There are still wild barren places in this little set of islands, made less hospitable by England and its weather.
And the chalk wolds which form an arc from the Humber estuary to the North Sea at Scarborough qualify as a wilderness of sorts.
In prehisoric days they were forested and finding the way was a difficult and dangerous business. Well-trod paths have been there since ancient times, way-finders, tracks which were ribbons representing life and community of a kind.
At the foot of the Yorkshire Wilds, on the edge of the Vale of Pickering, crouches an ancient meeting of these paths.
It is a village now. It was a village in the time of the Domesday Book. But civilisation tracks back much further than that for Folkton. One has only to look at the top of the hill.
There, several of the ancient paths met. And it is marked by a tumulus. A standing stone.
The stone is now generally thought to be one of a network which guided ancient man through the old forests. But it was what was found beneath which has made Folkton’s meeting of the ways famous.
For the tumulus is near a barrow, and in 1889, a Canon of some note – William Greenwell, author of British Barrows – opened up the mound to see what could be inside.
A sad, phenomenal, intricate discovery awaited the archaeologist. For he found the body of a child.
The little one lay in an oval grave, close to one of two concentric ditches. And behind the head and the hips were the most extraordinary objects.
These days they call them drums. The Folkton Drums. They sit in a glass case at the British Museum, made from the chalk of the Wolds, full of micro-fossils. But their carving is clean and clear, featuring geometric lines and stylised faces staring out from them. They are like upturned bowls, hollow in the middle, downturned to show the visages.
And no one knows what they were for, there with the body of a child at the meeting of the ancient ways.
Nothing like them survives. They are a little ike the ancient grooved ware in style, but surpassing any examples in sophistication and beauty.
I wonder, wonder, what they were for, and why a child slept alone with them at the meeting of the ways for millennia.