Sleeping Cities

KingswayI am attempting to cross a busy road with a shying horse. The horse will not cross the road because on the other side stands a temple, structured from marble with Greco-Roman apparel. In an alcove stands a statue of a lady holding a platter. The building is partially concealed by trees and submerged in the hill. Its angles and lineaments do not fit with the line of the slope. I have the feeling only the horse and I can see it, as all the cars are driving past oblivious.

I revisit the temple without the horse. It stands on the junction between Kingsway and the A59, on the south slope of Castle Hill close to the War Memorial. Marble steps lead up to a garden. In the centre is a fountain with four paths leading toward it surrounded by primroses, polyanthuses and primulas. On the left is a statue of a regal woman in medieval attire on a white palfrey, on the right an armoured man of regal bearing on a thicker set war horse.

At the back of the temple is a spiral stairway, which leads down to an underground grotto where baths have been cut into the stone floor. The temperature drops and its darkness echoes. The still water’s reflections do not give away any secrets.

There are no people there, yet I sense it was once a busy place. It has been abandoned, its meaning forgotten a long time ago.


The first sighting appeared in a dream, and the second in a visualisation. Could there have been a Roman temple at this site? If there was, surely there would be a record or archaeological evidence. Also, the architecture and garden seem to be patched together from different periods, mirroring Renaissance attempts to build a new world from fragments of an idealized past. Could I have caught a glimpse of some future attempt to resurrect the magic of the past in a similar manner?

Another possibility is born of our numerous legends of fairy halls and palaces, appearing on hills, built into hidden clefts of valleys and abiding deep underground. The fay are renown for their capacity to cast a glamour over the landscapes of this world and their own, and our sense of time holds no meaning for them. What if the lineaments of our land are but a cover for their sleeping cities?


2 thoughts on “Sleeping Cities

  1. Pete Howarth

    A good few years ago, my sister claimed to have seen the apparition of what she thought was a Roman soldier at the other side of the A59, and probably about where the abutment of the bridge is now.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I’ve heard other reports of people seeing Roman soldiers (sometimes whole battalions!) between the bridge and the foot of Castle Hill too. There was a huge industrial site at Walton-le-dale and Roman ballista balls have been found on Castle Hill. It’s my intuition there was a strong Roman presence here.

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