A rose for Morville

13/01/2016 17:23

Written by Katherine Swift

The first two volumes in Katherine Swift’s Morville trilogy are The Morville Hours (2008) and The Morville Year (2010). Here she describes her inspiration for the third (A Rose for Morville, 2016): a Slow journey home.


A Rose for Morville was inspired by the landscapes of southwest Shropshire. I had been spending the winter in deep snow up at Shelve – the highest village in the county. When spring came, and with it the necessity to return to Morville, I decided to walk home, over the Shropshire Hills, a journey which by car would take an hour, and if walked in a straight line might take perhaps two weeks.

But this was to be a walk geological, historical, botanical; ecological, biographical, technological: from Mitchell’s Fold to Buildwas, from the Welsh border to the Severn, from Stone Age to nuclear – against the grain of the land, walking in the footsteps of vanished lead miners and colliers, lime burners and quarrymen, drovers and coffin bearers, ignoring the roads – from pre-Cambrian to Coal Measures, dolerite to dhustone, limestone to new red sandstone, across the history and geology of Shropshire, and back through the layers of my own history, back to Morville.

More paysage moralisé than pastoral. I would search for the five wild roses of Shropshire, and find the places where the Industrial Revolution began. No need for geological maps: the stone of the churches and the soil in the fields would be my guides. Perhaps I could do without maps altogether, and plot my course from the top of one hill to the next, asking directions from the people I met. I would find people and places by accident, allowing myself to become lost. It would be less of a walk than a wander; not so much a ramble as an amble, proceeding at my own pace; my path a braid of stories, stretching eastwards over the hills into the rising sun. I decided to allow myself six weeks.

If I set off on Good Friday I could be home by Ascension Day …


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