When you walk around Bomere Pool, hands clasped over your ears to silence the roar of the powerboats that play there today don’t yearn for the good old days.

Yes, there were some of those but there were some bad ones too. If you stand very still you can almost feel grief and loss in the air around that pool.

One time, long, long ago a great, godless city stood at Bomere. It’s people gave themselves up to sin and, it’s said, it was impossible to see a good, wholesome deed done there.

A young Roman soldier who had found Christianity for himself came to the city. When he saw how the citizens lived he vowed to guide them towards the path.

The soldier had dedication and surety of belief but try as he might he could not sway the sinners. All, that is, apart from one, the beautiful daughter of the governor. She watched him go resolutely about his task at first fascinated and then, as time passed, entranced.

Her beauty had not escaped him either and gradually the two fell in love, but alas it was not to last.

The young man saw the city’s fate in a dream; he rushed there to save his true love.

It was Easter Eve and judgement was ready to be handed out. Caer Caradoc, to the South, split its side and issued forth fire to engulf the city. Then it belched again but this time a tidal wave rolled across the buildings, dowsing the flames but drowning the metropolis and all within it.

Our hero arrived too late and, no matter how he shouted, or cast his crazed eyes around for a sight of her, all was lost.

It is said he died of his grief, and if you go to Bomere Pool on Easter Eve you will see him now. He might be rowing a boat, or walking the woods, but his greying spectre will never give up looking for the love he lost so long ago.

en français

Perdue Dans Les Flots

Lorsque vous marchez autour de Bomere Pool (pool est un lac – ndt), couvrant vos oreilles avec vos mains pour atténuer le rugissement des bateaux à moteur qui affluent ici aujourd’hui, n’ayez pas la nostalgie des anciens beaux jours.

Certes, il y en eut de beaux mais il y en eut également de mauvais. Si vous restez immobiles, vous pouvez presque ressentir la souffrance et la tristesse dans l’air environnant ce lac.

Il y a longtemps, très longtemps, s’étendait à Bomere une grande ville impie. Ses habitants s’adonnaient au péché et on dit qu’il était impossible d’y voir accomplie une saine action.

Un jeune soldat romain qui s’était converti à la foi chrétienne arriva à la ville. Lorsqu’il vit comment les citoyens vivaient, il fit le serment de les guider vers le chemin des justes.

Le soldat était plein de dévotion et sa foi était grande mais il avait beau essayer, il ne réussissait pas à convaincre les pécheurs. Aucun, excepté une personne, la jolie fille du gouverneur. Elle l’observait tandis qu’il s’activait résolument à sa mission, fascinée au début, puis transportée, au fur et à mesure que le temps passait.

Sa beauté ne lui avait pas échappé non plus, à lui, et, petit à petit, ils tombèrent amoureux l’un de l’autre, mais hélas, cela ne devait pas durer.

Le jeune homme vit en rêve le destin de la ville ; il s’y précipita pour sauver son authentique amour.

C’était la veille de Pâques et le jugement allait être rendu. Caer Caradoc, au sud, se fendit sur un côté et projeta sa lave pour engloutir la ville. Puis il eut une autre irruption mais cette fois, un raz de marée dévasta les maisons, étouffant les flammes mais noyant la métropole et tout ce qui s’y trouvait.

Notre héros arriva trop tard et il eut beau crier ou chercher sa bien-aimée de ses yeux apeurés, tout était perdu.

On dit qu’il mourut de douleur et que, lorsqu’on va au lac Bomere à la veille de Pâques, on peut encore le voir. Il peut être dans un canot ou marcher dans les bois mais son fantôme grisâtre ne cessera jamais de chercher son amour perdu il y a si longtemps.

Translation: Euro Langues Assistance & Tradufrance funded by…

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Background facts

Bomere Pool

Bomere Pool is one of those places that can be quite unsettling. It has an atmosphere which seems to cry out that it has many mysteries brooding in its depths. Local people will tell you that the pool is bottomless.

copyright Gordon Dickins

Nowadays the pool is a place of changing aspects. As mentioned in the story it is used by powerboats towing along water skiers and can be very noisy and tiresome. A few years ago a public house stood to the South of the Pool, which allowed drinkers to watch the water based antics for entertainment. Alas business does not seem to have been brisk enough and now the premises have been turned into flats.

The people living immediately around the pool seem to value their seclusion more than the public rights of way. The Pool can be quite an unwelcoming place to walkers and ramblers. So keep to the paths and always take a map to make sure you keep to the official routes.

