Thursday, 25 April 2019

Maps, dragons and tiger-leopards

A golden dragon sits on a crumpled map

First Hoards events 

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

what direction for an enchanted compass?
We never really know what’s going to happen on an event. We can be fairly sure of the materials we will use and the general direction of activity but it is hard, when planning for dragons, to anticipate Dandelion Cats

We have started plotting the stories of our hoards now

There were maps to take you to a hidden hoard if you are clever enough to decipher the clues and brave enough to risk the dangers…

Under the sea?
In a pyramid?
Near the swings in the park?
On the other side of the moon?
Surrounded by trees and fiercely guarded by a cat!
Where will you hide your treasure? 
And how will you know how to find it?

one side tiger, t'other leopard....

Today, there were dragons hatching from golden eggs to guard golden hoards….or maybe not. Hence the Dandelion Cats who guard golden flowers for bumblebees. There were several very laid back foxes who could sort of, maybe, OK now and then, guard, well, something. Someone had said, you know, Someone asked them to…well, someone offered to pay…but what are pennies to a fox who is counting rabbits?

And there is an ongoing question: what do you value? 
What is the precious thing that you would keep safe for centuries? 
Would it be golden wonders? 
Or a pottery ball full of coins? 
Or seeds for a future flowering? 

Dandelion Cat
And there was Molly, the Tiger Leopard, guarding her wonderful little Leopard Cub, the rarest cub in all the world. And there was Bessie the Bear with her Unicorns who were very interested in that same cub…..

The next Hoards events are as follows. All these events are at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and all events are free and unless it says otherwise, you can just turn up and join in. With talks please arrive for the scheduled start. For other events allow 30 minutes at least for the activity.

1. Dave the Moneyer, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April, 12 – 3.30pm. Come and watch how money used to be made….

DAve's own company, Grunal Moneta, can be visited, here

see note at end of entry
2. Talk: Hoards and hordes – the Viking conquest and settlement of the East Midlands,
Tuesday 30 April, 11am–12noon Join British Museum curator Gareth Williams to find out how archaeological discoveries combine with historical evidence and place-names to shape our understanding of the Viking presence in Derbyshire and surrounds.

3. Managing your own Hoard
Thursday 2 May, 12noon–4pm
Get information on handling household finances and managing debt from the money advisors at Citizens Advice Derbyshire District.

4. Treasure Chests 
Sunday 5 May, 12noon–3.30pm
Make and take a treasure chest for the hoard you haven't got yet...or that you might be hiding under the bed. In a sock. With a dragon. Allow 45 minutes.
More information:

Or call Buxton Museum and Art Gallery on 01629 533540

These events are for Buxton Museum and Art Gallery as part of the Hoards Event Programme. Some of them are Creeping Toad activities. Others belong to the wider events programme and we just think they are lovely and should be supported….

Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain
A British Museum and Salisbury Museum Partnership Exhibition
This exhibition runs from Saturday 13th April to Sunday 16th June, 2019 in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Vikings: we had a Viking today with a very big, very fluffy beard who sailed away in an eggshell boat - probably following a treasure map drawn by a fox.... 

And many thanks to our friends from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust who joined us on Sunday on such a lovely day we had hardly any visitors!

Thursday, 18 April 2019

On Law Hill

 on Law Hill

There are ravens here, I think. I hear their voices, the clap of their wings, but those voices croak with laughter as I turn to spy them and I don’t know if I am seeing or simply feeling the metallic gleam of sunlight on green-black wings.

I would like to know the story of this hill, of the Scots Pines who grow straight on this windswept outcrop. Standing here, I can turn east and feel a wind fresh from the North Sea and see the Lomond Hills. Westward on a clear day, there are the Ochils and past them the Campsie Fells and beyond them it feels that all the reach of the central lowlands lies before this knoll on the foot of Hillfoot Hill.

I would like to know who grazes this hill. There are no little offerings, although sheep nibble the flanks of the hill where the scouts of an army of gorse are poking cautious gold-dusted green heads over the curves of the hill. The grass here inside the fenced compound is short. Rabbits? Deer? Fence-hopping sheep? Perhaps this is just new spring growth but even in summer the grass here is short. I would like to know. I would like to know who walks the gentle curving paths that circle the hill, wandering routes that spiral to a tree-ringed centre. It feels a more ceremonial approach than simply to march up and stride on to the hilltop. The modern access is fenced. It is straight and obvious and terribly sensible but is a good path to walk barefoot when you are clear of the trees by the car park. Then it stops and you step from that straight, orderly path onto soft grass in the shadow of the trees and a curving path to peace.

