going back a bit to our stop between Santo Domingo and Agés, we find ourselves in the town of Belorado. inhabited since Roman times, its location in a narrow pass between cliffs made it strategically important to Alfonso I in the 12th century as it sits on the frontier between Castilla and La Rioja.

after the Reconquest, many Muslim families chose to stay behind in towns like Belorado, working as farmers or in building trades. as a result, these towns had four quarters — one made up of Francos, one of Christian Castillians, one of Jews, and one of Muslims. during the Middle Ages, most Jews and Muslims were exempt from paying taxes and instead were obliged to maintain one of the town’s defensive towers in good repair.

when we arrived, some sort of noontime celebration in the church was letting out and a group of girls in traditional dress filled the plaza in front of the church. later that evening, out in search of some kind of meal, we saw a performance of the girls — this time in the main plaza in front of a different church. divided into age groups, each performed a set of dances with various props — the youngest group of girls used boughs of some sort while the slightly older group used castanets. I’m still investigating what, precisely, occasioned the costumes and performances (saints day, perhaps?) but whatever the cause it drew quite the crowd on a weekday evening.

apparently, in the 1610s, Belorado became a dance capital and the inhabitants pride themselves on the incorporation of dance into their local and cultural identities. since the 1600s, dance has played an important role in village festivals. I couldn’t find anything as to whether May 12 is a holiday or in some other way special, but it stands to reason that such a strong tradition could render a Tuesday night in May worthy of dance, or perhaps the girls were just presenting an annual recital.

Bodega Irache and the fuente de vino

we saw our fair share of bodegas (wineries) along the Camino — but only one had a fuente de vino for peregrinos. we left Estella relatively early and got to Irache at the thoroughly-inappropriate-to-drink-wine time of about 8:30 a.m. did that stop us? of course not. we were the first in a wave of peregrinos walking past it, the rest of whom seemed uncertain about whether it was ok (morally or sanitation-wise) to drink wine from a spigot coming out the side of a winery. we took the initiative and tested the non-waters and found the resulting liquid pretty good, especially considering the method in which it was dispensed.

the winery is located at the site of a former monastery that began serving peregrinos in the 10th century. the abbot when the first hospice was constructed, San Veremundo, worked with King Sancho Ramirez to build Irache into one of the richest and strongest abbeys in Navarra. he is also reputed to have donated the vineyards from which Bodegas Irache now harvests its grapes. while the strength of the city didn’t last (due to righting between religious factions), the town recovered enough by 1605 to warrant the relocation of the Benedictine monastery from Sahagun to Irache.

the university operated for two centuries, but closed in 1824; the monastery closed in the 1980s due to a lack of novitiates, a century after it received protection as a national monument. today it houses a museum. the winery opened several decades after the university closed and the fountain began dispensing wine in 1981, a century later, aimed primarily at peregrinos, one would imagine as it’s mere feet from the Camino. if you’re so inclined, you can watch the fuente de vino webcam and see how and whether the peregrinos stop for a sip before continuing along the way to Villamayor du Monjardin and Los Arcos.

Christ Church Greyfriar’s Cemetery

when I started looking for more information on this photo (which I’d labeled Greyfriar’s Cemetery), all I came up with were sites on Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh — decidedly not the information for which I was searching. enter Google Maps … it’s amazing how much detail the site has developed over the last couple of years. search for St. Paul’s in London and ta-da! only a few hundred yards away stand the remains of Christ Church Greyfriars (also known as Christ Church Newgate, as it stands on the Newgate road).

the original, Gothic church was part of a Franciscan monastery and was built between 1307 and 1327. the monks of the monastery wore grey habits and became known as “greyfriars” for their appearance. this church contained remains from Marguerite of France (second wife to Edward I), Isabella (widow of Edward II), and the heart of Eleanor of Provence (wife of Henry III). after the Dissolution of Monasteries by Henry VIII, the church was granted to the City and suffered extensive damage, vandalism, and theft of objects. surrounding buildings, which previously belonged the monastery, were later used by students of the nearby Christ’s Hospital, and eventually the church returned to its original uses. it was the second largest church in medieval London but the structure was destroyed, along with much of the area, by the Great Fire of 1666.

