ARCHIVE: LEVELS 55 – THE POPLARS AT GODNEY


Sunrise over the group of trees – Poplars, I think – on the outskirts of Godney village.  Sited as they are on a small rise in the ground, these tall and slender trees are something of a landmark in this ultimately flat countryside.

And this small rise in the ground is important too.  For, according to a 1991 book on place names, Godney refers not to a god, but to an Anglo-Saxon named Goda, who presumably had some sort of settlement / farm on this hill, when it was a small island in the vast area of marshes and lakes that occupied the Somerset Levels before they were drained for agriculture – “ney”, in Old English, means island.  In AD 971, a manuscript named this place as Godeneia.

I grew up not far from here and, for most of my life, the place names were just, well, place names.  So that it came as a real revelation to find out that the majority of these names originated in Anglo-Saxon times (c. AD 410-1066) and they in fact actually mean something, as in Goda’s island.  It helps to bring this simple but intriguing landscape to life.  There are newer names too, which result from the Norman invasion in 1066.  And, more fascinating to me, there are also older, Celtic names, ie pre-dating the Anglo-Saxons: eg river names like Avon and Severn.

The pure naturalness of this image may be reduced by the telephone wire, which I may have been able to remove post-capture but, really, my aim is to show this area as it is, rather than as some manicured ideal.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Godney, on the Somerset Levels; 19 Oct 2018.

SOMERSET LEVELS: SOME KEYWORDS

And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.



About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

5 Responses to ARCHIVE: LEVELS 55 – THE POPLARS AT GODNEY

  1. bluebrightly says:

    Uplifting! I would even say, peachy keen!
    I agree about old place neams – there is so much more to them than names that are simply given to honor some military heron or something. We have lots and lots of Coast Salish neames in this region, hopefully also given a long time ago, by the indigenous tribes who lived here. I often wonder about them.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, place names add altogether another dimension to landscape. Fascinating. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • bluebrightly says:

        There’s an Apache tribe in the US Southwest that puts great importance on the names of places. The names are connected to stories that are essentially morality tales – lessons for life. So just saying the name properly can allude to an entire piece of culture that’s passed down to strengthen tribal ties. If you’re curious, google “Wisdom Sits in Places” and you should retrieve enough to give you a taste.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian Rope says:

    Thanks for sharing the image and the words. I alwas enjoy reading that type of background information puttng the image into context for me.

    Like

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