“It has to be the Stone on Gardom’s Edge…”
“What does?” says Wen.
“My Robin Hood Stone… I mean it didn’t look much like the stone on Gardom’s Edge but that could have been the angle.”
I study the sketch in our guide book.
“A lot of these stones look different from each and every angle you know.” …
…“Let’s go find the Hud Stone,” say I.
“Is the Hud Stone the same as the Robin Hood Stone?”
“Well of course it is!”
“The same stone that we are not totally sure exists at all?”
“Well it most surely does exist if it is what Mr Harris is calling the Gardom Stone.”
“All these names are apt to become a tad confusing don’t you think?”
“Not at all, it’s just one more way of marking time.”…
…A short walk later and we are approaching what are undoubtedly the outer precincts of a prehistoric enclosure.
Just then I catch sight of the Gardom Stone from some distance.
There is always a thrill when seeing a site or stone for the first time, but in this case the thrill is tempered somewhat by the simultaneous realisation that, even from this distance, it is obvious that the Gardom Stone is not the Hud Stone.
“It’s there,” I say, “but it is not the Hud Stone.”
“It’s been called, ‘The Devil Stone’ before now.”
“I can see that too, but let’s face it, we’ve had more than enough truck with that particular personage these last few months.” …
…“Is it significant,” interrupts Wen.
“Is what significant?”
“The fact that a lot of these stones look different from every angle… I mean it starts to look like another involution.”
“It’s spatially significant for your ubiquitous theory but how so otherwise?”
“Well, take your traditional temple of the elements.”
“Which few people ever do…”
…“Of what does it consist?” says Wen, ignoring me.
“It consists of a uniform central point and the distinct cardinals.”
“Eloquently put, O Something Feral, eloquently put,” she smiles.
“Oh I see, the distinct cardinals have been collapsed into a central point…”
“Collapsed and reversed, which is something of an involution is it not?”
“It is indeed, Little Grub, and if that is what they were doing…”
“It is genius.”
“Genius, yes, but to what end?”
“There is a stone which would be worth visiting. It is in Baslow which is on our way to the Symposium so we could stop off there, grab some lunch, check out the stone and then head off to our meeting.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“If I can remember where it is.”
“I thought you knew where it was; why else tell me about it otherwise.”
“I do, sort of, only we will be coming at it the other way, the last time I visited I came down off the moor but we won’t have time to do it that way.”
“How long ago was this?” says Wen becoming somewhat suspicious.
“About ten years. It’s a huge stone. You can’t miss it and I know the general direction of its whereabouts.”
“How big is the stone?”
“It’s massive. It’s the largest free-standing monolith I’ve ever come across and we found it quite by accident.”
“Bigger than the stones at Avebury?”
“Not bigger, but taller than the stones at Avebury.”
“By accident you say?”
“Look, there’s nothing mysterious about it, I’d taken Al and Sal to see the Park-Gate stone circle and then we walked back over the moor, which is another necropolis by the way, to Baslow and lunch. There was some sort of monument giving a rather splendid view of the area and just after that we came down off the moor and found the stone.”
“A necropolis you say? It is not marked on the map,” says Wen with some conviction.
“Well, not all of them are.”
“The big ones though, they usually are, surely?”
“I didn’t imagine it. We even took a photograph. Al and I were laughing because of the, shall we say, somewhat rude reputation of such stones, so we got Sal to stand next to it and Al took a photograph on his phone.”
“Okay, if it’s as big as you say we should be able to find it again quite easily.”…
The Ætheling Thing
Stuart France & Sue Vincent
“Who was this Arviragus bloke anyway?”
Don studies the light as it plays through his beer, casting prisms on the table. How is it possible to hide such a story… the hidden history of Christianity in Britain? Oh, there are legends of course… old tales… Yet what if there was truth in them? What was it that gave these blessed isles such a special place in the minds of our forefathers? There are some things you are not taught in Sunday School. From the stone circles of the north to the Isle of Avalon, Don and Wen follow the breadcrumbs of history and forgotten lore to uncover a secret veiled in plain sight.
