Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Fairy Boy of Leith, and Bovet's 'Pandæmondium'

One of the ironies of this particular blogpost, is that a few days ago, I decided the next post I would put up here would be this very one - The Fairy Boy of Leith - and as I am currently on holiday in the Blue Mountains (hence why I have not posted up anything since Tuesday) I thought I'd find time tonight to repost this piece I did in 2011. And TODAY, of all days in my life, I actually found Richard Bovet's Pandaæonium in a book shop, not even thinking it was even available in print at all. I am amazed! My friend Ronan Coghlan told me that Oakmagic Publications reported on their website that they were going to print this tome that was originally published in 1684, so I emailed them about it, and they got back to me saying that they were not going to re-publish it after all. I thought I would never see the book, and even thought the other day that I should make it a life-time goal to get it out into the world, until I realised it already was. I'm happy enough with that.
The Fairy Boy of Leith
jackdaw in forest
I’ve been reading up on faery sightings, encounters and stories for over a year now. I’ve had a story idea for many years involving adventuring mortals with faeries and faeryland. The story started in the mid 90’s while I was at high school, and I even wrote an excerpt for a Year 12 English short story assignment. Since then the story has evolved and grown first, and for a few years it was to be a trilogy of books but then I was not sure what to write. Only a few months ago now, I decided to compile it into one book  in three parts instead. I have not written any of the story yet, instead I have taken a lot of notes and scenes are stuck in my head – which I need to get written down.
I think of the adventures conducted in the Alan Garner books – The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and Moon of Gomrath, and want to re-read them because of the style of journey and interaction within fairyland. But within my research of faery encounters and disappearances, I’ve come across one story more than once in my collection of folklore books – the story of the fairy boy of Leith.
I have personally spent a little time in Edinburgh, and lived near Leith (which I believe is famous for the location of ‘Trainspotting’) in Grantham with my friends Philip and Marianne back in April/May 2006. I also went to Calton Hill during the Edinburgh Fire Festival as I mentioned in this post here. I did not know about this tale then, but Calton Hill fascinated me then.
The story features a young boy – I think about 10, who lived in Leith and reported to Captain George Burton that he would go to Calton Hill every Thursday night and play a drum for the fairies. The account was recorded in Richard Bovet’s Pandæmonium or the Devil’s Cloister back in 1684 which was a book about devilry and folklore of Scotland. I found the account from Pandæmonium online.
THE worthy Captain George Burton communicated to Richard Bovet, gentleman, author of the interesting work entitled Pandæmonium, or the Devil's Cloister Opened, the following singular account of a lad called the Fairy Boy of Leith, who, it seems, acted as a drummer to the elves, who weekly held rendezvous in the Calton Hill, near Edinburgh.
p. 129
"About fifteen years since, having business that detained me for some time at Leith, which is near Edinburgh, in the kingdom of Scotland, I often met some of my acquaintance at a certain house there, where we used to drink a glass of wine for our refection; the woman which kept the house was of honest reputation among the neighbours, which made me give the more attention to what she told me one day about a fairy boy (as they called him), who lived about that town. She had given me so strange an account of him that I desired her I might see him the first opportunity, which she promised; and not long after, passing that way, she told me there was the fairy boy but a little before I came by; and, casting her eye into the street, said, Look you, sir, yonder he is at play with those other boys; and, designing him to me, I went, and, by smooth words, and a piece of money, got him to come into the house with me; where, in the presence of divers people, I demanded of him several astrological questions, which he answered with great subtlety; and, through all his discourse, carried it with a cunning much above his years, which seemed not to exceed ten or eleven.
"He seemed to make a motion like drumming upon the table with his fingers, upon which I asked him whether he could beat a drum? To which he replied, Yes, sir, as well as any man in Scotland; for every Thursday night I beat all points to a sort of people that used to meet under yonder hill (pointing to the great hill between Edenborough and Leith.) How, boy? quoth I, what company have you there?
p. 130
[paragraph continues] There are, sir, said he, a great company both of men and women, and they are entertained with many sorts of musick, besides my drum; they have, besides, plenty of variety of meats and wine, and many times we are carried into France or Holland in a night, and return again, and whilst we are there we enjoy all the pleasures the country doth afford. I demanded of him how they got under that hill? To which he replied that there was a great pair of gates that opened to them, though they were invisible to others; and that within there were brave large rooms, as well accommodated as most in Scotland. I then asked him how I should know what he said to be true? Upon which he told me he would read my fortune, saying I should have two wives, and that he saw the forms of them sitting on my shoulders; that both would be very handsome women. As he was thus speaking, a woman of the neighbourhood, coming into the room, demanded of him what her fortune should be? He told her that she had two bastards before she was married, which put her in such a rage that she desired not to hear the rest. "The woman of the house told me that all the people in Scotland could not keep him from the rendezvous on Thursday night; upon which, by promising him some more money, I got a promise of him to meet me at the same place, in the afternoon, the Thursday following, and so dismist him at that time. The boy came again, at the place and time appointed, and I had prevailed with some friends to continue with me, if possible, to prevent his moving that night.
p. 131
[paragraph continues] He was placed between us, and answered many questions, until, about eleven of the clock, he was got away unperceived by the company; but I, suddenly missing him, hasted to the door, and took hold of him, and so returned him into the same room; we all watched him, and, of a sudden, he was again got out of doors; I followed him close, and he made a noise in the street as if he had been set upon; but from that time I could never see him.
                                                                                                                    ~ GEORGE BURTON.
I find these kind of stories extremely fascinating and wonder how much truth is behind it. The more I read from past accounts of the occult and demonic events, the more I believe that the account recorded was either fabricated or distorted completely because of the author’s superstition.
How much of this fairy boy tale is true? Calton Hill is a place I have been to twice – once on a cold, dark, damp May Day Eve during a fierce and fiery festival, and then on a sunny noon day, perfect for a picnic and workers spending time out of the office to eat there. I picture how Calton Hill would have looked in the 1660s, when the fairy boy would have been there – there was no folly of a Greek Temple, and probably no other monuments, just a plain hill surrounded by countryside or 17th century cottages and shacks. Today, it’s just a hill covered in monuments in the middle of the city, with excellent views of Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat.
And those invisible fairy gates! How fascinating it would be to see those. I am so curious as to know how it might have looked – Calton Hill has a ‘fairy hill’ look to it, nice and rounded – which is why I am not surprised it was used for fairy banquets. However, these do inspire the writer in me - here are some other Fairy Boy stories....
The Fairy Boy of Borgue
In the village of Borgue there lived a young boy who the locals suspected had a relationship with the faeries. He would disappear for days at a time and they all believed that he was spending time with them. In Katherine Briggs 'The Fairies in Tradition and Literature' she says the Kirk Session in Borgue records the questioning of the Boy of Borgue, who claimed intercourse with the fairies. Other accounts say the boy never spoke of the matter to either confirm or deny it. His grandfather sought help from a Catholic priest who gave him a wooden cross to place around the boy's neck. Once the cross was in place the boy did not wander off to visit the faerie folk again, however, according to the story his grandfather was punished by being shunned by his Kirk. Apparently they did not like faeries much but as evil as they can be they would have accepted the situation, but to have dealings with a papist, that they would not forgive.
The Fairy Boy of Culzean
Hundreds of years ago the Laird of Co' who owned Culzean castle in Ayrshire was visited by a small boy with a tiny wooden cup. He came to beg for some ale saying that it was for his sick mother, the Laird then asked his butler to fill the boys cup. To the butlers astonishment the half the barrel failed to fill the boys cup and he was loathed to open another barrel but the laird ordered him to fill the cup no matter how much ale was spent so the butler opened another barrel and just as the first drop landed the cup was full, the boy thanked the laird and went on his way. Some years later during wars in Flanders the laird was caught and taken prisoner and sentenced to death. The night before he was to be executed the door of his dungeon swung open and the boy appeared saying, "Laird o' Co', rise an go". Once outside the little boy (who was a fairy) took the laird apon his shoulders and whisked him back to his castle in a flash, a he set the laird down on the ground he said" Ae guid turn deserves another. Tak ye that for being sae kind to my auld mither".

