The Druids next door

“There is stillness, the stones hold us. Still.” (Druid saying recorded by Romans)

IMG_9213 copy copy

In the next door village of Stanton Harcourt is a stone henge. The village is named for it: from Stan (farm) + tun (beside the rocks).

It’s a little known Neolithic monument built by people of the early bronze age (2900 BC). Much of the archaeology of the area has been destroyed by Roman-British medieval farmers as they plowed the land. And, the henge which remains is a tiny fraction of an enormous area of barrows and prehistoric settlements all along the Winrdush/Thames valley.

It’s a miracle that the stones exist at all. They have been gathered, toppled, buried, plowed over, used in the construction of the RAF Stanton Harcourt during WWI, and dragged over to the Windrush River to serve as a bridge. By the 1940s, when a renewed interest in this archaeological treasure led to a large dig, there were only three stones standing.

Today, the area is known as The Devil’s Quoits. As with most ancient treasures, Roman-Christian traditions dictated a redirection of any pagan religions, so the area was re-imagined as God giving the Devil a telling off for playing quoits on a Sunday and the Devil had a temper tantrum scattering the quoits forming the henge.

henge

It may have been lost to history but for aerial WWI surveillance work, which showed the circle and ditch and facilitated the 1940 investigation, and, in 2002, work began to find the stones and rebuild the henge.

Come, walk up to the first earth circle with me, and let’s climb to the top.

IMG_9193 copy copy

IMG_9194 copy copy

IMG_9200 copy copy

The henge is very large, 2200 ft across. There are/were two Tumuli (burial mounds) excavated in 1940. In the very centre of the great circle is a woman. She stands 5’3″ and, by her bone structure, is believe to be of the Celt. She had a flint knife, a jet slider for her clothes, seven flint arrow heads and a bone pendant in the shape of a looking glass.

IMG_9209 copy copy

The second burial is located at the North entrance to the henge, underneath a “break” in the ditch circle. It is a man, 5′ 10″, with a ground-down gap in his teeth on his left side, suggesting that he repetitively held something between his teeth. Around him was a smaller ditch intersecting the large, primary ditch. Buried with him was a traditional beaker, dating him to the Beaker people, (early bronze age), seven flint arrowheads, and the same bone ring pendant.

IMG_9215 copy copy

Beside the Tumulus of the man was a pit of animal bones. Animal and human bones were also found in the ditch around the henge. These were probably other burials and animal sacrifices, but that information is most likely lost to the plow, and only the rabbits, who call the ditch bank their home, are privy to what lies scattered beneath.

IMG_9217 copy copy

We walked the circumference of the ditch and I collected my own archaeological treasures.

bones

In the druid culture, ravens are a link between this world and the next. In return for the henge offering me some precious bones, I left a gift of three raven’s feathers in the Western stone.

IMG_9227 copy copy

In case you’d like to read the 1940 archaeological study here is the link: Excavations at Stanton Harcourt 1940

Linking up with Judith and the Mosaic bunch. :D

Walked down to the village…it rained…we didn’t care

This morning Robert said, “what’s that strange light?” It was the sun! So despite the gale blowing outside, we decided to go for a walk down to the village to see our Knight Templar and his Lady in the church.

walk

West Cottage is on the outskirts of the village, and almost half way between two villages but we belong to the Northmoor parish and it’s lovely to walk down there.

We walked under an ominous sky, past the fields of clever sheep who know better than to get blown away. They were looking at us in a “there go some crazy people” way…

039 copy copy

…past the houses…

048 copy copy

…until we got close to the pub and then it started to rain like the dickens.

054 copy copy

So we ducked into the church.

055 copy copy

And said hello to Thomas Moore and Isabelle.

063 copy copy

We had a little rest…

069 copy copy

…and looked out the windows to see the rain stopping, and so we continued with our walk.

church

Back up at the pub we saw the big rain cloud moving away.

078 copy copy

So we decided to take the long way home, in sort of a triangle, from the village, up Marsh Lane, across the fields and home.

081 copy copy

We said hello to the Northmoor herd and admired their fluffy winter coats.

080 copy copy

A little further up the lane the wind had blown all the crab apples down and they bobbed along in the stream like beautiful little balls.

085 copy copy

Some berries were still firmly in place though. Nice for the birdies.

082 copy copy

When we got to the public foot path we ran into a bit of a problem! Umm :( We thought about wading thru, we thought about taking our runners off and just going for it…but in the end we decided to take the extra long way home, back the way we came.