Wen is checking something in the Dictionary, “Get this… ‘ætheling from O.E. .Æpling, ‘son of a king, man of royal blood, nobleman, chief, prince, king, Christ, God-Man, Hero, Saint…’
“Wait a minute… wait a minute… give me that last bit again.”
“…Christ, God-Man, Hero, Saint…”
“Didn’t we call our Arthur, Aeth in, ‘The Heart of Albion’?”
“And didn’t we set his story in Mercia?”
“And didn’t Mercia grow to become the largest and most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Albion at one point in its history?”
“It did indeed.”
“Well that’s it then…The Anglo Saxon kings were claiming divine descent.”
“…Along with most other European kings at that time no doubt.”
“That’s true, but the Anglo-Saxon kings’ descent wasn’t from God it was from Christ.”
“And how did they get there?”
“They got there from their very own High One who also hung from a tree with a spear in his side… screaming.”
“They evidently regarded Christ as an avatar of Odin.”
“Blimey, you’ll not read that in any history book!”
“Just as well we’re not writing a history then isn’t it?”
Full colour illustrated
Also available in Paperback.
It was five years ago that we last attended and actually got to see the Fire Festival.
On that day too the rain had poured steadily all day and many a lake-like puddle lay in wait for us on the road into the heart of the West Yorkshire hills.
What is it about playing out at night?
Cold wind and black trees are not supposed to be friendly or inspire comfort…
As a child playing with friends we quite naturally want to ‘stay out as long as possible’.
The loss of light brings with it a frisson of excitement attendant on the haziest of notions that ‘anything might happen’ and this vague possibility is only enhanced by the bone white disk of the moon as it skids like a grinning skull through the night sky.
In later years how many of us get to spend much time outside in the dark?
There were no lights alongside the canal tow path.
The water in the puddles though still glistened and shone reflecting a cloud filled sky… and led to mobile phones pressed into action as torches.
The last time there had been unknown others with us taking the short cut to the dancing ground and the banking, lending security to our muddy madness which had left the crowds and the concrete in our wake as we walked into dark silence.
Unknown others who tonight were conspicuously absent.
Many years ago the procession itself had trod this path until somebody had fallen into the canal.
Would the tow still be clear?
Memory, playing tricks challenges us with an alternative route through the trees.
A more sensible route, less fraught with possible risk and danger.
In the daylight such descriptions would be ridiculous.
In the daylight no unseen horrors lurk in the shadows.
The sign had promised a five minute walk yet it seemed much longer, and yet, not quite long enough, before the gurgle of water announced our arrival at the bridge and a certain memory…
A train of compartmentalised light thundered overhead.
We were almost there.
Flimsy paper lanterns swung like beheaded ghouls in the trees as we approached our destination.
The first sign of civilised life.
A fire danced on the hillside left and dark figures hopped and warmed their hands around the flames.
Away in the distance, the steady beat of drums and pipes sounded as the procession made its slow progress to the top of the banking.
They would be here soon…
I never knew Holmfirth in the days of mill workers and clogs.
I really got to know her in the Post Industrial gloom,
Of swish Cafe Bars,
And cosy restaurants,
All day drinking parties frequented by the nouveau riche…
Who leap from still moving taxis,
Done up to the nines, dressed to kill,
While up on the hill,
Something feral is stirring…
Something ancient and unsought…
So, as the lazy cars slow crawl,
Through tight-cobbled streets,
Held up by roaming party-goers,
Soft parading their unsteady path from the park…
And boozers sing boldly in the late afternoon heat
With rabid mouths, foaming,
Never quite finding the beat…
A beast is preparing,
to be unleashed,
In the dark…
… Our-Father, Lady, Countess-Grae passed light and demure across the softly shifting shades of a turquoise beach.
