Of course, the whole of this website is about interesting stuff in Cambridge! But there are a few things which don't seem to fit anywhere else, and, I hope you will agree, are definitely interesting.
This is definitely not a well-defined walk. The map marks where to find the different items. These items are scattered widely, so just visit them if you happen to be close. 400 metres is about a quarter of a mile, and 2 kilometres are about a mile.
Things worth looking at are marked in red. Click on them, or on the links, for descriptions and pictures.
Gormley statue, in Downing Site|
Letter box, outside Kings College
Construction in Alumium
Giant's Grave, Cherry Hinton|
DNA path, Addenbrookes hospital to Shelford
Inukshuk, outside Scott Polar Museum
Murdered prostitute's grave, Mill Road cemetery
Walk, in Grafton Centre
Click on the photos for a bigger version.
Gormley statue, in Downing Site
Antony Gormley is one of Britain's best known contemporary sculptors. He made the Angel of the North. There is a Gormley sculpture in Cambridge which is rather smaller! In fact, it takes some finding.
The entrance of the Downing Site is in Downing Street. Walk in and turn slightly towards your left. In the paving, you will see two human-sized foot prints (see right). Apparently this installation is a human figure buried up side down with only the soles of the feet showing. There is no information near-by about it, and you can walk right over it without seeing it if you're not careful. It is dated 2002, and it is called Earthbound: Plant.
I took this information (and in fact found out about this sculpture) from the Cambridge Sculpture Trails - second trail.
Letter box outside Kings College
Taking photos of college gates, I noticed that there is usually a letter box close-by. It makes sense, all those students away from home naturally wanted to write letters. Now I assume that it's all email, if not Facebook.
The best letter box is outside Kings College, on Kings Parade. The letters were sent by the Royal Mail, so the ornate letter on the front of letter boxes tells you which monarch was on the throne when the letter box was made. This one is a Victorian letter box. It has an interesting hexagonal shape.
This is listed Grade II
Several streets are called 'hill' in Cambridge. Looking at them, you might think that this is a Cambridge joke. Cambridge is flat anyway, but these streets are completely flat, and fairly near the river, so couldn't even be described as the tops of hills. There is a reason, though. Being flat, Cambridge used to be prone to flooding, and so any land slightly higher than the rest would be extremely useful, and might even deserve the name of 'hill'. Over time, the lower ground round got filled in, so now these mounds are no higher than anywhere else.
Market Hill is called this on the 1574 map. The market is the heart of Cambridge - it has always been a market town. Round the market, you can see the Guildhall, Great St Mary's church and a 17th century house at 5 Market Hill. The market is open 7 days a week. It sells fruit and veg, and many other items, with some change from day to day. There is a farmers market on Sunday.
|Senate House was not built until 1722. The road from the Round Church to Trumpington used to be used High Street or High Warde, and then became Trumpington Street for the whole length, before acquiring all the various names it has today. Great St Mary's church is opposite the Senate House, with 3D maps outside.|
On the corner of Benet Street and Kings Parade is a splendid clock called the Corpus Chronophage. The grasshopper on top of the clock is mentioned on the animal page. The grasshopper is actually the world's largest grasshopper escapement. This rocks backwards and forwards, converting the pendulum motion into the rotational motion of the cogwheel. In this clock, this escapement is a ferocious insect with teeth that bite together every minute, eating the time. The creature's eyes blink at random.
The clock has no hands. There are three circles of dots which show the hour, minute and second. The clock seems to hestitate from time to time, and this means that the clock is accurate every five minutes rather than all the time.
Under the clock is carved a quotation from 1 John 2:17 "Mundus transit et concupiscentia eius" or "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof." The first word looks like MUDUS rather than MUNDUS, but there is a line over the first U. This is a scribal mark showing that the word has been abbreviated.
This sculpture is at the entrance to the Department of Engineering in Trumpington Street, a bit further along than the Fitzwilliam Museum.
A plaque on it says "Construction in Aluminium 1967 by Kenneth Martin (1905-1984)". It was built with the help of the Engineering Department's workshops.
Its title is not well-known. It tends to be called "that sculpture outside the Engineering Department".
