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Life in ruins…

August 16, 2009

When I studied archaeology I learnt a certain way of looking at monuments – a way of looking that helped me to make sense of all the grassy lumps, bumps and bits of wall. It was a way of looking that focused on the history of a site above all else.

Now I see with different eyes. As well as considering the history of the site, I like to appreciate it’s place in the here and now. What struck me most about a recent visit to a nearby castle, was the abundance of wildlife that flourished there…….


…plants sprouted from the walls…


…the moat teemed with wildlife and vegetation….



…moss inched across stonework…



…fruits began to swell…


…pigeons roosted in doorways and on ledges….


…there was even a castle cat!


Although I completely understand the need for conservation, I feel that monuments can be tidied up a bit too much sometimes. Finely manicured lawns and a proliferation of information boards are all well and good but surely an important element of a castle’s history is it’s decay – and a big part of it’s romance is it’s ruined state…

…or perhaps I’ve just been reading too much Bronte recently… 🙂

12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2009 7:11 pm

    i love raglan castle! my favourite castle ever, I think. precisely for the reason you describe…there is so much in the ruins of the place. Magical

  2. August 16, 2009 9:07 pm

    Great pictures.

    I agree, a big part of a castle’s romance is its decayed state.

  3. August 17, 2009 8:48 am

    mmm I always think about this… are we doing too much? aren’t we doing enough? I think it’s useful sometimes to see castle/monuments rebuilt, it gives a better perception and idea of how they were. In Italy, where I come from we have plenty of ruins… and I must admit I love them… but … it’s nice when they struck a nice balance and show me how things were ‘in the old days’ too.

    That castle is gorgeous though… must go visit.

  4. silvercharmster permalink
    August 17, 2009 1:36 pm

    What beautiful pictures!

  5. August 17, 2009 3:39 pm

    Incredible! Thanks so much for this interesting post!

  6. August 17, 2009 5:51 pm

    Amazing pictures – I love the way you look at something and capture it.

    I agree sometime things should be left as is – too many signs saying don’t do this, that or the other can be frustratinglyboring. Where is the beauty in that?

    Nina x

  7. August 25, 2009 1:20 pm

    Somewhere I’d love to visit. It is all the more beautiful in it’s unfettered state, being absorbed back into nature.
    We live near to a country house (Calke Abbey) and, whilst it has been structually maintained and the gardens tended, the interior has been minimally touched so as to be example of the decay of the country house over the preceeding century – it’s fascinating and a welcome contrast to it’s polished, pristine counterparts.

  8. August 25, 2009 6:08 pm

    Hi there, I’ve just found your blog (via tabiboo). I really like your crochet flower post, think I’ll give those a try though I’m rather a novice crocheter. You’re very generous with your recipes and all the ones I’ve peeked at so far look delicious. Love the castle cat too!

  9. wolmuts permalink
    August 25, 2009 9:22 pm

    Lovely pictures! I like both the tidy and the unruly state of monuments. The tidy ones often give a better idea of what they might have looked like when people were still living there; maintaining a comfortable dwelling to live in (as we do now, you don’t leave a broken window like it is for the sake of it being romantic, you’d want to shut out rain and cold), but anything that has taken over by vigorous Mother Nature always gives me hope. Sometimes quick, sometimes slow, she always takes back what belongs to her…… (using pigeons is very clever, seeds and fertilizer in one go,haha).
    Actually I came here to look how your garden is doing.

    • August 29, 2009 4:44 pm

      Thank you – yes, I agree – we need both types of castle really – one to educate, the other to inspire 🙂

      Thanks for asking about the garden – it’s doing ok – looks like a jungle but is giving us plenty of fresh veg – courgettes by the ton, runner beans, lovely sweet tomatoes, cabbages, marrows, onions and leeks – so I’ve got my work cut out trying to use it all up! As you can imagine, we’re popular with the neighbours at the moment!

  10. December 15, 2009 4:41 pm

    I agree – we face the same delemma in archives. Most people dont’ understand the difference between preservation, conservation, and restoration of different works. When a work is restored to it’s original state – yeah thats great to see what the artifact/book/manuscript initially looked like – yet you erase the historyof the piece – which is so important…’s like saying the life of the artifact doesn’t matter. oh – I’m ranting a bit. Lovely pictures – great post!

  11. January 24, 2010 2:56 am

    i’m with you 100% about letting monuments age naturally (unless some real structural damage was a threat, i suppose). seeing wildlife encroaching only adds to the beauty in my book.

    lovely pictures. i’ve never been there but i feel homesick for it just the same.

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