Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Heysham hog back stone

Digging into the hog back stone I uncovered this interpretation of the various images of the side that I photographed.

The overall form is as a house with a tiled roof supported by four figures, visible only on the hidden side.

On the side you can see we are on the side of light and life. The central figure is Sigurd in his human shape. There are the “Signs of Sigurd,” a tree with nine branches. “Yggdrasil” and birds two resting below it and two flying towards it. In addition to these birds there are three other animals and a fish. One of the animals is a horse in motion and has a very arched neck, looking rather like an Indian humped ox. It is a saddled horse, Grani, the horse belonging to Sigurd, who bowed his head to his master, as depicted here.

Sigurd was famed for his extreme bravery as a consequence of which he had an enormous task to perform. He had to slay the dragon Fafnir , a terrible, awesome scourge. It was only possible to do this at the dragon’s drinking place and in preparation for the deed, Sigurd had to dig a pit in which to hide so that he could thrust his sword into Fafnir as he passed over the top of the pit. The fearsome creature, however, was so huge that one pit would not be sufficient to contain the dragon’s blood and Sigurd would surely be drowned as it submerged him. To avoid this fate he had to dig a series of pits connected by ditches so that the blood could flow away without harming him.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Heysham, Lancashire

Took a couple of days off at the end of last week and on our travels we ended up at a favourite place of mine, Heysham on the Lancashire coast.

The part of Heysham I particularly like is St Patrick’s Chapel, the remains of an early 8th century church built on a site occupied since the 6th century.

At the site are a series of rock cut graves with sockets for a grave marker, probably just a simple wooden cross. I also learned something new – the graves feature on the cover of a Black Sabbath album, their Greatest Hits from 2000.

Near to the chapel is the parish church, St Peters, also dating back to Saxon times, there remains the re-errected stump of a Saxon cross in the grounds.

The church itself is home to a number of locally found artefacts. A small fragmentary early mediaeval chalice is mounted in a wall niche.

The church also displays a large Viking hog back stone, a grave cover that has a series of images that depict both the light and dark sides of life.