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"You've Got to Sleep With Your Mum and Dad" is now available on Amazon. Childhood angst, marathon swimming, international exploitation and the threat of impending pinniped intimacy. on 2014-08-13
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Have a look at my page on Amazon. Still plenty of summer left for challenging literature. on 2014-08-13
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Check out my Amazon Kindle page. 'The Baby Who Killed People for Money' is now available. An utterly charming child with a unique and lucrative skill. A father with no defence against his daughter's impulses. Would you take your little girl around Europe for a spot of murder tourism? Of course you would. on 2014-06-30
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My story on the Tate gallery website on 2013-11-11
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A Thousand Natural Shocks An anthology that includes two of my stories. Available now at Amazon. on 2013-11-11
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External western wall of the monastery

External western wall of the monastery

At a point about a little more than a kilometre north of Vize, two streams merge to form a gorge by which the resulting river enters the town. On either side of the river are high limestone cliffs which, in this region, indicate a strong likelihood of rock-cut churches.

Outcrop of rock formed by the confluence of two streams

Outcrop of rock formed by the confluence of two streams

Looking south towards Vize along the main gorge

Looking south towards Vize along the main gorge

The narrow prow between the converging streams (41.589139, 27.777178) is honeycombed with tombs and a single, eroded chapel. The west bank of the gorge has some large caves. The buildings on the high ground immediately above these belong to a well-established training camp for the Jandarma. They make up an ersatz village built for practice exercises in the non-war against Kurdish forces in the eastern part of the country (Kassabova, 2107).

Niche in the northern outcrop

Niche in the northern outcrop

View out of the chapel in the northern rock

View out of the chapel in the northern rock

Western wall of the gorge

Western wall of the gorge

Outside of the northern chapel

Outside of the northern chapel

Graves outside north chapel. The 'Kerim' graffiti was apparently carved by a soldier with 561 days of service remaining

Graves outside north chapel. The ‘Kerim’ graffiti was apparently carved by a soldier with 561 days of service remaining

Single nave of north chapel

Single nave of north chapel

Carved arches in the northern chapel

Carved arches in the northern chapel

Passage linking northern and central chapels

Passage linking northern and central chapels

The eastern bank shelters the amazing Asmakaya Monastery (41.586571, 27.774664), a complex of chapels and monastic cells that once must have rivalled the Monastery of St Nicholas in Kıyıköy. An imposing façade can be seen about 20 metres above the river. In the rock behind this can be found three chapels and a variety of niches, passages and cells.

The complex stems from the 9th Century (Trakyanet, 2014) and is the result of stonemasons enlarging and reshaping natural caves in the karst landscape. The northern chapel was probably associated with funerals and has a number of graves dug into the rock outside. The northern wall of this church has some finely carved arches.

The central church is the largest, around 10m in length and with a ceiling a comfortable 5m in height. A 2m cube is carved above the sanctuary. Traces of the carved steps to this little bolthole can still be seen. From the narthex, if the space outside the nave can be dignified with such a term, monastic cells have been dug out of the western wall (Civelek, 2016). This whole length of the monastery is linked by an arcade that lies just inside the arches leading to the outside.

asmakaya ns central 01

Niches in northern wall. Jandarma camp can be seen across the gorge

Niches in northern wall. Jandarma camp can be seen across the gorge

Monastic cells close to the middle chapel

Monastic cells close to the middle chapel

Section of cliff face near southern chapel

Section of cliff face near southern chapel

By far the best-preserved section of the complex is the southern chapel. This is separated from the other parts by a section of cliff that was not suitable for church-carving. The chapel has three well-defined apses. The central one boasts a roughly-carved synthronon but three delicately formed niches, all with well-preserved crosses in a clear serif form. The half-dome of the ceiling of the sanctuary has another elegant cross. The pastophoria on either side are symmetrical and formed with niches for icons and for lighting candles.

Sanctuary at eastern end of south chapel. Arches leading to pastophoria can be seen to north and south

Sanctuary at eastern end of south chapel. Arches leading to pastophoria can be seen to north and south

Exterior of south chapel

Exterior of south chapel

Arches on outside of south chapel

Arches on outside of south chapel

Arch leading to diaconicon of south chapel

Arch leading to diaconicon of south chapel

Left-hand niche in sanctuary

Right-hand niche in sanctuary

Left-hand niche

Left-hand niche

Central niche and cross on half-dome above sanctuary

Central niche and cross on half-dome above sanctuary

Diaconicon of south chapel

Diaconicon of south chapel

Niche on northern wall of prothesis

Niche on northern wall of prothesis

The whole complex has been well-preserved owing to its status as a no-go military area until recently. However, the treasure hunters have been in and have left their marks already. The monastery does not have a guardian as does its counterpart in Kıyıköy and is vulnerable at the moment.

Wall detail near centrall chapel. Clearly some now-lost elements were attached here

Wall detail near central chapel. Clearly some now-lost elements were attached here

Civelek, E. (2016) Asma Kaya Mağara Manastırı Kırklareli Kültür Varlıkları Envanteri. Available online at: http://www.kirklarelienvanteri.gov.tr/sitler.php?id=143  Retrieved 14 Oct 2017

Kassabova, K. (2017) Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe. Granta. Partially available online at: https://books.google.com.tr/books/about/Border.html?id=owskDgAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y   Retrieved 14 Oct 2017

Trakyanet (2014) Vize: Tarihi Yapılar. Trakyanet. Available online at:  http://www.trakyanet.com/trakya/kirklareli/vize/172-tarihi-yapilar.html Retrieved 14 Oct 2017

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