Leica Glow:An appreciation of classic Leica M photography.

Posted in age of elegance, camera, England, hobbys, Leica, Leica Lens, Leica photography, luxury camera, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, road trip, rustic, travel, Uncategorized, vintage, Wales, writing on September 9th, 2014 by wabisabipix

kd_leica_m6_1The Leica rangefinder camera has over the years become as legendary as the famous photographers that have become synonymous with using it.

Cartier Bresson,Eve Arnold,Robert Capa,Robert Frank and Vivian Maier to name but a few, have all been associated with its name and the body of work created with this photographic tool has spanned over many decades.

In an era where photographic quality and longevity seem to be taking a back seat, in a world obsessed with the quick fix and inherent obsolescence and yearly upgrades, it seems the ubiquitous smartphone has dominated the requirements of the masses.Even internet service providers are struggling to cater for the deluge of every day images flooding the internet and it is allegedly rapidly running out of capacity in its current form.

Interestingly there appears to be a rekindling of interest by many in the younger generation that have read and learned about the photographic legends of the golden era of photojournalism and are kicking back against the digital world that cocoons them.Many are seeking to learn more about the old techniques of dark room printing and the power and minimalism of black and white photography.

Film appears to be making a come back and even the film industry is turning away from the current vogue to use video and returning to celluloid in a bid to recapture that classic 35mm look.Such is rumoured to be the case in that of the new Star Wars Film currently being filmed at Pinewood Studios in the UK.

The legendary Kodak film Tri-X, famous for use by such photographers as David Bailey,Don McCullin,Anton Corbijn and Sebastiao Salgado,is also gathering resurgence of interest,especially for those seeking that natural film grain and rich blacks and whites that add character and depth to an image,a complete contrast to the digital, rather clinical, grain free effects of todays digital offerings.

Indeed a close friend who had a fridge load of date expired film has found that it was purchased enthusiastically on ebay by fans of Lomography who love the psychedelic effects of the film in their Holga and Lomo cameras who cannot get enough of it.

Many are now stepping off the digital merry go round and seeking out classic film cameras to shoot their important pictures and memories, after all its easy to scan a negative for internet purposes and you can keep a negative for archive purposes for hundreds of years, but when your hard drive dies or becomes obsolete thats a big problem,who can remember zip disks?

Over the decades I have used many cameras,but one that I have a special fondness for is the Leica M6 with a 35mm F2 Summicron IV pre aspherical.

This lens has become known as the “King of Bokeh” among rangefinder aficionados.

A true jewel of a lens,this optic is possessed of a unique set of characteristics that almost give the lens a life of its own.

When shot wide open this lens gives an extraordinary creamy bokeh(Japanese Bo-ke),a term coined by the japanese to describe the out of focus or blurry background effect when a wide aperture is selected.It also gives a wonderful glow in the specular highlights and a full range of tones that really jump out of the picture giving an almost 3D quality frequently described as the Leica glow.It is almost as if the lens maker has dropped a tiny pipet of bottled nostalgia onto the front lens coating and all images suddenly seem in some way like a captured frame from a dream sequence.

Mechanically the optic really is a dream.It has beautiful click stops,silky smooth focus and a full array of depth of field settings,enabling a photographer to take full advantage of setting hyper focal distance and pre-setting the camera for street photography.

I also like the 90mm Elmarit f2.8 which is ideal when you need that extra little bit of reach or a tight portrait and the gorgeous Elmar 50mm f2.8 is a cracking pop out pancake lens in the old tradition and style for keeping in a discrete pocket.

In modern times the Leica M6 body may not seem the most ergonomically designed of film cameras and the loading procedure can be a little bit more time consuming than opening the back door of a typical 35mm film SLR, however in my opinion this is not what rangefinder photography is about.If you require a camera to rattle off 12fps and send the images directly online via a wifi connection to your laptop then you are looking in the wrong place.However if you are the kind of person for whom the internet is a mere after thought and you want a small discrete camera that can be hand held to stunningly low shutter speeds and which is whisper silent and doesn’t draw attention,and if you enjoy doing your own black and white prints or thrill when you get back your prints from a lab,then this could be for you.

The Leica rangefinder is for people who prefer to smell the roses and enjoy life at a more laid back pace while taking the scenic route.It is for those who may relish the pleasure of sitting in a cafe watching the world go by while enjoying the pleasure of winding on the gears of a classic precision photographic instrument,almost like a swiss watch,that instills you with confidence in its design and the quality of its build and optics.The enjoyment of following a classic ritual from an age of elegance that makes you feel that taking pictures with it should be more thoughtful and considered.