Formless as beauty likened to the morning mist, her presence cleansed and refreshed the air as she danced; flitting capriciously between the stark but numerous clumps of white seaweed which lay sprawled like bleached and dying spiders: upturned and struggling in the yet cool but rapidly warming, morn-time sun.
They straddled the beach like shredded robes with their puckered strands wafting playful death throes in the sea breeze and as robes which had been wrenched, torn and wildly flung to lie forgotten upon the rising mounds of the blue dunes they appeared to have been discarded and scattered amid the sea’s insatiable passion for the sand.
And in her innocence, in her uncertain, whimsical passing Our-Father, Lady, Countess-Grae’s ruby feet caressed that same dry and now sullied sand: with all its succulence spent and with its surface baked-dry in the aftermath of the sea’s relief.
Yet cajoled and enticed by the arch of her feet and the spring in her step as she ran, the sand was compressed and spilled forth a deeper moistness; the dark clammy grains of which clumped and clung in a rich blue pulp and which squashed and squelched between the niches of her toes; cold, and invigorating as the new day which dawned all around.
A girl again, her laughter bubbled between short gasps, gurgled, giddy and pure as she moved; her reckless spirit sprightly and unabashed, flowing swifter and swifter, until, exhausted from running but still in playful mood she succumbed, collapsing onto the blue-green terrain beside a large vermilion boulder which squatted upon the lip of a small rock pool: its shade only vaguely unsettling her as she fell, splaying out her pale, slender limbs in limp, abject surrender to her surroundings.
As she gradually began to recover and her breath grew more even, her fingers scratched and gently scraped at the purple moss that spread like speculative boredom in dark, sporadic patches across the rock’s hunched and brooding form.
But she remained unmindful of the delicate intricacies and patterns which she so idly created for she was lost in the emerald-green sky and there she bathed her resting soul in the lushness of its translucence…
Earl Grae slumbered sardonically in his shell.
“…Still on your mind then?”
“Is what still on my mind?”
“I don’t understand.”
“The ‘he’ look, behind you.”
The etchings which she had scratched in the moss spelled Samuel.
“I still don’t understand.”
“The ‘He’, that is his name.
That is what he is ‘called’. That is what he is ‘known as’ or ‘goes by’.
That is his title; ‘hearkened unto’, or ‘requested by, the Lords’.
“Oh!” She read the name pronouncing each letter “… Who decided?”
“…When you were bathing…”
“Sa-M-U-El… mmm, I like that.”
“I like it too. A commendable choice…”
“Why, thank you, it was nothing… but, does Sam-U-El struggle, does Samu- El hurt?”
“Yes, of course he does but he loves it to death.”
“Oh death, Samuel has touched death then?”
“Grasped dear, grasped.”
“Sorry, grasped. How do you know?”
“I read it somewhere…
Here, tell me what you think.”…
For practical purposes they are like elephants and flowing water.
They follow the shortest, flatest path to wherever they are going, and en route the jagged edges first get smoothed and then get worn away.
In this particular case we are on the path to understanding…
‘Standing Stones of the Druids’
‘STANding sTONes of the DRUids’
There are a number of ‘Stantons’ in England with an attendant ancient site, and for a long time these places were associated with Druids although we now know that they were around a lot earlier than the period normally associated with those infamous ‘Old-Time-Sages’.
This ‘fella’, could easily be a druid, although he could just as easily be a she, in which case one would be tempted to call her a witch.
It is the first stone that greets you at the site.
If you look closely at the first photograph you can see some of the other stones lurking in the background.
On our first visit to this site we were struck by how utterly ‘other’ the stones appeared in relation to their environment.
Dark the frame and dark the spur
About the light which shines over there.
Lost to memory, lost to time
Good and great cut down in their prime.
Ever the longing, we yearn to know
Traversing the ‘now’ via ebb and flow.
Yonder, the stars circuit their course.
Back to silence, back to still
After we’ve been and had our fill.
Yonder, the stars circuit their course.
Where were we?