Monday, 30 May 2011

Druid's Temple, Ilton

Druid's Temple is a folly contrived to evoke the pagan temple of Stonehenge, huge trilithons set in an oval with a sheltered cave and a sinister block altar. Pine woods surround it, enclosing an artificial ritual landscape of dolmens and balanced pillars of stone, suggesting natural temples such as Brimham Rocks and the Cheesewring up on Dartmoor.

Its an impressive place to visit and with no restrictions on opening it has become slightly notorious for its modern, unofficial ritual use.

My second visit to Druid's Temple was at night, in the midst of a turbulent period of my life. I was angry before I got there, and sad that it was in the circumstances that it was. The misplaced pine woods seemed colder and more alien than ever, discordant against the surrounding landscape. I thought that viewing it in the dark would bring some kind of significance to the place, which had seemed cold and soulless to me in daylight. I usually have a boundless, if hugely irritating, enthusiasm for going to unusual places repeatedly. This time I didn't want to get there or leave the car once we arrived.

Walking towards the stones past a pile of felled trees, I felt as though something was watching us from the top of the folly. I fully expected us to bump into a group of equally jittery people, perhaps up to no good, and us both leave sheepishly. When we got nearer, the quiet became oppressive, the air slightly scented with freshly felled pine but thick with something less tangible. I started to see movement in my peripheral vision, something not unusual for me as a migraine sufferer but this time less prescribed and more sudden. I thought I saw glimpses of a huge black creature, wolf-like and immaterial. I could taste a metallic taste, as if blood had been split. Every step towards the encirclement of the stones brought the creature more vividly to my senses, and I started to panic.

Once we stood within the stones, I could not keep my fear under control any longer, and I started to babble about the demon stalking us. As I stood there, it was as if I could see the beast circling us along the top of the stones, waiting for me to be deprived of my only exit before it ripped me apart. I stopped being able to focus or concentrate on reality. Wild images of demonic dogs chased before me, darker than the shadows we stood in, dripping with some kind of unearthly gore that I could smell and feel the heat of. It seemed to me that if I approached the altar, all hope would be lost.

I was completely lost in this vision, it felt like an age before I was able to leave or talk but eventually I remember begging to be allowed to go back to the car. I think I ran. Not an experience I would have shared at first consideration, but as I sorted through old photos I came across my disinterested snaps from my first visit, and wanted to juxtapose the two contrasting events in a post. I guess a blog on the fateful and strange places I visit should include the unpleasant, uncanny aspects of visiting England too. The experience was formative in my current situation and self knowledge, it made me consider how strong emotions seem to arise from something residing in locations I visit that seem beyond the places themselves. The genii locorum of Druid's Temple were roused by something in me that evening, and I genuinely felt as though the place would devour me, or at least a part of me.

1 comment:

  1. Great Post and Pictures,
    Thought you might like my King Arthur's Summer Solstice at Stonehenge machinima film Bright Blessings, elf ~