Thousands of people came from across Britain to help build Stonehenge, experts investigating the origins of the monument have said.
They said people travelled from as far afield as the Scottish Highlands.
Researchers from University College London said their findings overturned what was thought about the origins of the monument.
Until now it had been thought that Stonehenge was built as an astronomical calendar or observatory.
The latest findings, which came after a decade of research, suggested it was the act of building the monument rather than its purpose that was key.
The researchers believed as many as 4,000 people gathered at the site, at a time when Britain’s population was only tens of thousands.
‘Not all fun’
Analysis of animal teeth found at a nearby settlement suggested people travelled the length of the country to help with the building.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from University College London, said the scene would have resembled a cross between the Glastonbury Festival and a motorway building scheme.
He said a settlement at nearby Durrington Walls had about 1,000 homes, the “largest Neolithic settlement in the whole of northern Europe”.
Prof Parker Pearson said: “What we have discovered is it’s in building the thing that’s important. It’s not that they’re coming to worship, they’re coming to construct it.”
He added: “It’s something that’s Glastonbury Festival and a motorway building scheme at the same time. It’s not all fun, there’s work too.”
The academics suggested that Stonehenge was built about 200 years earlier than previously thought, some 4,500 years ago.
What grows springs from the earth. We are a part of it all!
Like the plants, trees, flowers, and animal life – we are living
and growing amongst it all. How are we contributing to the
beauty of this garden? Whether it is with our work, or our
art, or our kindness, we have opportunities daily to bring
glory to this planet.
— Goethe (1749-1832)
THE CAMELOT ORACLE
A quest for wisdom through the Arthurian world
By JOHN MATTHEWS With illustrations by WILL WORTHINGTON
Published by: Connections Book Publishing Limited www.connections-publishing.com
A guest review by Jacki Woolmington
I love this oracle! But as this is supposed to be a semi-objective review, let me back off a bit.
The pack consists of 40 cards (all beautifully illustrated by Will Worthington) and a fold-out map of the Lands Adventurous. Thirty two of the cards bear a portrait of one of the archetypal characters from the Arthurian legends. The remaining eight represent paths shown on the map, where the quests and journeys undertaken by Arthur’s knights took place. Each path has its own quality – as does each of the Archetypes. Also on the map, situated at each of the Cardinal points of the compass are some of the most significant places to which the Knights made their way – places that have acquired their own archetypal presence and have come to embody truths and situations that we all experience at one time or another.
The Oracle works by you selecting cards – either randomly or deliberately. You select one Path card and 2 of the Archetypal character cards. One character will be your Champion on the journey – they will be your guide and supporter. The other character will be your Challenger who poses a question to make you think deeper about your quest.
It is the combination of the qualities, people and situations represented by the 2 sets of cards that create the Oracle. Together with the characters’ questions or guidance, the paths, along with the places on the map generate answers.
If on drawing the cards and answering the questions and/or receiving the guidance from your Champion/Challenger/Place/Path, you feel that you would like a more detailed answer there are ways of developing the reading. For instance, by looking at the Mirror path – the exact opposite from the path that you are on and seeing what the Challenger and the place have to offer from a different perspective.
Other options include; getting an overview of your life situation; setting up a number of Challengers to ask many questions on your issue – and hence deepen your insights.
There is an alternative way of working with the Oracle which involves meditating using the imagery of the cards. That gives the possibility of enabling you to experience a deeper journey and getting a more powerful and immediate answer to your issue. Guidelines for meditating with each character and place are given in the book.
I really enjoyed working with this Oracle and would still be at it given half a chance! In addition to it being a really useful tool for guidance, it has the romance and excitement of the Arthurian Legends to add that extra something to the whole experience. I found it versatile and enjoyable. It had just been on my Amazon wish list – but I think it will be getting added to my basket now!
In fiction and folklore, a doppelgänger (German, literally a “double goer”) is a paranormal double of a living person. Although in its original usage it is associated with all sorts of spooky things, in common usage it refers to someone who is the ‘spitting image’ of you or is identical in some other way.
Earlier this year I met my doppelgänger! He didn’t look a bit like me, but how is this for coincidence: a writer with one of those clumsy double-barrelled names (Nick Mayhew-Smith) contacted me and asked if I would take part in a TV series about sacred sites in Britain. Like me he is a naturist and fascinated by spirituality, and he too has written a book about sacred sites and another about nakedness.
When we meet up to do some filming at a fantastic site I had never seen before (Knowlton in Dorset, pictured above) we chat about our lives. When he told me that he too has lived in New Zealand we decided to pack it in – it was getting too much!
Nick’s book is fantastic. It’s just the sort of book you want to keep in the car so that wherever you are you can find a sacred site nearby. Read about it here: www.holybritain.co.uk
The BBC’s website about the six part series is here
Nick, who travelled with the presenter Ifor and the film crew as an advisor and associate producer throughout the series, recalls witnessing a ‘miracle’ during the filming – and how he and the team came close to disrobing for the cameras in the first programme:
“The ‘miracle’ occurred during filming on the Isle of Arran. We were walking along a remote stretch of coast when Ifor spotted a brand new £20 note floating on the water, undamaged by the sea. It reminded me of the Lindisfarne Gospels which were supposedly lost at sea for three days before being washed up, miraculously undamaged by the tide. Our own miraculous piece of beachcombing felt rather more worldly and materialistic, more so when it paid for a round of drinks in the pub the next evening!
