The Black Stones, and Other Ghosts of Beeston Regis 195


Tens of thousands of people follow this blog, direct and through facebook and twitter. I believe they mostly do so because of the posts I write which present facts the mainstream media elides, or a commentary designed to open up radical ideas for discussion. I am always very grateful that so many people are prepared to consider alternative ways of considering news and politics.

But it is also just an intensely personal blog, where sometimes I work through my own thoughts and experiences in life from a variety of motives, and in the hope that they may strike a chord with some people. Recent events have caused me to think back over my own childhood, and frankly I do not expect this next to be of much interest at all to the large majority of habitual readers. I am recording this because I want the knowledge to survive me, from a feeling that folk tradition is important.

I was looking up the postcode for Beeton Regis church to tell somebody how to get there, and in doing so came across the wikipedia entry for Beeston Regis. It includes this passage:

The strange story of Farmer Reynolds’ stone[edit]

Within the churchyard is a large stone being used to cover a grave. It is approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) long x 2 feet (0.61 m) x 18 inches (460 mm) high, being a rectangular block of granite, with circular depressions on the uppermost surface. On each side is inscribed the names of the grave’s occupants. This is originally one of a pair which stood at either side of a pathway in the yard of the farmhouse, in the grounds of the ruined Beeston Priory. The path itself led to what is now known as the Abbot’s Freshwater Spring Pond.

A local tale says that about 1938–41, when both boulders were in place, a farmer named James Reynolds often drove his horse and cart along this pathway. Several times, a hooded grey ghost would hide behind two boulders and would leap out from behind one of the stones at sunset, and try to grab the horse’s reins before vanishing. This, although terrifying the animals, seems not to have perturbed the man unduly. However, he ordered that the stone in question be laid upon his grave after his death, in an attempt at ‘laying’ the apparition. James Reynolds died in 1941 and, in accordance with his wishes, the boulder now lies atop his grave, his wife Ann Elizabeth also being interred there in 1967. There is no record as to whether or not the ‘exorcism’ was successful, and indeed, a local woman who knew the Reynolds could not confirm the story. The other stone of the pair can now be seen lying against the north wall of the churchyard.

In fact these stones were not originally in any of the places stated. The priory farm had a massive old tithe barn, right on the main Cromer road. The ancient road had become depressed through use below its hedgerows, and there was a grass verge bordering the barn, about a foot high and a couple of feet wide to the road. There in the grass and part embedded in the verge were these two large black granite boulders.

In the early 1960s we used to walk past them twice every day as we walked the mile to and from Sheringham Primary School. Legend was that they were haunted, and that after dark they would roll across to the other side of the road. This was associated with ghosts in some way that was not entirely clear, but linked to the monks of the priory. I therefore recognise the lines of the Wikipedia story. We were always scared walking past them at night and used to run past the spot.

At some point the stones were removed from the highway onto the farm itself – I believe about the time the tithe barn was demolished. At first the façade wall and great wooden doors of the tithe barn were left standing as it was contiguous with the farm wall. By the time the stones were removed from the highway I was either an adult or had an adult understanding, and was angry that these stones – which were an important part of community folklore – had been removed from the highway into the farm, as I was convinced they had been part of the highway and not on land belonging to the farm.

You have to know Norfolk to understand why these boulders had this mystic reputation. There are no boulders in Norfolk. The houses and churches are built out of flint beach pebbles. There is no source of granite for hundreds of miles. A primary school teacher whose name I remember as Donhau explained to 10 year old me that they are glacial erratics, left here by the receding last ice age, and it is undoubtedly true that the North Norfolk ridge is its terminal moraine. He also said that the apparently man made depressions in them were erosion by the ice. All of which makes sense, and it would make even more so if there were anything else remotely like them scattered around. But I see no contradiction between them both being glacial erratics and being used by the local Iceni for the sort of rituals Celts did with stones with depressions elsewhere. If they held the aura they did for the entire local community in 1960, how much more did they 2000 years earlier?

The legend of Black Shuck as recounted on the Wikipedia page is correct, although it misses out the universal belief that if you saw it you would die shortly after. But it misses the legend connected to Orban Beck. This was reputed to be bottomless, and the legend was that at night you could see a horse and cart being driven into it by a dead man. This again I am inclined to suspect was a folk memory of a Celtic chariot burial or ritual.

What I am struggling to explain to you was how, in what was then a very small and tight knit rural community, these legends were part of the everyday reality we lived in. I have been trying and failing to recall how I first learned them, but I think they were passed from child to child rather than taught us by adults, though they certainly were subsequently confirmed to us by adults. Of course they did not believe in them. But nor would they lightly scoff at them.

I am happy I recorded all that – I am still unsure of my own point, but I find the idea that this remembrance is now indelibly out there on the internet strangely reassuring.


195 thoughts on “The Black Stones, and Other Ghosts of Beeston Regis

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  • Shatnersrug

    A wonderful peice Craig! I wonder if you’ve read Julian Cope’s book on Megalithic Britain, the old wild man is something of an expert on ancient stones and their religious connections, it wouldn’t surprise me if he has recorded and studied your stones and the folklore attached

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Modern-Antiquarian-Pre-millennial-Megalithic-Prehistoric/dp/0722535996

    I grew up in a small town in Essex called Hadleigh, known for its ruined castle and surrounding downs captured by Constible and on display in the Tate Britain. The connection with the locals and the history and folklore is so intertwined – as small boys we used to spend our summers climbing the hills and sharing ghost stories. I miss the power those stories had over us. now I live in London and have come to except that these stories had little basis in fact. But still they provided an blanket of connection between townsfolk.

  • Chris S

    Thank you for sharing this! Local legends populated my childhood in coastal Maine and some places, people, and things had a shine to them.

  • Owen Dempsey

    Enjoyed that, thanks, reminds me of a talk I heard on Walter Benjamin’s writings on oral traditions through story telling being lost in the fast-flux of technology.
    “Walter Benjamin … If peasants and seamen were past masters of storytelling, the artisan class was its university.”
    If interested, also see for more on this:
    https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/09/walter-benjamin-illuminations-the-storyteller/
    I also recently heard the artist Warren Neidich talk excitedly about the potential for cognitive sculpting with neural micro dust to increase our attention capacity to make us more adequate consumers and claim that the hippocampus (bit of brain important to memory) is shrinking in size as we externalise memory functions to digital devices (think routes, maps and sat navs). Is this hollowing us out making us less able to resist capitalism’s hypnotic spells?

    • deepgreenpuddock

      Essentially i think there may be something there.
      We are ‘persuaded’ mainly by past experience, intuition and some of the science, that changes to human qualities are relatively fixed or very slow to change. However one senses that that was possibly true for the analogue world. So people born 2000 years ago, if magically transported, while still reasonably young, in time, forward by (about) 1800 years to a ‘western’ place, would be able to recognise and understand the technology and probably adapt.(most of the technology was based on ‘concrete’, intuitively true principles)
      At some point in the last two hundred years, we have passed into a time where that would not happen, because there has been a divergence of the behavioural attributes to deal with the abstract ideas that underlie our technology . It would not just be the problems of language but the absorption of certain key ideas that order our minds and define our relations.
      I am not sure where the point of divergence is over the last two hundred years, but certainly the last period of information and knowledge exchange/superfast communication has almost certainly altered humanity in a way that disconnects us from our past.It seems perfectly possible that changes in the brain have occurred. It is also becoming much clear that human potential is defined by the period of time of development, both in the womb and in infancy. i.e. environmental factors can create variations which have always been thought of as quite fixed. (I refer you back to Craig’s post about Grammar schools).
      I also think the reverse is broadly true-if an 18th century person was transported back 2000 years they would be able to adapt, but the human from some point in the modern era would be unable to cope in some way and almost certainly die quite quickly.

  • Rose

    What a lovely peaceful place for your Mum to be laid to rest Craig and on such a glorious day too – no sign of a fret. Thinking of you all.

  • nevermind

    There are no sources of black granite in the UK, the nearest are Norway and Belgium, afaik. The black shuck legend seems to have eminated from Bungay were its claw marks are apparently visible on the church door. I looked and there are so many scratches that it is impossible to discern what’s what.

