Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Nature's Art

Nature's Art photos by Justbod

Nature has always been the greatest artist and sculptor of all, and here we present a short compilation of a few of our posts of Nature's Art over the last few years, featuring examples of Mother Nature's creativity found on our travels. 

All images are photoshop free, just as we took them...

I've deliberately kept the images text free for this article. If you'd like to read the text from the original posts and comments, just click the link in the caption of the photo to go to the original posts...

Forest Throne


Forest Throne photo by Justbod
Forest Throne, woods at Plumpton Rocks, Near Harrogate


Frozen Spiral


Frozen Spiral photo by Justbod
Frozen Spiral, Somewhere in Cumbria



 Dark Sentinel

Dark Sentinel photo by Justbod
Dark Sentinel, Hackfall, North Yorkshire

 Arboreal Arthur Rackham-esque Creature

Arboreal Arthur Rackhamesque Creature, Wyke Beck, Leeds

Waffle Fence

Grass Plaited Fence photo by Justbod
Grass Plaited Waffle Fence, Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire

Weathered Stone Medley

Weathered Stone Medley, photos by Justbod
Weathered Stone Medley, various locations

Sea Beast

Seabeast photo by Justbod
Seabeast, Sandsend, Whitby, Yorkshire

 The Idol

Idol Rock, Brimham Rocks photo by Justbod
Idol Rock, Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire

Stump Sculpture 


Stump Sculpture near Skipton Yorkshire photo by Justbod
Stump Sculpture, Near Skipton, Yorkshire



Snow Wave


Snow Wave, Dallowgill North Yorkshire photo by Justbod
Snow Wave, Dallowgill, North Yorkshire



Ancient Hedge


Ancient Hedge West Bank Park York photo by Justbod
Ancient Hedge, West Bank Park, York


Wood Whorl In Oak


Wood Whorl In Oak photo by Justbod
Wood Whorl In Oak, near Ilton West Yorkshire





Tanglewood Hawthorn Hob Moor York photo by Justbod
Tanglewood Hawthorn, Hob Moor, York



Nature's Patterns


Nature's Patterns photos by Justbod
Nature's Patterns, Various Locations


I hope you liked our photos of some of the beauty of Nature's Art - just a small selection of the many pictures that we've posted over the years.

Have you taken any photographs of examples of Nature's Art that you loved?  
We'd love to see them!  

You can get in touch with us by email, or through our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

Have you visited our main site yet?

Artwork, carvings & sculptures
~ inspired by history & nature ~

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Celtic Lovers bronze and oak wall plaque
'Lovers' Bronze & Oak Wall Plaque

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Making of Rædwald (updated)

Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo Helmet Wall Plaque

Long have I loved the Sutton Hoo helmet and the story behind the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial that must rank as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.

Raedwald (Old English: Raedwald, 'power in counsel,') is generally considered to be the most favoured candidate for the occupant of the burial, although other theories have been advanced. He was a 7th century king of East Anglia and, from about 616, was the most powerful of the English kings south of the River Humber, being referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a bretwalda (an Old English term meaning 'Britain-ruler' or 'wide-ruler.)

Source Wikipedia
The helmet has become an iconic image and one used often to illustrate books, magazines,
articles etc. about the 'Dark Ages,' times that are, at last, beginning to be seen as anything but dark. As such, it is a rare person who does not recognise this beautiful image.

What I didn't know, until recently, was that when it was originally restored in 1947, it looked completely different, and no where near as beautiful. In 1968 it was painstakingly taken apart and reassembled. There were more than 500 fragments and over a year's work to rebuild what we now see.

I much prefer the reconstructed plain helmet to the still undeniably beautiful 'recreated' helmets, in reanactor circles and at the British Museum, representing how the original helmet is believed to have looked. I know that this is a little romantic of me, as it is not the helmet that the owner knew and wore, but I suppose this is the same argument as whether you prefer ancient ruins or reconstructed buildings. I do believe that there is a place for both...but that is another story....

Every single one of the plaques that I make is entirely hand made by myself, and Raedwald is a design inspired by the Sutton Hoo helmet, rather than a museum replica...

The Original Plaques 


Raedwald hand sculpted wall plaque
Original hand-sculpted-metal wall plaques
The first plaques that I created were individually sculpted by hand in silver metal, or copper, and also included a runic inscription. Here's a link to the original article.

