Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Justbod team!

 Merry Yule, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Saturnalia, Waes Hael...!!

- however you celebrate this festive season, may it be joyous, magical, peaceful and full of blessings for you and yours!

Thank you for all your support throughout the year!
The Justbod Team


~ Justbod ~

Artwork, carvings and sculptures
~ inspired by history and nature ~

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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Long Meg & Her Daughters: Casting a Long Shadow

Long Meg and Her Daughters

As we approach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day, and the return of the sun, here's a few pictures from a frosty, bitterly cold day in late December a few years ago, with a winter sun just setting over the enigmatic and beautiful Long Meg....

"Long meg and her daughters - a Bronze Age stone circle near Penrith in Cumbria, North West England. One of around 1,300 stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany, it was consturcted as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3,300 to 900 BCE, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. The stone circle is the sixth-biggest example known from this part of north-western Europe, being slightly smaller than the rings at Stanton Drew in Somerset, the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney and Newgrange in County Meath.

December sun setting over Long Meg, Cumbria
December sun setting over Long Meg

 It primarily consisits of 59 stones (of which 27 remain upright) set in an oval shape measuring 100m on its long axis. There may originally have been as many as 70 stones. Long Meg herself is a 3.6m high monolith of red sandstone 25m to the southwest of the circle made by her Daughters. Long Meg is marked with examples of megalithic art including a cup and ring mark, a spiral and rings of concentric circles.
Infra red aerial photography has identified several undated enclosures that seem to pre-date the Long Meg circle in the area. There is also the smaller stone circle of Little Meg (maughanby) close by." Wikipedia  

Long Meg and a half-moon
Long Meg with a half-moon just visible

Spiral Carving on Long Meg, Cumbria
Spiral Carving on Long Meg

Long Meg and Her Daughters
Some of Long Meg's Daughters

Long Meg and Her Daughters, Cumbria

These pictures were taken at the end of a beautiful and memorable 7 mile walk from Little Salkeld in the Eden Valley, a walk full of history and interest.

During the walk we had also visited Lacy's Caves near Glassonby: a romantic folly consisting of five chambers carved out of the red sandstone cliff above the River Eden. They were commissioned in the 18th century by Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Lacy (who lived in nearby Salkeld Hall and once infamously attemted to blow up Long Meg and Her Daughters. His attempt only failed as there was a violent thunderstorm just as the work started and his workers, fearing supernatural displeasure, downed tools and refused to continue.)

River Eden from Lacy's Caves Glassonby
View of River Eden from Lacy's Caves, Glassonby

The Colonel used the caves to entertain guests, and the surrounding area was originally planted with ornamental gardens. There is even a report that Lacy employed a man as a hermit to add that extra authenticity to the caves.

Lacy's Caves Glassonby
Lacy's Caves Glassonby

 Also encountered on the walk is a large kerbed cairn, the small cairn circle of Little Meg with it's spiraled rock art weirdly resembling two eyes, and then, along the processional trackway that leads directly from Little Meg to Long Meg, there is the interestingly positioned Addingham Church, which is at the halfway point of the trackway. A beautiful Anglo-Saxon hammer-head cross, a Viking cross and hog-back tombstone, being amongst the interesting features to be found within the Church and grounds.

Addingham St Michael & All Angels Church
Addingham St Michael & All Angels Church

A well preserved Anglo-Saxon hammer-head cross, with four holes and carved scrolls.

We walked this processional trackway just as the winter sun was setting over Long Meg, which was a beautiful and humbling experience, the timing of which we hadn't planned and only began to realise the significance of, as we walked into the beam of sunlight towards the distant circle.

December sun setting over Long Meg & her daughters, Cumbria
December sun setting over Long Meg & her daughters

When we arrived at the circle, it struck us just how long the shadow of Long Meg was, resembling some kind of enormous sundial.

The Long shadow of Long Meg
The Long shadow of Long Meg

This was an amazing walk, incorporating some fascinating and magical sites with a truly moving experience of walking the processional approach to Long Meg at such a synchronistic time.  

Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria

The walk comes from a fantastic book: 'Walks in Ancient Lakeland' by Robert Harris, which I would thoroughly recommend. I have visited a great many ancient sites in my time, and, earlier on in my history of visits, I most often used to park as close as possible, sometimes only a few hundred yards from the site I was visiting. The walks described in the book above take a completely different approach, which not only helps to place the monument within the wider context of its immediate environment, but is also, possibly, the way our ancient ancestors may have first experienced these awe-inspiring structures.

Walking away from Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
Walking away from Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
The sun had nearly disappeared by the time we trod the last few steps back to the car. A wonderful walk, do try it if you get the chance - either from the book mentioned, which has a lot of interesting information and drawings included in it, or via the link in the 'sources' section below, which is more or less the same walk (missing out Little Meg & the Cairn circle) from the Guardian Newspaper.

Happy Solstice!

Thanks for reading

Justbod Team 

Artwork, Carvings & Sculptures
~ inspired by history & nature ~


  You might also be interested in: 

  The Winter Solstice & The Rebirth of The Sun


Goblin Gold, a Hairy Hermit and a Druid's Temple


Specklebeast celtic art wall plaque from Justbod
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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween......

....Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows' Eve, Allhalloween, All Hallows' Evening, All Saints' Eve..........whatever you might call it, there could be scary things out take care today...................and tonight............

To get you in the mood for Halloween -
A special selection of blog posts:


The Plague Stones of York

Pestilence and plague have stalked this island many times throughout history, always with frightening and devastating results, leaving completely empty communities in their wake. In many towns and villages, there are still reminders of those dark days,  in the shape of plague stones......
Danse macabre by Michael Wolgemut
Danse macabre by Michael Wolgemut


  Ancestors: Mysterious & Enigmatic Landscapes...

