Hadrian’s Wall Live

The lives of Roman Legionnaires were re-enacted during the Hadrian’s Wall Live event at Birdoswald and Housesteads Roman forts over the weekend. The event which was organised by English Heritage brought together over 120 re-enactors from around Europe to create a living history camp for visitors to the ancient Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland and Cumbria. During the weekend the sights, sounds and smells of Roman and Barbarian life from around 124 AD were recreated with battle tactics, patrolling, camp life, cooking skills and equipment demonstrated. Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles from sea to sea across the north of England and is a World heritage site.

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Appleby Horse Fair – 2016

The Appleby Horse Fair is held each year in early June when around 10,000 – 15,000 English and Welsh gypsies, Scottish and Irish travellers gather to buy and sell horses, meet with friends and relations, and celebrate their culture.

These different groups share a similar lifestyle and culture, and many gypsies and travellers regard Appleby Fair as the most important date in the calendar and it remains one of the largest of their gatherings. An estimated 25-30,000 non-Gypsy people also visit the fair during the week.

The fair is held outside the town of Appleby where the Roman Road crosses Long Marton Road, not far from Gallows Hill, named after the public hangings that were once carried out there. In the mid-20th century the story developed that the fair originated with a royal charter to the borough of Appleby from King James II of England in 1685. However, recent research has shown that the 1685 charter, which was cancelled before it was enrolled, is of no relevance. Appleby’s medieval borough fair, held at Whitsuntide, ceased in 1885.

The ‘New Fair’, held in early June on Gallows Hill, which was then unenclosed land outside the borough boundary, began in 1775 for sheep and cattle drovers and horse dealers to sell their stock. By the 20th Century it had evolved into a major gypsy and traveller occasion. No one bestowed the New Fair, no-one ever owned it and no-one was ever charged to attend it. It was and remains, a true people’s fair

The fair has no organised or scheduled events. The main activities take place on Fair Hill, the main Gypsy campsite field, with some catering and trade stands and more recently on the Market Field or Jimmy Winter’s Field, which was opened up by a local farmer several years ago, and is now the main stall trading and catering area. There are half a dozen licensed campsites nearby. Most horse trading takes place at the crossroads, known to the local authority as Salt Tip Corner and on Long Marton Road, known to the gyspies and travellers as the flashing lane where horses are shown off or ‘flashed’ by trotting up and down the lane at speed.

Many of the horses are also taken down to the Sands, near Appleby town centre and beside the River Eden, where they are ridden into the river to be washed. There is no auction at the fair with arrangements for any sales made between buyer and seller for cash. When the deal is done, the seller will hand back a small part of the price to the buyer for ‘Luck Money’.

The story behind luck money is that if the horse goes wrong, or hurts the new owner, then the luck money will ensure that you cannot curse the seller and a failure to give this money can be seen as grossly insulting.

 

The horse fair has generated some controversy over the years with complaints of mess and rubbish being left in the town and on the camp sites, crime and animal cruelty.

In 2014 there were 28 arrests at the fair, the lowest for several years, for among other things, drug use, drunkenness, and obstruction which senior police confirmed was not disproportionate to other large scale public events.

As regards rubbish and clean-up costs, although the trade stands leave a few tons of waste, the market field and Fair Hill are cleaned of litter the day after the fair, at no cost to the ratepayers, and within a week there is little trace that a fair has been held.

As regards animal cruelty, the RSPCA patrols the fair scrupulously, and although in 2009 Animal Aid called for the fair to be banned the instances of cruelty are few, and they are prosecuted where they do occur. Warnings and advice are given in borderline cases, and the great majority of horses at the fair are well looked after, well treated, and in good condition.

What is clear is that the fair is continuing a proud heritage and tradition among the travelling community and one that brings in much needed income to the town and it remains a colourful and exciting experience for all who attend.

Below are a selection of pictures from the first day of this year’s fair…

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Looking at the clouds

Hundreds of people marked the Summer Solstice at the ancient stone circle at Castlerigg near Keswick this morning. Many had gathered there the evening before and spent the night amongst the stones. Unfortunately for the gathered crowds the sun didn’t make an appearance due to the heavy cloud cover but despite this those that made the trip to this ancient site seemed to make the most of the time they spent there.

I went up there the afternoon before and spent that evening, through the night and into this morning photographing some of those who were there…

 

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Appleby Horse Fair

The Appleby Horse Fair is an annual gathering for Gypsy, Romany and the travelling communities. The event has existed under the protection of a charter granted by James II since 1685 and it remains one of the key meeting points for these communities. Around 10,000 travellers are expected to attend the week long event who traditionally come to buy and sell horses.

 

 

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 HERE

Images copyright Ian Forsyth 2015 /  Getty Images

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The Druid’s Circle

I spent much of Sunday afternoon and night and then through into Monday morning at the Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria to photograph the Winter Solstice celebrations. Unfortunately however the weather conspired against those who may have visited and strong winds and driving rain was pretty much the order of the day. However a few hardy souls dropped by at last light so I was able to shoot a few pictures. Some of which are below…

The winter solstice, or ‘Alban Arthan‘ as it is known by Druids and Wiccans, and which is often celebrated as ‘Yule’ falls on December 21st and is an important turning point in the year as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. As dawn breaks on the morning of the 22nd the days then slowly begin to get longer, and the nights shorter. This transition has long been celebrated throughout history and around 50 people, intrigued and inspired by this ancient monument gather to mark the occasion at the standing stones of Castlerigg.

