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Jul. 20th, 2010

Like all our historic buildings the Minster is in a constant state of restoration, we were extremely fortunate to visit as the Great East window was being restored n a £23,000,000 project. All the glass has been removed and the exterior covered in scaffolding to allow the mason rare access to replace badly worn stonework, we were extremely fortunate in being able to climb the scaffolding and see the stonework at close quarters, a chance that will not occur again for at least 70 years once this project is finished

It is often said how our Pagan ancestors created incredible images that can not be seen from the ground, supposedly they were designed only for the gods to see, what is not always known is that the same is seen in Christian architecture. The Great East Window is a perfect example its outer edges being covered in carvings and the two pinnacles covered in protruding carved faces and grotesque all invisible from the ground

Looking down on medieval York from a height of about 20m (70')

Our first glimpse of some of the intricate carvings, in this case this is recently installed replacements made by the stone masons we saw earlier using similar techniques to those used originally 600 years ago

Upper half of one of the two flanking windows showing its original lead work, these windows contain no stained glass

More intricate carving on the window tracery at a height of about 30m (100')

A statuette still stares out from one of the pinnacles 600 years after being carved

Higher up the same pinnacle another  Medieval grotesque  keeps up its vigil

The outer edge of the main window is covered in relief carvings such as this figure we believed to that of a man wearing a crown and playing a lyre

A 15th century Green Man demonstrates his thoughts on those who consider him a Pagan symbol 

A brand new grotesque settle in for hopefully at least another 600 year vigil

An example of the attention to detail, this recently replaced stone at 40m (120') is decorated with cherubs barely 10cm long

Moving higher yet another medieval carving contemplates the world below

The point below this stone face is the highest point of the window (look at the first photo), we were informed that it was considered to be that of Jesus Christ, although an unusual clean shaven image of him

Finally standing above the window is possibly the most controversial carving in the Minster, despite being badly worn it is not to be replaced as no one knows who it depicts, it could be the patron of the window, the bishop of the time or equally it could represent Jesus Christ, getting it wrong could be considered blasphemy.

On returning to the ground we  discussed with a Minster guide about such incredible work being placed in such inaccessible positions when he took us to a rear entrance where a yard is now used as a staff car park and pointed out a carving about 25m up the outside wall

Almost unknown to the public four men peer over the side of a boat while a giant figure stands behind them holding something aloft, possibly a rock he intends sinking the boat with?  The story unfortunately has been lost  sometime in the 600 years since they set sail

Stone Mason's Yard

 York Minster's Great East Window, the worlds largest expanse of medieval glass is currently undergoing a £23,000,000 restoration project with all the glass having been removed for cleaning and re-leading and the surrounding stonework  being examined and where deemed potentially dangerous removed and replaced, so when the opportunity arose for a guided walk around the nearby Stonemason's Yard and the chance to climb the scaffolding that currently covers the window in order to examine the stone carvings up close, an opportunity that will not occur again for at least 70 years, so as a historian how could I resist?


Great East Window before Restoration Started


The tour started in the the Stone mason's yard where we were greeted with examples of fresh stone blocks recently delivered from the the Quarry at Tadcaster, the same quarry as was used in the building of the Minster 600 years ago, as well as a few examples of completed stones waiting to be installed, replacing those deemed a potential danger in the future

Carvings created 30 years ago for an earlier stage in the ongoing restoration before being found surplus to requirement as plans changed

Yet more carvings awaiting installation 

Each stone bears the Runic style mark of the Mason, in earlier times this would have have been used in calculating the wages for each Mason who were paid by the piece. 

Resin Molds of previous work created by the masons

A Stonemason at work

Demonstrating the two dimensional metal templates used to create three dimensional carvings, a technique dating from at least 600 years ago when the minster was built.

A master mason with his latest creation a Grotesque which will shortly take its place on the pinnacle that rise either side of the Greats East Window

To be continued

I have a new toy

I have just upgraded my mobile phone (that's a cell phone for Americans) and anybody who knows me knows I am something of a gadget freak and true enough I started off wanting one of the the new touch screen phones.

I had discounted an Iphone early on simply because nowadays every wants oneand there is nothing worse then listening to two people in the pub comparing Iphones "Oh thats only a 3G, mines a 3GS" and all that sort of crap, so I began leaning toward the Android powered phones, particularly the gorgeous HTC Desire, fortunately however I always research my technology before I buy. 

The fancy phones have two major draw backs, first of all both rely heavily of the 3G mobile Internet service as do many of the apps designed for them and living and working in a very rural part of Yorkshire I rarely have access to it. Secondly is the truly appalling battery life of touch screen phones, I don't want to faf about turning off apps, Wi-Fi, GPS etc just to ensure I don't find myself standing in the middle of the moors with a useless phone because the battery is dead.

