Beltane Weekend

Well we’re back at home after a wonderful Beltane weekend in North Yorkshire. It started on Saturday morning with a drive up to the neolithic site of Thornborough Henge, and the erecting of a tent! When I say tent erecting, it was actually more like kite flying at some points as it was a tad breezy up there.

It is a beautiful setting though, up past Ripon, surrounded only by countryside. We camped right up next to the Henge on the outside, with all the the stalls being placed on the inside of the henge.

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The whole event took place in and around the central Henge in a complex of three. Once we had got the tent up we had a wander round before meeting up with some of the group and heading of for a trip to a very odd local site, the Druid’s Temple at Ilton Near Masham.

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The Druids Temple, situated near Ilton, about 4 miles west of Masham is a folly created by William Danby of nearby Swinton Hall in 1820. The structure sits deep within a private forest and includes a large stone table, a sheltered cave and an altar stone. The temple is approximately 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, with some of the stones standing over 10 feet high.

William Danby (1752-1832) was made High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1784. He created the temple to generate work for the local population who were paid 1 shilling a day. A salary was offered for someone to live at the Temple as a hermit for seven years. I am unsure if anyone did stay the full seven year term, but I believe someone stayed for five years before going a bit mad.

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I have been to this site many times in the past and have always been surprised by the lack of visitors, so I was in for a surprise this time! As we walked up towards the temple, we could see something very odd, there were things hanging in the trees, and we could hear the strains of The Frog Chorus, ringing out loudly!

It seems there was a wedding going on! So we had to wait until all the photographs etc had been taken before we could go in and explore! This is what it looked like when we got there!

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It was quite a surreal experience being in there after the wedding party had left too as there PA system was still playing, so we were being serenaded by the theme from Star Wars! Well, it was May the Fourth! If only we had come along the main path though, we would have seen this and known what to expect.

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We then returned to Thornborough and had a lovely evening drinking wine and chatting with good friends, while listening to the drummers, and to the pipers, piping the sun down.

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After a reasonable night’s sleep we woke early and decided to have a trip out to Studley Royal before the festivities started later. Studley Royal is a Deer Park which is now part of the Fountains Abbey estate and is one of the most natural of managed parks that I have seen.

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It includes a large lake, home to many waterfowl, and a delightful walk along the river, the seven bridges walk.

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But the whole focus of a trip there is always to find some deer, and we were not disappointed!

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After a cup of tea and a cream scone, it was time to head back to Thornborough for Beltane fun! We arrived back just in time for the opening ritual to start! The opening ritual was druidic, which was a very pleasant surprise for me! The whole thing was started of by an introduction from the Jester, otherwise known as Oliver Robinson.

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The ritual itself was then conducted by the Greenman and followed by the lighting of the Beltane fire, and fireworks!

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Then there was an enactment of a traditional tale of Princesses and demons, kings and wizards, dragons and all!

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All in all it was an amazing weekend! Can’t wait for Mabon!

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