An Ancient Treasure Trove….. and its Free !


Another treat for all of us here in Derbyshire.  Following the da Vinci Exhibition in Derby, the tiny Museum and Art Gallery at Buxton, in the heart of the Peak District, has been honoured with a Visit of ‘The Hoards of Ancient Britain”. It is thanks to the British Museum and Salisbury Museum who have lent some of there Treasures to create this very special temporary Exhibition.

All the artefacts of Coins, Jewellery, and Torcs, many a rich glistening Gold are all so close at hand. The Exhibition is described as ‘the hidden treasures’ of Britain and indeed they once where. All the items have been discovered on professional Archaeological Digs, by Amateur Detectorists, but many by pure accident.  Many items have remained undiscovered since many centuries before the Roman invasion of Britain covered in mud carefully cleaned to reveal such splendour.   Many items were everyday objects such as coins, many rough and ready, but others like the Golden Torcs are works of craftsmanship that would be please even todays best jewellers.

For too many years it has been necessary if you wished to see such Treasures and Works of Art, that we would have had to travel to London.  Occasionally collections would be lent to other major Cities such as Birmingham, Manchester or Edinburgh…. but Derby and little old Buxton  – not a chance.  So we do hope that this is an enlightened trend that will spread to all other parts of the UK… and hopefully back here on home ground again. It has been a real treat and it has also been FREE… don’t get much better than that.

But before signing off for today…. please read the first paragraph of this display board.

I think you may find the message rather familiar today…  Yep, the wealthy few!


18th May

(C) David Oakes 2019



Spring along the Canal…..


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.


 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

Saint Valentines Day….. Remembered


A simple verse for Saint Valentines Day on this Victorian Valentines Card.

More often than not they featured a demur looking young Lady…


But occasionally the male was depicted….


The card above had the caption on the reverse of.. “The Gay Hussar”. 

I guess today that would be considered a very Un-PC comment.  Times do change.

All three Valentines Cards are Victorian, Published by Raphael Tuck & Sons of London and are from my Card Collection.  They were published between 1880 to 1899.  As was the popular style of the time they are all simple flat cards.


14th February

Cards from the David Oakes Card Collection.

(C) David Oakes 2019


Silent Sunday…… So Off to Church


Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, Northumberland


It is on a tiny Island, to become known as Holy Island, that King Oswald of Northumberland directed that a Monastery be built. He had already summoned Saint Aidan to travel from Iona to found a Celtic Christian community…this was in 635ad.

Lindisfarne as it was called became a powerful and influential Religious Centre.  It was Saint Aidan who took the challenge forward but there after he was followed by Cuthbert,  Eadfrith of Lindisfarne and then Eadberht of Lindisfarne.

The history is quite involved, so if you are really keen I suggest you read further, maybe the English Heritage site. Here is a very brief overview. It was 670 that Cuthbert joined the Monastic community.  He soon became both influential and also divisive. Perhaps it was after his death in 687 that his spiritual powers started to become part of the legend that is Lindisfarne. He was buried in a stone tomb within the Priory.  Then some 11 years later, in 689, he was exhumed…. his body had not decade and a ‘miracle’ of Saintly proportions was declared.  Instead of a reburial a Shrine was erected in the Priory which soon became a place of Pilgrimage  and Religious Fame.

From 710 to 725, Lindisfarne continue to grow in Monastic importance, a place of religious education and study…. most notably the publication of the Lindisfarne Gospels, still considered one of the most important Religious Writings.

Soon all fell apart when the first major Viking Invasion on mainland Britain occurred. Destruction and plunder followed. The Monks had foresight and removed Cuthbert’s remains to safety,  travelling across the north of England to keep one step ahead of any pursuit.

Peace of sorts returned shortly after 1069 and Cuthbert’s remains  were returned and by 1122 a Monastery under the guidance of Durham Cathedral was re-established.

Of course Religious buildings were never totally secure.  Lindisfarne suffered in the ‘Border Wars’ and of course in the Abolition Orders.


I should add as a footnote that Holy Island is a rather enchanting place.  Assessable only at low tide via a causeway, surrounded by the North Sea.  There is a Castle of much more modern date than the Priory and a small community that gets engulfed by hundreds of visitors every low tide.

But for me I have always founded it to have both a special feel, peace and having very special light.

10th February

(C) David Oakes 2019