Castle in the Dales, Minster in the West Riding

The department of History of Art and the Centre for Medieval Studies organized a field trip to Castle Bolton, Ripon Minster and a couple quick stops in between.

Castle Bolton has an interesting mix of ruins and complete rooms. Some of the rooms have been ‘reconstructed’ by adding period props.

Here is one of the rooms of the chapel, this presumably was the room of a priest resident at the castle. So it is set with a writing desk and similar scholarly accouterments.

This room had less scholarly emphasis, as it was more likely a room for a guard as it leads out onto the castle walls.

While the reconstructions were incredibly interesting, I find myself drawn more towards the drastic ruins. I find the resistance to complete decay fascinating. In the window of this photo, is my adviser Tim.

This was the only moment of blue sky all day. For the middle of June is was a very dreary day.

The view from the North West Tower was quite lovely. From here you can see what seems to be all of Wensleydale, which makes one of the best local cheeses.

One of the most amazing things about England is how green everything seems to be. The ruins turn green with moss, as with the gate, and the grass is similarly hued in the brightest of greens. It is my theory that because the sky is so frequently dull and gray that the English get their pop of colour from beneath their feet instead.

From Bolton,  we headed to Masham to see an Anglo-Saxon stone column, which while fascinating to discuss. Was not that interesting to photograph as all the images had weathered away.

We then stopped at a little church to look at a fabulous alabaster tomb. At the feet of the Lord and Lady was a lion and a hound respectively, although they are not altogether easy to discern. The Lady has a hound representing fidelity and respect, while the Lord gets a lion of courage and passion.

Angels held up the Lady’s pillow.

Her face was worn making her a slightly creepy.

There was also a bit of Anglo-Scandinavian, or Viking, stone work. But I think after Ryedale I’ve had enough of fragmented stone for a while.

Our final stop of the Day was at Ripon Minster. The building is grand, and has an Anglo-Saxon foundation and crypt. The crypt was interesting, as it was set up underneath the Anglo-Saxon high alter allowing for the worship of saints to take place directly beneath it. It was quite a small space and far to dark for any photographs.

Ripon has some of the most wonderful misericords, which are small seats that monks, or other clergy, who were old or infirm were able to rest upon during the recitation of the hours, which required most to stand. It is from this that they take their name, a Latin translation of ‘act of mercy.’ This one has two dragons fighting. Others were of animals reenacting the bible, of foliage or other amusing carvings.

Another wood carving shows a centaur and an elephant with a tower on its back.

This carving of the Anglo-Saxon King Æthelstan on the choir screen, commemorates his visit to the Anglo-Saxon minster in 926 in an attempt to establish his boundaries in the North, however soon after Erik Bloodaxe took control of the area and the Church was destroyed.

The field trip was great, it is nice to be able to partake in events like this with a chartered bus as much of these types of places are not easily accessible on the train lines.


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