To mark the longest (or shortest, if you are “down south”!) day of the year, here are two of the tallest standing stones at Avebury, the remarkable site that draws many people to it every Solstice.
This picture gives you an idea just how immense these stones are…
I’ve been to Avebury many times, but you won’t find me there today. I prefer to be there when the place is quiet, if possible (preferably at sun-up or sundown). On my last visit, I stood beneath the slopes of Silbury Hill as twilight deepened, watching a barn owl quartering over the fields, like a white moth under the Moon.
I shall be returning to Avebury again this Saturday. Thanks to Esther and John, the managers of the Henge Shop in the village, Watchers is now on sale there. I’ll be doing an informal book-signing event over lunchtime/the early afternoon. So, if you are planning a solstice-weekend visit to one of the most extraordinary sites in Britain, do pop in to say hello!
If you can’t come this weekend but are going to visit the stone circles another time, I recommend a visit to the Henge shop before you leave. It has a wonderful assortment of books covering a wide area of interests (plenty of titles on crop circles, history, healing, lore, legend etc). It also stocks some carefully-chosen crystals, ceramics and a selection of unique souvenirs. I’ve never left without a new treasure of some kind.
The Avebury complex itself is a wonderful place, for so many reasons. We do not know who set the great avenues and circles of stones in place, but it was a long, long time ago (Avebury is older than Stonehenge).
Was it the hands of giants that rolled the great sarsens so carefully into place? Were the Annunaki or the Nephilim involved? Or did our ancestors have some now-forgotten technology that enabled them to manoeuvre these huge, unwieldy objects with such precision – something we cannot do as well as they did? No one knows for sure. (I’d love to be able to duck back in time in order to find out!)
Sadly, many of the stones were knocked down and broken into pieces or we would know much more about them. Such is the way of things. Yet what remains is, I believe, still as powerful as it always was. For there is deep magic to be found at Avebury: the dancing dragon-magic of old that weaves its way beneath the surface of the land, no matter what we humans do above it.
It is for this reason that Avebury is crucial to the plot of the whole Tilly Greenway series. In Book One we do not visit the stone circle itself, but we do go to the West Kennet Long Barrow (that ghostly dolmen that lies just south of Avebury itself), before passing between the sarsens of The Avenue and heading on to Silbury Hill.
It’s at Silbury that we meet (most of) the dragons who feature in the tale. Yggdrasil is one of them. She is the Ash Tree Dragon, the gentle spear whose actions usher in a new dawn for human consciousness.
It’s a piece of fun to have Silbury as her home. As one of the characters notes, the hill is named after her: Yggdrasil-bury Hill being the place where she was laid to rest until such a time as the world was in dire need of dragon-deeds once more. The hill was once known as the Dragontop, however, because it was said to be scorched black on top by the fiery breath of the dragons who guard its secrets…
I’ll be writing more about what makes particular sites that little bit extra-special very soon, but for now my best wishes for a Solstice full of wonder. Wherever you are in the North or the South, today marks a turning point in the year as the great wheel of the seasons rolls onward. It is a time of endings and beginnings, of hope and renewal: accompanied, as ever, by the thinnest sliver of the waxing Moon. Enjoy!
Watchers is now available in most Waterstones stores. Signed copies are also in the Henge Shop at Avebury and The Goddess and Green Man and in Dicketts in Glastonbury. Or you can purchase your copy via amazon.