Stone circle and sheepfold on Ilkley Moor

by Paganini Jones

stone-circle.jpg photographed by Paganini Jones

What did they think
as they hauled rock
through steep moorland
to heaps in the sun
or weather in the
sudden pennine storms?

Did they chat as they chose
each block for face and match,
formed firm foundation,
placing solid bottom stones
for strength to last,
planned key,and line and fill,
placed stone on stone
trimmed faces
built each dry stone wall
with overlaps for strength,
chinked in the gaps
and finally the capping stones
like overlapping moons of cheese
laid neatly in their rest?

Did they rest then
on newmade walls
to eat of the bread
their weathered wives
made each day;
loaves kneeded on a wooden board
and baked beside the fire,
the charcoal flecks,
the crust like lichen
on ancient stones?

Why build a sheepfold here
enfolding a broken circle
that once danced free
amongst the heathers and reeds?

Did they seek protection
from prehistoric power,
or to enfold each one
in generous safekeeping
as every good shepherd
will do for his sheep?

Did they revere the dancers
for their venerable age
and wise millennia?
Did they fear that in this
weathered old age
their wits had been lost
in wild, sad demertia
or drifted the fogs of the night?

Did they know that
the work of their hands
would fall to disuse,
that this fold would grow hidden
by brambles and reeds,
that their purpose, their hopes,
their name, kith and kin
the world that they knew,
would all pass by
and this sheepfold
and circle be claimed
by the wind, rain and the sky?


Author's Note:
On Ilkley Moor are the remains of an old drystone sheepfold. Within it are a number of standing stones believed to be the remains of a stone circle which may have been originally elsewhere. Nobody knows for certain. The stones are possibly over three thousand years old. The fold less than five hundred years. Maps show it as being 'modern'

Posted on 11/10/2007
Copyright © 2020 Paganini Jones

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Charles M Harrison on 12/02/07 at 12:38 AM

I like this. Makes me think of all the ruins left behind. The reason for some still a mystery to moden man.

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