    The legend of the stones is a new one to me, probably because its from North Norfolk. These stones could have easily been scoured off Norway’s peaks a stone fall due to extreme temperatures, on to a sheet of ice extending over most of northern Europe. Should anyone be bothered much they can go and test the stones and compare the analysis with those found in Norway.

    Black Norwegian granite is as hard as nails and can only be machined with diamond tools, even tungsten chisels leave no mark on it.
    just sayin’
    I hope that you had a calm and collected ceremony and that your mum is at peace now. Should you still be in Norfolk give us a ring and we have lunch together or something.

  • Jayne Venables

    A beautiful piece. Thank you. And the comments are fascinating. Leaves me with the sense of us being brief visitors to a vast and eternal world. Again, a beautiful peace.

    • Alan

      Checkout your local rocks here 🙂

      http://mapapps.bgs.ac.uk/geologyofbritain/home.html

      What I was wondering is, for example, when we got to be teenagers, we would go ghost hunting at Halloween in all the places we had heard/read all the scary stories about when we were children, but Craig never mentioned that. I thought it was what all teenagers did. 🙂

      • deepgreenpuddock

        Do you really think that is a helpful post? The rocks are described as ‘black granite’, which in terms of identifying the rock type, is a little vague.

        • Alan

          OK! Basalt forms at the edge of tectonic plates, usually underwater, but in the case of places like Mauna Loa it can grow to become the tallest mountain in the world. Note the use of the word “Tallest” as opposed to “Highest”, the highest being Everest.

          As Norfolk is nowhere near any plate boundaries, the likelihood of them being basalt is extremely low. Neither would any rocks from Belgium have been brought to Norfolk by glaciers, as glaciers tend to flow in a southerly direction. They are almost certainly granite from Norway.

          Was that helpful?

          • Alan

            I apologise! I notice Mauna Loa is now only the second biggest in the world. That’s the problem with active volcanoes, they grow bigger, erupt, and then lose a little height.

          • deepgreenpuddock

            It seems rather probable that the rocks were imported from elsewhere.
            Why? Who knows what whims and madcap schemes overtook
            mad ancient people. Or even recently mad people, lugging boulders around.
            Some of the stones for Stonehenge were from Wales.

          • MJ

            The blue stones at Stonehenge are of the type found only in the Preseli mountains in Wales. That doesn’t necessarily mean however that they were transported in specifically to adorn Stonehenge. They may just have been lying around (erratics?) and put to good use.

          • Alan

            Oh, and if you want really helpful, I can talk about Basalt weathering: Compared to other rocks found on Earth’s surface, basalts weather relatively fast. The typically iron-rich minerals oxidise rapidly in water and air, staining the rock a brown to red colour due to iron oxide (rust). Chemical weathering also releases readily water-soluble cations such as calcium, sodium and magnesium, which give basaltic areas a strong buffer capacity against acidification. Calcium released by basalts binds up CO2 from the atmosphere forming CaCO3 acting thus as a CO2 trap. To this it must be added that the eruption of basalt itself is often associated with the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from volcanic gases.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalt

  • deepgreenpuddock

    i wonder if it is worth adding that if you ask people (old and young) to write a story without stating the genre or topic, a very high proportion will choose to write a ghost story.

      • deepgreenpuddock

        Indeed-do i detect a reference to literary (ironic, I hope) genre in your online pen name.

        • kailyard rules

          Well, the “kailyard school” is indeed an area of Scottish literature much traduced. Never by me,
          There is no irony as my kailyard is my back yard where i can sit under an open sky and talk with others (or myself)
          The rules are constantly in flux and never penned by a ghost writer. All best.

  • Alcyone

    “I am happy I recorded all that – I am still unsure of my own point, but I find the idea that this remembrance is now indelibly out there on the internet strangely reassuring.”

    Is the weight of the stones, and the associated delusion, irreversibly now out of the back of your mind?

    All our conditioning needs to be dredged out for there to be light or freedom.

    Memory and knowledge need to be put in their place, nothing strange about that.

  • Mick McNulty

    A lot of ponds seem to have folklore tales about being bottomless with a horse and cart ridden into them, and I think Craig’s explanation about a Celtic root does fit well. Many ponds are assumed to be natural geological features when in fact many were formed by industrial quarrying. Some may be a few thousand years old but some are a just a few hundred years old, from the industrial revolution, but they are older than all of us so their origins can be mystical, especially after nature takes them over and blends them into the landscape.

