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A Group of Barrows upon Overton hill by William Stukeley
The story of the Wedding stones of Stanton Drew captures a tale of wedding guests who danced and danced and who were all turned to stone, all because they danced on a Sunday to the tune of the devil. Luckily the royal wedding is held today, Friday, or does the devil still haunt our society in the form of pesky adverts.
Midsummer eve it fell on a Saturday (Friday)
Sue (Kate) and William went to be wed
They had music played by a fiddler’
“Let’s go dancing!” William said.
Wishing the happy couple all the best.
For the last few years, Heritage Action have been pleased to host a ‘Megameet’ of like minded people on an annual basis at Avebury in Wiltshire. This year’s main event will occur on Sunday 17th July 2011.
However, in addition to this annual event, we are pleased to announce that a series of smaller meets are planned throughout the year – for instance a mini-megameet was held in Essex over Easter weekend where some potential Heritage Action projects were discussed.
The Hurlers © Alan S
Next up is a mini-megameet in Cornwall, on Sunday 8th May 2011. The meet will be held from midday at the pub in Minions, near the famous Hurlers stone circle complex. All are welcome to come along and discuss various ‘stoney’ subjects. A short walk is also planned for those of a mind to join in. Contrary to rumour, free pasties will sadly not be available on this occasion unless some kind soul wishes to donate funds for refreshments, but interesting conversation will be available throughout the day with like-minded people. Bring along a relevant book or two for the book-swap too!
So if you’re in the area, feel free to come along and join in! If you have any ideas for a suitable venue for further mini-megameets in other areas of the country, please let us know.
Not for the first time a local astronomy group has adopted a stone circle as an appropriate observation site. The Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group http://www.cnaag.com/ now often meets at the Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire – as well they might. In the words of the Reverend Percival Oakley Hill in 1894: “The top of Rollright hill was so admirably suited to the purposes of the Druid astrologers, that our modern astronomers might profitably select it as the site of a great Midland observatory.”
And actually the first use of the circle may well have been 2,000 years earlier than that – and not by Druids and not for astrology but for pure observational scientific astronomy – which maybe makes the Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group the oldest local astronomy group in the world…
Anyhow, they’re holding an interesting open event at the Rollright Stones from midday to midnight on Saturday, 7th May; a Spring Moonwatch. Activities include a Telescope display, solar observing, kids drawing competition, Black Knights Model Rocket Society (launching if weather allows) plus George Lambrick talking about the Rollright Stones followed by observing in the evening.
The Easter Acquhorthies Stone Circle
Image credit Jamie Stone
The Easter Acquhorthies Stone Circle is said to be one of the oldest stone circles in Aberdeenshire, and when a planning application was made by the farmer to erect a wind turbine 2000 feet from the circle, objections were raised by Historic Scotland that the 150ft tower would have an adverse visual impact on the Easter Acquhorthies stone circle. Also it must not be forgotten that wind turbines come with a lot of extras in the form of access tracks and trenching of the ground for the cables that have to be taken to a substation, which can often be a considerable distance away.
The planning application was approved last Tuesday by the local council, though there is one more hurdle to overcome… The application will go to the directorate of the built environment, who will decide if it can be cleared back to the council or called in by ministers.
Wind turbines have an uneasy relationship in our landscape, the argument that we need green energy to counteract the effects of climate change has made them popular with governments and business, but they also fall foul of many who say that the turbine’s visual impact in the landscape scars its beauty. That the wind turbine is only 2000 feet from a very impressive stone circle seems a little unfortunate, but it must not be forgotten that the landscape we see today would have been very different in prehistoric times, history accrues over time. Is there a compromise? lets see.
Interesting article by Steve Kemp of Amesbury, Wiltshire in This is Devon.
Western Daily Press reader Steve Kemp, of Amesbury, Wiltshire, met foreign tourists as they marvelled at the Stonehenge World Heritage site – and asked them for their impressions. Many shared his view that more could be done to present the stones more helpfully and favourably when the world comes visiting. The nearby A303 is a major distraction for many visitors, Steve found.
We took the above photograph at Avebury at the weekend having been struck by the number of visitors expressing puzzlement over why sheep were allowed where others weren’t.
We know that grazing is beneficial and that, as the National Trust says on its website, “Managing this fragile archaeological environment is a constant balancing act. Regular work includes monitoring sheep and cattle grazing, erosion control, scrub management and protecting buried remains from burrowing animals” but a word of explanation on their information boards would be helpful.
The same applies to English Heritage at Silbury. A few years ago a fortune was spent on new fencing and specially selected sheep were put on there. However, it looked to us that contrary to assurances they were creating a lot of damage and forming lots of new pathways (and that might well have been seen as a justification by some people to go on the Hill themselves). However, the tactics weren’t fully explained at the time and now the sheep seem to be missing and the fences aren’t being maintained.
At both venues a few words of explanation on the notice boards would be helpful. This is after all the Big Society!
Trethevy Stone by Charles Knight: circa 1845.
At the moor’s crown
Thin Field, hard-won, turns on
The Puzzle of Stones.
Lying in dreamtime here
Knees dragged to chin,
With dagger, food and drink -
Who was that one?
None shall know, says bully blackbird.
Cools in lost sun.
Under furze bank, yarrow
Sinks the drowned mine.
By spoil dump and bothy
Down the moor spine
Hear long-vanished voices
Now they are all gone, says bully blackbird.
Their dole of song.
From churchtown the tractor
Stammers, is dumb.
In the wilderness house
Of granite, thorn,
Ask where are those who came.
Ask why we come.
Home, says bully blackbird,
Where is home?
Charles Causley (1917-2003).