 

In essence,shooting a Leica rangefinder eventually becomes an almost Zen like experience as one can see all the action prior to the subject entering the frame,preset the focus using hyper focal distance and use experienced judgement to set the light levels.Combining all these elements successfully creates an almost instantaneous extension of your mind and eye and culminates in a single understated whisper quiet click!

They are such mechanical wonders that they do not even require batteries.In my opinion thats quite something in this modern age.

It takes practice and discipline to master this technique of course,but the reward is there for those patient enough.

Indeed Leica cameras and their lenses are not cheap and seeking out the classic lenses is a costly affair.However of all the cameras on the market they are clearly an investment and you will almost certainly find that the camera or lens you buy either holds its value or becomes more valuable as the years pass by,the problem is that you probably will not want to sell it anyway as it becomes very much a part of your life.

There is also something pleasing knowing that in all likelihood that rangefinder will still be shooting when those digital wonders are are long gone into the annals of upgrade history or are relegated to the status of expensive paperweights.Indeed a battered and bronzed Leica with years of usage,has a certain beauty and appeal to it that is quite frankly priceless.

 

 

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WINGS AND WHEELS

Posted in aircraft, aviation, britain, camera, classic, classic car, England, english village, FIGHTER PLANES, london, motoring, news, Nikon, paratrooper, photo, photoblog, Photography, re-enactment, relax, renactment, retro, surrey, technology, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, Wales, wings and wheels, world war 2, world war one, writing on August 24th, 2014 by wabisabipix

 

A sensational bank holiday weekend at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey watching the fantastic Wings and Wheels event, an absolute gem in the air show calendar,celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Wings and Wheels combines fast cars with stunning flying demonstrations. There was a fantastic range of aircraft and cars on show as well as World War II  re-enactment societies and displays. There was a awesome display by the Breitling Wing Walker “amazons” who at times, were showing steely eyed skill as they held on without harnesses and inches from those deadly propellors and amazed the crowds.At one point they almost touched hands while flying inverted,remarkable!

Iron Maiden rock star Bruce Dickinson made a surprise appearance and hopped into a World War 1 Fokker Triplane and duelled his Great War adversaries  around the airfield in a  simulation of a world war I air battle. Also present were the famous last two remaining Lancaster Bombers,one from Canada,bringing a nostalgic tear to many eyes as they flew with a battle of Britain fighter escort. There were also many cars speeding around the race track including a Ford GT40 a variety of classics and supercars and a selection of motorbikes,some with side cars,tearing around the track famous for its role in the Top Gear TV Series.

A short video clip of an Apache Gunship and the British and Canadian Lancaster Flypast shot on a Lumix LX7 compact camera:

More images from Dunsfold can be viewed here:http://…/p763200112 Copyright Kerry Davies/All rights reserved. 

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PAINSHILL PARK:HAVING A BLAST WITH THE NAPOLEONIC ASSOCIATION.

Posted in age of elegance, britain, cannon, cavaliers, cool, drama, England, english village, enthusiasts, equine sport, europe, feature, film location, Film set, folk, forts, french, fringe, hussars, legends, london, lumix lx7, moods, muskets, myths, Napoleonic, Napoleonic association, napoleonic wars, nature, news, Nikon, painshill park, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, re-enactment, redcoats, relax, renactment, road trip, skirmish, surrey, swords, tourism, travel, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, warhorse, waterloo, writing on May 25th, 2014 by wabisabipix

The May bank holiday on sunday 25th 2014 certainly went off with a bang as the Napoleonic Association of re-enactors http://www.napoleonicassociation.org blitzed the Painshill Park near Cobham in Surrey http://www.painshill.co.uk with the thunder of hooves and the crack of muskets and cannon fire. An incredibly authentic experience of the “age of elegance”,they delve deep into all aspects of the period delivering an enthralling battlefield skirmish and other camp and entertainment experiences along the way. You have to blink twice to remind yourself that we are in fact still in the 21st century and cannot help but feel that these were in fact more elegant times. This group clearly eat,sleep and live this colourful period in history and provide a great insight to onlookers who ever wondered what it would have been like to live in these times. I can still smell those camp fires! Now where did I put that musket!

