Category Archive 'Yorkshire'

27 Apr 2019

English Vegetable Picked by Candlelight

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BBC:

Every detail inside the out-of-time barn carried hidden meaning. There were flickering candles elevated on spikes, all thinly spread out to help workers navigate the blackness without fear of treading on the prized crop. There were shadowy hoes propped against the brick walls to help mulch the earth. There was the outline of gas propane heaters, and a sprinkler system to intensify the heat and humidity in the dark. There were around half a million buds – all cultivated in rows and all making groaning sounds as they germinated at an unnatural speed. It was a riveting exhibition of Mother Nature at work, yet a display teetering on the edge of the surreal. And one all-the-more glorious for rarely being seen by outsiders.

Come to West Yorkshire during the rhubarb harvest in mid-winter and you can expect to hear tales of this strange agricultural ritual. Here, land gathers into a swathe of greenbelt that points to the cities of Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield. Some 23 sq km in area, the realm is punctuated by the odd cathedral and castle and framed by plunging dales to the north and the gently sloping foothills of the Pennines to the west. But it is also a pocket of frozen, flinty soil with high rainfall where one of the world’s most complex vegetables grows in abundance. And it would be a peculiar place even without the name ‘the Rhubarb Triangle’. …

“Rhubarb has been called ‘God’s great gift’,” said Oldroyd Hulme, who is also known as the ‘high priestess of rhubarb’ for her knowledge on the subject. “Watch and you can see the plants shooting towards the light – just as we would warm our hands on a fire.”

A notoriously fickle vegetable to harvest, Yorkshire forced rhubarb is anything but easy to grow. It thrives in the county’s cold winters, but if the soil is too wet, it can’t be planted. If the temperature is too hot, it won’t grow; and 10 or more frosts are needed before a farmer can even think about forcing it. Only then can horticulturalists remove the heavy roots from the field, then clean and replant them inside the forcing sheds where photosynthesis is limited, encouraging glucose stored in the roots to stimulate growth. It demands patience, expertise and good fortune, and, ultimately, it is engineered for maximum taste: once deprived of light, the vegetable is forced to use the energy stored in its roots, making it far sweeter than the normal variety.

RTWT

10 Apr 2017

Roman Settlement of Cataractonium Discovered in North Yorkshire

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Silver ring in the form of a snake.

Live Science:

A rare silver ring shaped like a snake that wraps around the finger hints at the great wealth of the people who lived at Cataractonium.

Construction work to upgrade Britain’s longest road into a major highway has revealed a treasure trove of rare artifacts from one of the earliest and wealthiest Roman settlements in the country.

The findings include ancient shoes, cups, a rare silver ring, keys, a high-relief glass bowl and an elaborately carved amber figurine, archaeologists with the public group Historic England announced yesterday (April 6).

Archaeologists uncovered the artifacts in North Yorkshire along the A1, which stretches 410 miles (660 kilometers) from London to Edinburgh, Scotland, during a major project to improve the existing roadway.

“It is fascinating to discover that nearly 2,000 years ago, the Romans were using the A1 route as a major road of strategic importance and using the very latest technological innovations from that period to construct the original road,” Tom Howard, project manager at the government agency Highways England, said in a statement.

Indeed, the newly found artifacts include a plumb bob used to build straight roads, which was likely utilized in the construction of Dere Street, a Roman road following the course of the A1, the researchers said.

The excavations have also led to the discovery of a major Roman settlement at Scotch Corner, one of the best-known junctions in the country.

Taking its name from an old Roman road called Scots Dyke, Scotch Corner links Scotland with England and the east coast with the west coast.

Right there, the archaeologists with the professional consultant group Northern Archaeological Associates unearthed the remains of a large settlement dating back to A.D. 60, thus predating settlements in York and Carlisle by 10 years.

The discovery proves that the Romans “possibly began their territorial expansion into northern England a decade earlier than previously thought,” according to Historic England.

The settlement at Scotch Corner was unusually large compared to others in northern England, and stretched over 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) from north to south — roughly the length of 13 football fields positioned end to end, according to Historic England.

Artifacts unearthed there suggest that the people who lived at Scotch Corner were rather wealthy. High-status imported items include the figure of a toga-clad actor carved from a block of amber, which is believed to have been made in Italy during the first century A.D.

“A similar example was found at Pompeii. Nothing like this has ever before been found in the U.K.,” representatives with Historic England said.

The archaeologists unearthed more than 1,400 clay fragments of molds used for making gold, silver and copper coins, thus making the site the largest known and most northerly example of coin production ever found in Europe, the researchers said. Those findings suggest that the settlement might have served as a sophisticated industrial and administrative center, the archaeologists said.

