Our quest for Barbrook Three had hit a bit of a snag… the path had not led us to the elusive circle we had been looking for, but had returned us to the familiar stones of Barbrook Two. Inspection of the map, as inaccurate as we have grown to expect, showed that the reservoir wih which we had aligned ourselves was not the right one. Ours was a mere blip on the brook line… barely indicated. But it didn’t matter. The walk had been beautiful so far, the weather was being cooperative and although a blustery day, it was good to see these sites, for once, without being frozen and drenched… or both.
So it really didn’t matter. Seeing the lawn around the stones scattered with tiny white flowers… ‘Simbelmynë ‘ said my companion, echoing my own thought… was compensation enough. It is a beautiful spot, looking out to other sites we now know well… Gardrom’s Edge where the ‘Crone Stone’ watches… the Eaglestone and Curbar Edge beyond the hill… Big Moor where the shadows of ancient settlements still shadow the grass, and, through the field of cairns, houses of the unborn dead, the small stone circle that lies close to the path. And, of course, somewhere in this vast landscape… the elusive Barbrook III.
Barbrook II is officially classed as a ringcairn, the stone circle is set, quite unusually, into the inner face of the dry stone wall that surrounds the space within. Following excavations, the circle was restored to how it would have looked some four thousand years ago. The uprights, so small you would barely notice them if you did not know they were there, seem to align with other features in the landscape that we know to be ancient sites. To us, this is a special place, where the past whispers to the inner heart and shares its stories. As we enter through the northern portal, it is almost as if we are coming home.
It had made the hairs on my neck stand up when I had read of the four human cremations discovered here… two buried simply in the earth, one in a cairm within the circle and another interred in a stone-lined cyst. Not through any fear of death or the dead, but because I had written of this place and such a burial long before in our books. It is not unknown, of course, but the majority of circles are not associated with inhumations. This place, though, is unique in many ways.
I just happened to have pendulum and rods in my handbag… as you do…so we dowsed the cairn, tracing the patterns shown by the crossing of the little brass rods and the circling of the pendulum, noting how the lines radiate from the centre and the current changes direction at the compass points. What does it mean? Everyone, it seems, has their own ideas on that, though all agree that dowsing highlights some kind of earth energy, similar, perhaps, to the invisible field around a magnet that can be made visible when iron filings are sprinkled around it, as many of us did in physics class at school. I’m not sure we need a clear cut definition or what they are… definition is only description, after all, and the more we label things in nice, neat ways, the less we need to seek below the surface of the label for a living understanding. Maybe it is more important simply to be aware of the unseen presence around us.