    Years ago I went weekend fishing in a quarry near the Northants-Leics border. A local said it was bottomless, and while not mentioning a horse and cart he said it was haunted by the ghost of an old woman, a suspected witch who had drowned during a ducking.

  • Pete

    Very interesting Craig.

    @Shatnersrug- I presume you know about James “Cunning” Murrell, the famous cunning man of Hadleigh, and his rival Old George Pickingill of Canewdon, both well-known characters, plenty about them online. Andy Collins and his “Psychic Questing” crew did a lot of work around that area back in the 80s, and wrote several books about it, also a magazine which focused on the mysteries of south Essex, which is a much more interesting place that outsiders realise.

    • Shatnersrug

      Yes, actually an old family friend wrote a book on hadleigh many years ago – she wrote an entire chapter on ghosts stories and the lore of the surrounding area only to have the editors cut the entire chapter. It made fun reading when I was a sabbath listening lank haired teenager traipsing about castles at midnight with fruity cigarettes! I must see if she has published it since – fascinating stuff.

      As for Andrew Collins – that was a bit too far fetched for me even as a bozo teen! That was all around the same time David Ike went mad and revealed what he knew about Jimmy Savile and no one believed him because they thought he was a nut!

    • Alan

      Ah yes Trowbridge, will King John’s crown jewels ever be found in North Norfolk, or is that just a conspiracy theory? 🙂

  • Bayard

    “In the early 1960s we used to walk past them twice every day as we walked the mile to and from Sheringham Primary School. ”

    In which case one of them couldn’t possibly have been moved onto Farmer Reynolds’ grave in 1941. Perhaps you could correct the Wikipedia article and add the legend of Orban Beck while you are about it. I’m interested in these old legends and it seems a shame if they are misreported in Wikipedia. Near where I live there are three standing stones, each about a mile apart, which are said to gather at a nearby ford and dance on Midsummer Eve.

    • craig Post author

      Bayard no they very definitely were not on Farmer Reynolds grave in 1941. I actually remember the passing of his wife in 1967 or so, and actually I don’t think that the stones were even moved then.

      • GB

        I’m not so sure that the stone marks a grave. I was up there this week, and the stone is more or less on the pathway through the graveyard. It’s at the end of a row where a family member was buried in the 1980s, and I also knew many of the nearby deceased from the 1980s and 1990s. Would a 1940s grave be in an area predominantly used forty or fifty years later?

  • RobG

    Yesterday I was trying to avoid the 15th anniversary of the US emergency number. Craig’s somewhat mystical piece here, which was posted yesterday, seems to be doing the opposite?

  • PhilE

    In Louth across the Wash in Lincolnshire, we have no boulders of local origin either. We do have a notable boulder called the Bluestone. It currently stands outside the local museum. It’s around 4 feet high and 5 feet across and flat topped. It formerly stood in front of a local mediaeval Inn the Bluestone Inn and was used for mounting horses. Before that it had been at the centre of an ancient maze at nearby Julian Bower. This was a place where the local militia was raised going back to Ango Saxon times but it is conjectured that in pre history the site could have been a Druidic temple with the stone at it’s centre as a sacrificial alter. The Blue Stone is thought to be doleritic and to have arrived from The Whin Sill in Northumberland via glacier around 25,000 years ago. There is an area of the Wolds around 6 miles away known as The Bluestone Heath. Whether the stone was transported from there or arrived at Julian Bower by ice is a mute point.

  • giyane

    One day, we gad taken the long coach journey from London to Haverfordwest , me and my girlfriend, later to be wife. We got to St Davids in the early evening and looked for a place to camp. The locals spoke of the exploits of St David withstanding the temptations of the Irish king’s wife swimming naked as if they happened yesterday and we pitched camp on an outcrop of rock called Clegyr Boia. from the moment we set up our tent the wind and rain started, until we retreated, completely drenched. In the evening it usually gets calmer I don’t know what dark Age ghost had taken offence,

  • giyane

    In the middle of the latest Syrian negotiations the BBC produced a fine piece of proper gander in the form of Hard Talk. Everyone knows that the USUKIS policy is to evacuate the Syrian population using brainless thugs other wise known as Al Qaida and Daesh. Everyone that is except Humbug Habberspook who pops up mechanically like the hooded grey ghost.

