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I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain interacting with special places. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.

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A brick from the brick fields of Hightown, Merseyside.


'The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.'

~ Joseph Campbell


The Brickonaut.

All for one and one for all: the team from Assura prepare for litter.

I’m driving down the B5193 after a fab day photographing the folks from Assura on a beach clean-up at Hightown. I’m so impacted by what I saw on the beach that words are hurtling through my head as fast as the hedges on the B-road are passing the van.

I have to get them down before I forget them, so I pull over, park up and pull out my MacBook. I can’t remember a single word. Then I catch a glint from the pocket of my Barbour bag: a piece of stone I picked up on the beach - black as tar. When I place it in my hand, it grounds me and connects me to the matrix of words spinning around in my head.

Hightown beach is where the river Alt snakes its way into the sea. Reed beds mark its dissolution into the brine like sentinels. My job is to capture a record of the days events as the Assura team walk south, picking up litter.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Before long, I spot round pebbles of clay that look like brick embryos.

As we move along the beach, the pebbles are mid-term and morph into strange shapes with smooth corners.

Further along the beach, fully formed, they start to speak.

I pick up a brick and show it to the others. I tell them that it’s from Accrington and that these bricks were used in the foundations of the Empire State Building. Then I see another from a village in Wales. The name, Ruabon, comes from a combination of welsh words that mean St. Mabon on the hillside. These bricks have stories to tell.

I’m told that the bricks (amongst other later demolished sites) were deposited here after the blitz of Liverpool - swept up from the bomb-pitted terraced houses and trucked onto the beach. I think of the occupants and the shock of losing their homes and loved ones. The walls they kissed against, threw balls against, are now fragments on the shoreline.

But, out of the horror and destruction of the blitz has emerged something quite remarkable: a huge swathing, pulsing galaxy of bricks. Here the cut of the frog and arris is softened by the wave’s embrace. Time's healer scours and washes until the edges dissolve into the sand.

The lovely people at Assura can see that I’m mesmerised by it all and, every now and then, there’s a call to arms: ‘Andy, I’ve found another one! Bowers!’

No drones allowed here, so I elongate a selfie-stick with my device attached to the end and take in the view on my watch. The view reminds me of the jaw-dropping night sky I saw from the camper in Pencilli, Wales.

It’s like being on the outer edges of a star field - the scatter patterns mirror the stars in the universe: parabolas of pitted brick are thrown outwards in spirals. Instead of Mars we have Marston.

No Flemish, English Wall or Rat Trap here, but Cosmos Bond - fragmentary fields of detritus held together by the pull of a tide governed by the wax and wane of the moon. And, as if to confirm my inter-stellar notions, I find a brick that conjures up the Titan condemned to hold up the heavens for eternity.

I come across a brick bank and explore it. I’m a brickonaut. I bask in the joy of the fractal patterns, but the wonder is punctured by the sadness of it all, until I spot something beneath the spit - a brick circle.

There's something inherently comforting here: there are greater things at play that, inspite of our impact upon this earth, seem to be working in harmony, always bringing things back to equilibrium. The universe echoes through us like ripples in a pond - we can’t help but make circles out of the chaos.

I’m reminded of the words of C17th writer Thomas Browne:

We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.’

From the brick bank I look back towards the reed bank and think of the tar-black object I found there. It lay, peeping out of the sand, in the middle of a reed bed on the banks of the Alt. A singular speck of life in this universe of brick.

Not of clay or commerce, nor native to this coastal realm; it is something imported, something knapped and shaped millennia ago - crafted to cut hide or meat. I pick it up and a sense of belonging washes over me. Made for my right hand, it rhymes the curve of the maker’s palm, echoes the swirl of the brick bank and mirrors the arc of our galaxy.

'Made for my right hand, it rhymes the curve of the maker’s palm, echoes the swirl of the brick bank and mirrors the arc of our galaxy.'

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Hightown Beach.

This is such a remarkable place. Access can be made either from the Alt Centre or Blundell Sands Sailing Club. You can also walk (north) from Crosby beach (Another Place by Anthony Gormley is there).

If you do visit - please pick up a bit of litter - there are litter picking implements at the sailing club. Wear gloves!

The Brick Fields

Whichever direction you walk in - you'll come across the brick fields. Something to get the creative juices flowing: to paint or to photograph or to mudlark.

For Members: The brick fields of Hightown beach have been entered onto my Treasure Hoard Map - plan this year's adventures using this map:

🟨 Treasure Hoard Entry: The Brick Fields of Hightown, Merseyside.
I’m told that the bricks (amongst other later demolished sites) were deposited here after the blitz of Liverpool - swept up from the bomb-pitted terraced houses and trucked onto the beach.

Ancient Forest Floor

Right next to the Blundell Sands Sailing Club there is an ancient forest floor that is thought to be 4500 years old. The remains of tree trunks are evident.

In the petrified peat base are imprints of flora and fauna.

Neolithic Tool?

The tar black artefact that sparked my imagination is heading back to the Alt Centre (where they'll bring it to the attention of a visiting archaeology team from Liverpool University). It is a thing of beauty that sparkles in the light. To hold it is a real privilege.

Not far from Hightown is an ancient axe factory situated in the Langdale Pikes - wonder if this is where it from?


Get out this coming Spring:

Cycle around Hightown

Crosby (Blundellsands) Beach loop from Hightown | bike Tour | Komoot
Detailed maps and GPS navigation for the bike Tour: “Crosby (Blundellsands) Beach loop from Hightown” 00:56 h 16.4 km

Walking around Hightown

Hiking loop from Hall Road | hike | Komoot
Detailed maps and GPS navigation for the hike: “Hiking loop from Hall Road” 04:50 h 19.1 km

Woody loves beaches..

Inchree, Scotland
Aberporth, Wales
Aberdaron, Wales
St. David's, Wales
Llanfaglan, Wales

Van Life Gallery
My van, Woody, is my time-travelling machine, taking me to some remarkable places that have altered my mind like wine through water.


St Paul’s Cathedral to host guests for £7 in ‘secret’ 300-year-old library
Guests can delve deeper into history of London landmark in one-of-a-kind stay to mark World Book Day
Sudeley: Search to find long-lost medieval village
The village of Sudeley is thought to have vanished in the 15th century,
Scotland’s Closing Churches - Scotlands Churches Trust
Hundreds of Scottish churches are endangered. We’ve used used the most up-to-date Church of Scotland Presbytery Plans we could source to map to map their church disposal plans

Digging for Britain - Series 11: 5. 3,000-Year-Old Shoes and Giant Axeheads
In the south of England, Britain’s oldest shoe and Henry V’s lost shipyard are unearthed.


The Members Only Patina Edition no 23 is out - with the latest excerpt from my book. Check it out here:

Patina 23rd Edition
Andy Marshall is documenting his travels in his time-travelling camper van 🚐📸🏛

Members’ Area
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Member Powered Photography Status Page
In essence I’m offering my professional services for free to historic locations in Britain.

Recent Digest Sponsors:

Digest Membership Sponsor: Leisuredrive Campervans Ltd.
Established in 1969, we are the UK’s longest standing independent campervan company.


And with the same anticipation of Lance and Andy from the Detectorists, I reached out on social media about the tar black artefact (and hoped that Prof Alice Roberts might reply).

And she did..

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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.