11 June 2017
Landslides in Art Part 29: a Victorian view of Black Ven
This is the latest edition of the long-running Landslides in Art series; in this edition I am looking at a Victorian view of the Black Ven landslide near to Lyme Regis in Dorset, southern England. The previous edition is here.
Dorset is one of the most beautiful counties in England, and the coastal landscape around the town of Lyme Regis is perhaps the crowning glory. This landscape has formed primarily through coastal landslides. The downside is of course that these landslides represent a substantial hazard, and they regularly damage houses and roads. Probably the largest landslide of all is Black Ven – a magnificent rotational landslide complex to the east of Lyme Regis.
This landslide is featured in a mid nineteenth century depiction that has been highlighted by the Marine Archaeology Trust in a case study that shows how archive images can be used to improve hazard management. The image looks across Black Ven towards the town of Lyme Regis. The artist is not known:-
This is a modern Google Earth image of the Black Ven landslide complex, looking towards Lyme Regis:
The landscape of Lyme Regis itself is clearly recognisable in both images. As the Google Earth view shows, Black Ven consists of a rotational landslide complex. The large rotational blocks periodically slip and then degrade to form flows that pass over the benches lower down the slope. The Victorian image appears to show one of these slipped blocks on the right side, and the degraded landscape downslope from there. The apparent cliff in the foreground may well be the rear -scarp of a block that has more recently slipped. There is a couple standing on the edge of this scarp, clearly enjoying the view across the landslides. Is there just a hint of a crack between them and solid ground?