I am totally fascinated by the Neolithic History of Britain. (see my previous post on the devils churchyard.)
The term Neolithic refers to the last stage of the Stone Age. The period is significant for its megalithic architecture like Stonehenge and various other religious sites, but also the spread of agricultural practices, and use of deliberate stone tools. There were also various rituals around burial. To my surprise one day, the wrong road I took led straight to..
THE HETTY PEGLARS TUMP OR ULEY LONGBARROW
I went for a drive without direction to a strange little village above Nailsworth that sounds like fairyland called Nympsfield (meaning holy place in the Celt language), mainly because I was actually heading for an entirely different place and made a wrong turning. And there it was right in front of me.. a mound of ground in a field. Well who would have known that it had significance. This was an opened burial mound that you could crawl into. It was a bit scary, as it was low and narrow, and it felt like the roof, made of long slabs of stone might cave in on you and you would be buried alive. I was on my own with rain pouring outside, and felt a bit nervous about going in, as no-one would know that I was there, but my curiosity led me on. It was empty, as the burial remains had been removed and many artifacts that had been found over the years.
A tump is a common name for a long barrow which was used to inter usually more than one person..a family tomb? Possibly there was usually more than one layer and they were often placed overlooking a beautiful valley. Large flat rocks and walls were built around the bodies, and then they were covered with a mound of soil. Many long barrows have standing stones at the entrances. This one had been opened. It’s a bit like a very large grave. They appeared to be sacred areas for worship too. they usually look over a valley. It is called Hetty Peglars Tump because the land was owned by Hetty Peglar in the 17th century. Here is a you tube video that does more justice than my photos. http://youtu.be/jQY3e9vRC4E
I found a small recently positioned handmade cross on one sideAnother long barrow just down the road at Nympsfield, which looks over the vast Severn valley. Here the rocks that made the roof have been removed over the years.
The Severn valleyAVEBURY
What a startling place to go! Having searched for stone circles and avoided the obvious one at Stonehenge, (that will come later), round about the winter solstice, I ventured South to Avebury. Expecting a small protected stone circle where you have to pay an arm and a leg to get in, I suddenly encountered it as I drove literally right through the centre!. It’s a HUGE stone circle about 400 m diameter Constructed around 2600 BCE, during the Neolithic period and has a high bank and a deep ditch (henge) looking over a large outer stone circle and two separate smaller stone circles situated inside the centre of it. The town is right in the middle and two roads form a cross through its centre.
Well I spent hours just marveling at the weirdness of it. You get a sense that this is a huge amphitheater, where people sat and observed amazing ceremonies. I know nothing about these ceremonies, but could imagine processions of people going through the ditches and entering the main arena. In every corner were small groves of huge trees with clawing exposed roots that further emphasised the feeling of the place. People tied ribbons to the branches as a blessing. You could wander around freely and I was amazed at the size of the stones standing on their apices. Easily a couple of tons.
For me, what was interesting was the type of stone that was so similar to the previous standing stone I had found, and realised it is common to all sacred sites. It looked like Cape sandstone and had the same weathering patterns. I checked it out, and it is called sarsen and is a sandstone found in one specific area in England that looks like any cape mountain top, about 20km away. “Saracen” was a common name for muslims, and came by extension to be used for anything regarded as non-Christian.
I know that there is a lot of quartz in cape sandstone, and I was wondering if this is why it was used (besides the weird weathering that make them look like people standing.) I found that Quartz is transparent and is a healing stone, a symbol of light in the dark earth. It has hexagonal crystals, which are symbolic in themselves. They are considered to be alive, taking a breath every hundred years. (read my previous post on the long stone in Minchinhampton.) they are seen as prisms of the spiritual world and hold patterns of energy. It is made of silicon dioxide, which is used as pulsars and imprinters in modern technology. It captures the energy of the sun and the life force in the trees and plant life. It also draws down Divine light. It stores all this energy to be released as needed. This energy is released as white light that can be absorbed . It also raises the vibrational level of its surroundings. So one can easily imagine why it was so valuable that it would be transported sometimes hundreds of miles to these sacred sites.
Then having seen the BBC programme on using modern technology to see what is under Stonehenge, I planned to go there quite soon.