Hammershus : Bornholm’s Dramatic Castle Ruin

The Coast South of Hammershus, 1870, by Holger Drachmann (1846-1908)

Hammershus, 1849, by Anton Edvard Kieldrup (1827-1869)

At the Art Museum we saw several paintings of Hammershus Castle. The dramatic castle ruins have attracted artists and visitors for centuries. So, the next stop on our first day’s tour itinerary was to drive to the very northern tip of the island to see the castle for ourselves.

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La Laguna: the Old University City of Tenerife

On Tuesday we had a change from hiking and took the bus from nearby Los Cristianos to the capital of Tenerife in the north of the island, Santa Cruz. The journey takes about an hour. After coffee at the Opera House we took a bus and tram to the former capital and university and cathedral city of La Laguna.

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Corbridge Roman Town : Supply Base to the Roman Frontier

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At the weekend staying with friends near Gateshead it was suggested that we visit Corbridge on the Saturday. I’d heard of Corbridge’s Roman connections but wasn’t quite sure what was there nor how extensive the and well-preserved they would be. I was to find out. We parked in the free car park on the opposite side of the river from the village and Roman site; spent some time in some of the multitude of small shops – including gifts and cards, kitchenwares and books; ate lunch in an excellent deli then walked to the former Roman Town about half a mile away. It was a beautiful day crisp and sunny but very very cold.

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Coastal Lancashire : Heysham to Morecambe via Middleton and the Coastal Route

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a railway walk but with my new diary in hand on New Year’s Eve I scanned the Foscl and Dalesrail and other guided walks websites and pencilled in a few dates including :

Saturday 2nd January 2016 – Heysham to Morecambe via Middleton and the Coastal Route. Travel on the 08.19 Leeds to Morecambe train and book, alight & return Morecambe (bus out to Heysham) 8 miles Easy. Continue reading

Crom Estate Walk

One of my favourite kinds of walk is on well marked paths around estates such as Fountains Abbey, Endsleigh, Astley Castle and Hackfall with an interesting variety of landscapes and views and ‘eye-catcher’ structures to add to the interest.

Crom Map

Despite the rain this afternoon I set out on such a walk here at The Crom Estate in Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The estate comprises almost 2,000 acres of woodland, wetlands, farmland and parkland on the shores of Upper Lough Erne. According to the map leaflet it was laid out in 1838 and is one of the best preserved and most extensive landscapes designed by William Gilpin in the British Isles. Its unique character rests upon the scale and relationship of water, wetland, woods and parkland with its veteran trees. The Great Yew Tree is located at the Old Castle ruins and was nominated as one of 50 Great British Trees for the Queens Jubilee Year 2002.

old yew

The Ancient Yews in the Castle Ruins

There are many fine buildings on the estate walk. Crom Old Castle was built on the shore by Michael Balfour, Laird of Mountwhinney in 1610. It withstood two sieges in 1689 but was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1764. The yew trees within the ruins are reputed to be the oldest in Ireland.

approaching the old castle

Approaching the Castle Ruins

lough erne

The Crichton Tower was built on Gad Island in 1848. Its architect is unknown.

The Boathouse is a complex structure with decorated bargeboards and battlements designed in 1841 by Edward Blore. For many years it was the Lough Erne Yacht Club and the social centre for the Victorian houses in the area.

boathouse

The Boathouse

jetty

Boathouse Jetty

The Summer House was built around 1880 out of the structure of an old school house on the site. It was built for Lady Florence who used it as a picturesque retreat. Rustic inside, it had a woven straw mat, a cupboard above the fireplace with cups and other teatime items, a round table and chairs and a box for firewood. The original boathouse of the demesne, later made into a folly, lies below the summer house.

summerhouse

The Summer House

summer house view

View from The Summer House

A white iron bridge connects the mainland with Inisherk (Inis means island in Irish) and a track leads straight across to another small jetty. There are two cottages – Bridge and Gamekeeper’s – and the remains of a Walled Garden.

garden gate

Gate to The Walled Garden

The Garden was completed in 1833 and included a hot house, potting sheds and a propagating house, built in later years. The Garden remained in use until the 1950s. Lately the Trust has carried out extensive repairs to the walls including the rebuilding of a large section of south wall.

extensive garden

The extensive Walled Garden

Returning over the bridge a track through woodland brought me to the Stable Yard (now NT Offices) and The Riding School (apparently never used as such as it was commandeered by the US Air Force for D-Day preparations/training).

saplings

Oak Sapling Commemorating the USAF Presence

“This oak tree was planted on 6th June 2014 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the United States forces stationed here in WWII”

ice house

Nearby are The Turf House, also designed by Blore and built with an adjacent pier in 1840 for peat fuel to be originally unloaded here for the castle later in the century a sawmill was established, and an Ice House.

in turf house

Inside the Turf House today

From the Stable Yard area the track continues through woodland after which I joined a grassy path alongside the Deer Park fencing with views of Crom Castle itself which is still a private residence and not open to the public.

crom castle

Crom Castle and Deer Park

And so back to dear Alder Cottage to dry off after a fascinating two hour walk.

Alder Cottage

Alder Cottage

Water, water everywhere: The Caracalla Baths and The Claudio Aqueduct

The trip to The Protestant Cemetery took less time than I had envisaged and I’d booked the Appian Way walk so, as a friend had recommended seeing the Baths of Caracalla and they were just one Metro stop away, I decided to spend a couple of hours there, even though it started to drizzle with rain.

aerial view

Aerial View of the Baths

impression

Artist’s Impression of Caracalla

Now, Colchester may be full of Roman superlatives but, as you probably know, Rome knocks every other place that was part of the Roman Empire, into a cocked hat when it comes to remains. The Caracalla Baths are HUGE. The walls tower over you and the scale of everything was (and still is) vast.

