We knew those moorlands,
stern and vast
Held many secrets of the past.
Secrets we would like to probe
Of men who wore the Roman robe.
Of those who trod the heathered ways
In the far off distant days.
Hopefully, we meant to try
Our luck beneath the autumn sky.
Try solve if chariot had rumbled on
‘Mid brackened slopes, in times now gone.
No ouzel showed its gorget white,
No curlew there for us to sight.
Select in choice the wild birds are,
And they depart for points afar.
Those moorlands for the time they’d spurn
But, unlike the Romans, they’d return
My mind dwelt on days that
And on Romans I’ve never seen.
I pictured them in vision bright,
I held them clearly in my sight,
And cheerfully I toiled with spade,
Admired the gashes that I’d made.
To make a find, the turf I tore,
Hacked stubborn root from moorland floor.
Happy, though I smokeless went,
Happy, though my back was bent.
Whilst my friends too, searching around,
Studying patterns on the ground.
Knee deep we squelched in oozing moss,
Quivering in ditch feet tried to cross.
Conjuring scenes that used to be,
Knocking out breath still left in me.
We studied, measured,
probed and dug,
Put all we knew in that last slug.
But what reward, when trusty spade,
Refused to advance in wreck I’d made.
The day was ours, the battle won,
O sweetness of a job well done.
Lost stone, untouched throughout the years,
Stood revealed, gone were our fears.
My eyes could see the Romans now
Crossing o’er the moorland brow.
My spade I flung on peaty floor,
Enjoyed a rest, like ne’er before.
I lay there, let my heart rejoice,
And then I heard a Centurion’s voice,
“Ye Gods, the weaklings broke his back
To stand upon our ancient track.”
By Thomas Creear (former member in the 1950’s)