still in mid-career at the time, but who had only been famous as a writer of Lancashire dialect songs and poems for 10 years. His fame grew to the extent that by the time he died in 1890 he was variously called “”The Laureate of Lancashire”” or “”The Burns of Lanca-shire””, although he never achieved an international reputation. The well was rebuilt in 1966 and shows a bronze figurehead of Waugh  with his dates, 1817-1890. His connection with the spring on Scout Moor was that he often stayed with friends living at Fo Edge Farm near the well, finding the solitude good for composing songs and poems.

The name ‘Waugh’ is variously pronounced in Lancashire to rhyme with ‘draw’, ‘laugh’ or cough,…..but today ‘Waw’ is more usual. Edwin was born in 1817 in a cottage at the foot of Toad Lane, Rochdale, the second son of a prosperous clog-maker. All was well until his father died of a fever aged 37 when Edwin was nine years old. Years of penury followed but Edwin’s mother, Mary, held the family together. She was a devout Methodist, intelligent, and a good singer. By being careful, she kept Edwin at school until he was 12. She then educated him at home herself, fostering in him the seeds of artistic talent.”

Howorth goes on to say that: “His early career was a struggle against poverty. He was apprenticed to a Rochdale printer, Thomas Holden, when aged 14. This gave him opportunities to read widely although he was often ‘ticked off’ for reading during the shop hours. He also met local literary figures and politicians. Waugh held strong Liberal views but his boss was a Tory; they did not get on well. Between the ages of 20 and 30, Waugh worked in London and the south of England as a printer, but in 1844 he returned to Rochdale to work at Holden’s. They fell out over politics and Waugh left in 1847. In that year he abruptly married Mary Ann Hill, but although he loved her deeply, their natures were so far apart that the marriage was a disaster.

Edwin Waugh.

“For the next five years Waugh worked for the Lancashire Public School Association whose aim was to make a good quality primary education available to poor children. Waugh worked in Manchester, which he hated, but he met many of the city’s literary and intellectual leaders and talked literature, education and politics with other struggling writers. He was beginning to get articles and poems published in Manchester. He worked partime as a journeyman printer, earning money by printing copies of  “Tim Bobbin” (John Collier’s masterpiece of 1746). In 1855 he borrowed £120 and published his first volume of essays, “”Sketches of Lancashire Life and Localities””. Then in June 1856 came the big breakthrough when “”Come Whoam to thi Childer an’ Me,”” was published in the Manchester Examiner, bringing him national prominence. The poem was republished as a penny card, earning him £5 for 5,000 cards.

“His reputation was made and he never looked back. His first collection of poems and Lancashire songs followed in 1859. A few of the titles give the flavor: “”God bless these poor folk!””, “”while takin’ a wift o’ my pipe”” and “”Aw’ve worn my bits o’ shoon away.””

“Apart from courtship and family life, his great love was nature. Many of his essays described excursions far beyond the Lancashire moors, such as Scotland and Ireland. Essays were often published as pamphlets selling for 6d or 1s, eg ‘Over Sands to the Lakes’, ‘Seaside Lakes and Mountains of Cumberland’, ‘Norbreck: A Sketch of the Lancashire Coast’ cost 1d.

“Waugh’s third area of composition was poetry in standard English. A few titles are: ‘The Moorland Flowers’, ‘Keen Blows the North Wind’, ‘God Bless Thee, Old England’ and ‘The Wanderer’s Hymn’. Subjects like these no doubt reflected the tastes of Victorian England.”

Nick Howorth (1996) also adds that: “Another important Waugh activity for many years was giving public readings of his works, rather like his contemporary, Charles Dickens. Although these did not pay very well, they kept his name in the public eye. His big, open, friendly face and soft Lancashire accent made him a popular performer. He did not dress up for these public performances, was always an unkempt figure with big boots, thick tweeds and a heavy walking stick. This emphasized his humble origins to his audiences. In 1869, he read in public almost fortnightly in town halls all over the midlands and the north.

Waugh was an important figure in Lancashire’s literary history because he popularized dialect poetry and made it a valid part of English literature. Before Waugh, Lancashire dialect was difficult to follow, because it contained so many obscure words and spellings. Tim Bobbin, dating from 1746, is the best example of the “”old dialect”’. Readers have to refer con-stantly to the author’s glossary. Waugh simplified and standardized how Lancashire dialect should be written down, and  it has hardly changed since then.

“George Milner (1889) in an essay setting out his views “”on dialect as a vehicle for poetry”” in his collection of Waugh’s poems and songs showed that dialect can express feelings with a simplicity and directness not so easily achieved in Standard English.”

Poets Memorial

At the western edge of Broadfield Park, Rochdale, overlooking the Esplanade there is a very fine four-sided monument commemorating Edwin Waugh and three other local poets. This monument is called ‘The Lancashire Dialect Writers Memorial’. It was designed by Edward Sykes and erected on the land above the Esplanade in 1900. The pedestal is made of red granite and is topped by an obelisk. The four local poets are: Edwin Waugh (d. 1890), Oliver Ormerod (d. 1879), Margaret Lahee (d. 1895) and John Clegg (d. 1895). This fine memorial is inscribed with various poems and information regarding each writer, with their carved heads. A bit further along the path is a statue of John Bright (1811-1889 the Liberal MP for Manchester. Bright was a reformer and campaigner for the repeal of The Corn Laws (1839). In St Chad’s churchyard, Sparrow Hill, is the grave of Tim Bobbin alias John Collier (1708-1786), the satirical dialect poet who frequented the inns of Rochdale. His grave, with its now worn epitaph, is behind iron railings; but ‘the’ grave has become a place of pilgrimage for devotees of his life and works.

Sources/References and related websites:-

Nick Howorth, ‘Edwin Waugh – a man of ink, and his well’, Really Lancashire – A Magazine for the Red Rose County, Landy Publishing, Staining, Blackpool, Issue No. 2, August 1996.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Waugh

http://www.edwinwaughdialectsociety.com/waugh.html

http://holcombevillagelancs.org.uk/?page_id=370

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.