Carved by mile high glaciers, here sits the picturesque town of Ironbridge Gorge. Famous as the starting point of the Industrial Revolution, its highly elegant iron bridge connects the banks of the Severn, the UK’s longest river. Ironbridge was conveniently placed to spawn a brand new network of British fortunes.
Today the shady ancient woods, which rise up on the steep side of the gorge is enjoyed for leisure, there is even plenty of wild garlic available freely for the taking. But the thick green canopy hides the tracks and the livelihoods of the men and boys who spent their daily life trundling ore and crafting new skills, working the magic of this metal for a new modern world to create innovative products in any weather. Imagine how revolutionary and magical a screw or nail would have been, and how proud one might feel to be at the forefront of this new Iron Age.
What views might pass through the Common Man of his employer, the new industrial aristocracy, knowing his hard labour contributed to such resplendent wealth, but also in changing the land as it gradually transitioned from farm to factory with little say from those who laboured its harvests.
Alongside the workers lived other conflicting times and their memories. A complex ancestry, present and future lies in the nearby fields of wheat and barley towards Much Wenlock. This now quaint village, is awash with busy and histories. An ancient site of Roman remains, but where over 500 years later, a few crusaders would come to final rest. In another 300 years, the monastic seats of high learning would crumble under Henry VIII’s determined dissolution. The silence of these ruins landmarks Much Wenlock as witness to this troubled period, yet before Henry VIII, a medieval royalty had kept a fine balance of rule between close borders, because here England is not too far from Wales. The dividing line is the River Severn and nearby mountains.
Every Summer as the butterflies just flutter past, alongside those fields of barley in Much Wenlock, every Spring, fields of the wild flowers layer up this heritage a little higher.
As bizarre as this ‘siamese twinned tree’, at one time, Wenlock Edge was actually a coral reef, Now its identity contains dreamy freshwater streams rising from underground springs, meandering a long way from that river Severn. Who knows where the future of the water will go next.
© 2017 La Floralie 3