Picture Post: Magical sky at night in all its heavenly wonder

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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IF Salvador Dali had been a photographer this is the kind of extraordinary picture I imagine he would have taken.

A solitary, silhouetted figure stands at the top of Rylstone Fell beneath a swirling canopy of stars, with Rylstone Cross illuminated against this dramatic night sky. By artfully playing with the basic composition the photographer has created an image that gives the impression of a vortex almost sucking the stars back into space.

Countless ramblers have passed Rylstone Cross over the years but they will never have seen it looking quite like this, and many might be unaware of the story behind it.

A few centuries back, the site, close to Skipton, was home only to a large rock, which was known as the ‘The Stone Man’. A striking landmark, it was seen as an ideal spot by the Duke of Devonshire back in the 19th Century as somewhere to commemorate the centenary of the Peace of Paris.

In 1783, the set of treaties, signed by representatives of King George III alongside delegates from France, Spain and the US, brought an end to the American War of Independence. Britain alone had spent £80m fighting the bitter and bloody eight-year conflict, but the human cost was far greater.

The duke had a wooden cross erected on top of the stone pillar and like many memorials this simple wooden cross, into which the initials of the Duke and his land agent, a Mr T Broughton, were carved, stands as a reminder of those who gave their lives in not just that conflict, but all wars.

Due to its hilltop location the cross takes a battering from the wind, snow and rain, and the one you see today is not the original. First replaced following the harsh winter of 1947, which brought two months of Arctic temperatures, the current cross dates back to the mid-1990s.

But it remains a striking landmark brilliantly captured in this stunning photograph, which is not only a homage to the natural wonders of the universe but also a nod to mankind’s innate craftsmanship.

Technical details: Nikon D3s, 17-35mm f2.8 Nikkor. 220 exposures, 30secs @ f2.8, stacked using StarStax software.