Bomere Muse

Bomere Pool was almost certainly the model for Mary Webb’s Sarn Mere from her novel Precious Bane. Mary Webb lived close by on Lyth Hill and must have spent many hours staring into the Pool’s depths when it was a much quieter place than today.

Created from the Ice

This area of Shropshire was covered with a sheet of ice in the last Ice Age about 18,000 years ago. When the ice began to retreat large blocks of ice were left isolated, often surrounded and covered by the sands, gravels and clays left behind by the main glacier. When the ice finally melted the sediments would collapse into large holes or depressions called ‘Kettle Holes’. The holes had no means of drainage. They would either turn into steep sided lakes (called Meres in Shropshire) or, if the lake completely filled with clay and peat, become a bog or moss. Bomere Pool is a fine example of a kettle hole mere.

Past Inhabitants

Only 800m west of the Pool there is another kettle hole, but this one was not turned into a Mere but filled with gravel, peat and clay. This pit was quarried for gravel. One September evening in 1986, Eve Roberts was out walking her dogs when she saw large bones protruding from some clay. She had discovered the famous Shropshire woolly mammoths, not just the bones of one animal but a female and three young mammoths (two four year olds and a six year old).

Probably the animals had been roaming the area looking for food and had been attracted by the lush vegetation in the boggy kettle hole. Once in the hole the steep sides would have prevented their escape. Their bones would have been covered with late glacial silts and peats preserving them to this day.

Later Inhabitants

As the South East end of the Pool there is a mound which is probably the remains of an Iron Age settlement.

Silver Birches

Growing around the pool and pictured in the painting are many silver birches. (Betula pendula). At Whitsuntide it was a Shropshire custom to decorate churches with silver birch twigs, many were probably gathered from around Bomere Pool to bedeck local churches. The twigs would have been fixed to the back of the pews and their leaves would rustle in the slightest of breezes in the church. It is thought that this might have been to represent the ‘rushing, mighty wind’ when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles.

The Roman Soldier

The roman soldier in the story would almost certainly have been stationed at nearby Viroconium, a Roman city at Wroxeter. You can find out more about Viroconium on ‘The Disappearing City’ pages.

Caer Caradoc

Caer Caradoc is a large hill to the South by Church Stretton. It is topped by a 2.5-hectare hill fort. It must have been a very bleak, but very secure place to live. It is one possible location for the last stand of the Celtic leader, Caratacus, against the invading Romans. There is a cave known as Caratacus’ Hole where Caratacus is supposed to have hidden from his foes after he lost the battle.

en français

Bomere Pool

Le lac Bomere est l’un de ces endroits où on peut se sentir troublé. Il est imprégné d’une atmosphère qui semble crier que de nombreux mystères hantent ses profondeurs. Les gens d’ici vous diront que le lac est sans fond.

copyright Gordon Dickins

Aujourd’hui, le lac est un endroit aux aspects changeants. Comme l’histoire le mentionne, il est utilisé par les bateaux à moteur tirant des skieurs nautiques et peut s’avérer bruyant et fatigant. Il y a quelques années, se trouvait une auberge au sud du lac qui permettait à la clientèle de se distraire en regardant les cabrioles aquatiques des skieurs. Malheureusement, les affaires ne semblent pas avoir été suffisamment florissantes et aujourd’hui, les bâtiments ont été transformés en appartements.

Les gens qui habitent aux abords directs du lac semblent davantage apprécier leur isolement que le droit d’accès au public. Le lac peut se révéler assez hostile pour les promeneurs et randonneurs. Alors, restez sur les chemins et emportez toujours une carte avec vous afin de veiller à toujours rester sur les chemins officiels.

La muse de Bomere

Le lac Bomere représentait certainement l’idéal pour Sarn Mere, le personnage de Mary Webb, dans son roman Precious Bane (Sarn). Mary Webb vivait tout près, sur Lyth Hill et elle a dû passer maintes heures à scruter les profondeurs du lac, à l’époque où il était beaucoup plus calme qu’aujourd’hui.

Créé de la Glace

Cette région du Shropshire était couverte d’une couche de glace lors de la dernière ère glaciaire, il y a environ 18 000 ans. Lorsque la glace commença à se retirer, de larges blocs de glace se trouvèrent isolés, souvent entourés et couverts par du sable, du gravier et de l’argile déposés par le glacier principal. Lorsque la glace fondit finalement, les sédiments s’affaissèrent, créant de grands trous ou dépressions appelés ‘Kettle Holes’ (‘Chaudrons’). Ces trous n’étaient pas perméables. Ils se transformèrent en lacs aux bords escarpés (appelés Meres (marais) dans le Shropshire) ou, lorsque le lac est complètement rempli d’argile et de tourbe, il devient marécage ou tourbière. Le lac Bomere est un bel exemple de marais chaudron.

