Jack in the Green Hastings 2014

Posted in Battle of Hastings, beach, britain, Castles, Celtic, Christians, England, europe, feature, Festival, folk, fringe, gawain and the green knight, green man festival, hastings, Jack in the Green festival Hastings, jack-in-the-green, legends, may, mayday, medieval, myths, nature, news, Nikon, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, quaint, relax, retro, road trip, saxons, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, writing on May 6th, 2014 by wabisabipix

As the clock ticked over and the Sun rose over Great Britain on May 5th 2014, blowing away the cobwebs of winter, I revisited the Jack in the Green Festival on the south coast of England most famous for being the gateway for the Norman invasion in 1066.

It was a fantastic warm spring day of Morris Dancers and mayhem and quite a sight for the senses.It was held in a field next to Hastings castle and overlooked the splendid sight of the main town in all its glory.At its centre was a stage where performances of various kinds ranging from Morris dancing to belly dancing entertained the masses that descended upon the seaside town.

It starts with a procession around the town and culminates with the symbolic slaying of the Jack of the Green which symbolically frees the spirit and welcomes the transition of the Winter into the Summer.The tradition has many roots and I have another article on the subject earlier in this blog.

Needless to say,this festival never disappoints and is one of the best Green Man festivals in the UK and well worth a visit.

Here are a few shots shot on a Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm f2.8.

More Images can be viewed from previous years at www.surreypix.co.uk.KD_Green_Man_2014_Copyright_Kerry_Davies_45ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Images Copyright Kerry davies/No unauthorised usage .

 

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THE GREEN MAN FESTIVAL

Posted in British Museum, Celtic, Christians, England, europe, Festival, folk, gawain and the green knight, green man festival, hastings, jack-in-the-green, king arthur, legends, medieval, moods, nature, pagan, photo, Photography, relax, Relics, renactment, saxons, travel, walks, william the conqueror, writing on June 19th, 2010 by wabisabipix

A pint of the local cider please I asked the man with green face paint behind the bar, the drum beat upon the castle hill in Hastings increased steadily to an all encompassing crescendo,something  rather sinister seemed imminent but clearly only the locals seemed to be in on the secret.My drink arrived,the third today of  this local beverage and the man bearing a vague resemblance to a tomato plant and something from childhood memories involving the Dr Who tv series and a half plant cactus man, leaned forward with my change wishing me a “happy Jack in the green day!” Turning around and heading back into the crowd I was confronted by another man in bizarre plant like leafery with the words RADIATOR emblazoned across his chest who stepped forward brandishing a green dripping sponge,”are you with us?” “errrr yes of course!” I muttered smiling inanely,oh good he said splattering my nose with green dye,oh well at least  I  looked like every one else now. I was a stranger in a strange land and yet I lived here.Rumour spread quickly,the drum beat increased constantly and a kind of concentrated frenzy and sense of purpose started to overcome the crowds ,it was time to kill Jack soon and quite who this Jack was remained quite a mystery.I was starting to feel like Edward Woodward in The Wickerman and glanced around to see if there were any looming wooden effigy figures in the immediate proximity of a few cans of petrol !!!

Soon however all was revealed as a green effigy bearing a face of a plant like mans face was transported into the center of the crowd and ceremonially executed in a flurry of sticks and leaves to the roar and cheers of the crowd.The frenzy dissipated and was replaced by merriment and an air of happiness.Everybody was good natured and headed back to town to enjoy the rest of the day, green noses held prominent and shown off proudly ,that was it for another year ,the spring had been welcomed,the ritual complete,bring on the summer.

What we had just witnessed was the culmination of several days of merriment and celebration that has become a yearly event lasting from April 30th to the 3rd of May in Hastings on the southern coast of England ,a small fishing town most famous for its famous history changing battle in 1066.

It is a ritual with largely pagan roots that predate christianity and is centered around the nature spirits and the “old ways” of  ancient Britain that still surge alive and well below the tapestry of  everyday British life occasionally surfacing on days such as this and in the rituals and dances of the May Pole and Morris Dancing .A tradition frequently seen as the leafy face adorning  sboards hanging over green man pubs it is an ancient way of welcoming the summer and spring time.Indeed  the Green man legend has also been linked to other myths including the Arthurian tale of Gawain and the Green Knight and even Robin Hood.The Christian church despite trying to stamp out paganism eventually adopted the legend into its dogma and the green mans face  is frequently seen adorning church buildings.The Arthurian writings in particular Gawain and the Green Knight appear full of symbolism and seem to portray a faith battle between Gawain (symbolic of Christian values) and the Green Knight(The old Pagan Ways).

The current manifestation of the jack-in-the-green festival in Hastings is largely based on a tradition from the 1830s which was snuffed out at the start of the 20th century and then revived again in 1979 by a Morris Dancers group.It is a very entertaining weekend of Morris Dancers and other performance groups from all over Europe and is very much a family event.

The Jack in the Green character,the manifestation of the spirits of the forest,leads a procession from the fishermans museum area of the old town and up to the castle perched overlooking the area.

