meerstones in Cumbria
Current research for As Above So Below has taken Bridget out on a series of exploratory walks, or "Meerstone Hunts" in the landscape around Nenthead, Cumbria. This area is rich in mineral deposits and was extensively mined during the 1700 and 1800s for lead ore. Meerstones are stone markers carved on at least two sides with the name or initials of the individual or company who has claimed the right to mine the areas either side of the Meerstone. The term Meer comes form the earlier practice of allocating a cubic volume of mining rights to the finder of a mineral deposit. The finder would claim the Head Meer from the authorities, after which various other bodies would claim theirs (the church, the state, the land owner).
Bridget is interested in these stone markers as symbols of power and ownership (mainly now redundant), but also as signifiers above ground of the extensive activity that has taken place below the surface. She has been reading about Meers in De Re Metallica by Georgius Agricola, a book originally written in Latin in 1556. She is particularly interested in the method of measurement and how it relates to the human form.
"The size of a Meer is measured by fathoms, for which miners are reckoned at six feet each. The length, in fact, is that of a man's extended arms and hands measured across his chest...."
Extract taken from p 77, De Re Metallica