Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Leeds scheduled monuments project and Mardship Bow

I happened upon a page on the Leeds government website, which is quite hard to navigate to from the front page. It details the ancient scheduled monuments in the area with helpful maps on how to reach them, although some of them are out of date and the maps slightly unhelpful. I have been trying in the past six months to gradually work my way through the whole list, in a quest to deeper understand the landscape in which I have placed myself, and to try and shift my focus from the mundane distractions that are propelled to the forefront of our world view.

One of my dearest friends, Simon Bradley, shares my love of deviation from the set paths of modern living and has written a novel about the domination of the Yorkshire Omnibus Company over time in future, waterlogged Leeds. Simon and me have wandered the non-streets of Leeds and its surrounds and have had many an occasion to feel the narrowing of permitted thoroughways bearing down on us. It is my worry that life no longer revolves around the passing of folklore and mythology as a totem of belonging in whereever you are, but instead a clinical familiarity replaces it all, cold to the idiosyncracies of the land.

The ginnels and snickerways are overgrown now, deemed too dangerous although the tall grass suggests even the dark-hearted steer clear. Entire postcodes of Leeds are ghost-towns of neglect, unfashionable and undeveloped they lack the shopping malls and bus routes which renders them unpalatable to the masses.

I love leeds for its strangeness, the dark corners and impossibly confused architecture. Mary Bateman dragging her flayed skin cloak through the meanwood beck under Timble Bridge. I hope, through the story-telling of my friends and I, that these myths are living on and stay within the collective psyche of the city.

I will try and post up all of my explorations of the scheduled monuments (the grey stone and carving of cocidius are already up!) to this blog in the near future.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Witches Stone, Meanwood.

The trees drape the stars in love,
Each leaf sighs in longing, lorn but
Together in my eyes, set apart by the heavens.
Bent weeping, the stone turns away.

Whispering water down Meanwood Beck,
Flows through the stagnant heart of the city
Where witches meandered upstream for luck,
My secrets carried by the Aire to be lost, eventually, at sea.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Adel woods carving of Cocidius

Not far from Adel crag, we were, a year or so ago, shown a carving of the celtic god Cocidius. Recently both me and my friend Phil Legard have been searching for the carving to no avail, until today when I was wandering through the woods and noticed I was in a familiar grove.

The carving lay here, the Red One sunk in mottled green rock. The tall beech trees give the clearing a cathedralesque quiet, the air is cool and the deep leaf litter slows your tread to a mindful pace. Jack-By-The-Hedge grows near and fills the air with heavy scent.

In the shrine of the war-god I am given courage to continue a difficult path. He is protector of both the hunter and the hunted, the tarot card 9, Adjustment, continually recalled at this spot.

A return visit a week later, darker still and the leaves have started to fall. My mind clear I picture a figure in the trees clad in red, who comes here before battle. What dark days lay ahead I do not know. My heart sways between being as heavy as a stone beneath a stream and being lighter than a feather.