There’s a track on our Loudhailer Electric Company studio album called Gypsey Race. In fact, the line from that song: “All roads lead to… the stone at the bend on the Gypsey Race…” is the reason we chose the title of the album, Cursus. And the map below is on the inner sleeve.
So, what’s it all about?
It started when we went walking in the Yorkshire Wolds with my old Red Guitars band buddy John Rowley. John has always been a fantastic story teller and back in the day kept the band thoroughly entertained during many tedious hours of driving between gigs on various Autobahns and autoroutes throughout Europe. Last spring Rich and Dexter and I joined him and a gang of friends on one of his archeology walks – a rollicking good romp through a few hundred thousand years of prehistory. We followed the course of the winterbourne chalk stream – the Gypsey Race – which flows down through the Wolds and east out to sea at Bridlington. On the bend, just where the stream turns east is one of the most important prehistoric sites, the tallest standing stone in the UK – the Rudston monolith. It’s no accident that the stone is situated there as it was once one of the most important places in prehistoric England. Like at Stonehenge there are courses – or cursus – huge miles long structures which lead from all around the surrounding countryside in straight lines to the stones. Just like Avebury on the Kennett where the stream turns east, a corner to meet, and a major neolithic route – the Ridgeway brought traffic and new things as did the cursus and the pathway on the ridge atop the Wolds to Rudston. Prehistorically the Gypsey Race was also used to create fish farms just south east of the stone. A source of fresh water, food and life. Unfortunately unlike Stonehenge and Avebury the land around Rudston has been ploughed intensively over the years and it’s importance cannot be so obviously seen on the ground anymore, but it can’t be under-estimated either.
So, there it is, the Gypsey Race. There are more recent legends and superstitions surrounding the stream, and according to folklore, when the Gypsey Race is flowing in flood the woe waters forebear bad fortune. This happened in the year before the great plague of 1664, before the two world wars and the bad winters of 1947 and 1962. Well, it was in full flow when we were there last spring, and look what’s happened in the world since then…
Gazing over the heather at the end of the day
If there’s fire in the sky he’ll be ready to march
He’s sick to death of the wall what does it mean anyway?
Where the river turns east there’s a corner to meet
When night balances day since the beginning of time
There’s shouting and fighting and standing out in the sky
He’s had enough of the wall it’s not a reason to die
When he gets there he’ll see what the future holds
There’s only bad news coming when the waters flow
It’s time for a change gotta find a new face
Come meet at the bend on the Gypsey Race
All roads lead to the stone at the bend on the Gypsey RaceI’m the soldier on the wall
Looking out at the sky
I’ve had enough of it all
It’s not a reason to dieI’m that soldier on the wall at the end of the day
I’m sick to death of it all what does it mean anyway?
All roads lead to the stone at the bend on the Gypsey Race