Writer in Residence
Beautifully written. Evocative. I spent time in the crypt at Hexham with the lights off, and after a few minutes of dread, there appeared patches of luminescence along ancient roman cap stones. Glowing lichen - bioluminescent - outlining the water leaf carvings.
I haven't spent much time in actual crypts, but I am a theater-maker and have spent the better part of the last 20 years submerged in the dark shadows of backstages, surrounded by the ghosts of productions past. Theaters are generally, by necessity, void of all natural light, and even more so behind the scenes (where I spend my time, as I am a stage manager, not a performer) so as not to draw focus from whatever's happening on stage. I don't find the darkness creepy though, possibly because I always have my trusty mini-flashlight stored in my back pocket, or possibly because there's a familiarity and comfort in a well-organized backstage that feels exactly like every other well-organized backstage I've ever called home. The downside to all this, however, is that my Vitamin D levels are chronically low and I try to spend my precious vacation days in the sunniest destinations possible :)
I loved this, Yasmin! Captivating! So this is how you came to place writing? I can imagine how this would be a truly inspirational experience as you submerged yourself, so to speak, into the past. I have never been in a crypt, and I don't think we have any here in the states like the one you write about. I could be wrong, but I've not heard of them. But places of interment certainly do carry an energy that is impossible to ignore. I personally don't think I would've been too productive there, either - damp and cold wouldn't help my creative process! But yes, certainly a place to feel and reflect upon later as you did. Brings to mind Jean Sprackland's 'These Silent Mansions' and her passion for uncovering the lives of those physically long gone and where only faded writing on a stone remains.
I wonder why the bodies were removed? I see you mention that the coffins removed - or some of them - were made with (toxic) lead, but the bodies weren't re-interred? What did they do with them I wonder? It's no wonder you wanted to carve an entire book out of this one place! I would certainly read it!
An inspiring piece and what an experience for five days. I had an office in a church basement for a year or so and found I craved daylight and would rush out at lunchtime to soak up whatever light there was. It was a lovely friendly office of a small charity that didn't have much money and occasionally rats ran down the corridor between the offices!