So instead I am now the proud owner of a Blackberry Bold 9700, which  has lasted two days on one charge despite having the GPS and Wi-Fi permanently running, browsing the web for bus timetables, using Google maps to navigate my way across York (Gods I have cities), taking a dozen or so photos and receiving twenty or more push emails. It seamlessly changes between 2G and 3G on those rare occasions I can access it as well as my home Wi-Fi and that of the village pub, its not as flashy as a Desire or Iphone but it does what I want with the minimum of fuss, I can truly recommend it to anybody looking to use a smartphone beyond the city limits.

Attack of the Sock Mistress

Apparently a certain fake Ce;tic Witch attempted to have my LJ account disable by making a complaint accusing me of  a hate campaign against them.  Fortunately LJ is made of sterner stuff then Facebook who close accounts at the hint of a complaint and apart from reminding me of their idemity clause all they did was give a copy of the  complaint.

LJ requested that I do not post the contents of their message but I think I can say that a certain person (no name BTW was given) claims thats she has in the past taken four people who replied to my posts to court for slander and harassment.  OK guys fez up! if you have been to court you must know that Rochelle exists and I an harassing a genuine world famous author on the other had it could be yet more lies from somebody becoming more and more desperate that her little secret is out.

Skipwith Common NNR Dedication Weekend

If anybody is looking for something to do this weekend then you may do worse then to come down the Skipwith Common.  After nearly half a century of waiting the common has finally received National Nature Reserve status recognising it''s unique status as the last vestige of the lowland heath that once covered much of area between the Rivers Ouse and Derwnt.

This weekend will see a program of events designed to showcase the common from an early morning bird walk to a late night bat walk with in between sheep dog trials, birds of prey, interactive archeology exhibitions, medieval and WWII reenactors and me rushing around like a blue arsed fly  helping people to interpret the role of our livestock, so if anybody wants to say hello look for the lady in the Natural England top somewhere around the hebridean sheep, exmoor ponies or long horn cattle.

The weekend starts on a more somber note, a small area of the common was incorporated into a WWII airfield, which despite only being a training base had one of the highest casualty rates of the war, this was due to the fact that bomber crews were being lost so fast that their replacements had to be rushed into action.  Skills that previously were learned over months or even years were condensed into a few weeks and inexperience, fatigue and no do doubt over worked aircraft resulted in many accidents during training exercises and since they were flying Halifax an accident involving an entire crew could kill up to ten young men.  A document I read makes sad reading as it list how so many died

  • Flying too low
  • Lost in bad weather and run out of fuel
  • Banking too steeply and breaking off a wing
  • landing without undercarriage down
and all too frequently
  • Missing - believed lost at sea
  • Missing - status unknown
So this Friday there is the dedication of a new monument to these young men, all under the age of 25, I think there is a bit of churchy stuff but for this occasion I will put up with it,  Then an invited group is off the Elvington Air Museum where we will be treated to lunch and then be forced to listen to speeches about the future of the common.

I hope some of you can make it and make a point of asking for Sue who is looking after the livestock - see you there

Archeology survey - Little Common

I put away my bunny hunting helmet yesterday in favour of my wide brimmed archaeologists hat as a group of us set out to survey a small anomaly on the common where I am a warden.  Little Common as it is known is an area roughly 1.5 acres that sits amid arable land between the village and Crook Moor, an extension of the main common that curves around two sides of the village.

At first glance at the maps you would be forgiven for thinking that it was originally joined to Crook Moor and that it had become cut off when some of the moor had been ploughed but an initial field walk last September had established that the boundary ditches with their mature oaks growing alongside meant that the Little common has existed in its current form for at least the last 300 years, long before the area was inclosed.  Our original field walk had also suggested the existence of earlier ditch and banks systems within the current boundary but we were unable to take this much further as the area was head high in bracken.

The ditch & bank can be seen along the southern boundry

This year we returned just as the bracken was coming through giving us a much clearer view of the archaeology, we were also fortunate enough to be accompanied by Jamie Quartermaine from Oxford Archaeology who had brought along a Total Station survey instrument which allowed us to accurately map the ditch and bank system we identified last year.

An initial field walk over areas inaccessible last year also confirmed a hollow way or ancient track bordered by high earth banks running from the village, through Little Moor and onto Crook moor, hollow ways are notoriously difficult to date my research dated it back until at least 1845 but it could be anything up a thousand years old.

The day started beautifully with clear blue skies but as we finish surveying the banks the sky clouded over and as we ate our lunch rain began to fall.  Being troopers we continued to work in the rain until it became so heavy that it threatened the computer in the Total Station and by a majority verdict we retreated to the village pub to discuss our findings, although quite what the townies out for a Saturday afternoon meal in the country thought when half-a-dozen bedraggled archaeologists plus one very wet dog walked into the tiny bar laden down with survey equipment and maps I don’t know, needless to say it went very quiet for a minute. Fortunately we are well known to the landlady and her staff, the Drovers being the unofficial HQ for our group for all our activities and we were able to appropriate a corner table for ourselves.