089 copy copy

But we had a lovely walk. :D
Linking with Mary for Mosaic Monday

A late afternoon walk and a happy birthday wish

004 copy copy005 copy copy009 copy copy013 copy copy

This has been a wonderfully lazy day. We read about the queues waiting to get into London or Oxford stores for the Boxing Day sales and we laughed about it all. There’s no way, that’s not our style. We went for a walk instead. Oxfordshire has a ton of lakes around; remnants of gravel extraction. These lakes make great habitats for birds and water fowl. Most of the lakes have public footpaths thru them and this is one such walk we found.

This walk goes to and over the Windrush River. That’s the river which flows around our next door village and joins the Thames five fields away. There are holiday lets (rentals) all along one side of one of the lakes. We were thinking that this must be a lovely place to spend a couple of summer weeks swimming and boating around; especially for city people.

We stopped on the bridge across the Windrush for several minutes and looked at the sky.
lakes

And on the way home, a promise of spring. Pussy willows starting to open.
024 copy copy

I spoke to my mom this evening, (morning in Vancouver) and wished her a very happy birthday. She’s making roasted ducks for a few friends who will gather at her home. Love you mom, and I hope you have the best day. :D
026 copy copy

A silver morning in the meadow

Ran out yesterday morning before tea! I know, unheard of…but then look at what I found. The meadow, fields, pines and hedgerows have been touched by Jack Frost. Everything has taken on a lovely, spiky malevolence.

I love it.

I do! :)
027 copy

025 copy

030 copy

002 copy

037 copy

049 copy

045 copy

005 copy

022 copy

Near and far…the Cotswold countryside and the Weekly Photo Challenge from WordPress

There’s something magical about the English countryside. One sees it in old master’s paintings in museums, on the covers of chocolate boxes and fancy vacation brochures, but I can tell you that it really is that bucolic in places. Out of the cities and towns, between the villages, the only things which have changed from centuries ago are the farm vehicles and the power lines. (Both of which can be judiciously avoided or Photoshopped out) When I get back to Vancouver, I have it in mind to paint a few large canvases of this Englishness.

Photographed for WordPress Weekly Photoshop Challenge.

Come see one of my most favorite places. The Burford Garden Centre

It’s a garden centre, a cafe with the yummiest lunches, a gourmet foods shop, a home decorating centre, a children’s fantasy shop, a speciality book store and an antiques shop all in one.
If you’re an avid plants woman/man, want a lovely place for lunch with friends, need that truffle oil from France for tonight’s risotto, want to buy a three tiered tutu in bright fuchsia for your little princess this is the greatest place to spend some time.
All the displays are so lovely to look at and dream about.

Look at this one.

These cast iron twine spools…I mean…you have to have twine in the garden, right?

This is a fruit store for all the apples from your orchard.

The roses are actually grown so you can see their habit before you decide on the perfect one.

How about this! A Gypsy caravan as a play house/place to nap/have tea.

Wow, locally grown and hand spun linen goods. Who does that these days? I want to spin and weave linens.

Loads of vintage plates/cups/jugs…anything you like, for a song. I love to mix and match, don’t you?

Can you believe the patina of this table and benches? This would be so wonderful in a breakfast room.

And, of course, a fair amount of that beautiful English Laura Ashley type layering. Very Shabby Chic.

Can’t wait to go back.

More ten mile project fun…Minster Lovell Hall

Just down from Burford, on the beautiful Windrush river, on the edge of Wychwood forest is this incredible 15th C relic.

I love it here.

It was a great, grand hall and the main residence of the Lovell family, (isn’t that a lovely name…Lovell). King Richard III was a family friend and stayed in the minster for visits.

The minster was a U shape, with a central great hall, enormous fireplaces, staircases, turrets and stone archways.


Here is R walking thru the main hall to show the scale.

This is the great hall. Can you just imagine tapestries, roaring fires, musicians, ladies in wimples, emboidered gowns and jewels. Actually, a beautiful jewel was found here and is on display at the Ashmolean in Oxford.

When it was investigated by archeologists, a skeleton was found in the basement!

The footprint is still here. So is the dovecote and the church.

Minster Lovell Hall…the best place to daydream.

Within the ten miles…Burford!

You gotta love Burford, the ideal Cotswold town. Burh = fortified town and Ford = river crossing. Could there be any other town where Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father, gave a golden dragon as a standard? Bet it was a real dragon, bet it breathed fire.
In this lovely, lovely town 15th and 16thC buildings function as homes, shops, hotels and pubs.

So let’s go.
Let’s park up beside this warm stone wall.

Let’s follow the small road to the High street. It’s summer crazy with people.

The High street is full of lovely shops.


And little alleys with shops.

Look at this mix of 15th to 17thC buildings.

The shops give way to cottages and homes.

Many with large archway entrances for horses and carriages, now handy for cars.


The town ends, and we stop at the Windrush River. But now we get to go up the other side!