Today, August 1st, is White Rose Day or Yorkshire Day, a modern invention founded by the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1975. I would like to say I wore a wear white rose and had Yorkshire Pudding for dinner but ran around the fields of Great Busby in North Yorkshire instead with the Cleveland Hills forever beckoning. Within an hour we had a full spread of Yorkshire weather blue skies, rain showers and rainbows. More traditionally though today is also Lammas Day, a pagan celebration of the first fruits of the harvest.
August itself is named after the Roman emperor Augustus and had previously known as Sextilis, meaning the sixth month. This was before the Romans started jiggling about with their calendar.
A local name for this ancient oak surviving in a split rock. The Woodland Trust records its girth as 6 metres. A trees girth is usually used as an estimate of a tree’s age. However when competing with other trees around a tree is likely to be taller with a narrower trunk. It is not know what the surrounding vegetation was like when the tree was in its prime but Medusa has been estimated to be at least 240 years old although I have read one report which gives a figure twice that. Nevertheless we can be sure that in 1777 this tree was at least a sapling, and George III was on the throne and Captain James Cook was on his third and final voyage.
I thought I would head for Captain Cook’s Monument on Easby Moor this morning as on this day in 1778 Cook became the first European to visit the Hawaiian Islands naming them the Sandwich Islands, after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich and the First Lord of the Admiralty.
On the way back I cut across Great Ayton Moor to look at the Iron Age Enclosure. This is a rectilinear ditch and earth bank about 24m across that looks very impressive on Google Earth. It was excavated in the 1950s when the remains of a oval roundhouse, hearth and pottery fragments were discovered, dating to about 100 BC. For the photo I’ve only managed to capture the north western corner of the earthworks which are just about discernible without the summer’s lush growth of bracken. At the time of construction the moor was open grassland. Nearby was an arable field system. The climate was warmer and drier than today.
Appropriately for this day, in the far distance standing proud on Easby Moor is the 51 feet high monument to Capt. James Cook RN.