    Hard Tal had it that the Syrian opposition meeting in Paris(?) was composed of flaky Corbyn-like intellectuals desperately trying to convince USUKIS that they could form an alternative government to nasty Mr Assad’s. The reality is that the Saudi thugs who run the Syrian opposition are not presentable enough to negotiate at any Western conference.

    The BBC spin continued this evening with reports that USUKIS and Russia were now targeting the Al Qaida Saudi thugs who are the backbone of the USUKIS ethnic cleansing machine which would leave the poor little bearded waffly types exposed to the nasty realities of brutal warfare.

    It makes a good bedtime story for Friday exhausted office dwellers, that the nasty Ogre of the West had eaten all of his dungeon’s ugly trolls and released the damsels in distress in the fantasy tower of moral indignation against Assad. All that is needed now to complete the fairy story is a trusty and handsome knight to hoist the Syrian damsel onto his steed, spike nasty Assad with his lance and finish him off with his bommyknocker.

    Who’s going to read us stories after Obama has followed Cameron and Blair into the arms trade, if Hillary is going to end up dead?

      • Alcyone

        Habby, I couldn’t agree with you more. The only thing here more peculiar than Guano’s outpourings is the way those with inferiority complexes attack you for calling out the referee to merely review.

        I have been going on all day about Clinton and a bit about Corbyn, but on a back-thread. What is so difficult for these people to understand that there is a time AND PLACE for everything? It really must be a matter of education, particularly sadly, at home? Are they too old and inflexible to learn?

    • Habbabkuk

      MOD

      I propose that you delete Giyane’s rant, Bev’s hateful comments and my replies to Bev. That would impress on Giyane and Bev the need for good manners.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    I wonder if those lasers working over Sutton Bridge will not only find King John’s missing baggage train but also that missing nuclear core from the Fukushima meltdown.

    Would solve two conspiracy theories at once.

  • Shatnersrug

    Let’s not do this today fellas, eh? Hab, tell us a ghost story of your youth or some folklore you grew up with. It’s fascinating to read everyone’s tales,, no matter how cynical we become we were all once young and our imaginations flourished.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Or, like Habby telling us what a serene place Dr, David Kelly chose to kill himself when he was being pursued relentlessly by that resident Mossad kidon.

      Never got over this placing violent death in such peaceful conditions, as suicide expert Dr. Keithj Hawton testified before the Hutton Inquiry..

    • RobG

      Ok, Shatnersrug.

      Back in the 1980s my cousin and I did the coastal walk from Weymouth down to Lands End (we were both in our teens at the time, and carried rucksacks). West of Exeter we walked along the railway line from Dawlish to Torquay (you could do that sort of thing back then). It was early summer and the weather was very close, with a huge storm brewing. With the heavens about to open we came upon what used to be called a ‘permanent way hut’ by the side of the line; ie a place where railway workers used to have a rest during their labours..It was a fair sized hut, but just about all of it was taken up by a big table, with just two benches either side, which we managed to squeeze into,

      We got a brew of tea going just as the storm broke. We could hardly hear each other speak as the rain crashed against the roof of the hut. Then, after about five minutes, the hut door opened and a guy came in. He looked to be in his early to mid 20s and wore 19th century clothing (he could have been an extra from a movie). He showed no sign of the heavy rain outside and sat on my side of the table, near the door. We greeted the newcomer, but he did not acknowledge our existence. The hairs on my arms and legs went stiff, and it wasn’t due to the electrical storm.

      Our friend sat there for about ten minutes as the rain pounded against the roof of the hut. He stared into the middle distance and at no time did he give any indication that we were in that hut with him. Then he stood up and walked out, just as the storm was passing.

      By now quite spooked, my cousin and I didn’t leave the hut for another 15 minutes. Once outside the sun was shining again and there was no sign of our friend.

      It took my cousin and I another week or so to hike all the way down to Lands End. We had quite a few adventures along the way, but nothing like what happened in that railway hut.

