In the footsteps of Alfred Watkins — a set of black and white photos taken at Wandlebury Hill Fort
This morning Susanna and I, along with an old college friend, took a spin up to the ancient iron-age Wandlebury Hill Fort to take a late winter walk. For various reasons my friend and I recently returned to a book we both had as teenagers, Janet and Colin Bord's wonderfully illustrated Mysterious Britain. It turns out that neither of us were ever persuaded by the somewhat "new agey" interpretations found in the book but we were both captivated enough by what we saw in it to get out into the countryside and explore many of these ancient, mysterious and evocative places for ourselves.
For my own part, the style of black and white photographs that appear in the book certainly influenced the way I have come to take photographs. Although many of the photos in the book were taken by the Bords themselves a fair few were taken by an intriguing English character called Alfred Watkins (1855–1935). He was the self-taught amateur archaeologist, antiquarian and photographer who came to believe that certain ancient features in the landscape were deliberately aligned; these lines he called "ley lines" — a delightful theory to which it seems no respectable archeologist today gives any credence. However, although his ideas as an archeologist have not survived into the present day, his work as a photographer has. He had an uncanny ability to show the landscape in a powerful, mysterious, "hauntological" way that inspired me, not only to explore some of the sites he photographed but also to get out and photograph places where I was living.
If you want to get some idea of his work as a photographer you can see something of that at the Herefordshire History site by clicking on this link. You can also read a recent Guardian review of his evocative book "The Old Straight Track" at this link — it might help explain why it, like the Bords' book, was so appealing to and influential upon my own generation.
Of course, I neither can, nor do, claim to come close to equalling his skill as a photographer but I'm sure you'll see a certain family resemblance between between his and my own photos below taken at Wandlebury this morning (with an iPhone 6+ and the Blackie App).
Just click on a photo to enlarge it. Enjoy!