Sunday, 2 February 2014

We are the mountain people

This photograph was taken in the gloaming time as a clear-skied winter night was drawing in, following a perfect day on the Hatterrall ridge in the Black Mountains; walking and working on the watershed that presents a physical manifestation of the, in reality more culturally fluid and shape-shifting, border between England and Wales.

The technical quality of the image may not be the best, but it captures the light, the colours of this transitional time of day. Looking at it, I am also reminded of the magical pull that this place, this self-contained and enduringly mysterious old red sandstone massif, has had on me for the last ten years or so.

Having spent several weeks immersed in the prehistoric world recreated in Raymond Williams' People of the Black Mountains, energised by the on-going rain and wind-lashed endevours of the Black Mountains Upland Path Volunteers and with a potential landscape archaeology research project focussed on the area in the pipeline, this topographical fascination looks set to continue and deepen.   

For those of us lucky enough to find a place like this, we are indeed the mountain people:

They'll seek us in the valley

They'll seek us on the plain
They own the milk and runny honey
And they're not quite the same

And we

Live together under
Oak trees
In the dark 
We make sparks
So unique
We're the mountain people

Super Furry Animals - We Are the Mountain People


  1. Great photographs though the first thing to register were the symbols of Enclosure underpinning the 'freedom' of the mountains. Hedges, walls, specimen trees symbolizing a patriarchal genius loci still at large in Britain's national landscapes.

    1. Thanks Paul. True, though I would argue that many of the human landscape motifs that we see around us are not negative. The narrative of the current rewilding lobby seems to have little place for the organic, localised modifications that I would argue have often enhanced the landscape. Anyway, thats my perspective as a landscape historian.


Please add your comments here.