Jack is accompanied by green clad locals known as Bogies that symbolise the incarnation of spirits along with a following of giants and appointed radiators who accompany the group splodging passers by on the nose with green dye to bring them into the fold.Its all very light humoured and a great day out.

At the culmination of the ceremony Jack is slain and the sticks that form the effigy are thrown into the crowds to be kept as a ward against spirits until the next winter solstice.

Below are some of the many spectacles from the day.They were photographed on a Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8.

Pictures :Copyright Kerry Davies Strictly no Reproduction allowed.

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Avebury Ramblings.

Posted in Archaeology, Artifact, avebury, British Museum, Castles, Celtic, Christians, Churches, crop circles, leylines, medieval, Monument, Moors, pagan, photo, Photography, Relics, road trip, saxons, Stone Circle, stonehenge, sunday lunch, Treasure, ufo, Uncategorized, walks, wiltshire, writing on March 24th, 2010 by wabisabipix

A fantastic day out that stretches the legs and refreshes the spirits while clearing the head and providing plenty of time for inspiration and contemplation, why not try a springtime trip to the ancient town of Avebury in Wiltshire situated in the heart of the British countryside.With the wonderful rolling ‘big sky’ Wiltshire downs creating a stunning panorama and  the enigmatic Avebury Stone Circle and Silbury Hill ancient monument at its core. The area provides a superb escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and of course the chance to enjoy a well earned sunday lunch and perhaps drink a pint of cider while admiring the sunset raking across the ancient stones.You can enjoy the infinite silence of the ages past and trying to figure out  Why!!!!  did these ancient ancestors of ours go to such an unbelievable effort to arrange this apparent giant  game of  enormous stone Dominoes for our appreciation and contemplation.

We took a sunday afternoon trip through this well trodden path through an ancient land just as the buds  of springtime were starting to emerge and it was quite frankly delightful.

Our 7 mile ramble made use of the Explorer 157 map of the area and for added fun and accuracy I took a  Garmin etrex Legend GPS  with pre programmed grid references and my trusty Swiss Army knife Camera a 13.5 mega pixel Nikon P6000 compact.

After parking in the local car park on the A4361 we began our stroll by crossing the main road and heading along an aptly named White Horse Trail along the infant River Kennet just across from the stunning Silbury hill monument.You can but wonder who, if anyone, was buried in there.Excavations have so far failed to shed any light on the mystery.My imagination suggests to me that this platform could have been an epic position where very important ritual cremations or ceremonies could have taken place.The location could have drawn large gatherings of onlookers where the surrounding slopes would have given a grandstand view of the blazing spectacle or oration that would have been visible for miles.

A short walk further the trail met the A4 again which we crossed to a small gate on the opposite side affording great views of Silbury hill behind us.

At the sign post we took an uphill walk to the West Kennett long barrow ,the most complete example of an ancient burial tomb in Britain that you can actually go inside and have a look around.The stones outside probably blocked the entry way originally.

Retreating back down the rolling slopes we the headed eastbound along the path of the river Kennett and past Avebury manor before strolling through some spring snow drop covered pathways and following the designated White Horse trail.Along the way we stumbled across a random brown horse with a friendly attitude.

Heading left up a main road and then across the river Kennett bridge we then head  towards some ancient barrows on the top of  the slope before crossing the A4 and joining the Roman road known as The Ridgeway.

Looking back behind you can see the landscape dotted with ancient burial mounds.

Heading uphill on a steady incline on our left the sun raked across the ancient Roman Ridgeway trade route backlighting more eerie looking burial mounds known as The Enclosure, marked out by sinister deep black trees on our left that overlook the Silbury Hill,its peak oddly still visible at the pinacle of the slope between the barrows  in an almost intended fashion.

A little further up the Ridgeway our journeys leads us left at a sign pointing us back in the direction of Avebury village towards Manor Farm and across some breathtaking  sunlit downs landscape along  another ancient pathway trail.

Turning left at Manor Farm we follow the road into Avebury village famished and in need of lunch before exploring the amazing stone circle that surrounds the village.At the center of the village is the Red Lion pub where refreshment and meals are served.We tried out some delicious pear cider along with a tasty sunday lunch.

After lunch and in serious need of either a wheel barrow or a good stroll at least, we crossed the road to see the sunset catch the monuments on fire with light,a photographers dream and a moment of enlightenment that  leaves you feeling like you are observing the mechanism of some ancient clock as its mechanism whirs into life.

TICK! TOCK! STARDUST.

copyright Kerry Davies.Re-Use forbidden.

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The Staffordshire Hoard a voice from the past.

Posted in Archaeology, arrows, Artifact, bows, British Museum, Castles, Christians, Crusades, England, Film set, forts, knights, medieval, photo, Photography, Relics, renactment, saxons, Staffordshire hoard, swords, travel, Treasure, Wales, writing on December 4th, 2009 by wabisabipix

Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua ~ “Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”

An inscription carved on the back of a twisted metal crucifix possibly cleaved off a slain Saxon warriors battle shield.If ever the past reached across the centuries to speak to us about life in 7th century saxon Britain then this was it.

