The house stands alone on the heath. No road leads to or from its door, the door that grumbles on one rusted hinge. Tatters of rotted cloth wave from glassless windows at passing sheep and clouds. Upstairs a single bed teeters at the shattered boards promises to join the choas below... just one more gale, when the last slates will fly up like a courtroom of angry cards!
Night whispers in the darkling corners and the day bends her head and slowly withdraws.
The west twll of Rhosydd slate quarry. The opening here is around 150ft... plenty of room for a ddraig goch!
'Alexandra': Greek for 'protector of man'. Apposite... its slates sit upon roofs around the world.
Hill ripped inside out.
Hard heart broken to a million, trillion pieces
Spewed out into the sun for lichen to climb.
An impossible jig-saw tipped onto golden slopes to refract the high light;
A puzzle, pieces missing- shipped on seas,
Mismatched on rooves, in walls, on floors.
This one next to this...
Each missing piece a decision carefully eyed,
Each conscript knows a palimpsest of a discarded shape,
A brother tossed aside, one particle in a heaving mound.
Just another transformation in an atomic life.
I love seeing the wild goats at Dinorwig. Brave mountain souls that roam free. There's an ancient knowledge in their eyes. And how magnificent are those enormous, defiant horns that the billy goats wear.
Sarn Helen passes through this valley. The route is named after Saint Elen of Caernarfon, a Celtic saint, whose story is told in The Dream of Macsen Wledig, part of the Mabinogion. She is said to have ordered the construction of roads in Wales during the late 4th century.
If you look carefully you can see the small waste tip for the Sarn Helen mine on the golden flanks of the hill .
In nineteen eighty something or other a couple of friends and I hitched from Bangor, where we were attending an art foundation course, to Beaumaris with the purpose of hunting down Baron Hill, a long abandoned ruined mansion house. We asked about it in a little pub up a sidestreet and were told by some lads that local witches were rumoured to use the grounds of Baron Hill for their rituals. After a couple of ciders and a long walk we found it... what a place! My young head, steeped in Hammer films and M. R. James ghost stories, thrilled in the desolation and dark romance of the place. It was a really grey windy day and there were banging, creaking and scratching noises coming from within the ruined shell... we were mightily spooked! It seemed the tales of witchcraft were true... in one of the old out-buildings we found a large pentangle chalked on the floor! We made a hasty retreat! We had taken a few photos of the house on borrowed, college cameras, and as soon as we returned we rushed excitedly to the darkroom.
Two shots seemed to show ghostly figures looking out at us. We freaked out a little, then hugged ourselves in glee. We had caught 'real live' ghosts on film!
Feeling brave and nervous, we returned to the old house to take more pictures. As we gazed up at the haunted windows we saw that our spirits had manifested themselves from the plasterwork on the wall beyond the frame. The camera had flattened and blurred the shapes, and the black and white film hid the buff coloured, broken wall. I think part of me was rather glad.
Last year Iain, Sam and I sneeked back into the grounds. This time it didn't feel creepy at all... but it was fascinating, and a lot more overgrown after thirty years, as you can see if you compare the photograph at the top of the page with the small photo just below it. I really love it when a ruin is swamped by greenery, like a temple in the jungle, it's magical!
The mansion was originally built in 1618 by Sir Richard Bulkeley as the family seat of the influential Bulkeley family. It underwent reconstruction in 1776 by architect Samuel Wyatt who adopted the Neo-Palladian style. In World War II the Royal Engineers were stationed at the house. It was later damaged by fire, but the shell of the house survives.
As a photographer it's a site crammed with opportunities... but beware, you will be trespassing on private property.