Thursday, March 12, 2009

To touch them

Parts of the little church of St Andrew at Greensted in Essex are estimated to be over a thousand years old, and it is possible that the site has been a place of Christian worship for 1,300 years. It is the oldest wooden church in the world and the oldest wooden building in Europe. The fifty one logs that form the walls of the Anglo-Saxon part of the church are of oak, and to touch them is to be transported back to the forests where they once stood and to the people who cut, shaped and used them for their place of worship. Though somewhat outside the scope of Megalithic Poems the Church of St Andrew is of such antiquity that it deserves a mention here.
See also -

Of wood well made this wall

Not of stone

Heart of oak, cleft down
from top to bottom.
Fastened well in wooden sill
round side out towards winter's winds
flat side in for warmth.

Adze marks made here by a man
more than a thousand years ago.

Naes staenen!
But of wood well made this wall
Once fastened and thatched
A new hall for a new lord of all.


NB Naes staenen - not of stone.

Sunday, March 01, 2009



Pushing the wedge of his body
Between cromlech and stone circle,
He excavates down mine shafts
And back into the depths of the hill.

His path straight and narrow
And not like the fox's zig-zags,
The arc of the hare who leaves
A silhouette on the sky line.

Night's silence around his shoulders,
His face lit by the moon, he
Manages the earth with his paws,
Returns underground to die.


An intestine taking in
patches of dog's-mercury,
brambles, the bluebell wood;
a heel revolving acorns;
a head with a price on it
brushing cuckoo-spit, goose-grass;
a name that parishes borrow.


For the digger, the earth-dog
It is a difficult delivery
Once the tongs take hold,

Vulnerable his pig's snout
That lifted cow-pats for beetles,
Hedgehogs for the soft meat,

His limbs dragging after them
So many stones turned over,
The trees they tilted.

Michael Longley (For Raymond Piper)

Coetan Arthur Cromlech. St Davids Head, Wales. Image credit Moss