Robert Kirk’s fascination for the 'subterranean folk 'was indeed decadent – how inescapable! It would be interesting to be with George Burton that night to really witness what really happened, but how would I view it as a modern girl with no superstitious inclinations, and a knowledge of human behaviour? Superstition of the past certainly distorts what we learn today of faery encounters and other forteana of the past. Perhaps I should not be so harsh on our forefathers.

The Fairy Boy of Leith - From 'Folklore, Myths and
Legends of Britain' - Reader's Digest, 1973

Calton Hill today, as seen from a kite



Monday, July 22, 2013

Mysterious Chanctonbury Ring

Exploring Chanctonbury Ring - Recalling profound moments from my trip
I visited Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs on 26th July 2006 (almost 7 years to the day), as I had a great desire to see it. I'd dreamed about it twice before I saw it, once before I saw a picture of it, and the second dream after I'd seen an image in a Doreen Valiente book. I wrote a live journal post about it in late 2006, after my return home.

Originally posted on Dec. 9th, 2006 at 3:04 PM
Chanctonbury in the mists
I was fortunate to visit Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs in Sussex. I'd heard about the Ring from an old friend, who is actually from the Brighton area, and she used to walk the Downs track all the time, and said that the witches went there. I wanted to hear more. Ronald Hutton, in his Triumph of the Moon book mentions that the Iron-age rampage hillfort was covered in Beech trees. He mentioned its location - 2.5 miles S.E. of Washington village in West Sussex. I found it in my AA Great Britain Road Map. Just imagine seeing this place in its heyday.

But first, before I even saw a pic of it, I had a dream about it. Of course, in the dream the Ring looked different, it was a tall narrow hill with a copse of pine trees on it. The afternoon sun was glowing golden, but the landscape looked like Australia - gum trees being visible here and there. I remember having a friend with me in the dream, but never saw her. The next thing, I was on the hill and we could not see much of the outside world because of the pine trees being very thick and the peak of the hill dipped, like a small crater, and was covered in golden pine needles. Of course this was not Chanctonbury Ring, but in my dream, I told myself it was. I really wanted to see if it looked like this.

