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Poetry Month, April 2018: Ravenscar, The Town That Never Was: 2 Poems and More About Ravenscar

Author:

Ann loves to write poetry and stories. Current poetry on Nature, Travel & beyond, including varied poetic structures.

Situation

Ravenscar sits between Scarborough and Whitby on the east coast of Yorkshire, in the north of England. The name derives from Ravensker, the rock of the raven, from the Viking word 'sker'. Other similar names are Ravenseat in Swaledale, the seat or hill of the raven and Ravenglass in Cumbria, taken from the Celtic ‘Rann Glas’ meaning the part share of land belonging to someone called Glas. Much of the English language derives from Scandinavian and Celtic influence.

These two poems are inspired by the unusual story of this town, described below.


Raven & Rose

Raven on rock-scar way above stormy Sea,

surveying foam-decked Air, Fret moving in, stealthy.


Watching Raven, seeped hair clamped on brow,

sits Rose, black-cloaked, claw-fingers clasping rounded

head of cane, ebony eyes searching mist now,

for what? - memories of unreachable sounds.


Voices promising a place to live, play, rest; home at last.

But Voices faded, broken promises like Frets

passing out to sea on the tide. Rose’s death came fast.


Black Raven on rock, Black Rose on Fret, both rose to meet the mist,

drifted out as One above stormy Sea and Surf,

away from earthly Scar.


Raven

Ravenscar

The Town that Never Was, that’s what they say today.

Great idea, eh? - resort above the cliff-tops, miles away!

Sharp descent, steep steps, slip-slap o’er even sharper rocks,

to reach the beach - at last soft sand? - oh no, what a shock!


Rocks, rock-pools 'twixt the slime of algae left by tide and time.

Whose bright idea was this to build resort sublime?

Great panoramas of sky and mist, a grid of houses paid for,

conveyance proof with bills of sale - the land just sits, no doors


waiting to welcome, roads to guide them, just drains to take the rain

from grass-topped paths, some gateways, all prepared in vain.

Flawed vision, lack of money, no chance of having fun.

Instead a let down clientèle, bosses on the run.


The likes of Rose had no redress, no sun and fun and lollies,

just bare land, views of grass and scrub, a legacy of folly.


Glossary

  • scar: a high rock
  • fret: a sea mist, coming and going swiftly
  • folly: i) a building constructed for fun, on a whim; ii) silliness
  • 'twixt' - or betwixt, used to mean involving two things (between two); 'twice' has the same derivative; also a general archaic word for 'between'


Why 'The Town that Never Was'?

Ravenscar is a lone village built on spectacular cliffs. Victorian developers devised big plans for the village to rival Scarborough and Whitby, wanting to turn it into a popular resort. It had a costal train line, bracing air and panoramic views.

A North Eastern Railway poster billed it as 'Twixt moors and sea, midway between Scarborough and Whitby' with a 'Magnificent Undercliff and Hanging Gardens', claiming that it was the 'most bracing health resort on the east coast, 600 feet above sea level'.

The fact that it was 600 feet above the sea, atop a steep cliff and that there was no sandy beach, all added to its failure as the new resort. A set of steps was built down the cliff but they were not easy to negotiate. Who would want to buy a plot in such a position? A good view, yes, but that's all!

Plots were sold but apart from a few streets and buildings the resort never came to fruition, due to the development company going bankrupt. It was thus referred to as 'The Town That Never Was'. The railway line closed in the 1960s and all that remains is a dramatic headland with a clifttop hotel, amazing views in all directions, and several walking and cycling routes.


More about Ravenscar

Its history encompasses industrial heritage, a wartime radar site and rich coastal and countryside scenery.

The original settlement, Peak, was a simple farming hamlet. The 17th century brought industry to the coast and alum, used as a fixative for dyes in the textile industry, began to be extracted from the shale. At its height in the 18th century Peak Alum Works was a huge operation; remains of the quarries, shale tips and the factory buildings can still be seen.

Ravenscar was also the site of a World War II radar station, acting as part of a coastal defence system established in 1941.

There is a reinstated rocket post, once used in practice exercises by coastguards, as well as scenic walks taking in wonderful panoramas, clifftop meadows with abundant flora, and woodlands, farmland and ponds.

Fylingdales Moor rises above Ravenscar. It is a conservation area managed by the Hawk and Owl Trust, a haven for wildlife. You might be lucky enough to see a merlin, the UK’s smallest raptor, or a seal colony at the bottom of the cliffs. There are Bronze Age archeological remains on the moor. The local Clevedon Way is a popular walk, encompassing much of the above.


Common Raven

These are the largest of the raven species; the species is the genus ‘Corvus’. The only difference between ravens and crows is that ravens are larger.

There are several collective nouns for ravens, two of which are ‘an unkindness of ravens’ and ’a conspiracy of ravens’. This seems to reflect their apparent ferocity and their verbosity when roosting in great numbers. The terms are slightly less derogatory than the collective for crows - 'a murder'!



Conspiracy of Ravens?

Corvus on a Scar

Corvus on a Scar

Ravens at the Tower of London

There is a saying, a superstition, that the Tower of London and therefore the kingdom will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave. It is said that Charles II first required the ravens of the Tower to be protected.

Today, there are seven ravens at the Tower (maybe one's ageing and they need a spare!) - Hardey, Thor, Odin, Gwyllum, Cedric, Hugine and Munin, who live next to the Wakefield Tower. They consume 6 ounces of raw meat and bird formula biscuits soaked in blood each day.

