Thursday, 21 August 2008

We then decided to knock on a local’s door. A young girl answered, and we made our quest known. She knew of ‘the old monument’! She’d last been there a year ago, and said the local kids hung around there. Only problem was, she couldn’t quite remember how to tell us to get there. We had to go across the field – not along it - and we’d come to a fence which the farmer had put up. I asked if we’d be able to see it from the field, to which she replied ‘not a chance’. We decided to try – and realised the difficulty as we set out across the field – the monument is hidden not high on a hill, but in a small wood! Why the 2 locals neglected to tell us this, I don’t know! No wonder it was so difficult to find. My heart sank – how on earth would we find it? There was a wire fence alongside of the field, with several parts of it damaged, so we could get into the wood – but where to start? I admit I felt really downhearted – but not ‘Katerina’, who was determined to find it. We walked alongside the field, and Katerina made a decision to enter the wood at one of the broken parts of the fence. ‘Come on, we might as well try this part’. We climbed over the broken fence – what made her choose that particular broken part, I don’t know. I envisaged us spending hours in the wood, Katerina getting fed up and giving up.

I cannot believe our luck! Within 30 seconds of entering that wood, I SAW the Gaveston Cross! Katerina didn’t see it, but then she didn’t know what she was looking for, but I spotted it straight away. No pathway led to it, it was dwarfed by the trees, but I could see it! We raced over to it, and on the far side, is the awful inscription, which leads to a sheer drop – this was ‘Blacklow Hill’ – and the direction Piers would have taken. The monument was really tall, with a set of uneven steps which we managed to climb a little. It was covered in moss, and, unfortunately, kids had carved their names and initials into it. It was obviously a place kids hung out at in the evenings. It’s a fine monument, and would be easily spotted on a street – but tucked away in the middle of a wood, with no footpath, no sign even, it was neglected, with locals knowing it only as ‘the old monument’. Must admit, I felt quite emotional seeing it, and even Katerina said she was disgusted that such a superb looking monument was hidden away.

If anyone reading this account would like to visit the monument, I wish you the best of luck finding it – because I, like the locals, just know it’s in the woods alongside of a local farmer’s field. Legend has it that at certain times, bells can be heard – the bells belong to the horse on which Gaveston was placed to take him to Blacklow Hill. I don’t think Lancaster would have made him walk – it’s too far from the cowardly Warwick’s land to make him walk – it would have taken too long, and I have the feeling they wanted it over as soon as possible. Another legend says that on the far side of the monument, where the drop is, ie, at the foot of Blacklow Hill, voices are often heard – men’s and women’s – that formed part of the procession that Piers took.

No comments: