...This is Maumbury Rings, a Neolithic henge. Here's an aerial photograph.
We have returned to the oval area enclosed by a ditch. That is to say, there would originally have been a ditch, formed by the construction of the outer banks, but that has long since been filled in. But still the basic layout of an oval demarcated by a border remains.
Now, forgive me, but what does this remind you of? All I can say is that I have to assume it was constructed as a sacred space dedicated to the Mother Goddess. In its time it's been a Roman amphitheatre, a fort in the Civil War and even an execution ground in the 18th century during the Monmouth Rebellion, not to mention farmland and a place of assembly. But it is over 4,000 years old and its original purpose would have been religious.
Archaeologists frequently say of ancient things when they are not sure what they are for, "used for ritual purposes" and I expect they are often right in that, but this clearly was a sacred space used by the local tribe for their most profound encounters with the numinous. When I used to go there 30 odd years ago it still had a feeling of peace and stillness, and there was also a sense of being safe and secure.
Is it too fanciful to think of it as a kind of spiritual womb? Rites of death and rebirth are among the oldest and most widespread forms of human spiritual activity, and I think that is what Maumbury Rings would originally have been associated with...
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