Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Perlustrations Across Norfolk, Part II

Perlustrations Across Norfolk, Part II

Perlustrations Across Norfolk
By Aunty Gary, R.S.A.R. 

Please note
For part I of this serialisation, please click HERE

To the North of Burnham Norton friary, we were taken to a private house which was clearly once part of the friary's claustral range. Behind, and to the East of this building, is a wooded dell and a most enchanting spring which feeds the nearby river Bunn. A young woman present told me that she and her friends would often play around it as children and informed me that it ran throughout the seasons, even during periods of drought. She said that the pool was currently about a foot below its highest level and that the water usually covers the square stone basin, which, on Saturday 26th May, was showing well above the water's surface. I asked her if the water was chalybeate? (Namely, a mineral spring containing iron salts.) She said that she didn't know, but obliged me by stooping down before me, cupping her hands in the bubbling water, and drinking it. I wondered then if the spring had magical or pagan associations and could perhaps explain the presence of a friar on this site. Certainly, I believe it is a possibility that if the cloisters lay to the North, then the private house could be the old monastic infirmary, which may well have made use of the spring. The architectural historian, Stephen, mentioned something about a reference in documentary sources to, "the dwelling of the the keeper of the spring", which would seem to back this thesis up. 

I have described the dell and spring as 'enchanting' for good reason. Even when this area on Saturday was a seething mass of straw hats and a blur of English beige and prodding walking sticks, I could not help but notice the impression I had that we were all being closely observed by something we could not see. The famous case of the 'Cottingly Fairies' springs to mind (if you will forgive the pun!). Perhaps the spring would reward poo poos a few photographs taken by pre-pubescent girls? Who knows...

Reluctantly, I left the friary and its spring knowing that there was so much more to see and experience. But the charabanc was on its way once more; heaving its way through the twisting be-decked lanes of North Norfolk to our next destination, 'Bloodygate Hill' Iron Age fort. 

The size and extent of this 'fort' surprised me greatly, as its full dimensions were made apparent on our approach: a great wide spectacle; a complete puzzlement to me... But luckily we had the excellent Trevor Ashwin present, who made the enormous space 'live' by his interpretations and by the fact that he had utilized metal spikes in the ground to clarify important features. Fort? Residence? Corale? Meeting place? Religious site? Trevor admitted that no-one really knows. Certainly, evidence for warfare is scant, and it intrigues me that one of the first archaeological, monumental 'types' to attract the attention of our earliest antiquarian forebears remains an enigma to this day. 

[To be continued...]

1 comment:

  1. I must know Aunty Gary - Why 'Bloodygate Hill'?