|Waking before Jane and Moth the following morning, memories of the visit to Wiltshire coursed through my mind. Not least the annoying little ditty Jane made up on our return -
"Bronze Age Britain,
Bronze Age Britain,
In Bronze Age Britain
They ate a lot of pork!"
We tried to add to this, but couldn't think of anything which rhymed with 'ingot' or 'smelting'.
Sitting quietly in their loft space, drinking a cup of tea and watching the wind in the trees, I ruminated on our Stone Age architect ancestors. Their capabilities, skills, and understanding of life have been lost to us, yet the beauty and mystery of their structures still unfailingly connects with some deep-seated primal aspect of our souls. We have become 'civilised', yet how much have we lost in doing so? We are left with ghosts of memories of our place in the landscape, the part we play within the whole, and the whole suffers because of it - the symbiotic relationship that still remains means that we suffer accordingly, but many are largely ignorant to what extent, because they live in a fabricated world. Very few of us could survive in a late Stone Age environment. Is this a good or bad thing? Discuss.
It was a beautiful day, blue-skied, sunny – so when Jane and I were deciding what to do, it seemed ludicrous not to continue the megalithing. Jumping in the zippy number, we headed north, to the omphalus of Jane's world – the Rollright Stones. Again, this was another site which I hadn't visited for three years, and I was intrigued to see the changes which I had heard about via TMA.
Now With Added Wow!
Upon arriving, the first noticeable change was the structured lay-by with a now dedicated wheel-chair friendly footpath leading to the entrance of the stones. Neither did it appear necessary to scramble over a rickety stile to get to the King Stone
– there seems to be proper access via a small gate. I was keen to see what the circle would be like now its exterior was expanded by the purchase of land to the south.
No disappointments on this score. Moving away from the visitor's hut, the circle opened up before me, more able to breathe within its landscape than for many years previously. It looks fantastic. What made it look even more fantastic was the sunshine spilling over the weathered, twisted, pitted stones, singing out the colours of honey-coloured oolitic limestone, egg-yolk yellow lichens, and olivaceous-green mosses. To the south, a wide, rustling field of sun-baked golden wheat rippled and shimmered in the warm breeze. Fluffy white cumulus clouds sailed in stately fashion across a sky of rich, uplifting blueness. Wild flowers poked up through the grass, and clumps of coltsfoot sat the base of some of the stone, their dark glossy leaves contrasting with the rock. Perfection in Oxfordshire.
After lying in the bone-warming sun taking dozens of photographs, I spent a while observing the circle as it should be seen from the southern entrance portal. With this new view, the place took on a more complete character, its significance resonating more clearly without the confining, ugly metal railings.
Sitting in the shade next to Jane, who was working up a watercolour sketch of a south-eastern view, I fumbled in my bag and removed a Ginster's pasty, for old time's sake. Of the many megalithic forays had Jane and I made in the past, seemingly in all of them, a Ginster's pasty featured as a light snack. It would have been rude not have done so on this visit.
While consuming the cheese and onion concoction, I idly watched a couple of fellows dowsing in the centre of the circle. I've never really paid much attention as to the veracity of the arguments put forward to support dowsing – probability would suggest it would work sometimes, particularly when locating water – but I am a tad sceptical when it moves into the realms of energy lines et al. My scepticism was heightened while watching the practices of these dowsers. From what I recalled of dowsing for water, the hazel twigs one used were supposed to twitch subtly when above a suitable source. (No, not a river or lake, smart arse.) However, the L-shaped metal rods these guys were employing for the purpose were hurtling round like football rattles every time they stepped near the centre of the circle.
Now, I'm certainly not condemning out of hand any possibility that currents of energy might be able to be felt within these places; however, I am doubtful that they would manifest themselves in such Hollywoodesque fashion. Perceptible movements of the dowser's wrists also served to under-pin my reservations on the subject. These reservations were further enhanced when Jane and I quite clearly heard one of the dowsers inform two ladies that north was in the direction of the visitor's hut. 'As any fule kno' (or should be able to work out, especially on a gloriously sunny day), the visitor's hut stands to the east of the circle. This did not fill us with confidence.
Mentioning our concerns to the ladies as they passed us, they concurred with our reading of the compass points – they too had noted the position of the sun. We all agreed that logic was a very good thing, then fell into conversation, and spent some time sat in the circle discussing art and life. It felt very natural – was this the energy the circle was meant to engender, I wonder?
We spent the rest of our visit in the company of these two lovely ladies, all rambling down to the Whispering Knights, where Jane explained the origins of this ancient construction, how it would have looked, and how it might have been built. All too soon, it became necessary for us to leave, as I had a bus to catch - it would have been great to just sit and while away the rest of the afternoon high up on that Oxfordshire ridge, with only the countryside and good company to fill the time. We bade them farewell, and drove off, feeling mellow and satisfied after a fulfilling visit to this magnificent circle.
Posted by treaclechops
14th August 2006ce
Edited 14th August 2006ce
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