The New Raedwald - cast in bronze, copper & aluminium


Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo Helmet wall plaque
New Raedwald cast in aluminium
Raedwald was always a challenging design to create individually in sheet metal, and I have recently been doing a lot of work refining the process of cold casting in metals to create plaques that sit easily alongside the hand-sculpted ones that I already produce. The first of these was the Tree of Life design, and Raedwald is the second. I am really pleased with the results!

Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo Helmet wall plaque in copper
New Raedwald in copper

Each one has been cast in either cold cast bronze, copper or aluminium from an original sculpture, and then inset into a handcrafted oak plaque, approx. 13 cm x 17 cm x 2 cm.

I have loved revisiting Raedwald. He was one of the first designs that I created for the Justbod website, and, as such, will always hold a special place for me.

I wanted him to be evocative of a time and a notion. A time that we have, until recently, much maligned. A time of warriors and honour. A time of integrity and values. A time of artistic beauty and bold undertakings. A time that has left us with a rich legacy of stories with, hopefully, many more rich discoveries yet to come......

I hope you like Raedwald and the values that he embodies.

Thanks for reading


Justbod Team

A range of Raedwald wall plaques is normally available 
to buy from our  'Warriors' Collection.

See Collections for all of bod’s currently available works.

You might also be interested in: Behold the Specklebeast...
- another of bod's Anglo-Saxon inspired designs

Tree of Life bronze & oak wall plaque

For regular updates & discounts:  

Sources and further information:

British Museum: the Sutton Hoo Helmet
Sutton Hoo helmet on Wikipedia 
Raedwald on Wikipedia

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tree of Life in bronze & oak

Tree of Life wall plaque in bronze & oak

Our 'Tree of Life' wall plaque cold cast in bronze, aluminium or brass 
and set within a handcrafted solid oak wall plaque. 
From an original design by bod.

Ever since I first created this design as a wood carving, and then a hand-burnt design, I have been experimenting with different ways of creating an affordable 'sculpted' metal version. I tried several different ways hand-sculpting sheet metal, the material that I have made many pieces from, but couldn't get as much detail as I wanted.

Tree of Life in metal - prototype
Tree of Life in metal - prototype

Eventually I decided that the best way to go was to create an original sculpture, and then cast from that. After quite a bit more experimentation with different modelling materials, and casting recipes, I finally managed to create the 'Tree' you see now - available in three different cold cast metals: bronze, aluminium and brass.

Each one has been cast, finished and polished by hand, and then inset into an individually handcrafted solid oak frame.  

I hope you like the new tree!

Thanks for reading


Justbod Team

Read more about the Tree of Life design, 
& the mythology and story behind it, in our article:

 To browse more of bod's designs, 
visit our main website:

Artwork, carvings & sculptures
~inspired by a love of history & nature~
 For regular updates on new products & discounts:


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Goblin Gold, a Hairy Hermit and a Druid's Temple

Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

"A short distance from Ilton (4 1/2 miles from Masham) is the "Druid's Wood," a very picturesque spot, containing an assemblage of large rough unhewn stones, which were removed hither and constructed as a model of a Druidic Temple, by the late William Danby, Esq., of Swinton Park." T.Whellan and Co. 1859 (1)

I've known about this site for years, and always planned to visit, but, as these things go, I'd kept putting it off, despite it being near-to-hand.

Usually known as the 'Druid's Temple,' it is often 'billed' as a reproduction of Stonehenge, although it bears little resemblance to that site. I had already seen some pictures and, the knowledge that it was a 19th century fancy, (which to me evoked images of 'Hell-Fire' clubs, black magic and wild 'goings-on,') rather than a truly ancient site, was probably at the root of my reticence to visit before now.

Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

Commissioned between 1800-1820, by William Danby, a writer, philosopher and one-time Sheriff of Yorkshire, it is one of Yorkshire's most striking and quirky follies. Danby had already rebuilt his nearby home of Swinton Park in a Gothic and castellated stye, and, it is said, offered local people a shilling a day to work on his new project of creating a 'Druid's Temple,' as a way to help alleviate unemployment and poverty in the area.

Inside the Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Inside looking towards the entrance of the Temple
Set in woodland the site spreads over a large area, with various different stone structures.

