The Beast of Claver Hill
by Kathy Barton
No-one knows for sure how long the Beast has lain in slumber at the bottom of Claver Hill. Her great hulk overgrown with wild grasses and sedges in summer, dew kissed and drenched with autumn rains, dusted with mid-winter frost and snowflakes. She never flinches, does not try to raise herself up on her forepaws. Silent she lays frozen in time. Year after year the geese fly overhead, she never turns her eyes skyward to acknowledge their honking calls. Buzzards, kestrels, and owls swoop above waiting for her to scare up a tasty morsel. Spring ducklings waddle past and still she remains peacefully asleep.
Perhaps she was the last of her kind. As she lay her final clutch of golf ball sized eggs, her loneliness and grief overcame her. No mate, no friends like the dinosaurs, they became extinct. Perhaps an ancient druid cast a spell in fear that the mound of eggs would be too many mouths to feed during a season of drought. (This being long before Spud Club came to plant rows of pumpkins, beans, peas, greens and all manner of root vegetables).
What history has passed by those unseeing eyes? Or do they see and store deep in her memory? Nearby the old Roman Road traversed by marching soldiers, supply wagons trundling along, heading towards the fort at Lancaster. They will be looking forward to the baths. Time passes. The Priory rises, its steeple bells calling the people of Lancaster to worship. The castle dungeons, deep, dark, and dank hold those claimed to be witches. Bonnie Prince Charlie bravely heads south with wild dreams. The Beast has glimpsed their passing. Out in the bay, ships head out to exploit human greed, trading fellow men for cotton, mahogany, and sugar. Wealth brings growth, the quarries ring as stone is cut for all the new buildings going up. Industry and mills and then the land around the Beast is farmed by hospital and prison workers. Time passes to the present day. Two ladies decide the community needs a place where people can come to grow food and make friends. They name it Claver Hill. If you follow the nature trail, you can find the Beast still sleeping, watching, ever watching.