Silent Sunday…… Off to a Very Different Church

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The Nether Largie Standing Stones,  Kilmartin, Argyll

We are not visiting a conventional Church this Sunday but none the less a place where over 5000 years ago, in the Neolithic era, people gathered for communal ceremonies.  Burial and Tribal occasions plus celebrations and worship related to the seasons.

The Standing Stones are covered with what are known as “Cup and Ring”  marks. Many theories relate to there interpretation but none seem definitive.

Nether Largie is just one of over 350 ancient sites in an area no bigger than 6 miles around Kilmartin…. and part of Kilmartin Glen.

Standing Stones, Burial Cairns and Kist’s can be found all across this Argyll Peninsula that pokes out into the Irish Sea.

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Temple Wood Burial Cairn and Standing Stones

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Kilmartin Glen and Nether Largie

The Religious significance of Kilmartin has continued through the millennia from those early Neolithic times. Over the centuries the changing generations have sought to discover Religious solus in Kilmartin and the surrounding Glens.

Today many visitors seek out Kilmartin Church and the nearby Visitors Centre.  The Church itself is also  host to a number of carved stones from a different age. Intricately carved Crosses and  elaborate Memorial Stones dating  from before 1300AD through to the 1600’s AD.  Many are in the open within the Church grounds whilst the most precious have been taken into shelter.

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 Kilmartin Church is still the Parish Church and retaining the link through religious time back to the Neolithic worshipers.

Even in todays busy world Kilmartin Glen is a place of tranquillity and peace.

14th April

(C) David Oakes 2019

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Spring along the Canal…..

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Cromford Canal,  Whatstandwell,  Derbyshire

Yesterday was a day full of promise, nor did it disappoint. It started with fog lifting to mist, but it was mid morning before the sun broke through.  By that time the sun was high in the sky, so didn’t produce any magical mists so loved by photographers.

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 At the beginning of the walk, along the towpath beside Cromford Canal, one of the oldest in the country, was engulfed in long shadows.  This part of the Canal passes beneath   Leawoods, now a Nature Reserve with some magnificent trees.

As mentioned the day had a misty start but once the sun came out to play the Canal side and woodlands came to life. Signs of new spring vegetation both alongside and in the water, rather early but also encouraging. With the trees bare of leaves it does allow the sun to reach the canal, despite long shadows from a low sun,  giving a different perspective to this stretch to that in the summer.

 The tall Chimney above is at Leawoods Pump House.  It is a steam powered pump that was used to pump water up to the canal from the River Derwent that flows beneath this aqueduct.  Leawood Pump House does have ‘Steam’ weekends when you can see this Victorian engineering feat in action. At the moment the roof is covered with scaffolding and the building undergoing restoration work.

Just beyond the Pump House you find much more of our Industrial Heritage. Whilst Cromford Canal is one of the earliest in a network of canals that covered the country it is also the location of one of the very first Railway networks…. Why here, well Arkwright had selected Cromford and the Derwent Valley to establish his Factories or Mills as they were known and is where the industrial revolution started. First the canal, then the new fangled steam railways were used to transport materials in and good out from his Cromford Mills.  Middleton Junction was were the railway started, but whilst the canal went south the railway was built to go north to eventually link Arkwright’s Mills to Manchester, Liverpool and the seas and the World beyond.

This chapter in English Industrial history will be preserved for ever as the Derwent Valley from Matlock down to Derby, including numerous Mills along the river was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

23rd February

(C) David Oakes 2019

Silent Sunday….. So Off to Church

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Saint Melangell’s Church, Pennant Melangell, North Wales

This is a church you really have to search for.  It is hidden at the end of very narrow road in Cwm Pennant in the shadow of the Berwyn Hills. There at the very end of the road, hidden away behind high Yew Hedges and through a Stone Lych Gate, you will find the Church dedicated to Saint Melangell.  Built in the 7th century it has a story as old as the church itself * .  If you read the story below you will soon see that this rather small but important church is very much a place of Pilgrimage and also explains the reason for its immaculate upkeep.

So step inside admire the wooden beams and Rood Screen, move closer and you will find the Shrine to Saint Melangell.

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*  Now read the story of Saint Melangell

There once was a Prince by the name of Brochwel hunting in the valley of Pennant. His hounds put up a Hare that after a chase went to cover in a thicket. When the Prince investigated he found a young virgin by the name of Melangell at prayer and the Hare hiding beneath her long robes. The hounds would not approach her and in fact took off despite the huntsman’s best efforts to seek out the Hare. Prince Brochwel ask the young girl her name and her intentions. She told the Prince that she had come to this tranquil and serene valley to seek refuge and peaceful sanctuary. The Prince was so impressed with her godliness that he granted the valley to her…..so it is here that Melangell founded her religious community.

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17th February

(C) David Oakes 2019