Satellite Structure, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Satellite Structure, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
The site is Grade II listed with the following description:

"Folly c1800. For William Danby of Swinton Castle, Sandstone. Reproduction of a Druids' temple. Basically in the shape of two circles with monoliths and trilithons. The first large circle, in the form of a vesica piscia, contains 4 monoliths and a central monolith phallic symbol of ancient reverence. Behind 3 stones forming a screen is an antechamber, then a circular chamber which contains a Sacrificial Stone and beyond this a tomb. On the hill above is a tall column of stones symbolising a deity and the 12 signs of the zodiac." 
J. Cornforth "Swinton, Yorkshire III" Country Life, April 21 1966 (2)

Column of Stones, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Column of Stones, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

There is also a story of Danby offering food and a salary to anyone taking up the opportunity to live in the 'cave' at the temple for seven years as a hermit. During this period they should not cut their hair or beard, and should also remain silent. Reputedly one man stepped up to the challenge and managed just over four years before giving up, succumbing either to climate, boredom or madness.

Cave / Tomb, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Cave / Tomb, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

View from Cave / Tomb, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
View from Cave / Tomb, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

 Another interesting feature of the site, is the presence of a rare luminous moss within the 'cave/tomb.' According to Wikipedia Schistostega pennata is also called Goblin Gold, or luminous moss: "The moss's greenish-gold glowing appearance is due to the clear, sherical cells in the protonema that can collect even the faintest light like lenses, and the chloroplasts nearby in turn give off the greenish glow from the reflected light." (4)    
Something which would, I'm sure, have given small comfort to our possible hermit, were it present then.

Luminous moss / Goblin Gold, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Luminous moss / Goblin Gold inside the cave / tomb

Visiting on a beautiful weekday, we were lucky enough to be in a small window with the site to ourselves. I found it quite beautiful and peaceful, and a really interesting place to explore. The first images that actually came into my mind as I entered the 'Temple' were 'Indiana-Jones' type pictures of our heros tied up by 'wild savages' hell-bent on boiling them alive, or tying them across the altar to perform unspeakable rites whilst removing their still-pumping hearts...

Walking around there was plenty of evidence of different use over the years in the shape of charred branches, worn stones and hard-packed earth. I'm sure that, alongside family picnics and children exploring and climbing, there have also been many other types of activity at the site, including those of a more nefarious nature.

Table & Cave/Tomb, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Charred branches, Table & Cave/Tomb, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

In a Lords Publication from June 2000, Baroness Masham of Ilton talks of her secretary finding a pig's head on the altar of the Druid's Temple during a walk, and another occasion where the Baroness encountered a group of students from Leeds University who had spent the night at the Temple and had such a terrible experience that they had fled. She describes another occasion when the site was taken over by a large gathering of people to hold a rave, causing quite a degree of damage. (3)

Satellite Structure, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Satellite Structure, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

It is inevitable that sites such as the Druid's Temple will attract a wide range of different people, with a wide range of interests, beliefs and intentions, especially as the site is quite remote from nearby settlement. In more recent years, a new enterprise has started called Swinton Bivouac, with luxury camping/glamping in Tree Lodges located within the surrounding woodland, and Meadow Yurts and a Bunk Barn nearby, along with a cafe, gift shop and car parking (4)

Satellite Structure, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Satellite Structure, Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

Despite it not being a 'proper' ancient site, the Druid's Temple is still historically interesting, with its own stories and mysteries, and quite beautiful to visit. Ancient sites often hold a lot of interest as we know so little about them, leaving lots of scope for imagination and a degree of romanticism - they can be what we wish them to be. This site is, in a way, a part of that story, as it is one man's vision of an imagined past.
Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire
Druid's Temple, Ilton, Yorkshire

The local area is quite beautiful, and a visit to the Temple can also be combined with various local walks (see links below.)

Well worth a visit, whether you be into follies, picnics, 19th Century flights-of-fancy, ancient sites, Gothic atmosphere, forest walks, countryside, or just interesting, quirky places....

Thank you for reading!


Justbod Team

Visit our main website:

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~ inspired by nature & history ~
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Celtic Lovers wall plaque
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1. History and Topography of the City of York and The North Riding of Yorkshire by T.Whellan and Co. 1859 - (Book)
Bulmer's History & Directory of North Yorkshire 1890 - Healey Entry (Book)
A History of the County of York North Riding Vol I 1914

Further Information:  

Thank you to Kelly-Marie for reminding me to visit.

As ever, if you have any extra information about the above site, 
please do get in touch with us - we're always interested to hear and learn more!