Known as ‘The Druid’s Circle‘ it sits in an amphitheatre overlooked by the magical fells of Skiddaw and Blencathra to the north and Castlerigg Fell and High Rigg to the south. The ring of stones sitting under the gaze of these majestic mountains dates back over 4,000 years to neolithic times and it is a popular meeting place for people from all over Britain who come to the remote and beautiful location to mark the arrival of both the Winter and the Summer solstices – apart from when the weather is atrocious…obviously.

There is a tradition saying that it is impossible to count the number of stones within Castlerigg as every attempt will result in a different answer. This tradition, however, may not be far from the truth. Due to erosion of the soil around the stones, caused by the large number of visitors to the monument throughout the year, several smaller stones have now ‘appeared’ next to some of the larger stones. Because these stones are so small, they are likely to have been packing stones used to support the larger stones when the circle was constructed and would originally have been buried. Differences in opinion as to the exact number of stones within Castlerigg are usually down to whether the observer counts these small packing stones, or not. Some count 38, some 40 and others 42. The official number of stones, as represented on the National Trust website for the monument however, is 38.

 

Anyway, here’s a few pictures from a wet and windy hillside in Cumbria…

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No usage without prior arrangement

Castlerigg

Visitors to the ancient stone circle of Castlerigg near Keswick in Cumbria celebrated the Summer Solstice and gathered at the stones to party through the night until the sun rose on the morning of the longest day…

 

 

Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle Summer solstice at Castlerigg Stone Circle

 TECH STUFF: Pictures were shot with a Leica M9 with a 50mm f2 Summicron lens and a Fuji X Pro 1 with an 18mm f2 lens (28mm equivalent on full frame). Images were edited with Lightroom 5.5 and Photoshop. All images are edited minimally using only techniques that could be achieved in a traditional darkroom.

 

See more of my work on my website and blogs here

Pictures copyright Ian Forsyth/ London News Pictures

High Steppers

The Horse Fair that takes place in the historic market town of Appleby in Cumbria, United Kingdom is the traditional event where gypsies and travellers gather together each year. The event remains one of the largest and oldest events in Europe and gives the opportunity for travelling communities from all over the country and further afield to come together to meet old friends, celebrate their culture, music and folklore and to offer an opportunity to buy and sell horses.

The event which attracts thousands of visitors each year has existed under the protection of a charter granted by King James II in 1685 and it remains the most important event in the gypsy and traveller calendar. I spent some time there over the first couple of days this year and a few of the pictures are below…the fair continues until next Wednesday 11th June.

 

Oh, and in case you didn’t know ‘High Steppers‘ means a horse trained to lift its feet high off the ground while walking or trotting..so there you go.

 

 

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Jason Plant made a 2-week journey to the fair from Stoke on Trent with his family in a convoy of bow top wagons

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Trevor Jones from the Wirral makes the brews for his family on the first day of the fair…

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…he also operated an old knife sharpener…

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Trevor sits on the steps of his bow top and has a morning brew

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Bow tops are lined up on the camp site in Appleby

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Tilly-Raine Barnes, 3, from Rosendale in Lancashire sits on the steps of her parents bow top with ‘Pip’ the dog

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Alistair Mitchell from Rosendale in Lancashire stirs his morning cuppa

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Hayley Price, 4, sits with her sister Candice, 16 months in the grass outside their bow top in Appleby

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Brian Regent sells wrought iron pots and kettles on the campsite

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An Irish gypsy walks his horses and wagon to the campsite in Appleby

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Bow top and horses

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Traditionally taken into the river to be washed and groomed a horse is ridden out of the River Eden in Appleby as an RSPCA officer looks on

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A visitor to the fair reacts to the camera

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Two men ride a sall horse and trap trough the town

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A young boy stands with his two horses

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Riding a horse and trap along what is called the ‘mad mile’ in Appleby

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A street entertainer dances in the street as he plays Irish folk music

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A young girl peers out of a window in the back of her bow top

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Appleby camp site during the horse fair

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High Steppers

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A man waits to see the horses come past on a road into Appleby

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A man sits outside his caravan on one of the camp sites

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A man sits and his wife has a snooze as they enjoy the sun wait for the horses to be ridden past on the ‘mad mile’ – They’ve been coming to the fair for 43 years!

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A girl rides her horse along a road in Appleby

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Waiting on the mad mile

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Horses and traps are driven along the mad mile…

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A father and his son take a walk into town

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Horses are walked down into the town to be taken into the River Eden to be washed and groomed…

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A man stands waiting for horses to be brought past on the way into Appleby town

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Three girls walk a donkey along a road

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Horses are traditionally taken into the River Eden to be washed and groomed…

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Two men sit on the river bank and watch the activities

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Technical stuff – For those who are interested in these things all the above pictures were shot with either a Leica M9 with a 50mm f2 Summicron lens and a Fuji X-Pro 1 with an 18mm f2 lens (28mm equivalent on full frame). Images were edited with Lightroom 5 and Photoshop. All images are edited minimally using only techniques that could be achieved in a traditional darkroom.

 

Some of the pictures I shot were used over on the Daily Mail website and further information on Appleby Horse Fair can be seen here

See more of my work on my website and blogs below…..

Ian Forsyth Photography

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth/ London News Pictures