Happy New Year! In north Northumberland we have had hard frosts but, so far, have escaped snow except for a light dusting. This is in contrast to southern and western parts of Britain.
Looking back, we had some interesting trips during 2017. In September we had a week in Galloway when it rained every day but one. But it didn't stop us getting out to see the amazing number of historic and archaeological sites. This is a really interesting area.
In May we had a fantastic visit to Cyprus. In June we went on a National Trust for Scotland cruise to Orkney, Shetland and St Kilda. This was the third time we have landed on St Kilda and the second in warm, sunny weather. The passage out was very rough! I have put some photos on the Gallery page.
At the Borders Book Festival in June, I read an extract from my contribution to the Border Writers' Forum Anthology, Border Voices. This was at Melrose in the Scottish Borders and I was one of ten readers. The theme of the Anthology was 'Bridges' and my contribution was entitled 'Bridges to Heaven'.
A current project which is taking up much of my time is the inspection and recording of historic buildings in connection with the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project. This is a community project administered by the Till Valley Archaeological Society with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition to the Historic Buildings Group, there are three other groups of volunteers dealing with archaeology, social history and oral history. There is more information on the TillVAS website—there is a link below.
My fourth book on local topics, Breamish and Till: From Source to Tweed, is available for sale, published by the Till Valley Archaeological Society (TillVAS)(www.tillvas.com), ISBN 978-1-291-58938-2 Price £10. Net proceeds of sale go to the Society.
Information about this and other books, articles and poems can be seen on my Books & Books (cont.) pages and copies of some may be bought by clicking on the blue link at the top of the Books page and following the instructions.
All the photographs are copyright of Antony Chessell
The ruined chapel on St. Ninian's Isle, Shetland where the treasure was found in 1958. All the 28 objects are silver apart from the jaw bone of a porpoise. The treasure is housed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The upright stone in the centre marks the discovery site. This photo was taken on a wet day in June 2017. The island is reached by walking across the sand tombola.
There are many non-native, deciduous trees in the parks and other green areas in Melbourne, planted during the 19th century, probably to remind the settlers of 'home'. It is, therefore, very interesting to see English elm trees Ulmus minor var.vulgaris that we have not seen in Britain as fully grown trees for 40 years or so—only as immature trees in hedgerows. The trees in Melbourne have not been infected by Dutch Elm Disease and it was, therefore, interesting to see the characteristic shape of fully-grown specimens.
This is one of the Moonah trees Melaleuca lanceolata that grow on Churchill Island. Some of the trees are said to be 500 years old. Note the twisted pattern to the trunk. Churchill Island was joined to Phillip Island by a bridge in 1959, was discovered in 1801 and farmed since 1859. It is owned by the government and is bounded by the Churchill Island Marine National Park.
This is an example of 'spheroidal weathering' on Philip Island where the volcanic basalt rock has weathered inwards from the network of joints in the basalt. This sometimes leaves dark cores of unweathered basalt and these become black cobbles on the beach when the soft pale-coloured material erodes away. The holes are where the cobbles have been. This process gives an usual appearance with many colours, added to by the green seaweed.
This is a cliff scene on Cape Woolamai on Philip Island taken on a walk around the cape on a very warm day. We had a mixture of weather during our stay in WA and Victoria, varying from quite cool (16 degrees!) to quite hot (37 degrees) with cloudy, rainy and windy days interspersed by warm days with clear, blue skies.
We attended the Remembrance Day Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on 11th November 2015. This was held in the open air in front of the shrine before a large crowd, seated facing the shrine on either side of the long, wide avenue that leads down towards the centre of Melbourne. There were representatives from the armed sevices, politicians and local organisations and the secular proceedings were led by the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, standing in for the Governor who was laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in London. The Shrine is an impressive of Egyptian/Greek design. Although we were visitors, we felt that we were able to add our poppies commemorating two of our family who were killed in the First and Second World Wars.
A September 2015 view of the Langdale Pikes-Pike O'Stickle, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark with Dungeon Ghyll tumbling down from Stickle Tarn. A warm, sunny day—what a view! This view brings back happy memories of walks and scrambles all over the Pikes, including Jack's Rake which is a diagonal scramble up the face of Pavey Ark on the right. We have been up there in all weathers!
My photograph of two pieces of slipware pottery found (but unfortunately not by me!) in two separate trenches within the Scheduled Area to the west of Norham Castle in July 2015. They are pieces from two separate platters that must have been quite large—the left hand piece, for example, is about 5 inches across, so the circumferance would indicate a prestigious platter. They date from the 17th century.
How many volunteers and professional archaeologists does it take to excavate one trench?!
The answer in this case is 8 volunteers (including the photographer), a Director of Excavations and a Fieldwork Supervisor!
This was trench 1 at Norham Castle, looking for evidence of a fortification on the edge of a ridge overlooking the present village of Norham, July 2015.
On a cold, January day (2015) these Scarlet Elfcups (Sarcoscypha austriaca) made a splash of colour in a wooded area above the River Till in north Northumberland. They are found in damp, shady places on dead twigs and set amongst moss. Their small size may be judged against the sycamore wing closeby.
This photo was taken during Coldstream's Civic Week which is always the first week in August. It shows the Coldstreamer and his Right and Left Hand Men returning a sod of earth from the battlefield site at Flodden to the site of Coldstream Priory in a moving ceremony at the end of the Flodden ride-out day. The Coldstream Guards always send a contingent for the whole of Civic Week and the Guards take an active part in all the activities during the week.
March 2014—This is a headland at Cape Schanck on the south side of the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia, looking out into the Bass Strait. It is of particular interest to geologists because of the rock formations, many of which can be distinguished by the different colours in the photograph. There is a long boardwalk leading down to the twin beaches to protect the vegetation and geology from human erosion. The black rock on the beaches, on the headland and on Pulpit Rock in the middle distance, is basalt, a hard, volcanic rock that can also be seen on Staffa in the western isles of Scotland and at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
This echidna looks like a large hedgehog. It was using its snout to dig for ants and grubs in the verge alongside the road but came over to investigate my boots—something different, I suppose. It obviously didn't realise that I was standing there quite still, because echidnas shy away if they realise humans are around.
A tranquil scene on the River Yarra in the Yarra Bend Park, Melbourne. This is not a 'park' as we know it but a large area of managed bushland within the Melbourne suburbs. It gives an idea of the landscape that might have been in this area before European settlement, with all the many varieties of eucalypt trees, many of them being River Red Gums along the banks of the river.
This is a rather good black flint scraper (probably mesolithic) that I found during field-walking with TillVAS at Branxton Hill Farm, Northumberland. Field walking is always done with the permission of the farmer and has to fit in with the farmer's programme for ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting. Flints can be grey, grey-brown or black with black said to be the easiest shade of flint to knap. The bulb of percussion can be clearly seen and the flint has been worked around the edges.