Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Study in Stone – Erich

Today's world is one of plastic. We make so many things out of so many varieties of plastic. Oh sure, there is still work in metal, like forks. Except some of those are plastic. And we have wooden items, like chairs. Right, but some of those are plastic. Hmm, what about glass, like windows. (Just let me pretend that fiberglass is just basic glass.) Okay, I have to accept it, plastic rules the day.

It didn't always. There was a time that if you wanted durable, meaningful structures, you worked in stone. The other day we enjoyed a day of stone seeing. It's like sightseeing, but you're seeing stone. See?

We drove into Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, England. On the way, we had to pass under this bridge, made, of course, of stone.

Going under the bridge was by far the better view. Though I could have better tested the strength of the structure from above. While that is true, let's be honest here. I wasn't going to test the strength of the bridge either way.

In the park we visited Arbor Low. It is a historic site, over 3000 years old. But to get to it, one must walk through a farm. And guess what they make their fence walls out of. That's right, stone!
The site is now designated as a historic site. And I figured this must have happened in the reign of Queen Victoria when we saw this stone just outside the heath.
It turns out I was both right and wrong. The site was designated in the reign of Victoria. But the "VR" could symbolize either Queen Victoria or King George V. I would have guessed he would be "GR", but no, I guess the Roman numeral five was the most important part of his name.

Finally, we reached Arbor Low itself. This is a site where farmers some 3000 years ago built a large circular heath. Essentially there is a hill built up in a ring around a trench built in an inner ring. And inside that trench is a flat circle. On this flat circle were placed standing stones.
Today those standing stones are fallen stones. But looking from the high ring down, one gets a sense that this was an important site for the people who built it. What rituals did they perform here? Why did they need the stones inside the heath? It's not clear, but it's cool. Cool as stone!
After we left Peak District National Park, we headed toward Manchester to catch a plane to Ireland. But along the way, we stopped for a picnic lunch. And what beautiful structure did we see there? Another much larger bridge made of plastic. No, not plastic. Stone!
So when you next reflect on our disposable culture, remember, the world wasn't always this way. Some things, even if we don't know why they were built, they were built to last. And that we know because they were made of stone.

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