Esther Woolfson Quotes

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In a city it's impossible to forget we live in places raised and built over time itself. The past is underneath our feet. Every day when I leave the house , I may walk over a place where a king killed a wolf in the Royal Forest of Stocket, one of the medieval hunting forests , where alder and birch , oak and hazel, willow, cherry and aspen grew. The living trees were cut down , their wood used to fuel the city's growth , it's trade, it's life.The ancient wood , preserved in peat, was found underneath the city(The site of the killing is fairly well buried -the wolf and the king had their encounter some time around the early years of the eleventh century)It's the same as in any other city, built up and over and round , ancient woodlands cut down , bogs drained , watercourses altered, a landscape rendered almost untraceable, vanished.Here, there's a history of 8, 000 years of habitation , the evidence in excavated fish hooks and fish bone reliquaries, in Bronze Age grave-goods of arrowheads and beakers, what's still under the surface, in revenants and ghosts of gardens , of doo'cots and orchards, of middens and piggeries, plague remains and witch-hunts, of Franciscans and Carmelites, their friaries buried , over-taken by time and stone.This is a stonemasons' city , a city of weavers and gardeners and shipwrights and where I walk , there was once a Maison Dieu, a leper house; there was song schools and sewing schools, correction houses and tollboths, hidden under layers of time, still there

-Esther Woolfson
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