Merry Maidens

When you think of stone circles in Great Britain what comes to mind? Stonehenge? The stone circle in Outlander? There are other stone circles you can see in England and Scotland.

The truth is there are many stone circles in Great Britain. It is said there are 316 stone circles in England, 508 in Scotland, and 81 in Wales.

Merry Maidens

Within the county of Cornwall in England there are 17 stone circles and this includes the Merry Maidens. Merry Maidens is made up of 19 granite stones. The circle is a diameter of 75 feet (24m). It is in a perfect circle with each stone about 3-4 meters apart. The tallest is 1.4 meters. The stones gradually diminish in size from SW to NE. This is believed to follow the cycle of the moon.

Tales Behind the Stones

The Cornish legend behind the monument is the stone circle was the petrified remains of a group of local girls who had been turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on the Sabbath. Further away in neighboring fields are three other stones. One is said to have been a fiddler and the two others were pipers. The story is they are further away because they heard the church bells ringing out at midnight and they attempted to flee because they realized they were breaking religious rules. They were caught as well and were turned to stone. This story was most likely started to turn people to the church and away from pagan practices.

Location

The stones are in a field next to the B3315 in the parish of St. Buryan in the West Penwith area. It has a small car park that can fit 4-5 cars.

If you are traveling to Cornwall and would like to see a stone circle up close and personal without the crowds of Stonehenge, then stop by this ancient group of stones. You will get to see something that could be over 3500 years old.

National Railway Museum

Where is the largest railway museum in the world? Where would a train enthusiast be on cloud nine? The location I am speaking of is the National Railway Museum in York, England.

What’s There

To say this museum is large is an understatement. It has over 6,000 objects on display including signage, model trains, posters, tickets, nameplates, clocks, furniture and other items. Signage catches my eye, so I will include images of some of these items. The museum is massive and I think its best to not spoil it too much.

Seating for one of the locations in the museum that serves food.

There are over 100 locomotives or rolling stock on display with other stock held elsewhere. It has the largest collection of train cars and locomotives held in what formally was the North York Locomotive Depot. On display are Queen Victoria’s railway carriage and other trains such as one used by Queen Elizabeth II. They also have international holdings such as a Japanese Bullet train and a Chinese locomotive. Train displays vary and they rotate displays with other museums.

Front of one of the Royal Trains
Inside of a Post Office sorting carriage
Visiting

They are open daily through out the year including bank holidays with the exception of 24-26 of December. Their hours are from 10-5 (10:00-17:00) most of the year, however, during the summer months they are open 10-6 (10:00-18:00).

If you are a train enthusiast, you could easily spend a blissful day at this museum. If you fancy trains, this museum should be on your bucket list. The historical aspect will appeal to others as well.

Southern Vermont Covered Bridges

What can be 100 years old, has a roof, usually has a single lane, and spans a body of water? If you answered a covered bridge, you are correct. Covered bridges are pieces of history that many times are located in scenic locations.

Purpose

The purpose of a covering a bridge with a roof and sides was to protect it from the weather. It was mainly to protect the structure that supported the bridge. Without covering, the bridge might last 20 years, while covering it translated into the bridge maybe lasting 100 years.

One of the more picturesque spots. This is Arlington, Vermont. Norman Rockwell lived in this little town on the other side of this bridge in a large white house that is labeled as an inn. As the of time I wrote this, the Rockwell house is for sale.
Bridge at Arlington taken from near the Norman Rockwell House.
Vermont

Other states have more covered bridges, but Vermont can lay claim to having the most per square mile over any other state. Vermont has more than 100 surviving in total. Some you can still drive over, others you can walk over. There are sites online that recommend short driving tours that include a few of them. Some towns have more than one covered bridge. I found two in the Grafton area. According to Wikipedia these are the towns with 3 or more covered bridges: Bennington (3), Charlotte (3), Randolph (3), Cambridge (3), Waterville (3), Pittsford (4), Northfield (5), Tunbridge (5), Lyndon (5),and Montgomery (6).

The Bridge in Grafton
Looking from the other direction- Grafton
This is a second bridge on the outskirts of Grafton, near a cheese store.
The view from one of the windows on the bridge on the outskirts of Grafton. It is next to a place that sells cheese. This is a pedestrian only bridge.
Locations

There are websites that list locations and provide a map detailing where some of them are. I recommend this website :

https://www.vermontvacation.com/things-to-do/arts-and-heritage/covered-bridges

Once you click on the link, scroll down and click on another link to get a map with locations.

When I think of autumn in New England it conjures up memories of pictures I have seen in travel articles featuring covered bridges and fall foliage. It is fun to scavenger hunt in fall and winter for covered bridges in Vermont. If you are visiting Vermont or traveling through, try to locate one.

Chisel Bridge

York City Wall

What location has the longest medieval town walls in England? What place has gorgeous views from those walls? If you answered York, you would be correct.

In some sections one side does not have a railing. I believe this was from the area of the train station looking towards York Minster.
One view of York Minster from the wall with also some lovely back garden views.

