Country Ways and Castles…

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I am an advocate of the old ways, the old knowledge, lost things and forgotten truths… our eyes do not always see what was there and what still is, but hidden from the general 21st century scrutiny.

Consider our island, (the U.K.)… at one point in our past, the vast majority of this country was covered by ancient woodlands, home to wolf, wildcat and boar. Alongside these animals, so it is said, nature spirits lived… we could call them fairies, the Fey Folk, the Little People… They could be possibly be off shoots of our wilder ancestors… but as man grew and modernised so our ancient connections retreated and receded into the depths of our countryside where they remain undisturbed.

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Part of me longs for these old times, where Man lived closer to Mother Earth, in tune with her rhythms; yet as early as the Romans and their persecution of the Druids, as early as 1066 with William the Bastard, our land and the wild ways were chained and bound, held down by fortresses of stone.

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Gone were the wooden Motte and Bailey Anglo-Saxon constructions, longer still the Romans, although some of their roads remain as does a little of their DNA. Interestingly, I think I read somewhere that something like 0.5% of our current population carries Roman DNA from those long ago times.

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My mother’s family came over with the Normans… this was part of our family lore for a long time, until my wonderful uncle, when he retired, spent time and money to validate this claim… and yes, a distant ancestor did indeed travel with William from Normandy to invade England.

The Domesday Book is a fascinating piece of this country’s past, a thorough documentation and perhaps a warning of what was to come as everything was written down and described within an inch of its being.

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To complete his conquest, William threw a ring of stone castles around our edges to contain and dominate. And although as man encroached the wild ways retreated, I cannot help but appreciate these stones who have their own story to tell and their own place in history.

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Nottingham Castle is my local… although it resembles rather more the fortified manor house it became round about the 1700’s you can still see ancient parts that hold secrets, and who knows, maybe Robin Hood could have walked this way.

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There are still bullet holes visible from the English Civil War in this building, an unhappy time for the country as brother fought brother. Earlier, Good King Richard is said to have spent the night here on his way to Bosworth; and although there are echoes and imprints, Richard is long gone, his body in an alien place, his DNA an exhibit, an experiment, a project in the county of his death.

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Newark… the castle is now a romantic and picturesque ruin, another king another night… More echoes of the past from a castle that was once the centre of a thriving community.

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Some remain, some are preserved and restored but others crumble and die, the castles and great houses dying and long past preserving as the 21st century edges them away, modernity sweeping away past in progress supposedly.

And so I find myself responsible for my own destruction of the past… it was my mother’s side of the family who came over with the Normans. A DNA chain that has remained unbroken for ten centuries, a mother bloodline that is passed from mother to daughter only – mitochondrial DNA.

I have no daughters, so in a way I am responsible for the death of a family that’s been here since 1066. And although I feel a little guilty, sometimes these things just have to come to an end. The 20th century with its Industrial Revolution and all the rest of it tried to finish the job of those who went before and eradicate the wild ways, to control and landscape garden… but now.

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But now, it is time to walk hand-in-hand with the 21st century; a new age of love, of understanding, of kindness, of partnership between Man and Mother, Mother Earth.

Quick – look to your past and you might see a Fae, one of the Sídhe, slipping away in the turn of a leaf…

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51 thoughts on “Country Ways and Castles…

  1. A lovely piece to remember and appreciate your/our history. I’d really like to visit Nottingham castle; my mother has a sister who lives nearby so even though it’s quite a distance from us, perhaps I could take her there for a visit this summer. Great post x

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    1. Thank you very much, I am pleased you enjoyed the read 🙂
      Nottingham Castle is well worth a visit, the inside has been all revamped now and you can even do a tour of the cave system underneath..depending on how you feel about caves! 🙂 x

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  2. Very nostalgia driven Samantha. I love dipping into the past and used to walk long forgotten coach roads now covered by secondary shrubs (resisting Roger the Shrubber quip). Well, the one I walked is now alnost entirely naturalised and but for a few of us with old maps that walked it I suspect future generations won’t see it as anything but nature. History always edges me into the past…you probably see it in my stories with things like memoirs and The Monks of War. Time also features with it drifting into bygone eras. I often think time is fleeting. In fact one nights say it’s astounding and leads to madness taking control…(out of order lyrics…not exciting….but I just bet you get). Castles are fantastic places too. Especially the ruins. I think they hold the most ghosts. In fact “The Deadmen of Dunharrow” is set in a real castle ruin and some of the history points have been used and elaborated in the fiction. It was actually a friend’s favourite castle, one who now havers in the US, which I understand is a place of citizens that love our heritage. Great post and did it go out into the place of Twits?

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    1. Umm..I am shockingly ignorant as to who Roger the Shrubber may be…that is obviously something to refer to the great god Google…
      I am always conflicted, because I certainly don’t yearn for my childhood, but an older age…and I enjoy central heating and hot water too much…I like the way you handle the concept of Time actually, and it’s definitely a common theme throughout a lot of your pieces. Will also have to go back to Deadmen, I think, for another read…
      and also…totally addicted to Game Of Thrones the tv programme at the moment and spotting the sort of historical references is fascinating…gotta be a thesis in there somewhere.
      And yes indeed..it did go out on Twitter- thank you 🙂 x

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      1. No no and thrice no….The Knights who say Ni…
        Roger the Shrubber: Are you saying Ni to that old woman?
        King Arthur: Um, yes.
        Roger the Shrubber: Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.
        King Arthur: Did you say shrubberies?
        Roger the Shrubber: Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies.
        Think Deadmen will have new references for you to eek out now. So, next Twitter objective is to see if the sharing is now set up on ALL new posts by default 😊

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      2. Well that’s cleared that little mystery up…I wondered why my son went around saying “Ni…” Haven’t watched that in ages !
        Deadmen will definitely bear another read, I think…
        As for Twitter, it seems to be working as it should, although having said that, forgot to do it for this morning’s..I’m getting there 🙂

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      3. I think Roger is pronounced Wodger too. But that made me laugh, I bet you thought he was quite mad for ages lol.
        Now you are on Twitter…I could invite you into a blogging network group that have a #SundayBlogShare go look up that hashtag on Twitter and you should see how it can grow traffic and friends. I’ve met some really nice people there and Marje is in too 😊

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      4. You are a veritable fount of wisdom today…another little mystery solved..my father’s name is Roderick..(ha ha) and I’ve often wondered why one of his friends, who doesn’t have a speech impediment, persisted in calling him Woderick…HA HA HA!!
        I must confess I actually thought my son had some sort of verbal tic…will go and have a poke round Twitter in a while too 🙂

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      5. Something about Sunday blog shares and the diversity of posts I’d never normally see perhaps?? Monty Python has a great deal to answer for lol. Imagine if you’d taken him into speech therapy only to find out now it was all about the Knights 👀

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      6. I play Battlefield 4 if that’s coincidental synergy…also like proper laser combat too 🤔 I also have a friend that does those mock up historical things too. Might be there is an target audience after all!

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  3. What a wonderful wood.. Just as I’d imagine those fairies to appear in.. and THAT tree.. wow! Yes Samantha – I’m with you … time to walk hand-in-hand with the 21st century; a new age of love, of understanding, of kindness, of partnership between Man and Mother, Mother Earth… lovely! x

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