Author Archives: Iain Monks

The Eleanor Crosses

Eleanor Cross in Hardingstone
Charing Cross

Replica cross outside Charing Cross Station

When you see road signs telling you the distance to London the distance given is to a point at the South of Trafalgar Square where a statue to Charles I currently stands. A plaque on the floor tells you that this was the location of the original Charing Cross (a replica of which now stands outside Charing Cross Station.

 

To find out how the original hamlet of Charing came to get such a monument and the addition to it’s name, we have to go back to the end of the 13th Century.

Read more »

Mead and the Honeymoon

In ancient times honey was revered for its healing properties. It was the only natural sweetener readily available and has the distinction of being the only foodstuff that doesn’t go off.

This was also a time when water wasn’t necessarily safe to drink due water borne diseases and parasites, so the sterilising properties of alcohol made weak beers and wines the drink of choice.

Although often referred to as “honey wine” true mead is brewed from honey, water and yeast without other ingredients such as grapes or other fruits. (The earliest recorded recipe for mead dates to 60AD)

The combination of the safe to drink alcohol and the healing properties of the honey lead to mead being revered (especially since it was often brewed by druids, and later, monks)

As part of the wedding ceremony, the bride’s father was expected to provide the newly wed couple with enough mead to last the couple for the first month of their marriage, hence the term Honeymoon, and this was said to encourage fertility and vitality (rather than brewer’s droop) and ensure that the marriage would “bear fruit” and a child would be born within a year.

14225351_10154497960476369_1070711942203657251_n

Congratulations to Lee and Jennifer (9th September 2016)

Kanu y Med (Song of Mead)

I WILL adore the Ruler, chief of every place,
Him, that supports the heaven: Lord of everything.
Him, that made the water for every one good,
Him, that made every gift, and prospers it.
May Maelgwn of Mona be affected with mead, and affect us,
From the foaming mead-horns, with the choicest pure liquor,
Which the bees collect, and do not enjoy.
Mead distilled sparkling, its praise is everywhere.
The multitude of creatures which the earth nourishes,
God made for man to enrich him.
Some fierce, some mute, he enjoys them.
Some wild, some tame, the Lord makes them.
Their coverings become clothing.
For food, for drink, till doom they will continue.
I will implore the Ruler, sovereign of the country of peace,
To liberate Elphin from banishment.
The man who gave me wine and ale and mead.
And the great princely steeds, beautiful their appearance,
May he yet give me bounty to the end.
By the will of God, he will give in honour,
Five five-hundred festivals in the way of peace.
Elphinian knight of mead, late be thy time of rest.

From the Book of Taliesin XIX

Tree Lore – Blackthorn

The Blackthorn, which is widespread and abundant in woods and hedgerows throughout the British Isles, has the most sinister reputation within Celtic folklore, in ancient Ireland it was known as Straif, thought to be the origin of the word strife.

Although associated with trouble and bad luck, it is also associated with the overcoming of these negative aspects and the transformation that this struggle can bring.

 

Cailleach the Celtic goddess of winter is depicted as a blue veiled old woman with a raven on one shoulder and a blackthorn staff which she uses to summon storms. She emerges at Samain and takes over the year from the summer goddess Brigid.

Read more »

The Giant of Sessay

The Darrel family owned Sessay (a small Yorkshire village around 4 miles from Thirsk) from the end of the 12th century to the days of Henry VII. It was during reign of that king, that the three sons of George Darrel died without fathering heirs, the manor therefore passed to his daughter — a strong-minded young woman, named Joan.

Taking advantage of the lack of a lord to defend the manor an evil giant took up residence in the woods around the village. He was a huge brute in human form — legs like elephants’ legs, arms of a corresponding size, a face most fierce to look upon, with only one eye, placed in the midst of his forehead; and a mouth large as a lion’s, garnished with teeth as long as the prongs of a pitchfork.

His only clothing was rudely fashioned from cow hides; while over his shoulder he carried a stout young tree, torn up by the roots, as a club.

Read more »

In Olden Days – Legends of Rochdale and its Neighbourhood by Rev. G. R. Oakley

Rev. George Robert Oakley (1864-1932) was born in Dublin but his family moved to Yorkshire when he was an infant.

He was educated at Sheffield Royal Grammar School and St. Aidan’s Theological College, Birkinhead. When the church of St. Andrew’s, Dearnley was completed in 1895 he became the first vicar of that church.

During this time he collected together the myths and legends of the local area for this book.

In 1923 he became the Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Illingworth returning over the border into Yorkshire until his death.