the second church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who designed a total of 51 churches after the Great Fire, including St. Paul’s across Newgate St from this church) and completed in 1687 (though it took another 30-odd years before a steeple was placed atop the church tower). for many years, the church served as an important center for society and music in London, but the size of the parish declined significantly around the turn of the twentieth century, as the area gave way to more and more businesses and the employees of the businesses moved farther out to suburbs and the Home Counties. by 1937, there were only 77 parishioners and, following a post-war reorganization of the Church of England, the parish was merged with another.

while the parish staggered on until 1954, Wren’s church suffered devastating damage during the Blitz. on December 29, 1940, one of the worst bombing raids during the war, the Christ Church Greyfriar’s was hit, along with much of the surrounding neighborhoods. a total of 8 of Wren’s churches were damaged or destroyed that same night. the church spire, however, did emerge relatively unscathed and was disassembled in 1960 and reconstructed using modern reinforcement techniques. the spire now houses residences on  twelve levels, and the grounds that were once the nave are now a public garden and memorial.

more info here: and at wikipedia

speaking of burial grounds in Boston …

the stop on the Boston Freedom Trail preceding the King’s Chapel and Burial Grounds is the Granary Burying Grounds, final resting place of many of the more famous Revolutionary figures. Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine (three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence), Mother Goose,  are all interred here. some estimate that as many as 8,000 people are buried in the grounds — and these grounds are not particularly large! the area isn’t any bigger than the footprint for your standard-size downtown office skyscraper. the ground was initially part of the Boston Common, which lies some 200 feet away, now separated by the Park Street Church. that portion of land was taken over for the construction of public buildings, including a “house of correction” and the granary, for which the burying ground became known. (there was an effort in the early 19th century to rename the grounds in honor of Benjamin Franklin’s family. we can see how well that worked for them.)

speaking of cemeteries …

the cemetery next to the King’s Chapel Unitarian Church in Boston is a prime example of what comes to mind when I think of a place with the weight of history.

stop number 5/6 on the Freedom Trial, the burial ground is the oldest in the city and was established in 1630. for thirty years, it was the only cemetery in the city of Boston and the remains of many notable 17th century Bostonians are apparently buried here. (the Granary Burying Ground, a few blocks away, founded in 1660, has more notable Revolutionary-era interments.)

this is the headstone of Joseph Tapping and, while more intricate than many other headstones in the ground, captures the tone of memorial stones of the period. and quite unlike someone in the twenty-first century might elect to put on their grave. on the face of the stone, a skeleton and Father Time battle over the eventuality of death. dead at 25 in 1678. from what I recall, he wasn’t much of a noteworthy at the time, but the elaborateness of his stone marks him out from all the other graves in the grounds. the image of death or a skeleton or Father Time was common on on markers of this period, but none that I saw matched the detail or artistry of Tapping’s.

for many years, it was believed that William Dawes rested in a tomb in the King’s Chapel Burial Grounds. along with Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, Dawes was tasked by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Lexington to Boston to warn local militias of British troop movements, allowing them to mobilize — the famous midnight ride that kicked off the Revolutionary War and resulted in colonial victories in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. there’s a prominent tomb with an inscription honoring Dawes at the ground beside the King’s Chapel, but it has recently been uncovered that he might have been removed and re-interred in his wife’s tomb at Forest Hill in Jamaica Plain. urban sprawl has forced the relocation of many Revolutionary-era dead and, and might include Dawes. records at Forest Hill refer to a William Dawes (who died in 1799 as did Revere’s companion) whose remains were relocated from the Boylston Street Burial Grounds in 1882, but there is apparently no mention as to from the original location of the remains. some contend that he was never buried in the King’s Chapel grounds at all and that, in a fit of Revolutionary fervor, the Sons of the Revolution affixed a plaque honoring the midnight riders to the tomb of Dawes’ grandfather.

the full article from the Boston Globe on Dawes’ disposition is here.

Yellow Steeple

rising from a field just over the River Boyne from Trim Castle, the Yellow Steeple was once the bell tower of an abbey. so named for the color the stones appear at sunset, the structure dates from 1368 and the establishment of the Augustinian abbey of St. Mary’s in Trim. the site itself was well known as a pilgrimage destination during the medieval period, as it hosted a statue of the Blessed Virgin.

about three centuries later (around 1649), most of the abbey was dismantled or destroyed. in part, residents did not want the structure to fall into the hands of Oliver Cromwell’s forces for any use whatsoever and dismantled some of the structure to prevent that outcome, as occurred elsewhere for similar reasons. what remained, the Cromwellian forces did plenty to damage themselves. the steeple, reaching to some 125ft and originally part of the easternmost wall, is now all that remains of the original structure.

