Europe 2013 - Castles & Cathedrals
Scale has been the big perspective of the past couple of days; the scale of size, and the scale of time. We stood in the awe-inspiring York Minster today and took photographs with the intent of showing the sheer scale of the place, but knowing the futility of those efforts. It just cannot be conveyed in a two dimensional image.
Similarly, I've been struggling to come to terms with the scale of time. We come from a place where a 200 year old building goes back to the dawn of European settlement, yet we can somehow comprehend what that period means, perhaps because we can measure it against what we know of our local or family history. In the past couple of days we have stood in and on constructions which we commenced within twenty years of the Battle of Hastings! What does that mean? It's almost beyond comprehension.
Richmond Castle caught me a little off-guard - for a bit of both of the reasons described above. I've been trying to rationalise why, and the best I can come up with is that it is my first conscious encounter with any building over 200 years of age (there were probably other such encounters when I spent some time in Japan many years ago, but I was way younger and these kinds of considerations were a long way from the front of my consciousness). Anyway, I was completely engaged by Richmond Castle: it's commanding position on the bluff above the Swale; the massive keep with the tiny cramped stairwells, each step worn like the back of an old and weary workhorse; the great hall; and the ruins of the remaining buildings, including Scolland's Hall which was part the original structure erected according to the wishes of Lord Alain le Roux (Lord Alan Rufus) after the lands were granted to him personally by William The Conqueror.
York Minster and Durham Cathedral each also had my jaw dropping, mainly at the unthinkable degree of intricate masonry created and erected on such an large scale. They are truly spectacular structures and I'm glad we made the time and effort to travel to York and Durham to see them.
In thinking about the Minster and the Cathedral, I suppose there is a third aspect of scale which comes to mind: the scale of value (and power). At a time when the majority of people in the newly formed "English" nation where subjected to serfdom, such massive and imposing buildings must have said something to the serfs about the wealth and power of the church.
I'd like to post lots of photos, but that will have to wait a few days. One of the few things I forgot to pack was the cord for transferring the photos from the camera to the iPad, and Richmond, for all it's charms, does not seem able to assist in that regard. I have plenty of them, and will post the best of them at the first opportunity.
I'm very tired now, and am going to retire to bed in order to be full of energy to accompany the intrepid Coast to Coast walkers tomorrow and Friday as they follow the Swale into Richmond.
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