Yorkshire calling

August 30, 2007 at 12:12 pm (Anglophilia)

y-dales.jpg I am going back to Yorkshire. In less than two weeks I will have the chance once again to savor the riches of this extraordinary place.

Once there, I will see fields of intense green, crisscrossed by the famous drystone walls, and dotted with sheep – sheep by the hundreds, many of them with the distinctive black faces of the Swaledale breed. In addition, streams, rivers, waterfalls, and dramatic rock formations. Beautiful little villages built with the local limestone, with riotous flower gardens and names derived from “old Scandinavian” and duly noted by an assiduous anonymous scribe in the Domesday Book (pub. date 1086), domesdaybook_hmed_11ahlarge.jpg old, old churches like St. Mary’s Lastingham.

fountains_abbey.jpg Most haunting and evocative are the ruined abbeys. Two years ago, our group went to Fountains Abbey, now a UNESCO world Heritage Site. As we stood in the room, now open to the sky, where the monks chanted their offices so long ago, our guide asked us to think of those ancient stone walls as imbued with their singing from all those centuries ago. At one point, a group of us stood just outside the abbey walls. The sun shone brightly; the air was cool. I felt a drop of moisture on my hand. Birds, I thought – but no – it was water. A few seconds later, more drops of water. And then, a fine cooling mist descended on us. I stretched out my palms and gazed upward. The sky remained clear and blue, with only the wisp of cirrus cloud above us.

At that moment, I felt baptized into the mystery that is England’s ancient past, a history, intermingled with legend, that stretches backwards into the mists of time.


  1. BooksPlease said,

    Have a lovely holiday, Roberta and more memorable experiences.

  2. Joyce said,

    Sounds wonderful! All those lovely sheep… imagine the wool to be knit into nice warm sweaters. Have a good time, and let us hear about it when you get back.

  3. The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher, with an accompanying query as to whether the ranks of the great writers are being replenished « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] mystical Yorkshire that I have recently experienced on my travels and am forever extolling in this space. Nevertheless, Sheffield is somehow the perfect crucible for the playing out of the destiny of […]

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