More images can be viewed at: http://www.surreypix.co.uk/p393250091 Copyright Kerry Davies /All rights reserved.

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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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Hunting Easter eggs in the land of Dragons.

Posted in Castles, Celtic, dragons, Festival, forts, gawain and the green knight, king arthur, knights, legends, lumix lx7, medieval, medieval castle, medieval joust, Monument, moods, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, renactment, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, Wales, walking, walks on April 20th, 2014 by wabisabipix

A delightful place to spent a day during an easter break is the highly impressive Caerphilly Castle in South Wales.Famous most recently for its role in the popular BBC TV Series Merlin but with a long history that very much equals the drama of its fictional roles.It is an enormous stone beast surrounded by moats and drawbridges and on approach looks very much like it has just repelled a siege by a well equipped invading army.It was built by the Norman Gilbert de Clare who was an enemy of the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the 13th Century and provide the influence for many of the concentric designs of Edward I castles in North Wales.As time moved on and regime change took place,the role of the castle changed and it found itself without a purpose.The castles condition declined until eventually in the late 19th century the third marquess of Bute began preservation work on this and other castles in the region.It is a great destination for tourism and provides a great Easter egg hunt for the kids,look out for the Dragons in the ancient hallways though!

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Camera used was a Lumix LX7

Copyright Kerry Davies

No unauthorised reproduction.

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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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Stonehenge a Journey back in time.

Posted in art, crop circles, England, leylines, london, moods, photo, Photography, relax, stonehenge, travel, ufo, Uncategorized, Wales, walks, wildlife, writing on August 17th, 2009 by wabisabipix

Stonehenge one of the greatest and most mysterious of  mankinds ancient monuments lies at the heart of the Salisbury Plain a chalk plateau that is 300 square miles in area and at the heart of Wiltshire.

Stonehenge place of mystery and legend

Stonehenge place of mystery and legend

Much of the area is today used by the military as it is one of the largest  grassland plains in northwest Europe and ideal for driving tanks and buzzing around in aircraft.

It is also steeped in legends and one of the most famous locations  in the world for ancient archaeology.There are hundreds of ancient burial mounds known as Barrows, the family tombs of ancient tribal Chieftains and members of the tribal heirarchy dotted around.

The whole area with its wide panoramic sky line  leaves you overwhelmed by the sense of a place of awesome mystery and perhaps( if you believe in it) ancient power.It lies at the center of  what some believe is an ancient ley line vortex and its no surprise that its a UFO hotspot and crop circle center.

Even driving through the area with the wind blowing through open windows as the sun descends over a glowing landscape  is exhilarating and yet oddly calming at the same time.

Strangely meteors are quite often attracted to the area and many of the locals apparently have considerable collections . It is a great place to watch the skies for a bit of astronomy but take a steel helmet of course!!!

And for any birdwatchers there are apparently Great Bustards in the area after they were released in the area in 2003 .

I recently visited the area on a fantastic walking trip on a magnificent sunny day and followed a route from the town of Amesbury famous as the last haunt of Queen Guinevere from the legends of king Arthur.The route is known as walking route ID 4755 and i will give a brief guide to the walk with some pictures.

St Mary and St Melor Parish Church

St Mary and St Melor Parish Church

The Walk starts in a car park at the rear of St Mary and St Melor Parish Church where you can stock up on supplies at the nearby shops.I would pick up a map enroute so you can visualise the ancient pathways.

I took  a Nikon D200 with a 17-35mm f2.8 set at 100 iso a light weight kit as it was a stunning sunny day and stashed a  few bottles of water to compliment  a hearty English Breakfast. The walk takes about 3-4 hours and covers about 7 miles so bear that in mind.

On leaving the church car Park turn right and head passed the church and over the bridge with its River Avon sign.

River Avon Bridge Amesbury

River Avon Bridge Amesbury

Before we  go further it is necessary to pull aside the veil of modern history and peer back into time  to get a feel for the Mythic and Legendary place that Ancient Britain once was.