Our conclusion – well we didn’t finish and a return visit is planned for next Saturday but it does seem that Little Moor has existed in much its present form for a very long time, the ditch and bank system seeming to be an early enclosure dating from at least Medieval times and possibly much, much earlier.  As to why this little piece of common land exists, it could be where livestock were held after taking them from the common in readiness for market but in truth we don’t yet know - yet

Stop the Press

Stop the Press Rochelle Moore, Irish Celtic Witch and author has been spotted meeting her fans

Who is Rochelle Moore Part 2

Rochelle Moore is supposedly an Irish citizen but surprisingly for such a supposedly famous author there is no mention of her on any Irish based web-sites, in fact before 2005 there is no mention of her anywhere.

Despite her fame it appears that Rochelle has never appeared in public, has never given a TV interview and there is no reports of her ever attending a book signing, which is a bit strange considering that there are a number of posts scattered across the net listing her hectic book launch schedule.


 None of these posts are by Rochelle herself so no doubt she will argue that she had nothing to do with them which is just as well as they are just a little suspicious.

First of all Rochelle’s Irish agent Richard Kashmir aka Kashmir Literary Agent does not appear to exist, there is no company of that name and his phone number listed on the schedule is not recognised.

There is no McDaniels Piano Bar  in County Wicklow, although there is a McDaniels Tavern which despite seeming a perfectly reputable business hardly seems the setting for a major book launch. The remainder of the schedule is simply a list of dates and vague references to seminars and book signings from Manchester to Scotalnd and New York, pretty impressive for an author that nobody has ever heard of and nobody wants to report or even mention in passing having been to any of these events.

With Rochelle Moore unravelling before my keyboard I dug a little deeper looking at her publishing company Green Magic Publishing aka Andborough Publishing.  I must admit I expected to find this was a self publishing company, but apparently not, it is even more interesting.

Andborough Publishing’s web-site is every bit as vague as everything else that surrounds Ms Moore


Its vagueness, lack of information  and blank pages seem to be explained by the statement:

Sorry for our mess!  We are migrating to a new server and updating our website”

Except that I also found this reference to Andborough dated 2006 where it is comented that the web site is under construction


It may be just me but I find it a bit odd that a top selling author’s publisher cannot sort their web site out for more than four years.

By this time a suspicion is growing in my mind and I dug deeper into Andborough Publishing.  The address for submitted work is a PO box in Texas but eventually I traced it to an address in Colorado Springs



This also happens to be the home address of Pamela & Robert Yarborough (which indecently is currently up for sale).  The Yarborough’s are exponents of home education also running the Spiral Academy which supports home educators as well as being themselves Reiki Masters who run courses on Reiki for children having previously been leading exponents of the idea of Indigo or Crystal children.  Nothing suspicious here except I stumbled across a photo, supposedly of Pamela Yarborough.

With a bit of makeup and a bit of photo touching do I have the pleasure of introducing the real “Rochelle Moore”?

Who is Rochelle Moore?


 first came across Rochelle Moore when my Facebook group was spammed with a blatant advertisement for one of her books “Beyond the Third Eye - a journey into the realm beyond our physical existence”. That alone is not unusual; many self published authors tend to push their work on forums in an attempt to boost sales.  What was more unusual however was the sudden influx of members to the group who only stayed long enough to post gushing reviews of Rochelle’s work before disappearing into the ether once again, it was universally accepted that Rochelle made use of multiple accounts or “Sock Puppets” to praise her work

My curiosity piqued I did some cursory research into Ms Moore to find she has a bit of a reputation for this type of fake marketing, not only on Facebook, but on book review sites, even on Amazon the same gushing reviews could be seen drowning out the occasional remarks along the lines of “complete rubbish” and “full of plagiarism”.

At this time I started a spoof Facebook group called “The Coven of Fluffy Bunnies” which parodied the fluffy nonsense which passes as Paganism on the Net.  Some of the members had queried Rochelle Moore’s claims and been harassed by the sock puppets in return.  So of course I had to have a go.

Within hours of posting criticism of Rochelle’s sales tactics the group was flooded with posts accusing me of everything from the normal “Your are a nasty person” to threats of legal action from someone with the Facebook account “Rochellemooreagent”.  Needless to say I was properly impressed and informed Rochellemoore agent that ................  they could sling their hook. At this point things took a nasty turn.

The number of sock members exploded with all of them simply posting quick lines along the lines of “You are a disgrace” Remember the Rule of Three” etc. This time however they hit the “Report” button before blocking me preventing me from replying to them.  What I now realise is that Facebook’s main method of policing their members is simply to tot up the number of reports and at some point they simply disable your account, no explanation, no warning, no nothing, something Ms Moore and her cronies are obviously aware, within days they managed to disable the accounts of almost everybody in the Coven of Fluffy Bunnies who had criticised her.

This seemed to be more than just a single author, so I set out to find out just who is Rochelle Moore

Moore to follow ;-P

Coven of the Fluffy Bunnies

If any refugees from the Coven of Fluffy Bunnies make it here, your are welcome, pull up a seat and watch the show