Thursday, August 2, 2007

Silbury Reflections

Yesterday I walked all round Silbury on a warm sunny day, that by happenstance turned out to be Lammas so I was rewarded by the event of a Druid ceremony on top of the hill, though in truth I was supposed to be recording what was happening with the contractors work to restore the mound to its original state.
Moss and I commenced our walk from the carpark, over the road, and there is the river beautiful as ever, long green fronds moving under the water, always invoking Rossetti's Ophelia drowning. Though rotten Rossetti made his wife lie submerged in a bath of cold water to get the effect, and probably gave her pneumonia. But the river is sparkling clear, making those soft chuckling, rilling noises as it flows under the silver leaved willows. There is a green verdancy about after all that rain, an exuberant green energy, broken by patches of flowers and the field of ripening yellow wheat. As we walk along the path I spy a partridge ahead, suddenly little chicks appear from out the undergrowth, maybe eight,I hold on to Moss's collar as they awkwardly take to the air, the mother continues along the path with a little one following furiously and they escape under the bar. Continuing to the bridge, and over the stile, where I see a hare sitting as bold as brass in the grass, his ears are a much darker colour than his body and so enormous, I sit on the stile and he sits in his field, Moss investigates the hedgerow, a perfect moment, magical of course a hare on Lammas day.
Photographing Silbury now, I notice the monorail running like a zip up her side, the rail is aligned with the straight ditch that leads to the river, and I wonder if they are draining the water from Silbury this way. Though later I am told there was no need to drain water. Up Waden Hill to take in the view, West Kennet longbarrow in the distance, crowning its ridge amongst the vast space that is the Wiltshire downs. Sweeping round now to Silbury, the neat square of the archaeological/contractors compound under the hill, on top men in bright orange move around the great necklace of its silver fence which sits ungainly on top. Moss is on his back rolling happily in the grass and we descend to follow the path once more. More photos, there is a crane hiding neatly in the hedgerow away from the compound, and as we come up to the road, a crew of two, camera and interviewer, one of the men rush over the road to me, had I seen the druid procession along the path. I had'nt, no one had followed me, and I am glad that the partridge and hare are now in hiding and can watch the humans play their games.
Walking along the road to the visitors centre, I meet two women with pushchairs, plump and slightly panting from their exertions they are definitely druidical in their colourful clothes, we greet each other. Further on I pass three people coming out of the compound, the two girls are in shorts, archaeologist team, but the man is dressed in a formal brown suit, it looks like Professor Ronald Hutton is here to witness the pagan ceremony, coincidentally I am reading his books at the moment, a sceptic like me, he is honest in his appraisal of this 'otherworld'and records, like all good historian should, the passing of this particular history.
I stop and take photos of the entrance to Silbury, a solitary helmeted Skanska man stands guard just below, waiting for Terry the Druid to make his climb to the top of the mound. People are gathering, but I go on, first to stop at the visitors centre to gather information. During my conversation with the girl there, we got to talking about the platform on top, and maybe its levelling during the Saxon period, when it seems to been made into a stockade, evidence of postholes in a trench have been found, but has only one trench was opened I suppose this can't be confirmed.
Walking now down to the little bridge, here along the path I can watch Terry the Druid conduct his ceremony, Hail and Farewell rings down from the top of the hill, part of the ceremony is to go to the four quarters of the hill and call on Lightening, but sadly (or happily) it does not appear, he kneels down and seems to dig the earth, is he taking or giving I wonder?
Musing at the bridge, watching the clear water make its way down the river, one realises nothing really matters in the world, the moment is captured, Moss will at the end of the walk take one last cold drink from the river, sating his thirst and resigning himself to the end of a happy ramble looking for elusive mice and voles.

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