A visit to the amazing monuments of the Boyne Valley, the eccentric Netterville family and the inspiration behind bod's 'Ancestors' carving & hand-burnt plaque...
Ancestors woodcarving from Justbod
Ancestors woodcarving from Justbod


Is it just me?

Do you see faces in trees and rocks, strange gatherings of trees,  shadowy figures in the woods.......?
- Being a collection of our favourite 'Is it Just Me?' posts over the last year or so.
Face in one of the stones of York walls
Face in one of the stones of York walls


Good night Tweeters. No bad dreams.

A small collection of gargoyles, grotesques & the humorous, especially selected from our ever-popular 'Good night Tweets...'
Good Night Tweeters. No Bad Dreams.
No bad dreams.....


...And if that's all a wee bit too much for you, why not visit our main website and look at bod's beautiful works instead:

 Thanks for reading & have a lovely, spooky Halloween!

 Justbod Team

Tree of Life Wall Plaque

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Happy Halloween from Justbod
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Isles: Monsters, Mariners and Old Maps of Exploration

Longship detail: British Isles sculpted wall plaque

 There's just something about maps..... 
...From ancient maps showing our now familiar continents in strange shapes and forms, to maps from the glorious age of exploration, lavishly illustrated with strange sea monsters, mythical beasts and exotic fauna, through fantasy maps with evocative place names, pirate treasure maps promising untold riches and adventure, through to our modern Ordnance Survey maps that, if examined, contain a wealth of information on unusual features and historic sites to later explore on foot
...there's just something about maps....
.....that whispers of excitment, new discoveries, and high adventure.... 

Anglesey by John Speed 1610 Public Domain Wikimedia
Anglesey by John Speed 1610 Public Domain Wikimedia

I've always loved maps and have long wanted to create a piece inspired by all of these influences, but particularly by the the beautiful maps and cartography of the great age of exploration, mixed with a bit of an influence from fantasy and pirate maps.

"La geografia de narnia-por samuelmat" by Samuelmat - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
"La geografia de narnia-por samuelmat" by Samuelmat-Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


History through maps

I also really enjoy the many maps that very clearly illustrate our changing history, and map the different peoples and migrations into these lands (the British Isles.) My original idea was to produce a set of maps illustrating different periods of history. I quickly realised this was unworkable in the medium I currently work in, as the scale is just too small to create multiple words on a piece, without it becoming very busy. In researching it I bought the beautiful 'Historical Atlas of The British Isles' by Dr Ian Barnes, which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in both maps and history. It covers the history of the British Isles from earliest times to the present day through a series of maps. Purchasing it also finally 'put to bed' my idea of producing a range of historical maps. I would be at it for ever!

So my project became a map that would still be modelled on the British Isles but that would hopefully evoke that time of exploration when map makers were heading out into bold new, and often, frightening worlds. These maps are characterised by the addition of beautiful drawings of sometimes fantastical sea creatures, old gods, galleons and compasses.

I also wanted to somehow convey the feeling created in these maps, and in fantasy maps, of the topography of the lands, and the swirling of the seas. 

Here be dragons 

The sea has always been a place where strange creatures and monsters lurk. The sea monsters that occupied the cartographers of Europe in medieval and renaissance times often seem strange and whimsical to our modern eyes, firece-toothed animals with jets of water, many tentacled giant octopuses, beguiling sirens and mermaids, as well as various chimeric beings.

Velleius. Islandia.  By Ortelius Public domain via Wikimedia
Sea monsters on maps: Velleius. Islandia by Ortelius Public domain via Wikimedia

Although these beings were drawn to entertain and educate their audience, as most maps were used by wealthy people as decoration, they were also mostly illustrations of creatures that the cartographers genuinely believed inhabitated the vast oceans.
Although they were often placed in the map in the best aesthetic positions, it's probbale that they were also often placed to illustrate dangerous or unexplored territories. 

"Here be dragons [is] a very interesting sentence.
In early maps, you would see images of sea monsters,
It was a way to say there's bad stuff out there."
 Thomas Sander, editor of the Portolan, the journal of the Washington Map Society

'The Isles'

'The Isles' comes from my love of these islands, with their beautiful countryside and rich history. I wanted as many of the influences above in my map as possible, within my own limitations of scale and medium.

British Isles sculpted wall plaque

I have altered the time period, to reflect my own interests so galleons have become longships, and I have the Kraken, a mythological creature first described in the 13th century Icelandic Sagas, and two whales influenced by the Old English word 'hranrad', meaning whale-road - a word used in many old texts to describe the sea(s,) or ocean(s.)

Sperm whale detail: British Isles sculpted wall plaque

My compass is a simpler affair than the 16th and 17th century mapmakers dynamic constructions, and my topography is gloriously out of scale and an 'artistic'impression rather than completely accurate (please do not plan your journeys and walks based upon it!)

I really enjoyed making this piece, although it's research and all the processes have occupied me for quite some time.

I hope to one day make a more Tolkien-esque fantasy style map, with a larger scale and greater detail....but that's for another day.....

British Isles sculpted wall plaque

'The Isles' has been created by individually shaping sheet metal, by hand, into the shape that you see, adding colour and then insetting it into a custom-made handcrafted and polished oak plaque, approximately 28.5cm x 22.5cm x 2cm. 

Every process has been completed by me, by hand. 

You can browse and buy all of my currently available work, by clicking on the link to our main site just below...

Thanks for reading

Justbod Team 

Visit our main site

Artwork, carvings and sculptures
~ inspired by a love of history and nature ~



You might also be interested in:

  bod's Runestone, Grettir's Saga and a Matter of Trust

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