Review of ‘Ancient Pathways’, by Frank Parker

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Frank Parker
Published by the Author (2008)

Author Frank Parker introduces Ancient Pathways as 'an attempt to shed some light on a very wonderful and strange part of Britain's landscape around the Peak District, in particular the Roaches and Ramshaw areas ... hoping to show that by definition it is a sacred landscape.'

His conclusions make absorbing and convincing reading. The early groundwork of this research is based on unarguable mapping, demonstrating how our river network enabled early contact with the outside world. The existence of symbols associated with the goddess Astarte suggests trade with the Phoenicians, maybe including copper from Ecton. Place-names and stone carvings suggest other pagan gods, along with bull worship and the mysterious salamander, Celtic saints and a link to Stonehenge. Hints of a truly 'exotic ancient mixed ancestry' follow the arrival on these isles of the daughter of an Egyptian pharoah.

Numerous natural features lie on linear alignments, suggesting 'remarkable statistical possibilities' of the existence of solstice roads. A processional solstice line from the Ecton area passes across the Peak to Lindow Moss, site of the discovery of the famous 'bog body' (whose corpse was painted with copper ore). A fresh look at name derivations en route translates into such gory images as a blood altar, a gallows/garrotting stone and the death rattle.

But there was more purpose to the circle of life than sacrifice, notably fertility and reproduction. In this respect the author makes it clear that our numerous ancient stone 'cross shafts' are in fact phallic shafts; his fine selection of photographs surely puts this beyond doubt. The range of illustrations is an added bonus throughout this fascinating book.

Ancient Pathways is written and published by Frank Parker.

Review by Julie Bunting

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