Stonehenge – Tuesday 6th November
It’s a cold bright day. The building work at the new visitors centre is progressing, changing every day we come by. Today there’s a new addition to the site next to the road, a tall mast with a smart new security camera on top. It feels strange that in this location, fields, fields and more fields, there’s a piece of high tech surveillance equipment in place. But I guess the machinery and materials on site are quite valuable.
Stonehenge is quiet today. Not too many visitors at all, which is nice actually. The light on the stones is fabulous and Mark and I take a turn around the walkway to have a good look at them.
Yesterday, Mark and I visited the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes to see the Henry Moore ‘Stonehenge Suite’, a series of lithographs the artist made of Stonehenge in the early 1970s. The prints are not on display at present but the museum’s wonderful curator Heather Ault arranged for us to have special viewing. (I’ll post my conversation with Mark about the work another day.)
The effect on us has been exactly what we want from the art we look at – to make us reassess how we see things – in this case, the stones. It’s a refresher, in a very positive way.
Stonehenge plays tricks on you. Depending on the light, depending where you’re standing to look at it, it can appear entirely differently. The basic image remains but the details become slippery. This is a good thing considering we’re spending so much time here. No chance yet to feel we know the place so well that boredom sets in.
The woman with the goat head staff is here today. Her black cloak dances about her as she walks around the grass walkway. We say hello as our paths cross and for the first time I stop and have a conversation with her. It’s strange to talk to someone who I’ve been observing yet avoiding for four months, but I knew some day we would meet, and today is that day.
Siobhan is fascinating. She is a scientist academically and professionally, and a practicing Shaman with a very strong connection to the sacred sites of the West-Country, especially Stonehenge. I’ve watched her with visitors over the past few months and they’ve always looked totally absorbed by their encounter with her. As am I. She is completely charming. And her goat head staff is even more arresting in close up. If you are ever visiting Stonehenge on a day when Siobhan is here, do say hello to her, you won’t regret it.
The MoD is busy. Gunfire fills the air. Rapid bursts of thumping beats.
Mark is sitting on the tarmac walkway working on a silverpoint drawing. I sit on a bench on the grass and watch him across the guide ropes. Every now and then someone stands directly behind him to take a photo of him drawing. Many people linger with their audio guides warming their ears, looking to the artist, looking to the stones. It’s a chilly wind.
The younger Chinese tourists are determined in their posing. That jumping photo is a must have, besides, physical activity on a day like today is a positive way of keeping warm.
There’s a kestrel in the field today. I’ve not seen him before. He flutters over the meadow between the outer walkway and the A303, treading air as he surveys the ground. He dives towards the ground and a skylark rises in alarm. I thought the larks had gone but apparently not.
A helicopter flies over the Cursus, its tail light blinking against the darkening clouds. I think it’s going to rain…