How the blog works

The poems on this blog are mostly written on the basis of my historical reading and are intended to be both educational and entertaining.
Recently I have also begun posting some of my work with Anglo-Saxon charms. This work is somewhat speculative and is conducted as an amateur researcher and keen Pagan historian.

Please feel free to use anything on this site as a resource if you think that it may be relevant to your needs.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Here be ghosts

Here be ghosts

Introduction to Here be ghosts
This is another poem looking at places with variations of the Anglo-Saxon word for ghost in their names. It is suggested that place names form a kind of palimpsest, layered meaning to our landscape. Grimley was given to the church for absolution by a king. Grimescar wood is an as yet unexcavated Roman settlement. Skinburness slid into the sea. All that is left of Scuccan Hlau is a hole in the ground!

Here be Ghosts
The earth still abounds, with phantom’s remains,
Saxon palimpsest, ghostly village names.
Illusion or real, in name to preserve,
The ghostly remains, and spectre to serve.

Grimley from grima, Saxon for Spectre,
Ghostly woodland glade, his soul’s protector.
King of Mercians, gave up the ghost land,
So he with angels, in heaven could stand.

Yorkshire Grimescar wood, is spectre’s skerry,
Phantasm in glade, away with the fairy.
The ghosts of Romans, still trapped in the wood,
Wassailing flagons, found where they once stood.

Grimshaw in Pendle, small wood with a stream,
In centre of wood, they can’t hear thee scream.
Copse haunted by ghost, Saxon’s styled the wood,
For a thousand years, coppice it has stood.

Old Nordic skyrsi, Viking phantasm,
Skirse Gill in Yorkshire, is spectre’s chasm.
Dry stone pen over, earthly incision,
Manifestation, or ghostly vision.

Skirsgill Hill Cumbria, ancient settlement,
Its last standing stone, sings Nordic lament.
On industrial park, hidden away,
Used to be honoured, first Sunday in May.

Skinburness headland, on phantasm coast,
Saxon’s said scinna, where now we say ghost.
Village in salt marsh, with ghostly stronghold,
Then vanished under, into the sea cold.

Saxon Scuccan Hlau, was the spectre’s mound,
Became Warren farm, water hole in ground.
Fertile Nerthus earth, was taken away,
Spectres spirits ghosts, have had the last say.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Grimston a message from the past

Grimston a message from the past

introduction to Grimston (ghost settlement) a message from the past
This poem focuses on a hamlet and old peoples home just outside of York on the road to Stamford Bridge. The landscape around contains many towns and features called through their many Saxon names after significant constructs. For reasons of clarity all the Saxon words on the modern map are translated into modern English within the poem.

Grimston – a message from the past?

Were Yorkshire village, Grimston it was named,
Ghost wood to west dial, hast not yet been tamed.
Reduced so only, does hamlet remain,
The ghost farm hamlet, on elf friendly lane.

Lying south east dial, village of elf friends,
Where elf friendly lane, cunningly extends.
Witch friendly village, it lays to the west,
To south dial village, is death ditch possessed.

North dial witches wood, south dial witches wood,
But here thirteen hearth, ghost hall it once stood.
Death ditch to south dial, or is drake a beast?
But thirteen hearth hall, is long since deceased.

Grew ghost manor where, there once stood ghost hall,
Then ghost court arose, and manor did fall.
Now ghost court awaits, the angel of death,
And folk take their last, shallow ghostly breath.

Saxon messages, through time they have passed,
Death ditch or dragon, warning from the past?
Elves witches and ghosts, in landscape around,
Still angle of death, is to the land bound.

Copyright Andrew Rea March 2012

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Angel of death

Angel of death

Note: this poem was inspired by separate conversations with three nurses that had worked on terminal wards. All of which could recount several cases, as witnessed first hand, of a person who was in their last hours or days apparently seeing another person standing by their bed that was not in corporeal form to be seen by the nurse. Some nurses see this as a sign that the end is near.
In this poem we imagine ourselves back in Saxon times as the healer in the village comes to her end and is greeted by the kindly angle of death (Wodan was also called Grimr) to guild her to the other world. I have made her very old for the period, about 60. A study concluded that 97.5% of people were dead by 50 during Saxon times. The description of her abode is based on archaeological evidence. The reference to aelf shot is from medical books of the time, see Lacnunga and leech books, and refers to any disease caused by an aelf firing an invisible arrow into you, e.g. any viral infection. A galdor is a charm, spell or incantation, from galan= to sing (preserved in the word nightingale). Heofon is the forerunner to heaven. The way of Wyrd was a fatalistic world view where there was an underlying connecting principle, similar to the way of Tao.

Angel of death

Small pit hut, with reeds on the floor,
No windows but, an oaken door.
Copper cauldron, over fire stone,
Warn old thatched roof, medicinal crone.

Old wise wife man, soon to be gone,
Healing people, thirty years long.
The angel of death, now close by,
Helping her to, depart and die.

The last night tide, here at last,
Toiling in meads, forty years passed.
On wooden bed, and straw there laid,
With elder daughter, there to aid.

Herbs in mead, carefully uproot,
Fifty years finding, nuts and fruit.
Survived she war, plague and child birth,
Gaest she soon, to mother earth.

Weapon man gone, many a year,
Sixty winters, soon on her bier.
In small village, eldest was she,
But aelf shot did, she not foresee.

Daughter now older, than most folk,
Waiting for Wodan, wrapped in cloak.
Mother’s galdors, not all well learnt,
Which fragrant herbs, should beest burnt.?

Runes to charm, hot cauldron to brew,
Which herbs to keep, the mixture true.
Where when how, healing herbs to find,
No one morrow, her to remind.

Oh Heofon death, where art thy sting,
Kind angel of death, other world bring.
In the morrow, another day,
The children play, this is Wyrd’s way.

Copyright Andrew Rea 2010

Monday, 1 October 2012

Here be Tiw

Here be Tiw

Introduction to 'Here be Tiw’  - god of war

Tuesley Surrey Virgins refers to the convent that now resides on the old sacred site and look after a rock garden with a statue of Mary where the temple to Tiw once stood, not far from a sacred spring.
Tysoe Warwickshire had at lease five horses cut into the land – one over the over, recorded as early as 1607. The last of these was covered over about 1910/14 and planted with trees. The manors were held by the Knights Templars and later by the Knights Hospitallers.
Tewin Hertfordshire, Lady Grimston, (Grim often means ghost in old English) had unconventional religious views and on her death bed said that when seven trees grew on her tomb she would return. A single tree grows on her tomb but has seven trunks, her ghost is often seen in the church yard.

Here be Tiw

Send us success! Help my sword cut true,
See spear stays sharp! Help us to push through.
Thee we invoke, with us in shield wall,
Brave Saxon god, cause our foes to fall.

Tuesley Surrey, Domesday Tiwesle,
Hamlet of Tiw, Old English Tīwes lēah.
Marys church where, thine temple once stood,
Virgins guard statue, rock garden wood.

Triple village, Tysoe Warwickshire,
Tíw's spur of land? Church of thousand year.
Horse Tui, war Tiw, what was Tysoes source?
Knights Templars gone, tall trees cover horse.

Tiws enclosure, Tewin Hertfordshire,
Seventh century church, Tiw's temple to clear.
Lady Grimston, had a ghostly name,
Tomb Tree of seven, shining spectre became.

Stand fast shield wall! Power to spear blade,
Bold daring brave! we are not afraid.
Help sword to slice! rend their blades untrue,
Send us success! to us we brave few.

Copyright Andrew Rea September 2012