It was with sadness that I read of the damage once more sustained by Doll Tor in the last few days. The circle is a beautiful and secluded spot, hidden in a little wood and just far enough off the beaten track to ensure that its atmosphere of magic and mystery remains unbroken. Until the vandals come to play.
Doll Tor is not just a stone circle, it is a small ritual complex and part of a wider ritual landscape. It was built thousands of years ago in the Bronze Age… or perhaps even in the late Neolithic period. It is also a grave site, where those who were laid to rest within its care were sent onwards with dignity, reverence and gifts.
Many still visit and use the site with care and respect. We have explored its energies and effects in our own work and workshops… it is a remarkable and beautiful place. In modern terms, it equates to a place of worship, a small cemetery and a place of communion and celebration all at the same time.
And, in spite of it being a protected and scheduled ancient monument, some disrespectful idiots seem to think that, it is okay to move the smaller stones to build a fire pit in the circle’s centre and move one of the larger stones to make a seat. I have to wonder how they would feel if someone desecrated the grave of their grandmother… for that is, in effect, what they are doing when they vandalise these ancient places where our ancestors interred their dead.
Doll Tor has suffered at the hands of the uninformed before, but much work had been done to restore the site, as closely as possible after the depredations of millennia, to how it would have looked in the Bronze Age. This is important for the integrity of the site, as these places were constructed with care, aligning stones with other sites of importance within the landscape and with astronomical alignments too. Moving the stones out of alignment is like taking the cogs out of a clock and still expecting it to work.
This is, sadly, not a one-off occurrence. In spite of such damage being a criminal offence, many ancient places suffer from ignorance, lack of care and straightforward vandalism. Very many of our ancient places were damaged when Christianity took over, their stones cast down or used for building. One might have thought that we would know better now than to vandalise our own heritage and history.
In this country, we are fortunate indeed to have so many ancient places that we can still visit, freely and openly. There are few things more magical than to sit within one of these ancestral sites, surrounded by a silence broken only by birdsong and the whispers of the past. Whether we view them as sacred sites or simply as enigmatic relics of our distant history, they are places to be treasured.
To read more of Doll Tor’s history, our experiences at the site and the link between the land and its people, click the highlighted links. You can also read about Helen Jones’ experience at the site during one of our Living Land weekends.