Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 4 - The Finding

Kensington Fairyland in Astoria
 Before my send off to Fairyland, er um, Wales, I wasn't sure what I would find.  I knew I would face loss as I left my own dear little fairykin behind, but I was unprepared for the finding and the enormity of the finding and the change in myself at the finding.

I turned inwards as I travelled, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and facing my own inordinate fears of being lost yet again, I realized that in spite of my daydreams of world travel I am a closet-coward.  Let me phrase that a bit gentler.  As a child I was lost at Kreske's or perhaps Woolworth's Department store in Chicago.  I don't remember the name of the store just that it was the holidays, the store was packed and as I looked up, my mother was no longer standing in front of me.  I stood still, remembering that mom would find me if I just stood still.  True to her word, she did.  I was scolded for not paying attention but hugged for standing still so I could be found.  I've made it a point to not put myself in a position to get lost ever again.  Silly?  Perhaps but it is the random childhood memories that shape our lives.

Now in Aberystwyth, I'm learning to wander, to lose myself in history, in a novel, and in the experience.  Not bravely perhaps but I'm learning.  In exploring the base of the castle ruins, I noted several mosiacs facing the roadway.  At great peril to life and limb (UK drivers have the right of way and one takes their chances when stepping onto a roadway), I photographed several that caught my eye.

Death in the Castle
As I journeyed into the ruin courtyard, now a manicured lawn, I came across young male students with Nerf guns running in what looked to be a weaponized game of tag.  Another young man with a camera seemed to be recording and though I may be nervous when travelling, I have absolutely no compunction about talking to perfect strangers if I'm seeking information.  I queried him as to the "rules" of the game.  Half the team was Zombie and half (the ones with weapons) were the "normals."  It was the Zombie's responsibility to convert as many townies as possible.  The last one standing was deemed winner.  I watched for awhile, staying out of their playing field and then... the stones caught my eye.

Standing stones... a ring of standing stones carefully placed within the castle courtyard.  My reseacher's heart beat a little faster.  The game faded,  I walked into the stones as well as the game and noted they (the stones) were not completely symmetrical, some were carved with runes or stamped with what appeared to be tortoise symbols.  Wait!  My analytical brain called me up short when I saw the runic inscriptions.  This is a seaside town with corrosive salt air and these incisions were still crisp.  I photographed each one and looked forward to a long research session on my computer.  How lovely to find standing stones in my back yard!

However, the finding was not an easy finding and led me to another finding - another layer of Welsh history, another path I  least expected, a history that now plays peek-a-boo in the pages of my new novel.  These were not ancient standing or Druidic stones but were Bardic stones, newly placed during the1916 Eisteddfod, and representing the 13 original counties in Wales.  The Bards gather for competitions and each hopes to win the coveted prize:  a silver chair for the best storyteller, a silver tongue for the best singer, and a silver harp for the best minstrel.  I believe the runic carvings to be the names of the original counties.

As to our mystery skeleton - He appears to have been buried in the mid-1600's, within the castle which is in itself unusual.  He was approx. 28 years old, in above average health (good teeth), and buried hurriedly.  However, he was never reinterred in consecrated soil?  Was he murdered?  He is now resting at the Aberystwyth Free Museum, waiting for his fate to be decided.

But in my findings and research of those findings, I've learned to expect the unexpected, to use a bus schedule, to realize that in spite of age and my previous voluntary dependence on a vehicle, one can, indeed, regenerate unused and tired muscles.  Ultimately, it is the mind that seeks to find and it is in the finding that we discover... life, and maybe the odd fairy or two.


  1. I love your posts! I also love "Ultimately, it is the mind that seeks to find and it is in the finding that we discover... life, and maybe the odd fairy or two." How beautiful!

  2. Very nice, Jan, we get a sense of your adventure, and the place. I'm guessing you have an accent by now!