A Field In Baldersdale

It was a bleak, cold day in January when my dad and I decided to venture out in the hope of finding some fragments of Teesdale’s ancient past. Guided by the information in the fantastic book Prehistoric Rock Art of County Durham, Swaledale and Wensleydale written by Stan Beckensall and Tim Laurie we soon arrived at a small farm-house high above Hury Reservoir in Baldersdale. With the farmers kind permission and some friendly directions we made our way across the iron-hard frozen ground towards a small intake field where we were told our quarry would be. But it wasn’t until we where practically standing on top of it that we could see the earth fast stone we were looking for. It was probably around 5,000 years ago when someone decided to carve upon this piece of rough gritstone, and the weight of those centuries seemed to have pushed the boulder deeper into the marshy ground, so that now it’s broad flat surface barely showed above the sheep cropped turf. Gently we lifted off some of the frozen grass and sheep dung which had accumulated on the surface to reveal the beautiful design of cups and rings linked by deep grooves which decorated its coarse surface.

cup and ring baldersdale

After spending some time admiring and photographing the boulder we explored a bit more of the field to discover the other two cup marked stones which it was said to contain. But as is often the case when out in the hills at this time of year what little light quality there was quickly started to drop and with it the temperature. A few snow flakes had begun to fall as we got back into the car, and with the heater on full to try and thaw out our frozen limbs we drove home pondering the mystery of the carvings and where next to explore.

The photograph was taken with my Rolleicord TLR with hand held fill in flash. The film was Fomapan 100 which I developed in Pyrocat HD 1+1+100 for 12 minutes and the Lith printed on expired Agfa Brovia Grade 5 paper.

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4 comments on “A Field In Baldersdale

  1. Hi Graham. Happy New Year. You write that you used fill-in flash. I’ve never tried that, but I can use it. How do you adjust your exposure and calculate the fill-in? I use vintage folders and Rolleiflex. Centralshutter.
    Sincerely, Dan Roy Andersen. Bornholm. Denmark

    • grahamvasey says:

      Happy New to you to Dan hope you’re keeping well! It was a lot easier to do when you could test with Polaroid haha I used my Minolta light meter set to incidental flash mode and balanced it with the ambient reading. Also bracketed my exposure just to make sure

      • Well thank you. It goes well. I miss being able to shop in your lovely bookshops and photoshops. Brexit is the reason.
        Other than that, I really enjoy reading your blog. Always well written and many lovely reflections and the good pictures. I’ve been playing around a bit with wetplate and find it so amusing. Not much fishing….There is so much else. Work takes up a lot.

    • grahamvasey says:

      Don’t mention Brexit Dan it’s a nightmare, possible one of the stupidest things ever done by modern government, it’s a total disaster! On a brighter note that sounds incredible Dan I think your style of work would lend itself nicely to wet plate. I definitely need to write some more for this blog, thanks for your kind words

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