Unsettled

We took another of our Sunday strolls early in Feb. Seeking to strike out from home to tread previously untrodden paths and bridleways that fill in missing pieces of our local landscape picture. A chance remark lodges with me from a passing conversation with our neighbour at East farm. It sparks further interest in the settlement’s rocky crags, which the lane shepherd crook’s around. ‘Chap told me it was a fort once’ says the old farmer. Later I’ll ask around and look up archeological websites which yield terse but intriguing information about local ancient sites and monuments. Discover that the crags in question was the site of a village first recorded in 1279 but abandoned by 1811. The last building being East Farm. There are sunken tracks, insets and bumps in the grass indicating foundations and traffic of some sort. The map names the surrounding big open fields we cross as one time common, which it would have been before enclosure in the 18th century. Today, with recent snow still lying in places makes it easier to see evidence of ‘rigg (ridge) and furrow’ – recalling days long gone when climate and/or economics saw what is now permanent pasture put to the plough to grow cereal crops. On this rain lashed freezing day we venture, for the first time, on a muddy by-way under phone lines linking two metalled roads (pictured). The view of the crags from this opposite side reveals a distinctly rounded cliff edged position between the valleys of the two burns, with a small tributary stream rising on its flank. Seductively reasoning its way to potential as a site for defence or associated settlement of some kind. Later circling on another short cut footpath, returning road to road, yields more views, although the weather’s too poor by now for a decent photograph.

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