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A day amongst the ruins.

We did a lot of touristy things today, in Wales. We started with Tintern Abbey – we tried to see it in 2011, but it was raining. And raining. And raining some more. In Wales, I know. Who would have thought?

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Tintern Abbey is an absolutely beautiful ruin. The scale is fantastic. Being able to look up through the roof into blue sky defines tranquility, and somehow seems right despite the fact that the building was obviously never intended to look like that. Ruins are always presented visually as creepy, but Tintern was nothing of the sort. I think it’s because of the lawns that carpet the area, grass and flowers growing up between the bases of columns that have long since fallen. Tintern looks comfortable in its ruin, and welcoming. It’s a place that wants you to come have a picnic and sun yourself in the grass. It’s beautiful.

(It’s also made from sandstone, and I had a fun time boring everyone by pointing out structures in the eroded stonework.)

Tintern in the rain had its own beauty, though.

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It’s just so quiet. The day we went about a year and a half ago, it was just us there. And you could hear the rain, every drop of it, pattering onto the grass and stone. I liked it then as well.

Anyway, after Tintern Abbey we went on to Cheptow Castle, which is another ruin. I honestly don’t have that much to say about Cheptow, other than it sure is a castle. There were more people there, laying in the grass and throwing frisbees. There is something odd about seeing that, as an American. It seems weird to see people playing so casually around something so ancient – the castle’s nearly 800 years old.

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Of course that has nothing on our last stop for the day, the Roman Fortress at Caer Leon. Where a lively football/rugby match (they were kind of playing by rugby rules but using a football? Yeah, I don’t know) was happening in the middle of the ruins of a nearly 2000 year old amphitheater.

IMG_20130506_102246_076But the more I think about it the more I like it. What made history in the first place was always the people. Putting something behind glass means that you can look at it, and enjoy it perhaps for the sake of art, but it becomes a thing without life, simply preserved. It feels only right that in the same place humans laughed and played 2000 years ago, we’re there, bringing life to the stones that stand.

(For more pictures, here’s my Picasa Album for today.)

 

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.

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