Solstice eve

Having a toddler has rather put paid to any all night summer solstice shenanigans. When uninterrupted sleep is the norm, the idea of willingly staying up all night rapidly loses its appeal. So we went for a solstice eve walk to find the newly discovered stone circle at Sittaford Tor on Dartmoor.

I say newly discovered for that's how the papers reported it, but in fact it's been known about for years. What's new is that it's been excavated and dated and proven to be the real, Bronze Age deal. And what's unusual about it is that Victorian antiquarians never got their hands on it, so it remains 'unrestored'. 

All the stones lie where they've fallen, looking like the marks of a sundial, set to measure millennia. 

In fact, many of the stones had succumbed to the weight of time and were sunken into the peat. They've only just been unburied. Protection from the elements or perhaps the acidity of the soil have given them a ghostly white appearance. They look like bleached bones.

One of the stones has been hoiked out of the circle and used in a wall. It's a handy marker for without it, the circle would be easy to miss. It's hidden by thick tussocks and fluffy tufts of cotton grass. 

When built it would have been one of the largest stone circles on the moor and I suppose regularly filled with people. Now, on a windy afternoon, with the mist rolling in – the traditional midsummer weather – it feels pretty bleak. 

On the way back we stopped at Fernworthy stone circle, set much lower down, and now surrounded by the trees of a modern plantation. It has a slightly spooky feel.

Minka was unfazed. At first she wanted to touch the stones and scramble upon them.

Then, unbidden, she went round every one, giving each a hug. I felt a surge of druidic pride.


  1. Aww, the shots of your daughter hugging the stones ranked a solid 11 out of 10 on the Bronze Age cute-o-meter. :)

    Re: kids and sleep patterns, our boys are now aged eight and five, so we're back to something approaching normality on that front.

    They're also now at a good age for things like our local winter solstice bonfire a few nights ago (here on the other side of the world), which was great to share with them.

    Quite envious of the ability to visit sites like those stone circles pretty much anytime though. (Haven't been in the UK since the mid-90s, when I found myself on a constant round of castles to stone circles to Neolitihic tombs for months, trying to 'store it all up' before returning to Australia...) So being able to visit vicariously through blog posts like these is fantastic.



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