Picture Post: Ancient ruin is the perfect place for stargazing

Star Trails over Barden Tower in Wharfedale. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Star Trails over Barden Tower in Wharfedale. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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It looks like it could have been taken from the opening scene of an episode of Doctor Who.

This eerie image of the night sky above Barden Tower captures the star trails around the imposing 15th century ruin, which has a long and romantic history.

Lying between Bolton Abbey and Burnsall, the land was granted to Robert de Romille after the Norman Conquest. Meaning the “valley of the wild boar” in Anglo-Saxon, the area has been a popular hunting ground ever since. While originally one of several lodges, its importance soon grew as it became an administrative centre responsible for holding forest courts.

It was not long before The Tower became a miniature castle, capable of defending itself against marauders including the Scots and an outpost for chasing poachers. In 1310 Barden and all the surrounding lands came into the possession of the Clifford family. They were staunch Lancastrians and became the sworn enemy of the Yorkist kings. When Henry Clifford was killed in battle in 1461, his seven year old son, also called Henry, was sent into exile and spent the next 25 years learning to tend sheep on a farm in the East Riding.

With the death of King Richard III, the last of the Yorkist kings, at the battle of Bosworth, the Clifford family were able to come out of hiding and Henry, affectionately known as the Shepherd Lord, returned to North Yorkshire.

It was during this time that Henry enlarged the Tower and built the chapel at the nearby Priests House. Along with the Canons of Bolton Priory, he also had a keen interest in astronomy which led to the upstairs dining room being named the “Stargazers Room”.

As the year’s ticked by, Henry became more reclusive, although he was known for holding regular feasts for the locals in the Great Hall.

Today Barden Tower belongs to Bolton Abbey and while it has undergone many alterations since Henry’s time it remains one of the estate’s most intriguing features.

Tech Details: Nikon D3s, 17-35mm Nikkor, 122 exposures of 30ses @f3.2, 1250asa. Combined in Photoshop.

Picture: Bruce Rollinson