Blogging from a remote corner of Wiltshire this week. Whenever I visit this part of the world I am amazed by the wealth of ancient and prehistoric sites, and intrigued by the stories (and mysteries) attached to them. Yesterday we visited the turf maze near to Winchester: layers of history here, with the (possibly seventeenth century) maze next to the remains of a mediaeval chapel, and both of them on the site of an Iron Age Fort. The mystery here is, who built the maze, and why?
Today we were in Avebury, in the ancient kingdom of Wessex. What was the stone ring for, and why are there so many remains in such a small area? Why did anyone go to the trouble of piling up gravel and chalk to create Silbury Hill? And why does everyone make such a fuss about Stonehenge when there is so much more to see at Avebury?
But the real mystery today was a modern one. Twelve people standing in the middle of the ring at Avebury, splitting into pairs and carefully placing their feet upon scraps of paper before standing to face one another. Standing in silence, occasionally mirroring their partners’ exaggerated gestures. Then just one person emitting a powerful scream before the pairs reformed and they all started hugging one another.
One of their number walked up to a stone and lay on it in sacrificial pose while the others wrote frantically and then ripped up their papers. We could not work out if it was some obscure Wiccan ritual or just a bizarre team bonding event…