Tuesday 20 October 2020

More Petroglyphery

Sunday started in the clouds - I couldn't see the other side of the valley until about 10 o'clock. Beyond counting the sheep legs [N = 56, which is the expected multiple of 4] and, Wenceslike, gathering some winter fuuuuuelll, I didn't really step out of the house. After a light lunch, I seized a feed-sack and set off towards the river picking kindling because there was a drying wind.  I was surprised to see a small group of people at The Ringstone taking stock and taking pictures and clearly paying attention. Turns out I had met them a couple of years ago further up the hill and, apparently, I'd given them far far TMI about me and airily invited them to visit The Ringstone of Knockroe before they went home.

We fell to comparing notes about the various example of petroglyphs in the neighbourhood; and further afield. They'd never heard of the truly amazing Rathgeran Stone, for example. I see that my Rathgeran link to Megalithomania is broke [sic transit gloria interweb], so here's some pictures of that wonderful piece of work. They were delighted to tell me something I didn't know about my own back garden hill. And proceeded to give me directions to a) an Ordnance Survey broad arrow bench-mark up the lane beyond the forest and b) right opposite a stone with ¶P marked on it. As you see from the pixellated pic [R] I didn't have much difficulty, from their precise description, finding b) ¶P; but the bench-mark eluded me. It is conceivable that the hand which chipped the [to me missing] benchmark is the same as the author of ¶P.

Bagging bench-marks [as L] is A Thing. They are really distinctively the work of human hand. Their locations are documented . . . <duh> on the maps, like. And they take you out of the urban stews where most of us live and give BM-hunters the chance of some fresh air and a bit of a puzzle. Puzzle? Because benchmarks were mostly inscribed 150-190 years ago and . . . things change. The original surveyors wanted to leave a 'permanent' mark so that they or their successors could return to precisely the same spot later. Why? to fill in the cartographic details, or to verify the position? So they chose something that was substantive: likely to weather well; unlikely to be knocked over my a sheep or washed into a draw during a flood or covered by moss or ivy. Nevertheless without the original surveyor's notes these things can be hard to locate in the, say, 50-100 sq.m. where the map suggested they are. The OSI map says, for example, that we have two benchmarks on our property; one at the top of our garden, the other ~10m up from the bottom of our lowest field. They are both out on the laneway side of the retaining wall. But I've not been able to find either one in 24 years of desultory hunting and scraping.
tbh. I'm not that pushed about the bench mark[s] which are very much public domain but I'm delirah to add more historical [rather than pre-historical] data to the collection of vernacular lithic communication.

I will add the ¶ilcrow Petroglyph to the deranged scratchings of Storyrock and tip my hat to Martina, Dec and Rachel my informants. Having started the day in ☁, I finished up on ☁9.