Let my head stone
be a book
That I might lie
for the rest-of-time…
It was not as though we could have stumbled across it unawares…
Even following the map we emerged into the square, which held the round, like mice from a labyrinth…
It does not take a master-mind to realise there is more to these things than meets the eye…
Given their penchant for all things circular, The Kings Men, may even have performed here…
During World War II the bombs dropped not sixty yards away, to devastating effect…
Which makes me wonder.
… “The Matter of Britain!”
“I know,” muses Wen, pensively, “People think it’s just Arthur and all that.”
“But before Arthur was a king or a British War Hero, ‘he’ was a constellation.”
“I know,” says Wen, again.
“The Great Bear.”
“The Head Dragon.”
“It’s all star stuff.”
“It’s all star stuff tied to the Earth.”
“And what ties it there?”
“We do, when we sanctify the earth-urge.”
“By George, you’ve cracked it!”
…And then we come across the church.
Cue mass excitement as we take in all the
Giants, which appear to sprout from every orifice…
The body of the church you see is an education in itself.
You probably already know about consecrated ground and unconsecrated ground.
It is the Inner and the Outer, pure and simple.
And this symbolism is carried into the structure of the building.
The gargoyles, the Sheila-na-Gigs, the Green Men, the Giants, the Dragons and the like, they are all on the outside of the church building.
They do not make it into the ‘ark’.
The inside is for all the saints and angels. Do you see? It is the same symbolism.
The Inner and the Outer.
…They do have something of the ‘otherworld’ about them these places.
Not so much Giant Hill itself perhaps although it may have been different had we gone into the Trendle.
It fact I am pretty damn sure it would have been different in the Trendle.
Wen was all for it… even with the helicopter buzzing us overhead. And her logic was very persuasive.
‘No unauthorised person beyond this point,’ said the sign.
‘But we are more authorised than anyone ever could be,’ said Wen.
It is difficult to disagree but then the village of Cerne Abbas is in itself quite otherworldly too.
I got exactly the same feel from it as when I first went to Glastonbury.
It felt like we had left England and gone abroad, perhaps to France…
‘Albion!’ smiles Wen, ‘The whole of these Blessed Isles used to feel like this…’
Excerpt – The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent
‘The Silver Well: Legend says that St Augustine once visited Dorset. While there he met some shepherds grazing their flocks and asked them whether they would prefer beer or water to drink. The temperate shepherds replied ‘water’ whereupon St. Augustine struck the ground with his staff, crying, ‘Cerno El’ as the water gushed out. The words were supposedly a pun on Cernel, the old name of the village and meant ‘I perceive God.’
It is thought that the above legend was invented by the Benedictine monks of Cerne Abbey to serve as an attraction to pilgrims.
Closer to the truth perhaps is the story of St. Edwold, a member of the Mercian Royal Family who one day had a vision of a silver well. He went wandering through the countryside and when he came to Cerne he gave some silver pennies to a shepherd in return for bread and water. The shepherd then showed him a well where he could drink and St Edwold recognised it as the well of his vision. He built a small hermitage by the spring and lived there until his death in 871…’
Information Plaque, Cerne Abbas
‘Are the monks responsible for the Legend of Silver Well such villains if they tweak the truth in order to entice pilgrims to their shrine?
People who have embarked on a Pilgrimage always get something, even if that something isn not quite what they bargained for.
And how true is the earlier story of St Edwold for that matter?
There was doubtless a hermit and a hermitage at one time.
How he actually came to be there is quite another thing altogether.’
Excerpt from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent
… ‘Remind me again, why we are going to Cadbury?’
Part of my reluctance for these, what might be called, impromptu assignations are the inevitable ruptures they make in the overall scheme of things.
Once a pattern has started to form it is somewhat disconcerting to have to unravel it all or even to amend it slightly to accommodate the new strand and even though I know that it is good for the flexibility of the mind and really what we should be doing all of the time it is still an effort and as such is ripe for avoidance if at all possible.
Plus the fact that it is another hill.
On a very hot day!
…Still, as we make our way out of the car-park and look up there does not appear to be much of a hill left to climb.
The Silver-Bullet, bless her aerodynamically modified sides, has already taken us up most of the height.
There is, though, a plague of gnats playing along an extended stretch of the tree tunnel which leads up to the hill-top.
Wen and I both turn our back on them which allows us to see the advertisement for the nearby pub which has been strategically placed for those descending the height.
‘Still looking for the castle?’
‘At least that’s lunch taken care of,’ grins Wen.
The thought of lunch and an invisible castle revives me somewhat.
After all what we have here is another Uffington.
Looked at in those terms it is difficult to imagine anything I would rather be doing really, although I still somehow doubt that there will be anything as spectacular as Uffington at the end of this particular tunnel of trees… Interesting how indolence passes from the body to the mind like that.