Four Masters

following the Flight of the Earls at the beginning of the seventeenth century, a group of monks in Donegal grew increasingly worried about the preservation of Irish heritage, language, and history. the lead author of the compilation was Mícheál Ó Cléirigh and was assisted by three other men. the group is now often referred to as the Four Masters, an Anglicanization of the original Four Friars used to refer to the men, although only O Cleirigh was a Franciscan. they started the work at the abbey in Donegal town seen here. there are several manuscript copies of the complete annals in existance, held by Trinity College, the Royal Irish Academy and University College Dublin. the ruins of the abbey sit on the bay, a short way down the river from the Castle. because of its proximity to the stronghold of the O’Connell clan, located so far from English power in Ireland in the still remote land region of Donegal, the abbey suffered from the seiges and mortar attacks visited upon the clan. the monestary was abandoned not long after the Flight of the Earls and left to ruin. the graveyard is packed, indicating that the site was used as a burial ground even after the monastery was abandoned. you can still distinguish the cloisters and transept in the ruins, and, in many respects, it resembles all the other ruined monastic sites I visited in my travels. the one thing I found most intriguing about this location (which I didn’t think to take a photo of), was a set of stairs leading up from the hole in the wall next to the arch in the photo. narrow, and headed to who knows where, tucked into the wall as one heads out from the cloister walk.

Saint Oliver Plunkett

one of the attractions of Drogheda is a relic held by Saint Peter’s Church. after spending many years abroad during the Cromwellian era, Oliver Plunkett returned to Ireland in March of 1670 and began establishing Jesuit schools. this did not go over well with the English and he was forced into hiding, only traveling in disguise. in the end, he was captured and sent to England for trial (since they couldn’t get him properly convicted while in Ireland), where he spent time at Newgate Prison before his execution. he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn (now Marble Arch) in 1681. he was buried in two boxes and, eventually, his head made its way to Drogheda and Saint Peter’s Church (in 1921). he was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1920 and canonized in 1975. following strong a recommendation I decided to go and take a look at the shrine, but chose not to take a picture. i’m not a big fan of visiting churches in the first place, much less those that have relics and shrines, but how often do you get a chance to see something like that, especially in the states when recorded history doesn’t go back that far? a four hundred year old head is an interesting thing to see… if you’re interested in knowing what Saint Oliver Plunkett’s looks like, they’ve got a picture of it here.

graffiti at Trim Castle

as mentioned, Trim Castle was more or less entirely abandoned during the 17th century and fell into disrepair. that didn’t mean, however, that it ceased to be a destination of interest to some. nearly a century later, visiting historical locations became fasionable as a tourist venture. without the watchful eye of OPW guides or the militant defense of historically significant locations, people felt free to leave their mark. sure, you see that kind of stuff all the time at places like Alcatraz or the Statue of Liberty — names and dates scrawled in pencil or Sharpie. on some level, it’s interesting to think about how future historians might look back on the marks that we leave in such places. at Trim, there are marks — graffiti scratched into stone — from people who visited over two hundred years ago. this one, that our guide pointed out, was the clearest to come out in a photograph, but there were marks like this all over the walls. it reads “Campbell 1743” (the marks were about two inches tall).

the Walled City of Derry

the city of Derry was established in 1662, but evidence of habitation stretches back thousands of years and in the 6th century St. Columb (or Colmcille) established a monastery. in the early 17th century, a group of London merchants decided they’d like to get involved in Ireland and plantation of Derry began in 1613. construction on the walls began that year, in order to defend against the restive native Irish who weren’t so keen on the idea of plantation (shocking, i know). they were completed five years later and it wasn’t until the late 18th century that development of the city expanded outside the walls. initially, access to the city was by one of four fortified gates built in to the walls. it was one of these gates that the Apprentice Boys to the initiative to shut up in response to governmental dithering, thus prompting the Siege of Derry and setting the course of English & Irish history.
the first photo is looking southwest from Shipquay Gate towards the center of the Walled City and the War Memorial in The Diamond.
the second is looking out northeast from the Grand Parade towards St. Eugene’s Cathedral (spire in the distance) and over the Bogside (in the foreground).