One of the best parts of any workshop is being able to see old friends again and, if you are lucky, spend some time with them after the madness has settled. One old and dear friend, better known in blogging circles as a polar bear named Running Elk, stayed behind to help dismantle the Temple and cram the boxes, props and costumes back into my little car… then joined us for a few hours in Derbyshire.
It is never long enough… but it is still good to share such moments.
We drove to Monsal Dale and looked out over the deep valley and up at the unassailable heights of Fin Cop. We told him some of the story… and how, one of these days, we will get up there. We showed him how it connected to the hillfort above Great Hucklow, where we had spent the workshop weekend… and with ‘Devil’s Drop’, a place we had visited together the year before.
Regaining the cars, we drove on, passing the hillfort at Ball Cross… stopping above Monyash to pick out Fin Cop on the horizon… then on to our destination… the great stone circle of Arbor Low.
The henge was built first… high bank and deep ditch surrounding a central area. Much later, around 4000 years ago, the stones were added. Between 41 and 43 of them, with a central, seven-stone cove where the remains of a human skeleton were found. The stones are all laid flat and the debate continues as to whether they were positioned in this way deliberately or thrown down as pagan stones in later centuries.
Close by and connected to the henge by a cursus, is Gib Hill. The barrow was probably the first part of the complex to be built in Neolithic times, with a later, Bronze Age barrow built on top of it at one end in later times. Beside Gib Hill are the remains of yet another henge, and a network of barrows crown the surrounding hilltops.
It is a stunning site at the best of times… and Running Elk appeared duly stunned and perplexed by the anomalous features and energy of the site. I love sharing ancient sites with him… I learn a lot just by watching and listening to his reactions, and Arbor Low certainly brought a few of those.
None of us had taken any pictures for some reason…We thought a coffee or something was in order after an hour at the site, so headed back to the Bull to sit and talk over the ‘or somethings’. I think we could have talked all night… there is never enough time and our friend had a long, long drive ahead. Even so, we sat a long time before we finally parted ways for this time at least.
He wasn’t the only friend we would spend time with though… The day after my return home, I would be hugging another two people I love…