Wandering through the British Museum in London is a fantastic experience on any day but a recent visit left me reeling with wonder.

An announcement on the notice board near the main entrance caught my attention while visiting recently.

See the Staffordshire Hoard in room 36-7.

“It will redefine the dark ages ” say the experts.

The Hoard was discovered in a field in July 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert and composed of 1500 individual items of  silver and gold mostly consisting of what appear to be battle trophies,there were 84 Pommel Caps,71 Sword hilt collars and gold crucifix formations looking like shield fittings that were cleaved off along with helmet cheek pieces and personal items.

The Items date from around the 7th Century,a  period when Britain was a maelstrom of tribal rivalry and religious revolution as the country went from pagan to christian beliefs.

Having seen the news and press announcing the find I was filled with anticipation as I clambered up the stairs and into the room containing a selection of the find in several glass cases just around the corner from another amazing artifact room that of the Sutton Hoo finds.

I was gobsmacked! It was stunning!!! absolutely amazing to see!!You almost have to pinch yourself to remind yourself  that what you are looking at is simply the real thing from all those centuries ago inches from your nose and not some prop from a Hollywood movie.

I fully understand how Terry Herbert the metal detectorist  who found it said he was dreaming for days about what he would find next.

It has been valued at 3.285 million pounds and the British museum has launched its hoard appeal to pay for it.

If you are in London grab the chance while its on show,it will enrich your sense of history and the ancient world.

The official Website is here:http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/about/

Pictures courtesy of the Staffordshire Hoard Website and Dave Rowan and Daniel Buxton.

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Moors and Christians in the Mountains of Alicante.

Posted in Alcoy, Almeria, Castalla, Castles, Christians, Churches, Crusades, forts, knights, medieval, moods, Moors, photo, Photography, pirates, relax, Relics, renactment, road trip, Spain, travel, walks, writing on November 29th, 2009 by wabisabipix

While traveling through the Mountains of Alicante region I came across many interesting sights.Two areas in particular captured my interest.The ancient Moorish Castle in the town of Castalla and the town of Alcoy world famous for its Moors and Christians festival held every year.

The town of Alcoy is the site of a yearly re-enactment that happens every April in which the entire population dress in  full historical costume.It remains one of Spains most well known and Colourful Fiestas.

It is based on  the battle of Alcoy in the 13th Century and is in place to honour St George the patron saint of the town who is said to have saved the town from the Moorish forces of Alazraq in 1275.

As the tale is told James I of Aragon led a campaign of reconquest through the region after centuries of Moorish occupation and influence. In retaliation the Moors  invaded once more to recover their lost ground.However as the battle was starting St George is said to have appeared in the sky over the v shaped famous gorge in the town to save the day.

It is a colourful and entertaining day in which mock battles are fought all over the town and where a fog of gunpowder and fireworks descend amidst the playing of traditional period music and merriment and much feasting.

It is a 3 day 24hr long festival in which 28 armies do battle and the whole town is festooned in the red cross flags of St George.                                  St George saving Alcoy from the Moors.

Being from the UK I was fascinated by the  interpretation of  the patron saint adopted both here and in  England and its interpretation in both countries.

In the U.K  St George is frequently shown as the slayer of a dragon but in this area of Spain he is shown as a saviour from the Moors.

The local Church of St George at Portal de San Marcos shows fascinating murals of the battle painted by Fernando Cabrera Canto painted in 1921 and a relic said to be St Georges finger that is paraded around the town during the festival.

Heres link to the Alcoi festival tourist site:http://www.alcoiturisme.com/

The Battle of Alcoy in St Georges Church

The Relic of St Georges Finger

Further South heading back to Alicante one sees the outstanding pinnacle on which is perched the Castle of Castalla.

The Castalla Castle

Raised in the 11th century by the Moors it was incorporated into the kingdom of Aragon in 1244.

In 1362 the castle was given to Ramon de Vilanova to defend against Castilian attacks and ultimately became part of the Hapsburg Monarchy’s defence strategy against Barbary pirate attacks on Alicantes coast line.

Throughout the 18th century Spanish war of succession it became a place for storage and sadly was in ruins by 1813.

Castalla like Pamplona also has its own running of the bull festival in August and like Alcoy above has its own Moors and Christians festival.

The town found itself embroiled in the Spanish Civil war and between 1933 and 1935 the hill and fort was sacked by the locals looking for treasure.In recent times it has been the subject of restoration with a view towards tourism.

Wandering through the old medieval town on an early morning sunlit stroll is a nice way to start the day and each corner throughout the maze of passage ways can reveal odd surprises and treats for the senses with sun bleached bright coloured old buildings and elevated views of the area ,a coffee and a taste of the local olives is also highly recommended.Below are some views around Castalla.

All these images were shot on a Nikon P6000 compact camera which I like to set up with easy access to manual overide settings for compensation,flash output and white balance using the my menu settings for speed.

Its a great light weight durable tool for keeping in your pocket when traveling light.

Bon voyage!

 

copyright:Kerry Davies.

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