A Fortnight in the Country

I will arise now and go, and go down into the secluded west. And a small cabin place there, of tools and finds boxes filled: A camping stove will I have there, a tent for sleep. And live alone…but only in the evening when the diggers go home.

The water fills the bucket slowly. There is time to re-visit the trench, around the hedge corner and down the grassy slope. We found the burials today. The trench is deep and needs to be accessed by a ramp. Crossing the site, I enter the pipe trench that disturbed them. We have returned after some years for DNA and to try to understand why they are here.

Kneeling to see. A row of white molars barely fully formed. The bones small and light. A jumble.. pinned down by large stones. At least three people here but the area of stones we have uncovered today suggests that there may be several more.

Who were these children who lived over 2700 years ago in this beautiful place. I hear the trickle of the stream below me and look up to the green rounded hills. This was their home.. unless they were brought here. Did they work and play on this land? Why did they die so young?

The trench-talk was of the joys of prehistory. Ancestors who were greener, more environmental. A religion which valued mother earth …but we know so little. So many British prehistoric religions over thousands of years. Wedding bells merged with the conversation. They would have been so pleased with my plastic bucket gradually filling so conveniently.

Who knows what the Late Bronze Age/ Early Iron Age belief structure was. Human remains from this period are incredibly rare but sometimes archaeologists find bits of body mixed up with other debris in huge middens. As I looked at these young bones… life at that time seemed hard, brutal and nasty. How to interpret?

The specialists will come, examine, analyse but next Friday we will leave them here. Put the stones back in place. This was their home where there were people who cared for them (I want to believe they did) and left them to rest.

The bucket is overflowing. I carry it across the field to the cabin.Make tea. Watch the long evening sun highlight the earthworks of the village’s stepped medieval field system.

I will take the short footpath to the parish church beside the field nestled against the hill slope. Enjoy the quiet prayers of the generations.

A full moon is coming and.. through a clear sky, this lovely landscape will be washed silver.

And I will have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings. WB Yeats The Lake Isle of Innisfree

A place to stay

4 thoughts on “A Fortnight in the Country

  1. How brilliantly you have put into words where and what you have been doing. We hope that in the future you will find the answers that show the life of these young people was as good and peaceful as the valley they lived in. Rest assured that when you have gone and for as long as we have the land, we will care for these young people in their final resting place.

    • Thank you so much for looking after us during the excavation. The chocolate cake a highlight. Sad to pack up and leave the field today. Nancy and I placed the last stones back over the graves as Clive began to backfill the trench with his JCB. Good to know that you will care for them in the years to come.

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