What lies beneath…

Yesterday saw a bout of blogger’s block. Sat down, scanned the headlines and pulled out a few possibilities. But nothing seemed right or authentic, so a wordless shuffle away from this ledge took place.

My mind felt like a shower drain furred with hair. Should I comment on Corbyn or Trump again? Or should I condemn the strange official silence surrounding the dozens of children killed last week in a Saudi-led hit on a school bus in Yemen; the Saudis we supply with arms worth billions?

One of few voices speaking out against Britain’s involvement in this atrocity was the former Tory Cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell, who said: “I think the attack on a school bus should provide all parties to this conflict with a wake-up call to just how catastrophic on all fronts it is.”

Sometimes the most surprising people speak absolute good sense, and what Mitchell said resonates more than all the inky assaults on Corbyn, even if the Labour leader does lay himself open to such attacks.

Today the mental fretfulness has passed, and now let us rise into the air to admire the view. An unexpectedly uplifting sight arose on the BBC news last night with airborne footage showing how the heatwave is revealing Britain’s ancient past to archaeologists.

Lack of moisture in the soil may be a worry to farmers, but it can also reveal the strange hidden beauty of the land on which they work.

The prolonged dryness has “provided the perfect conditions” to see ancient crop marks, according to Historic England.

Surveys from the air have revealed “Neolithic ceremonial monuments, Iron Age settlements, square burial mounds and a Roman farm for the first time”, the BBC reported.

The findings include two Neolithic monuments near Milton Keynes, of all places: an unfair slight, there, as a long-lost friend lived in the countryside near the no-longer-new town, and it was lovely enough round there.

Long rectangles exposed near Clifton Reynes are thought to be the paths or processional ways dating from 3600 to 3000BC. That thought summons up one of my favourite books, Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways, in which the writer traces the old tracks, drove-roads and sea paths crisscrossing Britain.

Other sites around the country exposed for the first time include an Iron Age round settlement in Cornwall, a Bronze Age burial mound in Derbyshire, and Iron Age square burial mounds or barrows in Pocklington, not too far from here.

There is something deeply pleasing about the past emerging in this way, about the hidden ways and structures writing their shapes across the land, as if in architectural invisible ink. The patterns are strangely beautiful too, like abstract paintings, and somehow it is oddly calming to be reminded of the ancient past. Especially when the news is a babble and you’ve got a mind like a blocked shower drain.

Leave a Reply