“It shows that the Romans were carrying out significant industrial activity in this part of England and potentially producing coins of high value,” Historic England representatives said in the statement.

But it was a short-lived glory. The settlement was occupied for just two to three decades. Its demise seems to coincide with the rise of Catterick, a town south of Scotch Corner known by the Romans as Cataractonium.

Finds at Catterick abounded. The archaeologists unearthed several well-preserved leather shoes, along with large sheets of leather, perhaps used for producing clothes. The artifacts suggest that Cataractonium was an important leatherworking center that likely supported the Roman military, the archaeologists said.

A rare silver ring shaped like a snake, which wraps around the finger, and a number of keys of various sizes suggest that the people who lived in Cataractonium were wealthy and that they locked up their valuable possessions, the archaeologists suggested.

Moreover, the many styli (Roman pens) and a pewter inkpot found at the site indicate that most of these ancient people were able to read and write, the researchers said.

“The sheer amount of exceptional objects found on this road scheme has been extraordinary,” Neil Redfern, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, said in the statement. “This project has given us a unique opportunity to understand how the Romans conducted their military expansion into northern England and how civil life changed under their control.”

Photos

24 Oct 2015

A Dree Neet

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Deathbed

I found this quoted in “Heather Mixture”, a sporting novel published in 1922 by “Klaxon” (pen name of Lt. Cmd. John Graham Bower D.S.O.). It is apparently a traditional folk song collected in North Yorkshire and published circa 1900 by Robert Blakeborough.

‘T Were a dree neet, a dree neet,
as t’ squire’s end drew nigh,
A dree neet, a dree neet,
to watch, an pray, an’ sigh.

When t’ streeam runs dry, an’ t’ deead leaves fall,
an’ t’ ripe ear bends its heead,
An’ t’ blood wi’ lithin’, seems fair clogg’d,
yan kens yan’s neam’d wi’ t’ deead.

When t’ een grows dim, an’ folk draw nigh
frae t’ other saade o’ t’ grave,
It’s late to square up awd accoonts
a gannin’ sowl to save.

T’ priest may coom, an’ t’ priest may gan,
his weel-worn tale to chant,
When t’ deeath-smear clems a wrinkled broo,
sike disn’t fet yan’s want.

Nea book, nea can’le, bell, nor mass,
nea priest iv onny lan’,
When t’ dree neet cooms, can patch a sowl,
or t’ totterin’ mak to stan’.

. . . . .

‘T were a dree neet, a dree neet,
for a sowl to gan away,
A dree neet, a dree neet,
bud a gannin’ sowl can’t stay.

An’ t’ winner shuts they rattled sair,
an’ t’ mad wild wind did shill,
An’ t’ Gabriel ratchets yelp’d aboon,
a gannin’ sowl to chill.

‘T were a dree neet, a dree neet,
for deeath to don his cowl,
To staup abroad wi’ whimly treead,
to claim a gannin’ sowl.

Bud laal deeath recks hoo dree t’ neet be,
or hoo a sowl may pray,
When t’ sand runs oot, his sickle reaps;
a gannin’ sowl can’t stay.

‘T were a dree neet, a dree neet,
ower Whinny-moor to trake,
Wi’ shoonless feet, ower flinty steanes,
thruf monny a thorny brake.

A dree neet, a dree neet,
wi’ nowt neaways to mark
T’ gainest trod to t’ Brig o’ Deead;
a lane lost sowl i’ t’ dark.

A dree neet, a dree neet,
at t’ brig foot theer to meet
Laal sowls at he were t’ father on,
wi’ nea good-deame i’ seet.

At t’ altar steps he niver steead,
thof monny a voo he made,
Noo t’ debt he awes to monny a lass
at t’ brig foot mun be paid.

They face him noo wiv other deeds,
like black spots on a sheet,
They noo unscape, they egg him on,
on t’ brig his doom to meet.

Nea doves has sattled on his sill,
bud a flittermoose that neet
Cam thrice taames thruf his casement,
an’ flacker’d roond his feet.

An’ thrice taames did a raven croak,
an’ t’ seame-like thrice cam t’ hoot
Frae t’ ullets’ tree; doon chimleys three
there cam a shrood o’ soot.

An’ roond t’ can’le twea taames there cam
a dark-wing’d moth to t’ leet,
Bud t’ thod, it swirl’d reet into t’ fleame,
wheer gans his sowl this neet.

‘T were a dree neet, a dree neet,
for yan to late to pray,
A dree neet, a dree neet,
bud a gannin’ sowl can’t stay.


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