Under the gaze of the Ochils, of Hillfoot Hill, of Whitewisp and Saddle and Kings Seat, Law Hill is an outcrop, the upthrust toe a sleeping giant. It feels like it should be a hillfort or hold a barrow or a Roman sentry post or perhaps a camp of brigands watching for the Muckhart Droves, bringing pigs down Glendevon to the Pools and the Gates.  It might be a faerie hill with no camp or barrow or building for the good sense of not doing any such reckless thing on a hill where the Good Neighbours watched. I could fill this small hilltop with stories.

On this cold spring afternoon, a moment comes when everything stops. Even the wind takes a breath and the hilltop echoes with silence. Unexpected, unbidden, lines from the Havamal surface in my thoughts, “word following word, I found me words; deed following deed, I found me deeds…”. Angular pine twigs lie in runes in the grass and I am sure there is the story to tell. Then an explosion of titmice bursts through the trees and the moment lifts into a small glory of feathers and avian laughter.

I could fill this hill with stories, my stories. Or I can listen to the stories the trees tell me. Or i can just soak in a spring afternoon and walk homewards refreshed and uncurling like the ferns in the sweet chestnut woods below the hill.

An earlier visit:
On Law Hill
    They always say you should never…
Early autumn, mid-day and safely,
I went for a walk

An east wind blowing, long and cold
Over flat lands with a distant taste of the sea

Scots Pine sigh like a shore
Receiving waves.
The grass moves,
A round hill breathing peace

    They always say you should never…..

I leant against a tree-trunk and
Let my worries go,
Feeding them as leaves to the wind

I let them go
    (They always say…)
I let it all go
    (They always say you should never…)
Debt, doubt, despair, despondency,
The wind took them for me
And left.
    (They said. They always said.  Who ever listens…)

Ever now,
Never now,
Ever and for always,
Old stone and tree-roots,
I am sitting here still.

And you…
You may choose a spring morning,
    (Please don’t sleep, don’t snooze in the...)
Stones warmed on the edge of summer.
Sitting back, leaning back,
Slipping gently, warmly,
Comfortably into sleep.
An afternoon snooze,
Endless dozing,
Rest your back against me,
Listen to the trees speaking peace.

You may prefer a frosty noon when,
(Inviting rest, Faerie Hills and Faerie Hollows)
Sun melting invites a rest or
A fey midsummer with heat shimmering the distance,
    (They said, they said, too late, they said...)

But rest, just rest, a while.
Slide down the stone beside me.
Slide into stone beside me.

On Law Hill is to be found in the book Old Stones and Ancient Bones: poems from the hollow hills, by Gordon MacLellan. Find it on Amazon or buy direct from me (cheaper!)

Plan your own visit:

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Sharp teeth and big cats

Through the wood of ancient trees

progress on The Wild Inside

remembering lost landscapes

In 1901, a young man working with his father in Victory Quarry in Dove Holes found some bones among the broken rubble after an explosion. Master Hick took his find to Buxton Museum where the curator, Mr Hill, referred them to Professor Boyd Dawkins at Manchester University. Homotherium sainzelli has more recently been reclassified as H. crenatidens but the scimitar-toothed cats of Derbyshire had growled into the light for the first time in a million years. (More information here)
Master Hicks (we don't know his first name) found some bones

Take away
Pubs and bars and shops.

imagining ancient landscapes
Take away
Houses and
Roads and
Streetlights and
Electricity and
Cars and
Gardens and
Watches and
Car parks and all our

Take away
Dogs and
Cats and
Pet rabbits and

Take away

Take away

As part of the BM125 project for Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, the scimitar-toothed cats have been woken again. Artist Sean Harris has been animating cats running through a world of dreams and shifting shapes. Children from Dove Holes and Peak Dale Primary Schools have helped here, adding movement with the slow, careful precision of stop-motion animation, to the film and helping write the words that are becoming part of the score 
Sean is planning a world of Homotherium information

And we’ll take you over the hills,
 We’ll take you over the stream,
We’ll take you through the wood of ancient trees,
And there’ll you’ll see what you may see.

For over the hills and far away
That is where the sabre-tooths lay

For now, the animation is still animating quietly in the background and recorded words are being edited but while those elements are brewing, we wanted to keep those cats running in our imaginations.

We’ll take you
Up and away and over the hills where the horses run
And there,
Beneath the rocks,
Between the hills,
There in a cave, a sabre-tooth waits
And watches the geese come in to land.

With the school work (and an event at the Great Rocks Club in Peak Dale) we have been asking people to reflect upon the animals that lived here once. In school we made landscapes that those animals might have lived in and at the Club we added finger puppet ancient mammals to the mix.

