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Selected Pagan Sites of Britain

Highlights of our trip in June, 2002, in more or less the order we encountered them. Stay tuned for our own photos!

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Rollright Stone Circle, Oxfordshire
Not far from Oxford, with its warm brown stones, Rollright had one of the best "feels" of the circles we visited. Local legend tells of a king who disobeyed a witch, and was turned to a large stone nearby. Three other outliers, part of a fallen dolmen, mark three of the king's knights similarly enchanted. From the MEgALiThiA site.
The Uffington White Horse, Wiltshire
The famous White Horse, which is almost impossible to fully appreciate from ground level. What's not apparent in the photographs is that the line of the horse's back follows the descending edge of the hill. From the "Earth Mysteries" Page.
The White Horse of Uffington, and Dragon Hill
Another view, from the "Mysterious Britain" Page.
Wayland's Smithy
Located a couple of miles from Uffington along the Ridgeway, this small chambered tomb boasts an impressive entrance, and one pair of side chambers. According to the legend, horses left there overnight would be shod by Wayland the Smith.
Wayland's Smithy
Another view, again from "Mysterious Britain".
The Blowing Stone, Kingston Lisle, Oxfordshire
Perhaps not purely a pagan site, this hole-y stone, now located in a private yard not far from Uffington, is believed to have come from up on the neighbouring hills. A likely inspiration for William Horwood's "Duncton" books.
Avebury, Wiltshire
Much more impressive than Stonehenge, this site consisted of a large stone circle with two smaller circles inside, together with a processional lane of stones extending for several miles. Ritually linked with Silbury Hill, the nearby West Kennet Long Barrow, and other sites. Today, modern roads penetrate the quarter entrances, with the Red Lion Inn at the crossroads. Many of the stones have been removed by local farmers and reused as building materials. Attempts have been made to reconstruct some of the stones. From the "Earth Mysteries" site.
Avebury
Another view of Avebury, from Megalithia.
West Kennet Long Barrow, Wiltshire
The layout of this barrow, with its two sets of side chambers and one rear chamber, has been alternately given modern interpretations of a goddess figure and a bull. We made the hike to West Kennet near sunset, and lacking a light, settled for taking flash photos inside. The light above the entrance in our photos is most likely a spot of moisture on the camera lens.
Glastonbury Tor, Somerset
Glastonbury has been called a pagan Mecca, and the Tor is certainly one of the reasons why. Associated with the Isle of Avalon, with the picturesque hollow tower of St. Michael's at its top, and a grove of apple trees at its foot, the hill is sacred to Christians and pagans alike. Its various levels suggest an ancient labyrinth. Tourists take the steeper, maintained trail to the top; locals go up the easier (but longer) hike from town. Most tourists miss the "Eggstone", or "Glastonbury burr", a round stone near the top revered by locals as the entrance to Annwn, the otherworld.
Chalice Well, Glastonbury
The traditional hiding place of the Holy Grail, the grounds are a place of Christian and pagan pilgrimage. The icy-cold waters of the Chalice Well (a.k.a. the "Red Well", for its iron content) are said to have healing properties. Locals skip the admission charge and fill their canteens from the less sacred "White Well" just outside its walls.
Glastonbury Abbey Official Site
The traditional burial place of King Arthur and Guinevere, the abbey ruins are well-worth exploring.
The New Forest Official Site
The birthplace of modern Wicca, featuring ancient trees, historic and sacred sites, and yes...
A Coven of Witches, Burley
Located in Burley, in the New Forest, this frankly-named store has close ties to (and was named by) Sybil Leek.
Cerne Abbas Giant, Dorset
The famous "rude man", thought by the Romans to be Hercules. Associated by Neo-Pagans with the Dagda. Now-vanished lettering between his legs suggests that he may have actually been a local god named "Helis" or "Helith".
St. Augustine's (Silver) Well, Cerne Abbas, Dorset
A lesser-known attraction than the Giant, this well is tucked into a quiet corner of a churchyard at the foot of Giant Hill. Its waters are said to bring fertility to women, and blessings to newborns.
Roman Baths Home Page
The hot sulphur springs at Bath were sacred to the Celtic goddess Sulis, whom the Romans associated with Minerva. A beautiful bronze head of Minerva survives from the temple complex, and is featured in a place of honour. Tourists still toss coins into the sacred pool, and the well-to-do can sample a glass of water at the restaurant.
Bath Labyrinth
Built during the 1980's, I include this here because its central feature is the Celtic sun god Sul, with wings in his hair and snakes in his beard. The icon, erroneously called a "Gorgon", is taken from the shield of Sulis Minerva. The central mosaics are very pretty. What struck me particularly was Sul's similarity to Oceanus, the central figure of the Great Dish of the Mildenhall Hoard, which we viewed in the British Museum. While Sul has wings in his hair, Oceanus has porpoises. Oceanus, in turn, has a leafy seaweed beard suggestive of the Green Man.
Stanton Drew Stone Circles, Avon
A lesser-known, but very impressive site near Bath. One major circle with two minor circles adjacent. An outlying "cove" resides on what is now the grounds of a local pub.
Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, Wellow, Somerset
The last and most impressive barrow that we visited, with three pairs of side chambers and one at the rear. Having a light was definitely necessary. Parts of the ceiling are currently held up by wooden props, making it seem unstable. A local apparently visits it regularly to clean out the magical "debris" left by pagans.
Four Stones, New Radnor, Wales
A small circle, and a necessary stop on our tour, because of its proximity to Hergest Ridge.
Wizard's Well, Alderley Edge
Strikingly decorated with a face reputed to be that of Merlin, this small, dripping well has the words, "Drink of this and take thy fill, for the water falls by the wizard's will" carved into the living rock. According to local legend, the site protects a cave holding a sleeping king and his army.
Arbor Low, Derbyshire
We celebrated the Summer Solstice at this fallen stone circle in the Peak District, which features a round barrow on the henge. From the Megalithia site.
Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor, Peak District
This relatively small circle of knee-high stones stands in a forest glade. The integrity of the site is being threatened by a proposed quarry downhill of it, and a major campaign is being waged to preserve it.

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