Yeavering Bell is an Iron-Age hillfort in Northumberland, one of the largest in the country. The tumbledown ramparts, still clearly visible in the photograph below, were originally 10 feet high and they enclose an area of some 12 acres.
The hillfort looks over the site of Ad Gefrin, Edwin’s royal palace and the place where Paulinus baptised for thirty days in the River Glen at the bottom of the valley. Ad Gefrin is now a wind-swept field of grass, but it remains a hugely evocative place.
The rock that was used to build the ramparts of Yeavering Bell is a local andesite that, when first quarried, is bright pink, before lichens and weathering grey it. Where a stone has tumbled, revealing a previously hidden face, it’s possible to see just how Barbie-esque the fortifications would have been when first built.
There is, to my mind, something wonderful about the thought of these grim hills – almost all of them had hillforts on them – necklaced in salmon pink.
One look into the panic-stricken eyes of an author, pinned on the jacket of his latest book by a photographer, will reveal a simple truth: there is a reason he chose not to become an actor. Dear Reader, being married to a woman who used to be an actress and always, always, looks wonderful in photographs, I have come to appreciate that there is skill, art and knowledge involved in looking good on camera – I don’t think I would have paid Helena Christensen $10,000 to get out of bed, but a good model is certainly worth a reasonable fee.
We live in a visual age, however, and I am now being asked to provide photos – of me – for interviews and jacket covers. I decided, therefore, not to accept my usual photographic image as the human chipmunk and ask a good friend and fine photographer, Sarah Lim, to take some pictures of me that wouldn’t actually scare away readers. I think she has more than succeeded in that – the initial amazement (‘wow, I actually look pretty good’) has given way to unwonted and unwanted stirrings of vanity (‘maybe she could photoshop the spots’) – but now I have to decide which photo to use. In that, I ask your advice, dear reader. Which of these photos do you think is the best?