I am one of those people who might be considered gloomy because I love visiting ruins. In fact, ruins wake up my imagination, as I try to picture its days of glory. Sometimes when I wander through a ruin, the presences of those who once lived seem to flit here and there around me, never quite seen and yet not unfelt. At times I can almost hear the clatter of boots on rough stone stairs and the jangle of chain mail, or the quiet prayer of monks sequestered in their lives of solitude and contemplation, or even the whispered tryst of two lovers.
Not all places are happy, whether inhabited or derelict or in ruins. Some are purposeful, others are expectant and still others are sad or contain shards of anger. I find most ruins to be like very old people who know that life now passes them by, but are honored to be remembered.
Ruins always seem to be visited on days with moody skies and with soft paths of grass and mud, although as I look at the photographs, sunny days were equally common. There is a stillness to ruins, if you can happen upon them on the edges of tourist visits. I have been lucky that way, often visiting sites with only the click of my camera for company. Europe is made of ruins, most passing down over the centuries and a few from recent wars. The British Isles in particular are graced by ruins of castles, cathedrals, fortresses and manor houses. Turkey has layer upon layer of heritage, often at the same sites from Persian to Greek to Roman to early Christian.
The photos you will see in this collection are in good part from Britain and Turkey. You will also see a few so called country American ruins. The ruins may be fragments of abbeys doomed to extinction by Henry VIII in his Dissolution of the Monasteries in the middle of the 16th Century, which impacted England, Ireland and Wales. The strong Catholic spirit in the Irish resisted the dissolution. Scotland’s loss of monasteries and other religious houses was more of an erosion than a massacre.
Sad history aside, we are fortunate to have these fragments still standing to view. Some remain crumbling. Others have been all or partially restored. The lucky ones are attached to a more thriving church or estate where they are kept much as they were.
Walk softly with me through these memories of past centuries and take the time to listen to these Places that Speak. Their voices are soft, but they can be haunting.
Click the link below to see the collection of our heritage from places that can be thought of as Ruins. Remember to hover over the photo to see the descriptive text, or not hover to see the full photo.