Also, if any of the above links are no longer working, please let us know, 
so that we can fix them - thanks!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A Curious Carved Sword, a Bloody 8th c. Battle, and a Hidden King

Ebberston: A Curious carved sword, a bloody 8th c. battle, & a hidden King
Hurtling along the A170 between Scarborough and Pickering the other day, my eye was caught by a distinctive, fire-blackened old tree and, just beyond that, a beautiful old church, nestled in a sloping and wooded dell. Not being one to pass such an opportunity by, and, knowing I had a wee bit of time to spare, I had to investigate....

Fire-blackened tree at Ebberston, Yorkshire
Fire-blackened tree

St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire
St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire

A quick U-turn later and I was parked up and walking the path to the church of St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston.

An impressively large coniferous tree (wish I knew what it was) towers over the church, and my first discovery was a partially consumed gravestone, gradually disappearing into its trunk.

Large conifer consuming a gravestone, Ebberston Church, Yorkshire
Large conifer consuming a gravestone

Large conifer consuming a gravestone, Ebberston Church, Yorkshire
How many more years before it's gone......

Like many old churches, St Mary the Virgin has had many rebuilds, alterations and restorations over the years, and is rooted in a Saxon past. Also like other churches, fragments and echoes of this past reveal themselves at every turn.

Outside is the old base and shaft of the 15th c. churchyard cross.

Shaft & base of 15thc. churchyard cross, Ebberston, Yorkshire
Shaft & base of 15thc. churchyard cross

Old bench at St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire
I loved this sturdily built old bench too

Behind the church, further into the valley, is Ebberston Hall, a minor stately home that (I think) was at one time open to the public, but is now a private residence.

The actual village of Ebberston is a little distance away, on the other side of the busy road. 

Ancient Ironwork

The next interesting discovery around the church was the south (main) door through the more modern porch, which features ornate ironwork, including a dove carrying an olive branch. 

South door with 12thc. ironwork, St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston

Picture from Project Woruldhord, University of Oxford 

©Kelly A. Kilpatirck  CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

South door with 12thc. ironwork, St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston

Picture from Project Woruldhord, University of Oxford 

©Kelly A. Kilpatirck  CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

It's possible that this ironwork dates from the late Saxon period, making it contemporary with the first building of the church in the 11th c.(1.) It is also similar in style to the ironwork on the door of St Helen's in Stillingfleet, near York.

A curious carved sword

Old stones are often reused, and I love searching old church walls for these reused echoes of the past. St Mary the Virgin is no exception, and, although there are only a handful, including a couple of grotesque heads, I also found something quite unusual on the back (north side) of the church, a curious carved sword, that to my eye, looked distinctly Viking.

Carved 'viking' sword, St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire
Carved 'viking' sword, St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire

Here's what my later research turned up:

From the Antiquarians Journal 'Persistence of Viking types of sword, 1938 (2):'

"Mr L.R.A. Grove published a carving of a sword of Viking type now built into the wall of the church of Ebberston, near Scarborough. It formed, perhaps, part of a grave-slab...."

The sword is also mentioned in several other texts: (sources and further information are at the bottom of this article.)

Carved 'viking' sword, St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire
Carved 'viking' sword, St Mary the Virgin

How interesting! Such a find always sets my imagination rolling. Whose sword did it represent? Where are they buried? What was their story?

It was time to go, I had my photographs and was already late for my next destination. I set off back for the car, determined to research my finds further. Before I set off, I walked along the road a bit to get one last picture of the church. On the way back, and not looking where I was going, I walked straight into a low branch of the beautiful yew tree at the end of the path to the church, causing a bleeding gash several inches long on my head. Not as serious as it sounds but it was a funny happening considering what had probably happened very near here in times gone by.....

A bloody battle, a wounded King and a cave 


"On the hill, north-east of the house, beyond the plantations, are some vestiges of a cave, called by the country people, Elfwin's or Elfrid's Hole, now almost filled up, over which was once placed, (as some old people now living can recollect) a stone, and afterwards a board, with an inscription to the following purport- "Alfrid, King of Northumberland, was wounded in a bloody battle nigh this place, and was hid in a cave; and from thence he was removed to Little Driffield, where he died," The battle, it is said, was fought on the west side of the village, now called the Bloody Field - Young" (3)

This was the first reference I came across, as I researched Ebberston. It seemed there was even more to the place than met the eye. Who was this King, and was there any truth to the story?

