June 21st, 2020
Grianan is located three miles outside Derry~Londonderry in Co. Donegal. It sits above the modern settlement like a reminder of its long history. It is thought to date from the Iron Age and two great circular earthen embankments from this period can still be made out amid the bog and heather surrounding the site. At the centre is a stone fort or cashel which is from a later period and encloses circular platforms stepping down from the battlements. At the very centre a 'tumulus' or ancient stone construction was recorded in the 1830's but no sign of this now survives. The fort itself as in ruins in the 1830's but was rebuilt in the 1890's. The kingly site was contested between the Cenel Owen and the Cenel Conall, the two great Ui Neill clans, during the Early Modern period and was a site of such significance that when eventually destroyed by the O'Brien's in 1101, each soldier was ordered to take away one stone of the fort with them. It is a place full of history and atmosphere and therefore a great place to watch the sunrise on the summer solstice. In 2013 as part of #musiccity day we watched a fantastic sunrise and then went inside the fort to hear a choir greet the new day. I didn't quite make it today.
June 15th, 2020
To the mysterious standing stones of Carnac in Brittany in northern France. The alignments continue for miles and contain around 3,000 aligned megaliths, which are thought to date from around 4000 BC
June 08th, 2020
I visited Delphi in Greece in 1989. This is the Tholos which sits below the main sanctuary in a magnificent isolated setting. From the 6th century BC Delphi was the religious centre and considered the actual physical centre of the ancient Greek world. It was the location of the 'Delphic Oracle' though which the god Apollo spoke and was the location for the Pythian Games where every four years, from 586 BC, athletes from all over the Greek world competed. It is also a site where the architecture exploits a dramatic natural setting at the foot of Mount Parnassus to maximum effect. Temples and statues are arranged along a processional route up the hillside to the Temple of Apollo. Well worth a visit. The site declined once the Roman Empire took up Christianity and was closed by Emperor Theodosius I in 381. One great bronze column with three serpents heads was taken from outside the temple by Constantine the Great and erected pride of place in the hippodrome in his new Roman capital of Constantinople in 324. It remains there today a testament to the enduring reputation of this special place in the ancient world.
June 03rd, 2020
The entrance gate at Machu Picchu reminded me of another gate with a heavy lintel within a huge stone block wall at Mycenae in Greece. This one is important in the history of architecture for it is surmounted by a triangular carved stone showing two lions flanking a column. Mycenae is a bronze age site predating the classical Greece of Athens and Olympia and the gate was the earliest exposed Bronze Age carving known and written about in the classical period. As such it was understood to symbolise the start of Greek architecture - the architecture which had such a profound impact upon Roman and then European architecture. The crest of the Royal Institute of British Architects takes the carving as its inspiration.
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.