Next year 2015 will be the eight hundredth anniversary of the `’Signing of The Magna Carta” -Though in fact when King John was confronted by the Barons he didn’t in fact sign anything, but just attached his seal. And as soon as he could tried to renege on the whole proceedings anyway.
Where I was staying, just outside Windsor, was literally just up the road from Runnymede mentioned in the Magna Carta - "in the meadow that is called Runnymede between Windsor and Staines"
so I was interested to go and have a look, and Nick offered to take me. I couldn’t really have used Super Scooter, as even if the name Runnymede comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'runieg’ regular meeting and 'mede' meadow, or slightly more fancifully from runes and meadow its name is very appropriate for the the watery boggy, damp meadow of the day I visited.
Nearly two hundred acres of land there was given in 1929 by a widowed American lady in memory of her husband, and Lutyens was commissioned to design the entrance memorials at either end of the land
Of course no-one is certain where exactly the meeting between King John and the Barons took place, and the Magna Carta Memorial erected by a group of American lawyers in 1957 appears to be in Long Mede rather than Runnymede, but it is a shorter distance from the carpark which does make it easier to get to. I like to think as air travel became easier after the Second World War various tourists from across the seas visited and said something like ‘Is that it?’ when a strip of muddy English landscape was pointed out, and going back home decided to do something about it. The interior of the classical dome they erected is painted blue with stars; though the stars are gold and I didn’t discern any stripes. But it does give a focal point to an otherwise moderately featureless meadow.
Rival claims for the actual signing/sealing site are mooted as The Ankerwycke Yew, on the basis that in the inhabitants at the time might have confused a yew with an oak (I would think today’s populous would be far more likely to make the mix up than those who’s lives revolved round trees) or the island in the middle of the Thames nowadays called `Magna Carta Island - once again I would think a rural population might have been able to tell an island from a meadow. But then I am neither an archeologist nor a historian. But as the Witan of Council of the Anglo Saxon Kings of the 7th to 11th centuries was sometimes held at Runnymede and these meetings were normally held in the open air my money is on somewhere in Runnymede - Like what it said in the original Charter! :-)
There are other memorials on the lands there - the John Kennedy Memorial and the Air Forces Memorial, but by then I needed a rest from walking, so those will have to wait for another time.
Getting back to the car and sitting with the windows open deciding how to get to the Hellfire Club Caves, which was our next destination for the day, there was a flock of birds high up in some tangled Plane trees. Nick often teases me, and he knows I am fairly good on a lot of the calls of the more common birds, so he said. - Okay what are those then?
I didn’t have my long distance driving specs with me, and they certainly did have an unusual sound to their chattering. - And it was quite a large flock - And they were quite a brightish green.- Got it parakeets!
I knew they had quite large flocks of them breeding in the south from escapees, but had never seen or heard them till then. So the strange photo of the upper branches of a tree is taken with the camera pointed to approximately where I thought they were. But I think I missed!!!