The closing date for voting in the Woodland Trust's Tree of the Year Competition 2018 (and, in particular, our nomination for Scottish Tree of the Year) has now closed and we will have to wait until November to learn the result.
Another TillVAS excavation has come to an end at Mardon Farm where we further investigated the Iron-Age settlement that we looked at last year. Ditches, cobbles surfaces, pottery sherds and even flints probably from Neolithic soil infill.
What a long, dry spell we have had since May—not like the south of England but very good for Northumberland. Lots of plant watering needed, whilst allowing the grass to go brown. Recent showers have quickly greened the grass. Another marvellous holiday in Cyprus in May with sun all day and everyday; swimming and snorkelling, meeting up with our family and visiting ancient churches, monasteries, attractive villages and archaeological sites. I have put a few photos in the Gallery.
2018 sees another book in course of preparation. More details later.
A current project which has taken up much of my time but is just coming to an end, 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.
I had a surprise on a National Trust for Scotland cruise to Norway and Svalbard when I won first prize in the onboard poetry competition judged by Scottish writer, poet and guest lecturer, Kenneth Steven. All the entrants had to choose a subject related to the cruise and my inspiration came from the towering cliffs of the Magdelenafjorden glacier viewed from the Black Prince as she edged slowly towards the snout. I have persevered since as a non-prolific poet! This is the poem that started it all:-
Below the Sea Glacier
A towering, hanging cliff of blue and white; I gaze aloft
At changing patterns in pink-capped ice;
A heaviness of crumped and creviced shapes,
Held timeless, fixed in awesome state.
A frozen, ancient, pent-up strength; I sense the force,
The endless shifting weight behind the face;
A fractured, bursting, furious dam, suspended
In fearful, looming, threatening power.
A startling sound of splitting blocks; I whirl in awe,
At plunging, shattered, cut-glass stacks;
A thousand stabbing swords of crystal light
Slice through the viscous, inky depths.
A tumbling, plunging, roaring mass; I watch aghast
As whirlpools grow and fountains sprout,
And shuffling, crunching, sliding shards
Plunge with wild and angry strife.
A widening swish of jostling flows; I stand and stare
At whistling, hissing, rustling shapes,
As slowly, flowing, glistening, spinning,
They glide towards eternity.
© Antony Chessell
I was very pleased to have a poem in the spring/summer 2013 issue of The Eildon Tree (free from Scottish Borders Libraries). 'St. Kilda People' was inspired by a visit to the remote islands way out in the Atlantic Ocean when my thoughts turned to the people who inhabited the main island of Hirta for hundreds of years before evacuation in 1930.
I also had a poem published in the autumn/winter issue. 'Who am I?' expresses my thoughts on my genetic make-up and asks the question in the title. It does reach a conclusion—I think!