There are many theories about how the Blue stones were brought here,some suspect an ancient glacial freeze over which allowed ancient people to sled them across the Bristol Channel from Wales and up the river paths to their Salisbury resting place,others suggest that the Stones that form part of Stonehenge were originally transferred by an ancient people  by boat  or barge across the Bristol Channel from Presceli West Wales,then along the Avon and Frome rivers,back on land near frome then overland to Warminster then into the river wylye to Salisbury and finally back up the river Avon to Amesbury. It is thought  that the river bank on your left hand side was the location where they were brought onto land and moved into their current location,others were thought to have come from the Avebury area.In fact a recent sensational discovery seems to confirm a link with this river bank , another Bluestone henge site has been discovered and is being excavated by Sheffield University fueling speculation that the second one may have acted as a kind of reception site for the dead,a kind of last stop in a ritual multi stage river journey with stop off points with a few mythic hillside chalk murals to break up the Journey and take a break from all the rowing up or down river!!! Ceremonial funeral longboats may have brought the Royal or legendary dead on their way to the after life. Maybe there was a brief stop off for ritual preparation at the water surrounded Glastonbury Tor known as the ancient mythic celtic gateway to the underworld and also a place of  healing. The flotilla would then head up or down the river ,depending on its starting point, to Stonehenge or Avebury via the ancient white horse engraved lands of Wiltshire or Devon. These Monumental hillside images may Perhaps have been a graphic ancient reminder of  the celtic legend of the wild hunt of Gwynn Ap Nudd the gatherer of souls,a shape changing character also linked to the god Nodens and the Inspiration for Hern in England, who tales tell commanded fairy folk that legends assert reside in Glastonbury Tor. According to myths that reach as far as ancient Europe it is said Gwynn Ap Nudd and his many international Incarnations that thundered through the  landscape and the Stormy night sky along with a retinue and hunting party of legendary white horses and hell hounds with red tipped ears ,on a fearsome hunt to gather the souls of the dead for a journey into the Abyss of the Underworld. The Naked club wielding Cerne Abbas man in Dorset near the River Cerne seems originally to have been an actual portrayal that of Nudd or Herne the hunter,Mythic characters well known to pre Christian and pre Roman people that would have been the subject of many a scary fireside Childrens tale,an interpretation now largely forgotten in the dusty corridors of  ancient history.Cerne Abbas in its current  form is dated to the 17th century but was thought to have replaced a more ancient version in the same spot that has been slightly modified and reinterpreted by Celts and Romans alike.

These Ancient lands have interesting names that are suggestive of their ancient pagan or celtic past.

Avebury and Avalon  for example share “Ave” or possibly “Ava”  thought originally to be an ancient word for river or in ancient Welsh a word for apple.Interpretation in this context knowing this connection may more correctly suggest a land of the blessed.Perhaps it may have been locals asserting  Somersets reputation for rather good cider!!  The reference to Ava turns up a lot in this area in town names etc along with the word Bury for example Avebury,Amesbury etc .Maybe over the centuries Avalon became linked to Avon,a suggestion perhaps to the Avon river as a route to the land or Isle of the blessed.

Interestingly Scholars and local Monks frequently like to link  Arthurian myths of Avalon to Glastonbury thought to have been a water bound inland island at the time and said to be the true resting place of King Arthur.

In early Christian times Glastonbury was known as a  place of monks and later an Abbey and once the  home of a hermit.The Monks of Glastonbury were quite active during the centuries both here and across the country trying to stamp out ancient beliefs by creating their own brand of Myths which they variously attached to local  places that already had their own Legends quite often using the essence of the local tradition and smoothing it over after incorporating it into the christian tradition.

A kind of rewriting or updating of history and the reincorporation of ancient ideas took place during the struggle between pro and anti Christian  Roman Emperors who took rule with the intention of filtering out ancient beliefs and blending the pagan history with their own version along with the renaming of local Deities.

After many conquests and emperors the saying “History is written by the victors” invariably held true but if you look closely,every now and then, the veil of what became the accepted belief blows to one side and once again and you see its true historic source.

The reasons and motivations for dreaming up and applying such legends at places such as Glastonbury with its King Arthur burial legends and also Looe Island,another of the Monks of Glastonburys ventures,involving a legend of a visit by Christ and Joseph of Arimathea and the renaming of the island as St Georges Island,we can only speculate at but I suspect it was quite a lucrative industry at the time.

Back to the subject of Stonehenge ,It does seem that many stones form the second Blue Henge site recently discovered  probably were moved  over the centuries and became part of the frequently rebuilt Stonehenge site we see today.

