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Tony Grist

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Thursbitch [Sep. 25th, 2010|10:04 pm]
Tony Grist
Thursbitch is a novel by Alan Garner. It's also a place- an isolated valley in the Cheshire Peak district - with a ruined farmhouse in it- and one or two other things. It has an evil reputation. Thursbitch is old English and means Valley of the Demon.  I walked in there this afternoon. 

There are a lot of monoliths lying around- some of them built into walls or re-used as gateposts. A number seem to have been carved to look like phalluses. They could possibly be neolithic.

To find out more about the mythos read this fascinating article- and to find out even more read the book.







As I left the valley a heron rose from the stream below me and wheeled off overhead.

This church- Jenkin Chapel- built in 1733- also features in the bookl.



And so does this stone, which marks the death, by exposure, of the jagger (or pedlar) John Turner.



On one side it reads: Here John Turner was cast away in a heavy snow storm in the night in or about the year 1756

 

On the other side it reads: The print of a woman's shoe was found by his side in the snow where he lay dead.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-09-25 09:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing these. I've seen Garner give an illustrated talk about the genesis of the book, but these are actually clearer than I remember his being.

As I was peering at the memorial stone to John Turner, my daughter came up behind me and said, "That looks like a weird stone." A very Garnerish moment!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 08:24 am (UTC)
The talk that is reprinted on the Garner website contains references to photographs- only they're not attached. Very frustrating.

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[User Picture]From: cluegirl
2010-09-26 01:04 am (UTC)
...Is this the Alan Garner of The Owl Service and Elidor fame? Because if so, you might be able, very faintly, to hear my transatlantic squee even now. I've never HEARD of this book, but must now go and find it at once!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 08:27 am (UTC)
It's the same guy. Thursbitch came out in 2003.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 08:28 am (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: nineweaving
2010-09-26 04:50 am (UTC)
That's so much as I imagined it! Thank you for the marvellous pictures.

Nine
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 08:33 am (UTC)
It's a very lonely place- or perhaps not- because I didn't particularly feel alone- but not hostile. My presence there was tolerated.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-09-26 12:32 pm (UTC)
Wow! What a fascinating place. I should not have expected such a place to survive into these latter days reasonably unmolested.

Does Garner's novel offer a satisfactory explanation of what's going on?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 01:33 pm (UTC)
And it's only five miles from the large, post-industrial town of Macclesfield.

Garner spent decades researching the book. He had all this disparate material that seemed to be linked in some fashion, but he couldn't see how. In the end I think he ties it together admirably.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-09-27 10:37 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for sharing all this. Usually, ghost stories don't do too terribly much for me, but this is fascinating. I should love to see the well he mentions.

One puzzling question is why no one in the archaeologicl community seems interested in Thursbitch, if Garner's discoveries have the significance he believes them to have.

I found another article about Garner and his work:

http://www.common-ground.org.uk/2010/03/unriddling-the-world/
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-27 03:13 pm (UTC)
That's a good article.

I believe the answer to most things in archaeology- in particular why one site gets dug and another doesn't- is funding.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-09-28 09:52 am (UTC)
I had thought funding might be the answer. Thanks again.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-09-26 02:26 pm (UTC)
I do love the way that Garner's stories are inextricably linked with the landscape. I haven't read Garner's more recent works, but your photos have made me want to read the book now!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 04:42 pm (UTC)
Thursbitch is a wonderful book.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2010-09-26 04:24 pm (UTC)
To find out more about the mythos read this fascinating article- and to find out even more read the book.

Thursbitch is, I think, the only novel by Garner I've never read—there wasn't a copy in the house when I was growing up and I never see it in used book stores. I will track it down.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 04:43 pm (UTC)
It's very recent. It first came out in 2003. I believe it's one of his best.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-09-26 06:16 pm (UTC)
You must. I agree that it's one of his best - and its last page is one of the most beautiful things I know.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-09-26 05:41 pm (UTC)
I'm not really convinced that these monoliths are in situ...

What a bizarre memorial stone - and what's with the woman's shoe???

Weird...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-26 07:11 pm (UTC)
I'm agnostic about the monoliths, but it makes for a great story.

As for the shoe, who knows...

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[User Picture]From: petercampbell
2010-09-27 06:44 pm (UTC)
Interesting to see Thursbitch away from the images created by the printed word. It's possibly Garner's best book. Have you seen this article in the Independent on Sunday? http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/there-is-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-why-novelist-alan-garners-reality-is-tinged-with-mysticism-2086657.html
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-28 08:39 am (UTC)
Excellent article. I could sit and read about Garner all day. What a fascinating man!
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2010-09-30 06:51 pm (UTC)
What a wonderfully creepy old tombstone! I love the words.

It's that cool windy time of year when I pile up my ghost books and make hot tea.

I've recently read Uncle Silas by LeFanu. How claustrophobic and spooky his writing is--this book isn't exactly a ghost story, but it's scarier than some I've read (his "Judge's House" is one of my favorite stories).

Hope you and Ailz are well.

My grandchildren now have two black rabbits! I told them about yours.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-30 08:33 pm (UTC)
I did a mini dissertation on le Fanu when I was at University.
He's good, isn't he! I recommend The House by the Churchyard.

We're fine. Going on holiday in a couple of days. It's good to have you back.
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