  • Resident Dissident

    “There are no boulders in Norfolk. ”

    Just not true the place is smothered with glacial erratics (your teacher was right) and other boulders, not a few of which have myths and other superstitious nonsense attached to them. That said the geology of Yorkshire is much more interesting – my great grandfather was something of an amateur geologist and had numerous papers published although his day job was as a house painter.

    http://www.hiddenea.com/stoneindex.htm

  • fwl

    I like Julian Cope too. Punk spirit brought to academia.

    Boundary stones and markers are fascinating. So much more impressive than a dematerialized and soon to be privatised land registry. I woke up from a vivid dream one morning in which boundaries were magnetic. Animals of course piss and smell their boundaries.

    There is a little known but lovely song in Welsh about two boys asking a kind old man where he has been wandering – fishing. In the last verse he is buried beneath the hearthstone to hear the porridge bubble – Gminor.

  • fwl

    Stones moving stones, rolling stones and stories. If your partial to mad history with a bottle of whisky, madder than Peter Ackroyd & Ian Sinclair try Alex Gibbons’ The Mystery of Jack of Kent and the Fate of Owain Glyndwr, which rolls on nicely to have you seen jackofkent.com blogging on BREXIT – its interesting.

    I found a path in the woods one day and as I followed it realised it was an age old road and the stones were still there leading eventually to a hill fort. North Wales is great for these walks. Nothing like finding the stones of the past and being astonished by them, especially when its quiet and your not expecting this. Stones and bones – yang permanence (of a sort). Stones in the brain too. Those concepts we rightly or wrongly refuse to budge – until somehow they magically roll.

  • K Crosby

    On the way back from Robin Hood juniors on Ox Close Lane in the late 60s – early 70s, there was a wooden shack covered in black pitch, on the corner of Vale Road and Park Road. It was reputed to be haunted but I bravely crept in on a dare and found it was empty. Bollocks.

  • bevin

    Has anyone read ‘In a Country Churchyard’ by Ron Fletcher once Professor of Sociology at York University and Memorial University in Newfoundland?
    It is a lovely little book about odd corners and stories from East Anglia. These rocks would have interested him. No doubt there are all sorts of folk tales and ghost stories about the shock of the Reformation, with its Philistinism, brutality, and plundering of the Church and the poor. Often weird tales of unhappy ghosts are all that survive the protests, armed risings and widespread anger of communities being frogmarched, out of subsistence, in one of nature’s richest environments, into sad opium tinged place it finally became in the C19th, after centuries of dispossessions, drainage schemes, de-industrialisation. And Agricultural Revolution. Including, of course, the plague of Puritanism, which included a long period (shared with the Scots, inspired by Presbyterianism) of terror against ‘witches’ and other resident dissidents.
    Past, present and future are all one.
    DeepGreen Puddock seems to be saying this:
    “We are ‘persuaded’ mainly by past experience, intuition and some of the science, that changes to human qualities are relatively fixed or very slow to change. However one senses that that was possibly true for the analogue world. So people born 2000 years ago, if magically transported, while still reasonably young, in time, forward by (about) 1800 years to a ‘western’ place, would be able to recognise and understand the technology and probably adapt.(most of the technology was based on ‘concrete’, intuitively true principles)..”

    Only to deny it:
    “At some point in the last two hundred years, we have passed into a time where that would not happen, because there has been a divergence of the behavioural attributes to deal with the abstract ideas that underlie our technology . It would not just be the problems of language but the absorption of certain key ideas that order our minds and define our relations.”

    There have been ‘breaking points’, of which the Reformation signalled one, but this emphasis on the importance of ‘technology’ is not one of them. The sad reality is that our society is not notably wise but unusually, in historical terms, stupid, prey to self harming behaviour and apparently unable to sense that it is being led by the nose, around in circles, towards the slaughter house.
    It is very likely that those stones, perhaps glowing slightly at dusk, will be all that is left in Beeston Regis, before long.

    • nevermind

      ‘The sad reality is that our society is not notably wise but unusually, in historical terms, stupid, prey to self harming behaviour and apparently unable to sense that it is being led by the nose, around in circles, towards the slaughter house.
      It is very likely that those stones, perhaps glowing slightly at dusk, will be all that is left in Beeston Regis, before long.’

