Friday, 26 April 2013
Sky Watching at St Benet's Abbey Site
Today, I had the privilege of listening to landscape historian, Alison Yardy, share some of her extensive knowledge about the development of windmills on the Norfolk Broads. As part of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust's Conservation & Access Project at St Benet's Abbey, a group of enthusiasts visited the extraordinary mill built into the remains of the ruined medieval gatehouse during the early 1700s.
Alison explained how this peaceful and cherished heritage site would once have been a noisy workplace, with turning wheels grinding and power hammers pounding. As she spoke, I wondered what those original mill workers would have made of us all, soft-handed, standing around reverentially admiring this site as 'heritage' - a place of interest and beauty. No doubt they would share a yarn and laugh at us all tip-toeing over their humdrum workplace.
Perhaps though, once their initial befuddlement had passed, they may have felt pleased that people like Alison and her colleague, Professor Tom Williamson, are seeking to understand how these environments worked. Through their endeavours we are able to begin to recognise and respect the contributions of these 'ordinary', and hitherto invisible, people.
And if confronted by the relative pace of our lives, with the flurry of images and the intensity of our lived experience, they may well have understood why I cherished the experience of just being here, in that moment...
It was with these thoughts in mind that I looked up and recognised the visual 'poetry' of the sky passing overhead. Beautiful survivors like St Benet's Abbey mill aren't just fascinating, they're also often nurturing environments, encouraging us to slow down, get things in perspective, taking notice of the world around us.
With that in mind, please do enjoy the video and - if you are able - take the time to go and experience this special place yourself.