His stories in this volume are

  • The Legend of Stubley Hall
  • The Legend of Clegg Hall
  • The Legend of Belfield Hall
  • The Legend of Dearnley
  • The Legend of Butterworth Hall
  • The Legend of Rochdale Castle
  • The Legend of Castleton
  • The Legend of Buckley Hall
  • The Legend of Tunshill
  • The Legend of Ashworth Chapel
  • The Legend of Littleborough
  • The Legend of the Monstone
  • The Legend of Schofield Hall
  • The Legend of Healey Dell
  • The Legend of the Calderbrook Torque
  • The Legend of the Baum Rabbit
  • The Legend of Royton Hall
  • The Legend of Brown Wardle
  • The Legend of Stubbylee

AVAILABLE @ LULU.COM £11.99

Through England on a Side Saddle by Celia Fiennes

Through England on a Side SaddleCelia Fiennes is remarkable for the journeys she made, in an effort regain her health, riding through the English countryside.

As well as more local journeys she made two epic tours in 1697 and 1698 travelling as far as northern England and Scotland.

Travelling for it’s own sake was unusual in her day, there being few roads, even more unusual for a woman to travel (only accompanied by two servants).

Her accounts of her travels seem to have been written around 1702, after she had retired from travelling, and were never published within her lifetime.

AVAILABLE AT LULU.COM £10.99

Also available for Kindle

Yorkshire Battles by Edward Lamplough

Yorkshire Battles - Edward LamploughIn the history of our national evolution Yorkshire occupies a most important position, and the sanguinary record of Yorkshire Battles possesses something more than material for the poet and the artist. Valour, loyalty, patriotism, honour and self-sacrifice are virtues not uncommon to the warrior, and the blood of true and brave men has liberally bedewed our fields.

It was on Yorkshire soil that the tides of foreign invasion were rolled back in blood at Stamford Bridge and Northallerton; the misfortunes attendant upon the reign of weak and incapable princes are illustrated by the fields of Boroughbridge, Byland Abbey, and Myton-upon-Swale, and, in the first days of our greatest national struggle, the true men of Yorkshire freely shed their blood at Tadcaster, Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Adwalton Moor and Hull, keeping open the pathway by which Fairfax passed from Selby to Marston Moor.

Let pedants prate of wars of kites and crows; we take national life as a unity, and dare to face its evolution through all the throes of birth, owning ourselves debtors to the old times before us, without being either so unwise or ungenerous as to contemn the bonds of association, and affect a false and impossible isolation.

To the educated and intelligent our Yorkshire Battles present interesting and important studies of those subtle and natural processes by which nations achieve liberty, prosperity, and greatness.

AVAILABLE AT LULU.COM – £9.99

Also available for Kindle

The Giant’s Cairn, the Last Battle and the Lady of the Lake

In just a few weeks I’ll be scaling Snowdon’s lofty heights with a group of friends. It’s been suggested that as the leader of this expedition I should be able to point out landmarks and the history of the place.

1. (Walk) Entering the Horseshoe

2. (Legend) The Giant’s Cairn

3. (Walk) Ascent of Y Lliwedd

4. (Legend) The Last Battle

5. (Walk) The Watkin Path and summit

6. (Walk) Descending the Pyg Track

7. (Legend) The Lady of the Lake

Read more »

Robin Hood and the Monstone

The Monstone Looking towards Blackstone Edge

Blackstone Edge on the horizon

From “In Olden Days” by Rev. G. R. Oakley, M.A., B.D.,

The glorious beauty of an early autumn morning, the sweet scent of the wide-stretching moorland, the invigorating breeze from the east sweeping over the hills, the occasional calls of the birds or the flutter of their wings, all combined (as they still combine) to make life seem more than usually joyous on a certain day in the year 1247, when a company of men might have been seen assembled on that part of Blackstone Edge which we now call “Robin Hood’s Bed.”

Robin Hood's Bed

Robin Hood’s Bed

Stalwart fine fellows were they, clothed in well-fitting tunics of the fashion of the day, and of a colour so like that of grass that one could readily understand how easily the owners might lie in ambush in some parts of the country—in forest lands, for instance—were they so disposed.

There were at least a hundred men, and every man was armed, most of them with that splendid English weapon, the long-bow, which in later days gained Crecy and Poictiers and Agincourt, and the use of which Bishop Latimer (in 1549) described as “a godly art, a wholesome kind of exercise, and much commended in physic.” Many of them, however, carried quarter-staves—tough poles of wood some seven feet long, shod at each end with iron, and which, when grasped in the hands of athletic men and twirled with practised skill, became terrible weapons, one blow from which usually terminated a combat.

These archers and others—all clad in the costume of Lincoln green already described—made a striking picture as they stood in a semi-circle listening intently to the words of the man who stood upon one of those great stones which still mark “Robin Hood’s Bed.”

Read more »

« Older Entries