Les Habitants du Passé

A seulement 800 mètres à l’ouest du lac, il y a un autre chaudron, mais celui-ci ne s’est pas transformé en marais. Il s’est rempli de gravier, de tourbe et d’argile. Cette carrière était exploitée pour son gravier. Un soir de septembre 1986, Eve Roberts promenait ses chiens lorsqu’elle vit de grands os dépassant de l’argile. Elle avait découvert les célèbres mammouths laineux du Shropshire, pas uniquement les ossements d’un seul animal mais d’une femelle et de trois jeunes mammouths (deux âgés de quatre ans et un de six ans).

Ces animaux avaient certainement dû sillonner cette zone à la recherche de nourriture et ils avaient dû être attirés par la luxuriante végétation du chaudron marécageux. Une fois dans le trou, les bords à pic ont dû les empêcher de remonter. Lors de la dernière ère glaciaire, les limons et la tourbe ont dû recouvrir leurs os, les préservant ainsi jusqu’à nos jours.

Les derniers Habitants

A l’extrémité sud-est du lac, il y a un tumulus qui est probablement un vestige de la sédentarisation, à l’Age de Fer.

Bouleaux Argentés

Autour du lac, poussent de nombreux bouleaux argentés (Betula pendula) représentés sur l’image. A la Pentecôte, on avait coutume dans le Shropshire de décorer les églises de rameaux de bouleaux argentés. De nombreux bouleaux servant à décorer les églises locales étaient probablement cueillis autour du lac Bomere. Les rameaux étaient attachés au dos des bancs et leurs feuilles frémissaient au moindre souffle dans l’église. On pense que ceci symbolisait l’impétueux et puissant vent, lorsque le Saint-Esprit descendait sur les Apôtres.

Le Soldat Romain

Le soldat romain de l’histoire aurait certainement été en garnison à Viroconium, toute proche, une ville romaine à Wroxeter. Vous pouvez en apprendre plus sur Viroconium dans les pages ‘la Cité Disparaissant’.

Caer Caradoc

Caer Caradoc est une grande colline au sud, vers Church Stretton. Elle est surmontée d’un fort de 2,5 hectares. La vie devait y être bien lugubre mais cet endroit était très sûr. C’est l’un des lieux où le chef celtique, Caratacus, peut avoir résisté à l’invasion des Romains pour la dernière fois. Il y a une grotte connue sous le nom de ‘Caratacus’ Hole’ (Trou de Caratacus) où ce denier est censé s’être caché de ses ennemis après avoir perdu la bataille.

Translation: Euro Langues Assistance & Tradufrance

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Key Stage 2 Activities

Get It Mapped

There was a large Roman settlement near Shrewsbury at Wroxeter called Viroconium. This soldier was probably stationed there. Have a look at the map and find the Roman city and Bomere pool. How far would the soldier have to travel to meet his sweetheart?

Put It in Writing

The Roman has a scroll in his hand. On it is written a note. Can you guess what it says?

When Did It Happen?

Julius Caesar first landed in Britain in 55 BC, but it was almost another hundred years before the Romans conquered Britain in AD 43. Can you can find out when and where the Romans invaded Britain. See what else you can discover about the Roman Empire.

Poetry and motion

AE Housman wrote this famous poem about a Roman soldier looking down on Viroconium it’s called “On Wenlock Edge” (in the poem he calls the city Uricon, an alternative name for Viriconium).

A SHROPSHIRE LAD – XXXI – On Wenlock Edge

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

‘Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
‘Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms as English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

Permission for the use of the above poem was obtained from The Society of Authors as the literary representative of the Estate of A E Housman.

Try writing a poem for the soldier to his sweetheart as he stands on Wenlock Edge amongst those ‘wind blown saplings’.

What do you think the ‘wind blown saplings’ look like? Try drawing a picture.

On Wenlock Edge

Ralph Vaughan Williams put this AE Housman poem to music. Listen to the music file and see if you can fit the lyrics to the melody line.

See lyric…

A SHROPSHIRE LAD – XXXI – On Wenlock Edge

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

‘Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
‘Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms as English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

Permission for the use of the above poem was obtained from The Society of Authors as the literary representative of the Estate of A E Housman.

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