Saturday, 12 May 2012

Thornborough Henge. Beltaine Celebrations.

It is sometimes difficult to admit that we can no longer do things that we did when we were younger. There is not a lot which falls into this category but cartwheels would be one that does-not that either of us ever did cartwheels, but that is by the by. The point is that if we ever had done cartwheels and felt capable of still doing them, the Beltaine Celebration at Thornborough Henge would be a time and a place where we would have cartwheeled with wild abandon.

The site: The central henge, where the celebration is held, is one of three still remaining of the eleven which made up the complex, constructed five thousand years ago.As we walk in through the entrance a round barrow dominates to our left, towering over the henge of which it forms part. The ramparts themselves have a wonderfully battered look, it is only the uniformity of their design that identifies them as earthworks in places. Inside the henge diameter measures seven hundred and eighty seven feet-which means that the ten foot high pile of manure within (this is farmland when not used by celebrating pagans) can co-exist quite happily with its human visitors. In fact, there is so much going on here that it is quite easy to ignore the pile of manure. All around the perimeter traders have set up stalls-a market for which the organisers have made no charge to them for their pitches, an unusual move nowadays but one which is entirely in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the event.

In the centre a ring of spectators participate in a simple open ritual to welcome in the Summer and then enjoy the entertainments: There is music and theatre and a May Queen is crowned. This is followed by Handfastings conducted by a Druid. Elsewhere people are walking the henges and we join in with this activity: it is a day for relaxing and being under a wide blue sky. Small groups are sat around drumming, chatting, laughing. Kids are running about, up and down the henges, playing as kids play and proving that theme parks are purely an adult concept of childrens' entertainment-they need no more than a bit of open space and the freedom to get their knees muddy.

It is the perfect day, and the ideal company, to welcome in the Summer. Even without the cartwheels. We Durogante Mudhoppers hope you all have a good one.