Caught by the River

Thankful Villages Vol. 3 #13 and #14

Darren Hayman | 17th September 2020

As we near the finishing line on Darren Hayman’s gargantuan series, another double whammy; the thirteenth village from Thankful Villages Vol. 3 is Middleton on the Hill, and the fourteenth is Knill. Both are in Herefordshire.

I try to identify trees with my Observer’s Book of Trees but it proves hard.
It’s one of the first days of spring and Middleton is full of lambs and daffodils.

Spring should make you happy but I feel slightly melancholic. There’s something about the change of a season that tells me I haven’t done enough, that I’m falling behind.

I tap and rattle children’s percussion next to a hedge where a dog barks at me in frustration. I leave the dog in peace and try to let the lambs get used to me.

Instead of writing something new I’m reminded of an old tune resting in the cobwebs of my faulty mind, it’s almost a nursery rhyme. I coax it back to life whilst I wait for the animals to stop being frightened.

I shouldn’t  fear the changing of seasons. It should reassure me.

Alfred Watkins invented the idea of the ‘ley’ line. The mysticism and spirituality was attached to them much later. Alfred was a walker and lover of maps. He saw the leys as an ancient form of navigation. 

He drew lines connecting burial grounds, mounds, forts and churches and concluded there were too many sites on these lines to be mere coincidence. Many dispute his theories now.

I was drawn to Alfred because like me he was drawing connections between places on tenuous or random details.

I found that three of his ley lines come together in the Thankful Village of Knill in Alfred’s home county of Herefordshire. Two cross on the site of an ancient fort on a huge mound called Burfa Bank that overlooks the village. Another two cross in a chicken run by the side of the road.

I wrote a song for Alfred and sang them where his lines cross on top of the fort.

Thankful Villages Vols. 1 & 2 are out now on Rivertones. You can buy physical copies here, or listen on Spotify. Thankful Villages Volume 3 is also now available here.