Ravensgill, Commondale

When The Commondale Brick & Pipe Works closed its gates for good in 1947, this would have been a very different scene probably with no tree or blade of grass to be seen.

It is now a Scout camp, so not normally accessible. I took the opportunity to search the beck for a memorial carved on a rock for George Watson, an employee at the brickworks who, in 1872, took his own life “in a state of temporary insanity“, to use the language of the time1‘SUICIDE NEAR GUISBOROUGH’ | Stockton Herald, South Durham and Cleveland Advertiser | Saturday 26 August 1876 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2022. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002975/18760826/035/0004> [accessed 2 October 2022]2Whitworth, Alan. ‘Esk Valley Railway through Time’. Amberley Publishing Limited, 2011 Available online at <https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HmuIAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT131&lpg=PT131&dq=%22George+Watson%22+commondale+ravensgill&source=bl&ots=YfM9OYehkT&sig=ACfU3U0UL_ts_e93j324rJCihs-EvQgROA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjbxNr1m8L6AhVGUcAKHQbEAJ0Q6AF6BAgEEAM#v=onepage&q=%22George%20Watson%22%20commondale%20ravensgill&f=false> [accessed 2 October 2022].

But the memorial eluded me. My notes say it is inscribed “George Watson. FELO.DE.SE. HOMINIS ES ERRARE“.

Felo de se‘ is an archaic legal expression meaning ‘a crime committed against oneself‘,  i.e. suicide, which was decriminalised in 19613‘Felo de Se – Wiktionary’. 2022. Wiktionary.org <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/felo_de_se> [accessed 2 October 2022]4Wikipedia Contributors. 2022. ‘Suicide Act 1961’, Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Act_1961> [accessed 2 October 2022].

Google translates ‘Hominis es errare’ as ‘You are human to make mistakes5‘Google Translate’. 2013. Google.com (Google Translate) <https://translate.google.com/?sl=la&tl=en&text=HOMINIS%20ES%20ERRARE&op=translate> [accessed 2 October 2022].

4 Replies to “Ravensgill, Commondale”

  1. I’ve been to the stone in the past. It’s a large rock in the beck and upstream from the wall surrounding the fields, so out on the moor. I remember crossing some fencing that was protecting trees planted alongside the beck. I must have had a grid ref but I can’t find it.

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