poetry walk

September 5, 2014

Companion Stone

To understand Companion Stones, it helps first to understand guide stoops. Derbyshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, is a landscape of vast moors, rocky outcroppings, limited natural shelter and long history. For millennia, before reliable maps and GPS, travelers criss-crossed the region on foot, hoping to happen upon a footpath that would lead them someplace they wanted to go.

According to the site Derbyshire Heritage, “In 1697 during the reign of William III an Act was passed which decreed that in the more remote parts, where two or more paths intersected, the local Surveyors were to erect guideposts or guide stoops showing the way to the nearest market town.” Though many guide stoops have suffered the interference of history, many still stand, and it was these that inspired Charles Monkhouse to create Companion Stones.

Monkhouse is an artist who creates site-specific works, both permanent and temporary, often drawing upon local tradition and the local populace to implement his installations. Companion Stones “matched twelve of the Derbyshire guide stoops with sculptures created by poets, artists and masons of the Peak. Like the guide stoops, which carry directions across treacherous terrain, each sculpture also bore a direction: to an equally uncertain future.” Monkhouse worked with 12 poets and six artists on the project.

The 12 Companion Stones can be visited on four mapped poetry walks. Unfortunately, much of the online information about the Companion Stones seems to have disappeared, but if you plan to visit, here’s a link to the Peak Walk on the Longshaw Estate and you might be able to find further information on sites about Derbyshire and the Peak District. This page has images of several of the Companion Stones and here’s the website of Charles Monkhouse.
. . . . .
Photo: Companion Stone in Longshaw Park. Poet: Ann Atkinson; artist: Kate Genever; mason: Heritage Stoneworks. It reads:

walk on
by water-flow
by crow-flight
by night by
star by
by map by
& so to


2 Responses to “poetry walk”

  1. susanissima Says:

    Simply lovely, like an inukshuk with words. Well done post.

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