Silbury and Stonehenge

Today, engineers will reopen the old tunnels that were made into the heart of Silbury Mound near Avebury, Wiltshire. Tunnels as recent as the late sixties and as early as the seventeenth century, and perhaps before, have caused accumulated damage to the chalk constructed mound – the largest man made prehistoric mound – to the point where it was washed through by heavy rains in 2000ce and is in danger of collapse. English Heritage, who own the monument, have taken an awful long time coming to a decent solution, and even at one point suggested polystyrene blocks to fill the void!!! The phrase ‘is nothing sacred?’ most approporiately springs to mind.

The Pagan and Druid fraternity have been asked recently if they would wish to make offerings (effectively time capsules) at the closing ceremony, and many suggestions have been made. The best, and only honourable, one I’ve heard is that we offer chalk and spring water,  and our heartfelt blessings that the mound now be left to stand without being Swiss Cheesed by further excavations. Notions of burial graves and golden horses aside, I believe the mound was built to orchestrate ceremonial Solar ritual across a wide area; certainly at Avebury and possibly as far away as Stonehenge.

And on the subject of Stonehenge, I’ve just seen the latest ideas from the Round Table discussion group, who clearly want to reinvent the Stonehenge Free Festivals of yesteryear. I avoid the henge at true Solstice because of the riotous accumulation of partymakers and other ravers who make it impossible to celebrate the majesty of the Sun in his strength, and generally make some time on either side of the actual date or simply celebrate elsewhere. I did go to a few of the later Free Festivals, the last in 1979, and to be quite honest at age 15-18 I loved the total anarchy of it. Perhaps I’m old and bah humbug now, but I don’t feel the place wants a circus, it wants peace and quiet. Far too long has it been plagued by intolerable intrusion, to the point it’s meddled and muddled energies now cry out ‘leave!’

If a Free Festival is wanted – and it is of course! – then why not hold it at some distance from what is after all a National Monument?! Would we tolerate drunken hippies crawling all over Wells Cathedral? Pissing on the gravestones and avenues? Leaving pull rings from their Special Brew all over the ground? You know, I don’t think so. Put it somewhere else, nearby if you want (but hey, Glastonbury is really close in both physical and temporal terms so why not put it elsewhere? Spread the blessings!) and get a youth market sponsor to pay for the clean-up. It wouldn’t work perhaps if it was like Glasto, the anarchy is what drives it, but after it’s all over the sponsor can say ‘we done that, and we cleaned up afterward’. Might even attain street cred. Coke? Orange? Nike?

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