Leaving a mark, pt 1

All around us there were marks…

Proprietary marks-


Marks to aim for-


Marked anticipation!


Marks noting the passage of time…


Marks from time out of mind-


Marks telling a story-


And marks which are not easily wiped clean even after many winters-


Pit-saw marks as rhythmic as a ticking clock-


Marks under eaves which somehow speak to us even after 700 years-


Marks of a nation’s pride-


And marks used to educate-


Familiar marks left from centuries of common use-


Familiar marks, but distant from our experience-


Simple marks speaking of economy and of practical use-


Marks left by those who had none of the best grain to work with-


 Marks for layout and for decoration-


Marks made by the credulous;

or maybe they are marks of proportion-


 A well-tuned saw’s marks, in contrast to a hastily wrought chamfer-


 Marks left, perhaps, by a locksmith-


Noisy marks which still hurt the ears in their clenching…


 Amateur marks, left by need and function-


Gaudy marks leaving no room–or time–for sin in their making…


Unexpectedly clumsy marks-


 Subtle, quiet marks in the hamstone of an abbey’s walls-


Marks of intolerance-


And marks of man’s thirst for the fruits of the earth-



***Forgive the lack of provenance, dear reader. So many of these shots were taken hastily and without time to properly document. Many of the photos are from Muchelney Abbey in Somerset, built and rebuilt from the 10th century onwards. If you have questions about a specific detail, feel free to ask me–I’ll do my best to track down info.



9 thoughts on “Leaving a mark, pt 1

  1. jackbaumgartner says:

    Much gratitude, Rick, for sharing so much from your journey. From a lower place, I appreciate the “hidden and plain” things that your eyes see. They aren’t so plain after all but sacred by the hands and the witnessing. To say nothing of your skillful wielding of the words. I am in awe of all of it.

    • Rick says:

      So much to experience and to see when you stumble wide-eyed into someone else’s culture…thanks for saying Jack. Hope your summer’s going well!

  2. Josh says:

    Great blog Rick! Hope your well! Nice to meet you and the rest of the guys! The weather is still beautiful. So not the classic ‘English’ weather, sorry for misleading you all :). Come back soon!

    • Rick says:

      That’s all we talk about, Josh–when we’re coming back. On behalf of The USA, I’d like to thank you for being amazing hosts! (Justin REALLY misses driving between hedges and on the wrong side of the road…)

      The weather was perfect, wasn’t it? We have a little hurricane creeping up the east coast right about now…you guys should come visit us!

      Stay in touch and hey to the guys in the yard–

      PS–If Graham sees another wallaby on the estate, make sure he gets a picture of it. I promise to send along any pics of Bigfoot that I take-

  3. John Wolf says:

    Hi Rick, happy 4th! What a great tour – much more there than in the room with the crown jewels! Interesting to see the boards with tortured grain put to use anyway, and still in use after many years.

    • Rick says:

      Happy 4th to you John! And hey to Stella for me. You know, those crown jewels are all-right, I suppose. That punch bowl was big enough to bathe in!

      Just when you’ve seen about the oldest thing you’ve ever seen, maybe it’s a rafter from the 14th century, the bottom drops out and it’s like, oh, here’s a Roman wall…
      Just amazing. Like you, I love seeing how the ancients dealt with nasty grain…you can really empathize with them sometimes, looking at the tool marks.

      Happy summer!

  4. How was the oak, Rick?


    • Rick says:

      We hewed the biggest timbers first, Ernest–27 and 21 footers. That was generally the best grained stuff and great to work. It spoiled us a little, for when some of the winding and knotty grain arrived with the shorter pieces, we struggle a bit. Oak is oak, though, and we worked through it.

      I REALLY like English oak–the cat’s paw knot patterns and the deceptively tough heartwood–all very commendable. Some of the oaks we worked had very deep checking (what the locals called “shakes”, though we use that term to mean something different over here) and we put those aside.

      I couldn’t help but compare English oak to the white and red oaks over here, and while it is generally as tough if not tougher than white oak, some of it seemed to have a brashness similar to the reds. This was a completely unscientific observation, of course, just one person’s experience. Like all oaks, it made a big difference when it was cut (ours were spring-cut) and whether is was fast or slow growth.

      Thanks for asking Ernest!

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