Let's hope no one ever lets them out; we need all the luck we can get!



Don't Let them Go!

Jubilee & Munin at the Tower of London

Jubilee & Munin at the Tower of London

Sources

www.yorkshire-england.co.uk/PlaceNameMeaningsPtoS.html

dictionary.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raven

www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMagazine/DestinationsUK/Tower-Ravens/

https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/explore/the-ravens/



© 2018 Ann Carr

Comments

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 18, 2020:

Yes, Peggy, it's an area popular with hikers and cyclists. The views are far and wide - on a good day without mist!

They certainly make sure that the ravens are well cared for!

Thanks for your visit. Keep safe and well.

Ann

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 17, 2020:

That town that never came to fruition does sound as though the panoramic views are breathtaking. Since there is a hotel on the site, it might make for a perfect getaway for souls who like to meditate and do some hiking or cycling during the day.

That is an interesting superstition about the ravens in London. It sounds as though they are well fed.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 15, 2018:

Thank you, Gypsy. Good to see you. Yes, I love the ravens too. They have something magical about them.

Ann

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 15, 2018:

Thank you for sharing. Really fascinating. I love those large ravens.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 15, 2018:

Thank you, Ruby. Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, it has its place in history which is good.

Ann

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 14, 2018:

This was an interesting read, and the poems were great. The fact that Ravenscar was used during the war was worth the building. The ravens added a nice touch to the piece.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2018:

Threekeys: You're welcome and thank you for visiting and commenting.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2018:

Thank you, John. I'm always grateful for kind words from the real poets on this site. I enjoy writing it but it all depends on the muse at the time. I'm enjoying poetry month!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2018:

Hello Jackie! I do quite like writing poems but this time it was the poem as the main thing but wanting to add connected facts to boost the article somewhat. I always feel that my poems need some supporting material!

Thanks for your visit and your kind support.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2018:

Thank you Liz for your lovely comment. Glad you enjoyed this.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2018:

Thank you, Doris, for your kind comment. Yes, ravens are mysterious and of course black is associated with witchcraft which I tried to mirror a little in the first poem. They do sometimes have a bad press which seems a shame.

Ann

threekeys on April 14, 2018:

Loved learning about these places . Lots of interesting details. Thankyou Ann

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on April 14, 2018:

A very interesting article and well-written poems. Nice work, Ann.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 13, 2018:

Great article and you must be like me. I love to throw a poem in whenever I can!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 13, 2018:

Very nice poems; moving and poignant.

Loved the added historical bits, as well! Kudos to you!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 13, 2018:

Love the poem combined with the history of the place. The name sounds like it would be shrouded in mystery. The place names and the terminology are intriguing. Ravens in our literature send a message of mystery and suspense, sometimes even horror. They are beautiful birds, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one here in the Southern U.S. Crows abound though. You really are a great writer, Ann.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2018:

Thank you for your great comment, Eric! I'm pleased I created a 'nice uneasy' feeling. It's a cool feeling for me!

I appreciate your loyal support.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2018:

I'm blushing, bill; such praise from you, one of the most talented on HP, means so much to me. Thank you.

I must say my muse is active at the moment. I think the break helped recharge the batteries! Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this.

Have a fruitful Friday, bill!

Ann

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 13, 2018:

What a great story of the town that never was. I love the Ravens they are so adaptable and multifaceted. We have murders of hundreds here as they head west to the coast for the night.

I have never enjoyed a poem like this that gave me a "nice" uneasy feeling. Pretty cool.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 13, 2018:

You came back from your trip on a roll with your writing, and such wonderful writing it is. I love history like this, wrapped up in poetic form.....you are a seriously talented writer, my friend. More please!

Wishing you a wistful weekend!

bill

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2018:

Thank you, Flourish. Glad you were entertained. I enjoyed writing this but then birds fascinate me and anything connected is a bonus.

Good to see you!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2018:

Verlie: I agree with you about eerie. Maybe it's the black of this species that makes them so. However, blackbirds are upbeat but then not so big!

Thank you for your lovely comment.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2018:

manatita: Yes, I wanted to emphasise the sadness of it. No, not bothering me at all. I just have so many ideas at the moment plus lots of holiday themes/photos to call upon. My muse is being kind to me!

Thank you; glad you liked it.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2018:

Thanks again, Frank.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 12, 2018:

I enjoyed the directions that you took this in. Between the doomed town and those birds eating raw meat and blood soaked biscuits I was both entertained and educated.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on April 12, 2018:

'Raven and Rose' what a powerful poem Ann, so mysterious and finely tuned. Really lovely page, Ravens are more solitary than crows, although I did see a small group of them today looking hungry and wind blown, in a graveyard no less, it was a bit eerie..

manatita44 from london on April 12, 2018:

A little sad in some places. Good info and new theme. Grear variety. Are you feeling it a bit. For me it felt like it in the first part. Still, its a great endeavour. Carry on ...carry on.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on April 12, 2018:

bless you you're simply amazing.. I'm serious.. a poem is a poem.. but it becomes poetry when it's developed right.. and you do that...

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 12, 2018:

Frank, your comment has blown me away! I'm delighted by 'thorough publishing'. Thank you so much. Glad you liked the raven; I think they're majestic.

Ann

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on April 12, 2018:

these poems have just blown away the doors to April's poetry month statues.. I love the raven.. the links were interesting and the hub altogether is a must read for all hubbers who love thorough publishing.. awesome Ann