Sankta Lucia

The traditional Swedish festival of Sankta Lucia took place tonight at York Minster. The festival is a traditional festival of light that celebrates the bringer of light during the long darkness of winter. The service features a candlelit procession and carols in celebration of St Lucy, a young Sicilian girl who was said to have been martyred for her Christian faith in the early fourth century. The service, which is run in partnership with York Anglo-Scandanavian Society, starts with a procession led this year by, Sara Kjorling, 24, from Stockholm, wearing a crown of candles, thought to symbolise a halo and a red sash that symbolises martyrdom.

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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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All images remain copyright Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

No usage without prior arrangement

Out and about in Swaledale

I was out and about in Swaledale in Yorkshire for most of this morning shooting a few pictures for the papers and their websites. Lovely part of the world over there and was a great drive up in the hills as I headed over to the A66 on the Cumbrian border.

See the links at the bottom to see how some of them were used by the papers…

 

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Some of the pictures from today were used here…..

The Telegraph

Daily Mail

The Mirror

See more of my pictures on my blogs and website via the link…. HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth. No usage without arrangement.

Middleham Gallops

Spent the morning shooting pictures down at Middleham Gallops today as the jockeys rode out with the racehorses from the various racing stables based around the area as the winter weather started to take hold in this part of Yorkshire…

 

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Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth – No usage without arrangement.

Life at Bleathgill

Stuart Buckle is a farmer in Cumbria. Stuart along with his father and the rest of the family own and run Bleathgill Farm which is situated a couple of miles off the A66 at one of the highest points on the fell. The recent heavy snow which is said to be the worst March that the country has seen in 50 years has caused some issues with the lambing season resulting in many of his Swaledale sheep having to be brought inside to lamb to avoid the harsh conditions outside.

Constant care is needed to ensure they have the best chance possible to give birth to their lambs and with this weather the simplest of tasks become more difficult.

As I photographed there today there was one successful birth resulting in two new lambs to add to the fold but the worry is that if the weather doesn’t improve soon the chances of a successful flock this year is reduced.

However one thing you can be assured of is that farming at this time of year in the snow covered Cumbrian hills is hard graft indeed.

Pictures remain copyright Getty Images/Ian Forsyth