Caracalla 1

caracalla 2

These, the largest and best preserved thermal baths, were entirely built by Emperor Caracalla since AD212. Apparently 9,000 workers were employed daily for approximately five years to create a huge platform 337m x 328m. Water was brought to the bath house by aqueduct and the whole place was abandoned after the siege of Rome when the Goths destroyed the aqueduct and cut of the supply of water to the city.

mosaic

Many of the decorations and works of art were removed from the site over the centuries. There is a particularly fine collection in the Vatican Museum since several popes were involved with excavations. Some mosaics remain roughly in situ but otherwise there are few artefacts remaining. There had been bronze statues in niches, fountains, marble floors and columns and painted frescoes.

mosaic pavement

mosaic close up

Romans enjoyed board games and a tabula lusoria has been preserved here. Many such gaming boards were carved into floors and, as here, round the edges of pools. The game involved getting a walnut (or marble or knucklebone) into the holes.

natatio

The Natatio was a huge Olympic size swimming pool – the board game is alongside – is 50m x 22m and the walls are 20m high. It was not very deep and certainly not suitable for diving.

the natatio

The Pool Today

original baths

Artist’s Impression of the Pool in its Heyday

cypress trees in gardens

The Gardens – Cypress Trees – at Caracalla

Following our visit to the Catacombs and walking along the Appian Way our Enjoy Rome Tour included a visit to the extensive remains of the Claudio Aqueduct. The aqueduct was one of several that supplied Roman Rome with its water.

Claudio Aqueduct

The Claudio Aqueduct

The Parco degli Acquedotti is a public park about 8 kilometres from the city. It is part of the Appian Way Regional Park and is of approximately 15 ha. The park is named after the aqueducts that go through it. My guess is that it’s not easy to reach by public transport but I was glad to have seen it as I had no idea of its existence before.

approaching aqueduct

Approaching the Aqueduct

Next up is a report of my visit to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli where there is even more Roman water!

Ruin Lust at Tate Britain

RUIN : “The physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed”

According to the little leaflet that accompanies this Tate Britain exhibition the title Ruin Lust was taken from the German word Ruinenlust. 

Ruin Lust

Ruins are curious objects of desire: they seduce us with decay and destruction” it goes on to say. Although I found the whole show intriguing and was amazed at the countless interpretations of the word ‘ruin’, by far the most interesting part for me was the initial ‘Pleasure of Ruins’ section.

Ruins of West Front, Tintern Abbey circa 1794-5 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

W M Turner’s Tintern Abbey (1794) which was emblematic of the new trend to visit ruins at home rather than on a Grand European Tour.

Here were the traditional interpretations; the paintings, photographs and etchings that I had expected to see in an exhibition with this title. My interest in landscape and man’s influence on it is mainly historical. So, although I appreciate that modern day ‘Bunker Archaeology’ and Tacita Dean’s films and ‘Ruins in Reverse’ and [modern] ‘Cities in Dust’ all have a part to play in an overall picture of ruins over the centuries I prefer to see historical ruins of abbeys and castles and even the man-made ruins that gave character and focal points to 18th century landscape gardens.

Leaving Yorke's Folly

The man-made Yorke’s Folly in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire built in 1810

“A craze for ruins gripped European culture in the eighteenth century. Classical remains inspired artists such as Piranesi to depict great civilisations falling into decay. British architects and garden designers embraced this ruinous aesthetic, and artificial ruins were a popular addition to many great estates. William Gilpin’s writings on the picturesque encouraged many tourists — as well as artists such as J.M.W. Turner and John Sell Cotman — to travel in search of picturesque views of medieval ruins. Later, photography became essential to the recording and reimagining of ruins.

I remember reading in the newspaper probably 15 years ago [and commending] English Heritage’s intentions to conserve and deliberately retain the wildness surrounding Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire. Some ruins these days are just too manicured.

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A GLORIOUS RUIN
Wigmore has an overgrown appearance that once characterised many ruined sites. When conserving the site in the 1990s, English Heritage deliberately retained its wildness, as the castle had become home to rare and unusual species including lesser horseshoe bats and wild flowers like ploughman’s spikenard. Accumulated debris was allowed to remain, and the grasses, ferns and flowers growing on the walls were carefully lifted up and replaced as ‘soft-capping’ to protect the walls from rain and more destructive plants like trees. [From the EH website]

To finish here are some recently visited picturesque ruins in Yorkshire and beyond.

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey

The Ruin

The Ruin a Landmark Trust property at Hackfall, North Yorkshire

Bradgate Park

Ruins of the former home of Lady Jane Grey, Bradgate Park, Leicester

Kenilworth

The Ruins of Kenilworth Castle

Spofforth Castle

Spofforth Castle, Yorkshire, visited on a recent hike

Window ruin Spofforth

Ruined Window, Spofforth Castle

Doorway ruin Spofforth

Ruined Doorway, Spofforth Castle

Here is a brief review of the exhibition by Christopher Beanland; which finished by showing ‘The London Nobody Knows’ documentary featuring James Mason in the derelict Bedford Theatre in Camden. The unabridged film is now available on DVD.