Friday, 23 December 2011

West Kennett

A contrast to the wind and rain-lashed stones down the hill at Avebury, West Kennett long barrow was tangibly warm, quiet and calm. The hill it lies upon looks over the pregnant belly of Silbury Hill across to windmill hill with its neolithic enclosure and perfect bell barrows. I felt the slight unease of entering chambers already inhabited, the dark spaces to the north and south seemingly full of unseen figures, but the overwhelming calm of the place is beautiful especially set against the extremes of midwinter weather. We reached the tomb at midday although the skies seemed to be darkening already.

It brought back instantly the experience of stumbling along a cliff side to reach Barclodiad y Gawres in Anglesey in a torrential rain storm, each step a struggle until we reached the entrance and became muffled from the howling of the wind, safe from the rain, warm and safe with the ancestors. The positions of both passage graves seems designed to amplify the womb-like effect of climbing back into the earth, the uphill struggle we all face before death washes over us.

We had formed vowel chants (along with two of our dearest friends, S+S) with magical intent in preparation for a performance at the John Hansard gallery in Southampton some days prior to our visit to Avebury. The few consonants included invoked the gods of places sacred to us, although our dedication placed them a long way from their respective shrines.


Xenis Emputae Travelling Band - West Kennet Long Barrow Vocal Improv by larkfall

The echoing acoustics of the artificial cave, along with the low quality of my smartphone recording make this a very rough listen!

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