The best way out of it is to move and to move quickly so I put on something of a spurt to reach the top and leave Wen trailing…
‘It’s the thought of beer and food which does that you know…’
…There is something otherworldly about walking up a hill, crossing that threshold between the heat of a summer sun and the cool green of the trees. Glimpses of a landscape that conforms to what we have come to know as sacred are seen through breaks in the gnarled trunks, squirrels scamper busily along the branches and the inevitable sound of birds accompanies each breath.
Beside the track steep banks rise, channelling our footsteps through a narrow passage, guarded by ancient sentinels, rooted in earth. As the trees thin and the shade gets left behind it is almost like pushing through a tangible veil as we emerge into the unprotected sunlight of the summit. Looking back, the tunnel of trees closes in verdant darkness behind us, shutting us off from the world we left some five hundred feet below.
A solitary figure stands upon the far bank… there are always three, it seems, somehow. Although I know he is only another walker…I see the glint of a spear and a cloak flapping in the non-existent breeze…
‘…Remind me again why we are going to Cerne Abbas intead of staying at Cadbury?’
Excerpt taken from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent
‘…all the great thinkers recognise the importance of rational thought and also the importance of getting beyond the rational and that’s where the myths and fairy stories come in… Plato spends the greater part of his master work ‘The Republic’ berating the poets and story-tellers for telling lies in their myths and then he ends his opus with… a myth’
‘Well, to err is human… But no one’s going to read a book in which all the characters are Giants.’
‘Yet we all live in a world dictated by them… but perhaps you’re right… they have become something of an obsession… the more self-remembering I do… the more giant-like my body and everyone else’s body seems to become… and they do make an appearance in all the mythological traditions… the Titans… the Jotunn… the Asuras… the Fomoire… as opponents of the ‘gods’ usually, which have to be overcome and subdued…and then kept at bay lest the heaven world be breached… and fall.’
Wen becomes pensive for awhile, ‘We need to go to Cerne Abbas…’
…‘I don’t even know where Cerne Abbas is’
‘It’s in Dorset.’
‘Is Set’s Door near Devon?’
Wen pauses for a moment and then smiles, ‘Yes, If Cornwall is the toe of the foot of the country, then Devon is the ball of the foot of the country and Dorset is the arch of the foot of the country.’
I am very much enjoying this description of the place names of Albion.
It makes it sound like the country has got a giant club foot.
‘Albion was a giant originally,’ smiles Wen unfolding a map of the Ancient Country, ‘look, in those days ‘Dorset’ was the domain of the Durotriges clan…’
‘Wow! Where did you get this?’
I am not sure I believe her.
It is much more likely that this has fallen from heaven like manna of old.
It has all the ancient sites marked on it… and everything.
It is a vocational moment.
The world has finally changed for the better and now anything can happen.
‘You know this means that the heel of the foot of the country is called Dover?’
‘Yeahhss’ says Wen suspiciously.
She knows me too well already.
‘Well that makes Albion, fleet-footed, like Mercury. Albion’s heels are Dove winged!’
Excerpt from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.
Uffington, we decided on the way up there, is a ‘biggie’.
A Big Hitter.
Or any other of the many hackneyed phrases the Tee Vee Heads like to summon in order to express quality.
If we had not visited Uffington that misty March morning just over five years ago we would not be doing what we are now doing.
And that was real mist, just by the way.
Back then we did not even properly know what Uffington was.
But, then, how could we?
We can laugh, now, at the whole ‘is it a horse’ or ‘is it a dragon’ debate.
It is both.
And the clue is Dragon Hill.
But that is not where St George slew the dragon.
That is where St George spied the dragon.
The dragon in the hill…
Which can still be seen to this day.
And we cannot be any more explicit than that.
So, check it out…
to be continued…
It had already been a long, sticky, drive…
We had finished up our ‘rekkie’ just after One Bell when Wen finally pointed the aerodynamic nose of the Green Goddess towards Avebury…
The heat in the day showed no signs of abating as we entered the Giant Circle of Stone…
A liquid dinner seemed like the order of the day before the inevitable call of the stones sucked us into the green…
Thus it was that on the road from Bicester, the final stretch of our already over long stretch, the hunger pangs began to approach unbearable.
“Are we aware of any acceptable eateries en route?”
“There is always the White Horse Inn?”
Which, bound as it was to add another couple of hours on the journey, sounded like a stretch too far but then, breakfast did now feel like something of an ancient history.
“We can’t can we?”
“I wouldn’t have suggested it if we couldn’t.”
“The White Horse Inn, it is, then.”
It proved a master stroke.
Two unusually fine pizzas and a pint-and-a-half of cider later and we were heading up to the Dragon to catch the last rays of the day’s Sun…
to be continued…
Let us work with honesty and call it a labour of malice!
May this one bright virtue gild all our evenings with its fiery, azure glow.
And should our honesty grow weary and tired of limb,
let us send devilry to prop it up,
and force it out, to again reach for forbidden fruit.
Let us aid our God with Demons.
All our Gods began as Demons and just as soon degenerated.
This way we shall never grow bored of honesty,
life is too short for that.