Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Dark Ages and daffodils
East Riddlesden Hall is the nearest National Trust place to me, so I can now take advantage of my membership and pop along there anytime. It is only small but it's pleasant: an interesting old manor house and ancient tithe barns, with a large pond in front and small but attractive gardens. It was another dull day, but the daffodils were in bloom in wide sweeps across the lawns. In the gardens at the rear there were few flowers blooming as yet, though the blue ones, which I think are Siberian squill, made bright drifts in the flower beds.
There was an event advertised: an Anglo-Saxon Experience Day. It was mainly aimed at children and there were some families in a side room, busily creating round shields. I had expected a few more costumed actors but there were only two or three, from a group called the English Companions. It was, however, interesting to read in their displays a bit about The Dark Ages, that period in British history between about 450 and 1066, after the Romans withdrew and before the Norman Conquest. Germanic tribes migrated from Europe and settled, and the Anglo-Saxon period effectively saw the birth of the English nation, English language and culture. Christianity was established and systems of government grew as various kingdoms (Mercia, Wessex and so on) developed. It was a complicated and turbulent time but it laid many foundations that still influence life in Britain today. The earliest archeological traces found at East Riddlesden Hall date back to 973 though the house we see now originated in the 1600s.
I'm always grateful for the volunteers and historians that seek to bring these times to life. I studied history at school but remember it as a fairly dry subject. It is only in recent years that I have really started to be aware of the evidence of the past all around us and to be interested, particularly in social history.