If you are heading for Cherry Hinton, you may notice a patch of greenery at the corner of Cherry Hinton Road and Queen Ediths Way, opposite the Robin Hood pub. There is a path disappearing between the trees and a glimpse of water. Follow the path and you will see a small pond with an island in the middle.
There is a notice near-by which explains more.
The island in the pool is locally known as Giant's Grave, but who is the giant? Legend says that the giant Gog Magog lived nearby, perhaps on the Gog Magog hills, and he is buried here. Another suggestion is that some unusually tall skeletons were found from Iron Age burials on Lime Kiln Hill close-by.
This 'site is also locally known as 'The Spring' or 'Springhead' or 'Robin Hood dip'. That must be why the pub across the road is called the Robin Hood!
Cherry Hinton used to consist of two separate settlements called Church End and Mill End. The southern settlement, Mill End, developed around Giant's Grave, as it was a large natural spring pool and provided an excellent supply of fresh water.
Click on the photo of the notice for a larger version which you might be able to read. It gives some details about local flora and archaeology.
I like footpaths - click here for Lanes and Passages in Cambridge. This cycle path is too far from the city centre to be included there. But it is a very interesting path, so it's here instead!
To get to the start of it, start at Addenbrookes bus stops. Walk through to the road between the buses and the hospital, and walk round the hospital, ending up on the south side. By the MRIS unit, there is a signpost of a foot and cycle path to Shelford. Follow this path away from the hospital southwards, then follow it round to the right, towards the railway, then finally beside the railway. The start of the DNA path is obvious, with a sculpture of a DNA molecule - see below, left. The path stretches out in front of you, with strange stripes on it. It says "10,000 miles national cycle network", "10,257 stripes Human Genome BRCA2" and "Start".
There is a notice near-by which explains more. Click on the photo for a larger version. Part is given below.
The path was built by Cambridgeshire County Council in partnership with Sustrans, to link Addenbrookes Hospital with Great Shelford.Stripes have been laid over one mile of the route with each individual stripe representing one mile of the National Cycle Network, as it was in September 2005.
The stripes also represent the "bases" of a vital human gene called BRCA2, which was decoded at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton. As you cycle or walk on this path, you are effectively travelling a portion of your own genome. To traverse the whole genome at this scale would take a path going 15 times round the earth. The human genome is made up of around 3,000,000,000 bases in all. There are four types of bases, called Adenine (green), Cytosine (blue), Guanine (yellow) and Thymine (red). BRCA2 is the gene that produces a protein which helps in the repair of hiuman DNA which is subject to wear and tear in daily life.
The double helix is an artistic representation of the double helix structure of DNA. The human genome is wound into a double helix structure, and a copy lies within each human cell. Here the double helix has been enlarged approximately 750,000,000 times.
Inukshuk, outside Scott Polar Museum
This charming statue is outside the Scott Polar Museum, round the side.
It is 'Inukshuk', which means 'Cairn in the shape of a man'. It was built by Inuits to guide caribou. It comes from Baffin Island, Canada.
I took this information (and in fact found out about this sculpture) from the Cambridge Sculpture Trails - first trail.
Click here for the Scott Polar Museum, all about the Arctic and Antarctic.
If you walk into the Grafton Centre from the East Road entrance, you will see these strange shapes on the wall. What do these abstract-looking shapes mean?
Have you worked it out? The bicycle is the give-away, perhaps! This artwork was made using CCTV images of people walking, taken from above. It's by Bruce Williams, dated 1995, and it's called Walk. It's on Cambridge Public Art Audit - central area.
Murdered prostitute's grave, Mill Road cemetery
This grave is in Mill Road cemetery, a disused cemetery between Mill Road and Norfolk Street. The graves are mostly Victorian. This grave looks dull, a mother with two children, one died as an infant, the other as a teenager. But there is an interesting story behind it. The middle name was a girl, Emma Rolfe, who died when she was 16. She was a prostitute who was murdered by a client, Robert Browning, on Midsummer Common. 2,000 people attended her burial at Mill Road cemetery, and her murderer was hanged in the Burough Jail, which was on Parker's Piece.
The gravestone says of her only Emma Rolfe died Aug 24 1876, aged 16 years. She is buried in the part of the cemetery belonging to the parish of St Andrews the Less.
There is another grave nearby, of a coach driver. Click here to see it.
© Jo Edkins 2010 - Return to Walks index