Images of the inspirations and journeys taken in the making of our album On The Chalk (Our Navigation Of The Line Of The Downs).http://thememoryband.com/po...http://thememoryband.bandca...
The slide show details the numerous journeys I made whilst researching, writing and recording the album. Most of the pictures were simply taken on my phone and I've thrown in a few additional images from the books and maps I was reading as well as a few of the classic images of chalk landscapes I spent time looking at.
I spent a day walking to Reculver in Kent inspired by an article from a 1895 volume called Science In Arcady by Grant Allen which identified Reculver and Richborough as the ports at either end of what was then The Wantsum Straits. Allen wrote that these ports served as the focus of trade across the channel and how through the then navigable River Stour estuary, they linked to an overland network of chalk ridgeways by which tin was transported from the West Country from ancient times. I spent some time recording the Sand Martins in the dunes nearby, recordings which ended up on the album.
On a crisp winter's day I walked from Shalford to Shere in Surrey, revisiting the paths detailed in Hilaire Belloc's 1911 book The Old Road, in which he identified the Pilgrim's Way as being the remnant of an older road predating the emergence of Winchester which in prehistoric times led to Stonehenge and the ancient heartlands of Salisbury Plain.
I also spent a long weekend travelling around the West Country visiting and walking upon places such as Whitesheet Hill, Kingsettle Hill, Beaminster Down, Cadbury Castle and Pilsdon Pen. These sites were written about in books such as R. Hippisley Cox's Green Roads Of England from 1914 and described about in almost holy terms as meeting points where The Harrow Way met The Great Ridgeway coming across England from The Wash and the other chalk spines of Lowland England to form a great networks of early communication, guided by noticeable landmarks, ancient yew trees and sarsen stones.
On Old Michaelmas Day I walked from the site of Quarley Hill to the site of the old Weyhill Fair, which traditionally had started on that day. It was near here that the name The Harrow Way had survived. The fair was seen as a continuance of an ancient practice of driving cattle to market along the ancient tracks, complete with the ceremony of the Wearing Of The Horns by the apprentice drovers upon arrival at the public houses of Weyhill during the Fair.
What fascinated me about The Harrow Way was how a an archeological theory from the late Victorian era took hold in the popular culture of the early twentieth century and was used by writers and poets to define a new narrative for the English consciousness defined by the history of the landscape it inhabited.However, like the old roads these writers searched for, the theory was in turn been superceded by science and new understandings of our past technologies and movements. In recent times a wave of writers and artists have once again turned to the landscape and by detailing their movement through it they seek again to unravel new narratives of personal and collective identities formed by the places we pass through. As fascinating, revealing and entertaining as these all are I can't help but wonder sometimes how those narratives will read a hundred years from now.