The temperature had dropped by lunchtime. The sun was playing hide and seek and the clouds, already ominous, were becoming heavier as we headed out towards the great stone circle of Arbor Low. The site had been the inspiration for the final ritual of the weekend and was supposed to be the last visit of our time with Alethea and Deb. It is a magical site by any standards and the serpent stones would whisper and weave their dreams.
The circle sits high on the hills. To access the stones you must park and walk, crossing through a working farmyard, through a gate and across the fields. There are no paths, just the invisible ‘lines of fire’ born of the passage of feet over thousands of years. And it is all uphill. There was no way we could get my son’s wheelchair to the site.
Not that we were about to let such a consideration get in the way. While I led the girls the ‘right’ way round the site via the ancient barrow known as Gib Hill, the menfolk took the shorter route, walking to the lower entrance. Now I think about it, that was possibly symbolically correct, but as one of the menfolk can’t actually walk unaided, it was no small feat.
We all arrived at the centre of the circle at around the same time. The henge itself offered some small protection from the bitter, biting winds, but would afford no shelter from the storm we could see brewing on the horizon. Even so, we would not be rushed. This is a place of dreaming and, as we walked the circle, the faces and forms in the stones began to reveal themselves. ‘The serpent’ is one of the little known local names for Gib Hill. It is odd…or perhaps not so odd at all.. that almost everyone we have brought to the site has mentioned the reptilian forms and found the suggestion of time and its passing in the layout of the stones.
The air of ancient sanctity still enfolds the place and each stone is a portal of dreams; unexplored worlds within worlds, where the outer mind sleeps and the inner is free to roam. Even in the chill of the darkening day, it is a place to stop the world and dream.
There is never enough time but as the snow came closer, we felt it was time to leave. This was supposed to be our final site, but I knew of another we could visit in the area… and be undercover too. There is also a handy pub that does pots of tea; it would be good to have an extra hour or two with the girls and Nick appeared to be enjoying their company…