“We wanted to recreate an authentic Roman era baptism for the sacred water episode, so visited an ancient holy pool, a very rare survivor from the early church, hidden away amid fields in Northumberland. The original baptism ceremony insisted on full nudity in public for all baptismal candidates. Ifor was game for the experience and I have long been ready to take the plunge, having written a book on skinny dipping 10 years ago, until we spotted a National Trust sign warning that the pool should not be disturbed because it was piped directly to domestic water supplies – so twenty-first century health and safety rules prevented our planned re-enactment of ancient ritual. Such is our loss of innocence!”
The first episode is aired in 2 days’ time on 7th March on BBC 4 at 20.30. Rather nicely the episode I’m in is on the equinox – March 21st. ‘Pagans & Pilgrims’ is a bit of a misnomer for the series, though. Most of the sites are Christian and Nick wanted the series to be called ‘Britain’s Holiest Places’. Even so, the sites most often will have roots in the pre-Christian past and much of the filming is apparently stunning. As Nick says:
“Notwithstanding the sacred nature of the sites revisited for the television series, the locations are amongst the most evocative and tranquil parts of Britain, many lovingly cared for today by English Heritage and the National Trust.These are places where natural beauty and lingering traces of ancient devotions combine. It is a world that is so much more appealing than the sterile debates about religion in the media today. Britain’s religious history is mostly Christian, but it is far more diverse and provocative than you would expect. We also visit sites touched by even older pagan rituals and design and visit a Celtic hermit’s remote island that is now a thriving Buddhist retreat.So much is written across our beautiful landscape, so many stories and beliefs that embrace creation and the chaos of human existence in all their glory. No-one climbs a mountain or rows to an island to pray today, but we show some extraordinary places where our ancestors did just that. With a bit of imagination and a love of natural wonder you can still use all these amazing holy sites for an unforgettable spiritual experience.”
A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving.
Each day there seems to be news of yet more cuts to our public services; the ongoing austerity measures – on top of the poverty and hardship that many currently face – has me thinking a good deal about how to retain a sense of abundance and gratitude in such times of obvious lack. Retaining a sense of gratitude – remembering to be thankful for the little things – helps enormously but I have to admit to a cold, creeping fear when I think of the cuts and their potential impact.
I recognise beneath this fear my own terror of being plunged back into that dreaded place: barely scraping by; living in damp, cold, cramped spaces; not feeling safe or secure… I did it for many years and I know how easy it is to get stuck, and of how, once there, you can become an easy target for the prejudice and ill-judged assumptions of others.
There has been much talk about the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor’ in our media. I find the often simplistic evaluation of those that should be supported and those that shouldn’t, extremely uncomfortable. For those who have experienced poverty, they will know well how demoralizing and tough it can be. The notion that there are countless, feckless ‘scroungers’ receiving state benefits and living in undeserved luxury is the kind of tabloid myth that we’d do best to ignore. Living on the breadline brings with it a good deal of stress and worry; gnawing away at one’s trust in life and the faith that it will sustain us.
In the poorest moments of my past, I know I was in possession of things of extreme value and worth; things that poverty couldn’t touch: love, friendship and the desire to create. So why is my fear so great and my sense of trust so shaky? Mostly, regardless of where we find ourselves, we survive and live without perhaps realising the cost. It is when we experience a contrast – when we escape from chronic poverty or difficulty – that we are perhaps required to engage with the challenge to embrace our new, easier life, enjoying it without the fear of losing it. I have to admit, this is one I have struggled with, trying hard not to feel that the rug will inevitably be pulled out from beneath me. Now that money is once again tight in my own life, I have been searching for those inner resources that can uphold us, regardless of external circumstance.
I am sure many people are feeling similar thoughts at the moment. We can all make the decision to react as positively as possible to the difficulties that confront us but we are also subject to wider social and political forces that are beyond our control, and it is these that we somehow have to negotiate, balancing what we can change with what we can’t.
I believe in the fundamental goodness of life and of people, so trust is obviously the best horse to bet on. In times of fear and worry, I often turn to my childhood copy of The House at Pooh Corner by A.A Milne. I thought I would ask the book for guidance and open it randomly, here is the result:
The wind was against them now, and Piglet’s ears streamed behind him like banners as he fought his way along, and it seemed hours before he got them into the shelter of Hundred Acre Wood and they stood up straight again, to listen, a little nervously, to the roaring of the gale amongst the tree-tops.
“Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
The Prince of Wales’ School of Traditional Arts holds that the practice of the traditional arts is a contemplative process based upon universal spiritual truths. Art is seen as an integral part of everyday life and not a luxury; neither is it a subjective psychological experiment, nor a whimsical exercise in nostalgia.
Last year if you clicked on the e-petition to tell the UK government you didn’t want our public forests sold your decision to make that tiny gesture helped to save Britain’s woodland. Because when the government saw how many people objected to their decision they changed their plans.
Now we all need to make another tiny gesture.
An inspiring quote from Stephen Jenkinson’s Orphan Wisdom site