Tuesday 7 July 2015

Tolkien's Hemlock Glade, Part 2

A Hemlock Glade, The Houses of Healing, Two Towers and a Beacon: Tolkien in East Yorkshire, Part 2: Roos (& Halsham)

Please note the text explaining the latest findings about Tolkien and Roos may be read in my essay ‘Tolkien in East Yorkshire’ published in Something Has Gone Crack edited by Janet Brennan Croft & Annika Röttinger.

Cow Parsley in Roos Churchyard - May 2014
 Cow Parsley & fresh Beech leaves in Roos Churchyard - May 2015
Modern map of Roos with Dents Garth marked to the upper right (north-east) of the church


Railings surrounding the crypt stairs at the north-east corner of Roos Church (2015)

Ivy & ferns covering subterranean stairs to a crypt before undergrowth was cleared (c) 2006 Paul Glazzard
Heraldic Device of the Sykes family
Detail of the hand from the Sykes' family Heraldic Shield 

Tolkien's sketch of Beren's heraldic device

Three-trunked Lime Tree in Roos churchyard

Three-trunked Lime Tree surrounded by Cow Parsley

The almost dry course of Roos Beck - 25th May 2015

Victorian Map showing relative densities of Roos & Halsam

Halsham Mausoleum
Halsham Mausoleum

Halsham House
North-facing alcove on Halsham Hoiuse containing a statue of the Virgin Mary.  Some of the cement work looks modern, so is the alcove a relatively modern feature, or has it just been recently repaired?

Part 1 (Introduction & Hornsea) may be read here
Part 3 (Thirtle Bridge & Withernsea) may be read here
Part 4 (Brooklands Officers' Hospital & Godwin Battery) may be read here
Part 5 (Easington & Spurn Point) may be read here  

My thanks to Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Jerry Aurand, Chris Delworth-Kerr, Linda Flowers, John Garth, Phil Mathison with whom I was able to consult on various aspects of my research while I was writing this paper.   


11. Mathison, p.34.
12. Carpenter, Humphrey (ed.) with Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, (George Allen & Unwin, 1981), p.221.
13. Ibid, p.345.
14. Ibid, p.420.
15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, (ed.) Christopher Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, 1984) p.11.
16. Ibid, p.18.
17. Tolkien Society Facebook page, 29 May 2015.
18. Rooster, 147, 148, 150 [July, Aug, Oct 2007].
19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Silmarillion, (ed.) Christopher Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, 1977) p.358 & p.329.
20. Garth, p.237.
21. Kent, p.93.
22. Allison, p.39.
23. Ibid, p.32.
24.  J.R.R. Tolkien, Sauron Defeated, (ed.) Christopher Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, 1992), p.367.
25. Ibid, p.384.
26. Mathison, p.12.
27. Ibid, p.56.


Dave Knight said...

I looked at Dents Garth, but it seemed to be too public a place for the dance to be private. So I moved on to the fox covert to the south (shown in the map). The Roos Drain runs immediately to the north of it and there is a little wooden bridge of the most basic construction over it. Whether one like it was there in 1917 I cannot say, but one would be needed for the same reasons it is there today.

The woodland is rather wild today and it was getting late, so I did not try the interior, but it is clearly a place in which a couple could be truly alone together. Whether the interior was too dense for dancing in 1917 I cannot possibly say, but this is a truly private place where the incident could have occurred, and the tiny Roos Drain is immediately adjacent, with only the public footpath between it and the trees.

Michael Flowers said...

Hi Dave,

Thank you very much for spending the time to comment.

Dents Garth is a relatively private place. Last May a short film was made re-enacting the dance of Lúthien in that woodland. This took more than 2 hours, and not a single individual walked past the filmmakers. I have been several times over the last few years, and I've never seen anyone else in the woodland.

The big question is does Fox Covert have an understory of Cow Parsley? I will check it out, if I don't have to trespass, but if it doesn't have any Cow Parsley it can be ruled out.

All the various findings in an around the churchyard, seem to corroborate the identification of Dents Garth. The most upto-date version of my piece may be read here:

Thanks again for taking the trouble to comment

Best wishes

Michael Flowers said...

Hi Dave,

I've just returned from a visit to Fox Covert. When we arrived we realised that we had checked it out 5 years ago.

The northern part is full of Willow Carr and is waterlogged, and isn't suitable for dancing of any kind. There was a thin line of Cow Parsley around the wood, but none inside, as far as I could see.

I walked along the eastern edge to the southern corner, and when the vegetation allowed peered in. Although the southern part was drier, I couldn't find any evidence that any member of the umbellifer family grew inside.

I'm afraid I have to conclude that Fox Covert is far less likely to be a suitable candidate for the site of Edith's dance. It may be slightly more private, but it doesn't have the variety of tree species mentioned by Tolkien in various versions of the story, and all the clues in and around the churchyard suggest Dents Garth is a much better fit. (No beech, linden, chestnut or elm, yet all of these are in Dents Garth)

Thanks for adding your point of view, and it was interesting checking it out, but I'm afraid I haven't seen anything this afternoon to make me change my mind.

Best wishes

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,
I was a Roos resident from 1973-1982 . Confirm the existence of many elm and beach trees a big storm brought a lot of these trees down in 1976. The woodland just to the North of the churchyard likely to be the location of Edith's Dance This land was owned by the Elms, Sir Basil Reckit.
My father was station in the area in 1917 as a 16 year old joined up for the last 18 months of WW1ended up staying until the 1920s , wish I listened a bit closer to his stories when he visited my cottage on Lamb Lane on the banks of Roos Beck


Michael Flowers said...

Thanks very much Rob for your interesting comments