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Sea Henge

Timber Circle


I have to admit my main reason for visiting Flag Fen was to reacquaint myself with the timbers I had last seen on a cold windswept beach near Hunstanton 4 years ago. At the time I had dragged along the girlfriend of the time and her 2 kids to watch a ring of wooden posts and a central trunk very slowly emerge from the water – I don’t think they were ever conned by the promise of ‘a day at the seaside’ again after that.
For some reason I’d left it a long time before going to see the remains of the circle in their wooden tanks, perhaps I needed to put some distance between them being there on the beach and being here at Flag Fen. Francis Pryor’s book had reawoken my memories and brought back the feelings of that day – I’m not going to go into the rights and wrongs of the subject, I think the issues were well covered in the Forum posts of the time.
Walking into the large open fronted barn was a strange experience. The central timber is placed at the end and it was almost like walking into some kind of hallowed hall with the trunk forming an alter as its focal point. The smaller split timbers that made up the continuous circle were laid out under the water, some were in with the trunk while others were in a separate tank. The view of the timbers was difficult due to the layer of green pond slime that seemed to be growing on the top of the water in one tank, I presume there is a reason why the water is not changed regularly. I was almost tempted to put my had below the water to touch the posts, but didn’t, partly because I wouldn’t want to cause any damage to the 4050 year old wood and partly because it just didn’t seem right – disrespectful somehow.
I spent quite a while in the barn and there was nobody else around. While I was there something whizzed silently above my head, I looked up to see a young swallow on the wooden beams of the barn being fed by it’s parent before the adult flew off again to gather more insects for the youngster. I was struck by the whole ‘life, death, rebirth’ thing, the timbers had grown, been felled, shaped, moved to a sacred place near the coast, erected and become the centre of ceremony, abandoned, covered in rising water and then peat, been forgotten about, uncovered by the sea and returned to the land of the living, become again the centre of attention, been dug up and brought here awaiting the next part of their journey. The swallow had been born in Britain, grown up then flown to Africa, overwintered there and then returned to Britain to raise it’s own offspring who would repeat the cycle. Somehow I felt that seeing the timbers again had completed the cycle for me too in some way that I can’t explain. A sad but quite moving experience.
Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
29th June 2003ce

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