The death that greets at Butser

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Haggard  skeleton;
Sockets deep;
Horns of plenty,
Decaying bone.
An Iron Age greeting?
Welcome talisman
Or deadly curse?
Dare I enter……?

I was privileged enough last weekend to visit the Iron Age replica settlement at Butser in Hampshire UK. The original farm was an archaeological experiment from the 1970s. It has now moved to a different site nearby where there are houses from Pre-Neolithic to Roman times some recreated from actual archaeological finds in Wessex, giving a living museum. They run various course throughout the year in skills used by our ancestors. I got to make felt for clothing and a friend learned to knapp stone tools. There are skulls above the doors of the neolithic houses. Probably the houses were built by a group and an animal killed for a feast on completion. The skull representing the animal spirit was put over the door maybe to ward off evil spirits.

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Words and photo copyright Englepip©

Jane Austen

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The bronze lady in the hat stands in

Frozen motion at the top of town

Diminutive but stern she looks left

But there are no horses bearing down

Her wonder at the quiet of the street

And the clean appearance of the stone

No mud and straw beneath her feet

Where she is bound in bronze forever.

Jane what have you in your grasp?

Does your book speak of Pride and Prejudice

Or is it Sensibility you clasp

Tight under your arm in the breeze?

 

This is your local town of Basingstoke

Where you sometimes visited to dance

And met with distinguished country folk

To be seen but also mark their ways

So you could write of insights to the lives

Of all the landed gentry roundabout

Their sons, their daughters and their wives

As though in fiction but so near to truth.

Who’d have thought two centuries later

You would reappear among these streets

A heroine, no female writer greater

And stare at all of us who admire you.

Who knows what observations you are making

Of the people as they talk and walk and pass

Are you creating fiction and note-taking

For a novel that is new but bound in bronze?

 

In July 2017, a bronze statue of Jane Austen by sculptor Adam Roud, was unveiled in the town square in Basingstoke to mark two hundred years since her death. Jane Austen, lived in Steventon, a village just out of Basingstoke. The sculpture is a beautiful piece and it looks to me as if she is about to cross the road. Of course now the Top of the Town is all pedestrianised. It is off the beaten track of the main shopping centre but the local pub and some of buildings still remain, although the ground level frontages look modern now. But as with so many places in the UK, if you look above these, you can see the architecture of the past.  The church at Steventon is still there, a pretty little place inside and some of the family are buried in the graveyard, however their original house is no longer there. Jane later moved with her family to Chawton and it is there you can visit the museum about her life.

Pride and Prejudice has to be one of my favourite books now, although I did not appreciate it when I had to study it at school. It is so full of biting humour and caricatures of type. As a parson’s daughter, Jane must have met with many different people and her books demonstrate this.

Words and photo copyright Englepip©

via Daily Prompt: Grasp