The Ordinance Survey map shows there is indeed a 'Bloody Field' next to Ebberston, with a corresponding 'Bloody Beck' running alongside it, another reference stating it was reputed to have 'run red with the blood of long-dead warriors.' (4)

It's possible that this King could have been Aldfrith, King of Northumbria from 685, and a man described by Bede, Alcuin and Stephen of Ripon as a man of great learning. Bede states that he 'ably restored the shattered fortunes of the kingdom' and his reign saw the creation of works of art such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Codex Amiatinus. It is often seen as the start of Northumbria's Golden Age (5).

The lion symbol used on Aldfrith's coinage By John Yonge Akerman (1806–1873) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The lion symbol used on Aldfrith's coinage (10)

There is no reliable historical source that I could find to prove that it was indeed this King Aldfrith who fought in a battle near Ebberston, and sheltered in the cave, sore wounded. Oft stated on the internet is that Aldfrith was fighting against Oswy (his father) in the battle of Ebberston, but his father had actually died 35 years previously.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, complied c1100, do record that 'King Aldfrith of Northumbria died at Driffelda in the year 705 AD,' but do not mention a battle, and other sources claim he died after a long and painful illness.(6)

Coin of Aldfrith Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Coin of Aldfrith via Wikimedia

There was a church at Little Driffield in the Saxon period, according to both archaeological and historical evidence, and the presence of four 6th c. cemeteries suggests an important area. It has been suggested that Great Driffield may have been a Saxon royal seat. (6)

Apparently, by the late middle ages there was an inscription on the wall of the chancel in the church at Little Driffield, stating:

"Within this chancel lies interred the body of Alfred, King of Northumberland, who departed this life, January 18, AD 702, in the 20th year of his reign. Statutum est omnibus semel mori. (It is appointed for all once to die.)" (7)

So the aforementioned cave, the bloody fields, the bloody beck and the sheltering of the wounded King in a cave probably does have some truth, but whether it is a story of King Aldfrith of Northumbria or another character that has become confused with him, we will probably never know, but it certainly does make for a good story!

The cave does exist, and was excavated in the 1951 by WH Lamplough and JR Lidster. They found the remains of seven humans, (5 adults and two children,) along with flints, pottery, antler and animal bones. The finds were assumed to be early Neolithic but no dating was done and the finds have gone missing. The cave was sealed after the excavation, with a large boulder. (8)

King Aelfrid of Northumbria Memorial postcard via
King Aelfrid of Northumbria Memorial: postcard courtesy Ray Blyth

There is still something to see though, for the interested walker. In about 1790, Sir Charles Hotham-Thompson erected a 'grotto' to commemorate King Aldfrith / Alfrid / Ilfrid etc. which still stands. (9)

King Aelfrid of Northumbria Memorial: use courtesy ©
King Aelfrid of Northumbria Memorial: courtesy ©

I fully intend to return and walk these various locations, but, in the meantime, I am so glad that I took the time to u-turn and investigate when something caught my eye.....

St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire
St Mary the Virgin, Ebberston, Yorkshire

I am constantly surprised and humbled by the wealth and depth of interesting stories out there in our beautiful landscape, just waiting for us to discover them.

Thanks for reading


Justbod Team

Visit our main site:

Artwork, sculptures and carvings
~inspired by history and nature~
Browse bod's work

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For regular updates:


Sources and further information:


Dove Door Hinge:
1.  Woruldhord, University of Oxford
Norse Ironwork on door at St Helen's, Stillingfleet

Carved Sword:
2. The Antiquarians Journal: Persistence of Viking types of Swords  
Some neglected Late Anglo-Saxon Swords by David M. Wilson
The Medieval Soldier by Vessy Norman
The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England: Its Archaeology and Literature by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson

A bloody battle, a wounded 'king' and a cave
3.Thomas Langdale - a Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire
4. Visit UK - Scarborough/Ebberston
5. Aldfrith of Northumbria - Wikipedia 
6. St Mary's Little Driffield History 
7. History, Directory & Gazeteer, of the County of York Vol II 1823 by Edward Baines
8. North York Moors Caving Club: King Alfreds Cave 
9. A History of the County of York North Riding Vol2 1923 

Aelfrid's Memorial, Ebberston - The Scarborough News

Others Photographs/Pictures Used
South door ironwork pictures:Pictures from Project Woruldhord, University of Oxford ©Kelly A. Kilpatirck  CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
10. Lion Symbol used on Aldfrith's coinage - by John Yonge Ackerman (1806-1873) Public Domian via Wikimedia Commons 
Coin of Aldfrith via Wikimedia Commons 
King Aelfrid of Northumbria Memorial photo and postcard courtesy