Interestingly and of note ,both of the sites at the Stonehenge including the new Bluestone Henge seem to have revealed the existence of stashes of  Red Deer Antlers.Archaeologists suggest their use as tools during construction but could it have been that ancient Shamans wore Antlers during rites of Pagan commune with the spirits of nature they believed in,  perhaps with echoes of the wild hunt of legend and Nudd or Herne the Hunter often portrayed with antlers,in fact it is probably more than a little coincidental that in its attempt to subvert the indigenous pagans to the newly arrived  christian religion that accompanied the  reign of  Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 AD ,the Pan like character known as the Devil with his very own set of pagan like  horns or antlers became the villain.

Everything Changed again with the reign of  pro pagan Emperor Julian who tried to abolish Christianity in 359AD and then arrived Emperor Arbogastes 391AD who reinstated it,confusing times!!!

With regard to the Arthurian legends and most notably those of another local monk Geoffrey of Monmouth, the construction of Stonehenge is attributed to Merlin and Aurelius king of Britain in the 5th century with help from  King Arthurs father Uther Pendragon and 15000 knights who captured the Stones from Ireland(originally however thought to be from Africa), where locally it became known as “the giants Dance” and with Merlins “technical” wizardry,spirited them over and set them up as a monument to those killed in battles with the Saxons and also because of their alledged healing powers.

One thing various academics seem to believe however is that some but not all stones were erected at a later date and are not from the local area so  it seems the Stonehenge project  has been an ongoing work in progress through the centuries.

In May 2002 a body that became known as the Amesbury Archer  was found 3 miles from Stonehenge.The body was found with gold arm bracelets and various  arrowheads ,some inside the body suggesting a violent death and pottery offerings.It was one of the greatest finds in the area and has been the source of many theories.

Alongside the body was another skeleton believed to be the mans son.

One of  the objects ,a boars tusk also seems to reflect back on the ancient Pagan beliefs where Boars tusks were regarded as sacred objects.

There are many suggestions about his past but is it possible this man was perhaps a Shaman or Chief priest in the Stonehenge  and  met his death during a non democratic regime change and persecution of the old ways?

Carbon dating suggests a date at about 2500BC but this isnt always very accurate.

Speculatively could this possible Shaman character and his son have been slain by a new incoming belief, the persecution of the Druids Perhaps? who knows? What we do know,even in current times, is that history shows that regime change is rarely non violent.

Back to the walk.

Once passed the bridge follow the road up hill until you meet a dual carriageway (the A303)keeping on the pavement all the way until you see a large cottage on your right at which point you cross the road and enter a National Trust area  through a gate and enter the Kings Barrow area.

The Kings Barrow Area Gate

The Kings Barrow Area Gate

The Kings Barrow Area is the Location of some of the largest Barrow burial mounds in the area surrounded by gnarly(quite spooky) white trees, these are the final resting place of very important people  dating back to 3000-4000Bc . The area at the end of a large processional area  3km long known as the Cursus that subject to what you believe may have been used as a final route to bury the dead after preparation at the Stonehenge monument.

Kings Barrow Burial Mounds

Kings Barrow Burial Mounds

Following the path further on  passing alongside a wooded area you pass fields filled with sheep and can enjoy the view of the Stonehenge in the distance.Another view of the Kings Barrows

Following the Kings Barrow Ridge Pathway you eventually come to a sign that is marked Cursus and Larkhill,take the cursus Direction.

The Cursus Signpost

The Cursus Signpost

After a pleasant walk you pass through fields staying on the path and heading  for a national trust Stile that will take you into an area known as the Cursus.

Sheep sheltering from the midday sun at Kings Barrow ridge.

Sheep sheltering from the midday sun at Kings Barrow ridge.

Views on the Kings Barrow ridge

Views on the Kings Barrow ridge

Cornfields off  the Kings Barrow Ridge

Cornfields off the Kings Barrow Ridge

The Start of the Cursus.

The area of the Cursus is thought to have been a bit like a 3km long race track several feet high and made of chalk.It was there when the Romans were here but now continual ploughing has not left any trace of it.

Its true purpose like everything in this mysterious place is hard to fathom as we peer back  in the mists of time however it appears to have been important in some way from the Neolithic to the Bronze age.

Was it perhaps the area in which the stones were stored and prepared for the grand design of Stonehenge,a kind of ancient building site storage area and camp in which stoneworkers chipped away and shaped their handywork before finally hauling it with help from oxen over to the planned location on the nearby flat slope?

This seems Likely!

Did it later on become a funeral procession route to the area near the Kings Barrows nearby?

Its even suggested it was a kind of race course,perhaps for chariots,this I suspect not.