We called this work "the Wild Inside", because....
They no longer run over our hills here
But they run in our hearts
Hooves and paws and claws and feet
Running, roaming, walking, prowling,
Filling our dreams with excitement and screams.
We lost the hunters but we keep them alive in our hearts
We hold the Wild

With many thanks to our artists and friends at 
Dove Holes and Peak Dale Primary Schools, 
to the Great Rocks Club and to Sean 
for giving us all the reason to do this!
*The lines are extracts from our collective poem “The Wild Inside”

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Cold water and icy rocks: children's adventure stories

Between cold water and icy rocks: 

adventures in the Moorlands

Hollinsclough Cof E Academy

Come with us,
Let us take you on a journey
Into the lost worlds of Hollinsclough.
c/o Kieran Metcalfe

We started with old stories, with Gawain and the Green Knight, with tales of foxes and rabbits and crows. Then we shook it all up, added our favourite places, seasoned with heroes and villains and wonderful animals, stirred in a spoonful of treasures shook it all about a bit and let everything to ferment

HollinscloughC of E Academy is a small school resting on the land between the headwaters of the Dove and the Manifold Rivers and under the shadow of Axe Edge. And I was there as part of a project for Borderland Voices with funding from South WestPeak Landscape Partnership to use old stories to inspire new responses to the aldnscape and communities of the Staffordshire Moorlands

It all got a bit carried away….
Lud's Church
We peer down deep, dark, creepy holes, and see a glowing eye,

And see an awful hand reaching out with a deadly pie,

And on through a gorge, under a starry, cloudy sky

To a mysterious temple where legends live,

Until at last we

Sit beside an old crumbling castle

Waiting for the pig ghosts to come snuffling through the woods,

The pig ghosts that will haunt us.

We gathered ideas grew a story poem for each class then left individual stories for children to pursue: there were tales of nightmares and reindeer, and rabbits. There was at least one flying carpet and the castle that we can’t find any more

c/o James Lampard
Where a lonely owl calls,

A long empty voice

Like the ghosts of lost children,

Echoing through the forest,

As the owl swoops between the trees,

Flies through the arches of the old bridge,

And disappears.

Then we recorded the poems…..

So can we invite you to
Find a hare who sits on a stone in the sunshine,

Follow the hare as it leaps through the grass,

Follow the hare over the field where the rabbits play,

Hopping home to the castle where they dig burrows under the stone.

And visit some of our poem slideshows….

Ancient animals of the Moorlands: Badger class,(4 – 7 years old)

Between coldwater and icy rocks, Foxes Class ( 8 – 12 years old)

The voices are those of some of the children who wrote the pieces

With many thanks
to all our artists, storytellers and poets
to Borderland voices and South West Peak
and to James Lampard, HelenKennedy 
and Kieran Metcalfe for the use of their photos 
(the Lud's Church image is my own)
c/o Helen Kennedy

Thursday, 4 April 2019

A Golden Afternoon

More Hoarded days…..

A curling golden dragon armlet,
A shining golden ring
Who knows what treasures,
A spring afternoon may bring

A Golden Day,
Sunday 21st April 
at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
12.00 - 3.30

As the Hoards exhibition unrolls its treasures in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, we are unfolding our own series of Hoarding events to accompany it (you can download a copy of the full events programme at this Hoards link)

Reynard's Kitchen Cave hoard
Using a set of questions to shape our plans, our events respond to the challenges

  • Where would you hide your hoard? (Tricky Treasure Maps, 18th April)
  • What would guard your hoard? (Here be Dragons 25th April, Giants, Dragons and Terrible Traps, 26th May)
  • What treasures would your Hoard hold? (A Golden Day 21st April, Curious Coins 30th May)
  • What will hold your Hoard? (Treasure Chests 5th May, Silk Purses and Sow’s Ears 15th May, 2nd June; Pottery Piggies 9th June)

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get entries on all of these on this blog (a couple are already linked in the list above)
Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Museum website and on the Creeping Toad facebook page for details

A Golden Day

Sunday 21st April

An afternoon starting your own hoard: make your own treasure. There will be the broken shells of golden eggs hatching golden fish perhaps, or beautiful birds. Maybe your own golden brooch or badge. 

A curling golden dragon armlet,
A shining golden ring
Who knows what treasures,
A spring afternoon may bring
Collect a golden stone to share some golden moments among the High Peak Rocks. Meet the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and find out more about Nature’s own gold-keepers and hoard-makers

  • Materials provided
  • Free
  • No booking needed: just drop by and join in
  • Last entry 3.00pm

This is a Creeping Toad event for Buxton Museum and Art Gallery as part of the Hoards Event Programme
Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain
A British Museum and Salisbury Museum Partnership Exhibition
This exhibition runs from Saturday 13th April to Sunday 16th June, 2019 in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
some treasures simply live all around us