      Humanity has lost its spiritual self, it was exchanged with religous rectitude , fear and loathing. At every age we had some or other elite try to keep people busy, employed as servants/slaves or mercenaries. Control over people was a game between Kings and Cardinals.
      Now in the 21st. century we get to know that most of these moralists were bad sinners themselves, men who abused our children we entrusted them with, sales merchants of gods words that filled the churches, just as the blood and gore of the Sun gives people a ten minute morning jolt of ‘better be obedient’.
      Beeston Regis will still exist when we are gone, in time it will be reclaimed by the sea, looking at the temperature outside and the ‘starkers’ man here at the keyboard.
      Other species might be more successful in future, I’m sure, some 200 million ants can move those stones, with nothing but digging and undermining, they are far more organised than we are.

    • Jane wilson

      I wonder if you can explain to me the qualitative difference there is between analogue and digital technology? I have an instinctive feeling that this difference could not be more profound and has caused a gigantic rift between those of us on this side of the divide and those who lived in all the thousands of years before digital technology appeared. But I have never been able to find anyone to explain what at heart the difference is…or why it feels so frightening to me. I would appreciate any ideas that you have

      • fwl

        Analogue

        Real, tangible, sunlight, the controls being on the telly. Seeing and feeling the thing for what it is.

        Digital

        Unreal, intangible, moonlight, the remote. Measuring the thing and so limiting it whilst pretending to multiply it.

        • Jane wilson

          Yes that helps…thanks….do you think it has been the wrong path to take? What do you imagine the consequences will be? Already I feel alienated from the countryside I live in….in a way that I didn’t when I first came here in the 1990s. Hedgehogs are very analogue would you say ..and belong here in a way I feel I don’t now.

          • Shatnersrug

            It’s just because you don’t understand the technology, it’s not so scary once you get your head around it. I think the term “analogue” is actually the misleading one here, because of course(it this sense) it didn’t exist before digital – there was no need to designate things analogue when that’s all there was. And digital is just a method of storage – it works in a very similar way to pictures in old newspaper print – when you look closely you see nothing but dots and spaces but as you pull away a picture comes into focus. That’s it – that’s all digital is, nothing to be fearful of.

            Now if you’re talking about getting lost in the vast steam of endless information that mass communications has brought us over the last 15 years, I’d be inclined to agree. We do lose touch with the corporeal world, and really live in our heads. That’s quite sad in someways – but it’s not as sad as cholera or TB, or whatever other awful things our ancestors had to endure and… You could always turn it off.

  • YKMN

    My walk to school from age 4.5 to 11 was along a country lane, next to a very large public unenclosed common. The lane was in farmland, the path down the lane had a row of black partly-exposed stones, not an alignment of menhirs like at Carnac, but a noteworthy ‘ancient’ route with stone tops peeking through a few bushes, more or less straight in a line over a mile or so. One day there was a bearded professor measuring everything, “Mesolithic trackway”, was his opinion. Long distance cross country route, unique pre-Roman packway, no further action taken. No time-team was invoked.

    Last time I revisited the area recently, I found a shiny PFI school across the lane, half the common had magically become the PFI school playing fields (behind razor-wire protection from the spirits) by a bunch of folk-tradition-light heathens!

    The Internet further mentioned that the local church (Norman arch) had a cup & ring stone in the churchyard – but when I visited, the incumbent antidisestablishment vicar had ensured that it was annoyingly hidden from modern view.

    I was impressed on visiting Italy over the summer, where regularly – every few kilometres next to small fields , in the middle of nowhere was a tiny roofed chapel, sometimes the size for just a few candles, sometimes size of a Mini, in the corner. These ‘santo’ or holy areas were originally pre-christian, Roman, etruscan shrines? – but are still (nearly) all maintained today, in context & in culture. The locals know which corner of which field to avoid when there’s a black cat & a red moon, or which to approach with an offering should you urgently need a son. Remarkably few were found disturbed by Public/Private Finance Initiatives!

  • Becky Cohen

    Interesting stuff. I’ve never seen a ghost personally, but I’ve spoken to quite a few people who have and they’re just ordinary, quite sane, reasonable people who aren’t particularly trying to push some strong paranormal belief agenda. Not sure what to think really – but there must be something in it. It can’t all be a pure figment of the imagination, surely.

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