With its close proximity to the Henge I Suspect It probably did get used as a gathering point at a later date though and may have provided a camp for the funeral processions.

Our course now leads across the cursus and onwards towards another series of national trust stiles and we can but wonder at what this place may have looked like thousands of years ago and the events that took place here.

Across the cursus

Across the cursus

The Center view of the Cursus

The Center view of the Cursus

Walking across the Cursus you Eventually reach a path that veers to the left and heads in the direction of the Stonehenge itself .We now follow this while viewing more barrows off to the right.

Burial mounds off to the right of Stonehenge

Burial mounds off to the right of Stonehenge

After a short distance we approach the rear of the car park to the Stonehenge monument itself no doubt swarming with tourists.

There are plenty of facilities here and its a good place for a break and to refuel yourself.

While there I met a local chap and his partner who makes a living as a Druid campaigning for better access for people to the stones.In recent years the public haven’t been able to walk among them and he thinks this should change.

Recently he has been protesting that scientists should return the ancestors back to their home after several were taken as samples for research.

His name no less King Arthur Pendragon.

King Arthur Pendragon.

King Arthur Pendragon.

And Queen Guinevere i Presume!

And Queen Guinevere i Presume!

Clock?Temple?mortuary?Round table? i suspect all at one point or other!

Clock?Temple?mortuary?Round table? i suspect all at one point or other!

Stonehenge We can but wonder!

Stonehenge We can but wonder!

Turning a 17-35mm f2.8 and underexposing a little gave this deep blue effect.

Civilisation!!!

Civilisation!!!

Tourists fighting for space!

Tourists fighting for space!

The Stones are an amazing sight to behold  I do wonder however that in this digital camera age are people starting to view picture taking as a disposable activity and losing a few manners along the way.In the old days courtesy was observed when someone was holding a camera with 36 frames of film to work with but now its a free for all ah! its called progress,Civilization!!!?

Interestingly I found it hard finding camera film enroute to the area (I often use film and digital) however the gift shop at Stonehenge does stock it.

Heading away from the stonehenge the agricultural landscape.

Heading away from the stonehenge the agricultural landscape.

After refreshments (ice cream and a delicious strawberry slush drink served at a kiosk) we start heading away from the throng and soon we find ourselves back on the country path outside the gates next to the toilets  at Stonehenge.

Following the path through agricultural fields the light is starting to get that gorgeous late afternoon hue.

At a sign for Amesbury we turn left walking parallel to the A303 before heading back in across some fields at the next boundary point down.

It takes us across a green track passing some odd hay formations almost Henge like themselves.

Straw Henge!

Straw Henge!

The Path heading back towards Amesbury,Stonehenge behind us.

The Path heading back towards Amesbury,Stonehenge behind us.

Barrows backlit by the sun.

Barrows backlit by the sun.

Heading past more Barrows spectacularly back lit by the low sun we head left bearing left on a national trust Marker and walk along a fenceline that follows a plantation until entering some recently ploughed fields (one eye of course on the ground looking for buried treasure!) with spectacular gradations well lit by the sun.

Poppies along the path to Amesbury.

Poppies along the path to Amesbury.

The Sunkissed landscape.

The Sunkissed landscape.

The Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 lens is outstanding when it comes down to bright detailed landscapes.

Bright red berries glistening in the sun.

Bright red berries glistening in the sun.

As we followed the hedge line the landscape seemed to come alive  as the sun raked across the area ,quite spectacular!

Salisbury summer Ecstasy.

Salisbury summer Ecstasy.

Summer fruits.

Summer fruits.

Stunning solar contours.

Stunning solar contours.

We follow the hedge line along the National Trust route and descent a hill beside cottages and a farm overlooking the town of Amesbury as we amble by and rejoin our original route back into the town passing harvester machines at work filling the air with dust our legs aching from the well spent day.

A sight from times past ,Amesbury cottages.

A sight from times past ,Amesbury cottages.

Summer harvesters.

Summer harvesters.

Swans at the bridge.

Swans at the bridge.

Descending the hill before climbing back into town we pass the Avon bridge again to be greeted by two Swans before heading off in search of a great British Sunday Lunch and a well needed rest.

I have recently started a website of images mostly travel related on the link below so please feel free to take a look and hopefully you will enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them.Its part of an ongoing project that I will be adding to regularly.

All the best.

Pictures copyright:Kerry Davies WWW.WABISABIPIX.COM

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