Thursday, November 20, 2008

On The Right(eous) Way

At Your Feet 175 w

Signposting is not always easy, and it never was. How did our ancestors find the way when they travelled long distances? They could follow a river or the coastline, aim for some hills or mountains or walk along a winding path. But if they travelled over land in particular, and they had many days or weeks ahead of them, how did they find the way? They would most likely be dependant on guides or people who pointed at an object on the horizon.

For the pilgrims of the past there were markers on the ground that led them on the right way, to the next cathedral or perhaps even to Santiago de Compostela.  Scallop shells on the ground would guide them, eventually all the way to, what is supposed to be, the relics of St. James. Still today you can find metal markers in the shape of a scallop shell in many European villages, towns and cities. This one I spotted in Liège, Belgium.

Scallop Shell (pilgrim route) Liege


Pearl said...

How interesting!

In the U.S., during the Depression and when the hobos were riding the train rails, they would scratch signs in the dirt roads. I read of it so long ago, but I remember that a sketch of a dog meant the house ahead was friendly and you could maybe get food or work. A sketch in the dirt of a cat meant the house was unfriendly and to keep walking.
p.s. I've marked you as a "favorite" and will be back. Nice writing. Nice photos.

swenglishexpat said...

Pearl - Thanks for dropping in. I have heard similar stories from Sweden where tramps carved signs into gate posts and similar. You are kind, Pearl, thank you.

CanadianSwiss said...

An when one thinks that today, people have trouble finding their way without their GPS! :)

swenglishexpat said...

CS - You're right, that's rather pathetic.

Braja said...

Princess Diana's family emblem is the scallop. How 'bout them apples? :))

swenglishexpat said...

Braja - Thank you for dropping in. I did not know that about Diana's family. Apples?