York has an old section of town that is surrounded by the remains of the old city walls. You can walk around most of this section of the city on top of the wall. You will have some nice views of York Minster and other parts of the old city from the wall.

History

The original walls were built by the Romans in AD 71. However, the walls you see now were the upgrade to stone built in 1226. They are the longest Medieval town walls in England at 3.4 kilometers (about 2 miles) and are very well maintained.

Another view of York Minster from the wall
A sentry on the wall
The wall is just too narrow in many spots, so dogs are not allowed.
Visiting

It is open daily 8 a.m. to dusk. It is closed on Christmas and any days that the conditions are icy or slippery. As it is an old wall, it is not handicap accessible. Also, dogs are not allowed on the wall as most of it is narrow. Some areas do not have high ledges or railing on one side, so one has to take care. Someone with a fear of heights may not enjoy this walk.

If you are visiting York, hiking on the old city walls is a must to get another perspective on this lovely city.

One of the gates through the wall into the old section of York.

Wayside Cross

Wayside (edge of road) crosses are one type of Christian Cross that could be erected in Medieval times (5th-15th century). What do you think was its purpose?

Locations

In England there are over 350 wayside crosses. They are mostly found in Southwest England in Cornwall and on Dartmor. They can also be found on the North Yorkshire Moors. Very few are found elsewhere. Other forms of Wayside crosses can be found in other European countries such as Germany and Ireland.

Function

One function of a wayside cross was to reinforce the Christian faith amongst those who traveled past the cross. It was meant to reassure the traveler. In addition, they were way markers. They helped mark the areas that were generally unmarked routes.

Boskenna Cross

This wayside cross is at the junction of B 3315 and Rectory Rd in Cornwall. It is near the Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall, England. The head of the Boskenna Cross is circular. On one side of the head is a cross. On the opposite side is a figure of Christ with his arms up stretched and his feet pointing outwards. Some other wayside markers in Cornwall are said to have rounded heads with a cross on one side and different carvings on the other side.

This side faces someone property. It has a cross clearly visible on it.
This is the side facing the road. It is said to have a carving of Jesus on it with his arms outstretched. If you able able to see it in person you can barely make it out.

Wayside crosses are unique to Europe and the type found in Cornwall seems to be unique to Cornwall. If you visit Cornwall, see if you can spot one of these ancient monuments that has stood the test of time.

Pub Signs-The Bucket of Blood

The Bucket of Blood Pub in the Hayle area of Cornwall.

Which pub in Cornwall most likely has a name that is not duplicated with any other pub in England? The Bucket of Blood is very unique. It is a pub in Hayle that is said to be haunted and there is an interesting story behind it.

It is said an inn has been on that site for hundreds of years. It had a well from which they drew water for the inn and to brew the beer, a dark ale. Cornwall has been known for its miners, sailors, fishermen and smugglers.

The story is the innkeeper went to draw water, but instead drew blood. Upon search of the well a corpse was found. It is said the identity was unknown.

They say at night footsteps can be heard on creaking floorboards. There have been reports of people seeing ghostly figures crossing the road and then disappearing.

They say during the reign of King George III the name of the Bucket of Blood was changed to the New Inn. That lasted for about 250 years. In the 1980s the owner changed the name back to its original name- the Bucket of Blood.

I asked locals where the well was. They pointed me out to a well across the street and around the corner. However, a person who worked at the pub said there is no longer access to it. It is under what is now the ladies restroom/loo.

This inn serves nice meals. They do not serve puddings/desserts. If you are in the Hayle area make a stop at the Bucket of Blood. Its worth the trip. Ghost sightings are not guaranteed.

Dorset Road Signs

I have seen sign posts in England at road junctions in different counties that mark the way to go as you are driving. Many consist of fingerposts to show the direction to different points of interest or villages. In the county of Dorset, they have some that are more unique to that county. They have road signs topped with finials.

This is a finial without the cross bar. It is just a circle. In this case the top of the circle represents the Dorset County Council. The signs beneath points the direction of different villages or locations. According to the fingerpost pointing left, Dorchester is seven miles away.

The final is unique in appearance. Many are shaped like a London underground sign. While others are circular in shape. On the top part of the circle (on ones shaped like an underground sign) lists the county, Dorset, in case you are not sure. The bottom of the circle lists the grid reference. If it has a rectangular shape in the middle like a London Underground sign, it tells you the specific location of the sign.

The finial on top of this road sign is one shaped similar to the London Underground signs.
This road sign’s finial states its location as Black Down.
History

According to Colin and Susy Varndell, authors of The Natural Beauty of Dorset, many of these fingerpost road signs were removed in 1940. The government decided that these signs could aid the enemy if they invaded. Many of the signs were sent for scrap with the finials. Councils are replacing these signs and adding finals back on the top with help of individuals, parishes, companies, or groups.

A fingerpost on this sign directs you to a point of interest, the Hardy Monument.

While other counties may have a few of these, they seem to be more common in Dorset. When in Dorset, England see how many finials you can find when on your travels. It is something that makes Dorset unique.

This one is at a crossroads in the village of Briantspuddle, Dorset.