I had that dream in March 2005. Then I got a copy of Doreen Valiente's Witchcraft for Tomorrow and there was a photo of the Ring in it. It was on top of a hill, a copse of beech trees. The second dream I had about it was earlier in 2006. I could see the Ring on a distant hill, as seen in the picture in Doreen's book, and I was near a small town, but I do not recall the town I was near.

I want to know why I dreamed about it, and why I've been interested in it ever since...
Wikipedia says....
Local legend has it that Chanctonbury Ring was created by the Devil and that he can be summoned by running around the clump of trees seven times anti-clockwise. When he appears he will offer you a bowl of soup in exchange for your soul. The Ring is also rumoured to increase fertility in women who sleep underneath the trees for one night.
Research about Chanctonbury Ring was found on the Mysterious Britain website....

It tells about witchcraft history, UFO sightings and unpleasant experiences there - for example....

15th June 1968 the Sussex Sky Watchers began an all night vigil at Chanctonbury. Most of the night passed without incident. However in the early hours of Sunday morning one member of the group, who was walking among the trees, suddenly lost the use of his arms and legs and fell to the ground screaming for help. Other members of the group, running to his aid, were soon suffering similar affects. This lasted about five minutes after which they all recovered with no apparent after effects.

Reports continued to be made of UFO's seen over the hill and ghostly images winding their way in and out of the trees though. In 1974 the Ghost and Psychic Investigation Group was formed and their main interest at that time was Chanctonbury Ring.
On the 24th August 1974 four members of the group, myself included, settled down for a night under the stars. At approximately 11 pm, whilst walking through the centre of the Ring, one member of the group was lifted several feet off the ground. Mr. Lincoln remained suspended in mid air for several seconds, although at the time it seemed like hours. During this he was crying out 'No More! No More!' and was obviously in some considerable pain. He then dropped to the ground landing heavily on his back. He was very shaken by his experience, as we all were, but unlike the rest of us Mr. Lincoln refused to visit the site for further studies.                             

- Charles Walker

I saved this information before I went overseas, but don't recall reading it before I left. So since I went, I've learnt that the place has unpleasant feelings. I did not sense that while I was there. Many of the great beech trees are gone after the great hurricane of 1987. A lot of old, and ancient trees in Sussex and Surrey was damaged/destroyed back then.

After hurricane - taken by me in July 2006 facing East. Tumuli in foreground, excavated.

In the centre of the Ring, there is fenced off re-growth of several different plants and trees, and looks too dense to go into. The outer ring has its distinct dykes and mounds with trees on it. Not sure if there are any burial type mounds found in the actual Ring, but I found about 5 or 6 tumulus mounds around it, all levelled with evidence of excavation, and some tumulus further down the track, some under thick vegetation, or over fences.

But now, my ideas of Chanctonbury are less dream-like and dramatic, as I have been there physically now, and have had no dreams about it since. The UFO sightings reported were bizarre. Anyone interested should read the Mysterious Britain link I added. That same warm overcast day, I also went to Cissbury Ring, which is a few miles further South, on the Downs near Findon. This hill fort is far larger compared to Chanctonbury, but for me, Chanctonbury has far more mystery to it.

More from the Mysterious Britain website...

For many years there have been stories of occult activity at Chanctonbury Ring and from the early 1960's I, together with a few other interested parties, have been involved in the investigation of this site. Quite frequently we have come across small pieces of evidence, which would indicate that an occult group has used the site. However in 1979 the discovery of a nine-foot circle constructed of flint provided positive proof. In the center of the circle was a five-pointed star, also constructed of flint, and part of a fallen tree trunk had been used as an altar. Nothing of this nature has been found since but small pieces of evidence continue to be found.

Ritual activity???

Pagans and wiccans I have spoken to all feel that Chanctonbury Ring is a 'powerful site' but most will not consider using it for any type of ritual or worship because of its bad reputation. It was thought that the damage caused by the hurricane would have made it less attractive but this does not seem to have been the case.
This above piece is certainly the case - witches, according to Doreen Valiente, have been coming up here for many years. I am unaware whether Doreen herself actually went up there, but she does report in her book An ABC of Witchcraft that people are known to go up there on May Day to watch the Beltane dawn.
I bought a book in 2008 called The Secret Country by Janet and Colin Bord (my favourite authors) and found in it an image of Chanctonbury before the trees were destroyed in 1987.
Below are images I took on the 26th July, 2006...
When you are there, the ring is not much to look at, and unless you jump the inner fence, you can only circle the outer ring. Nor can you get any real great photos of it unless you are in the air. Below is an image of Chanctonbury by Adrian Warren facing South. To see it on Google Earth, go to Washington - a small village in Sussex north of Findon and Worthing - it's a little bit south-east of Washington.

Berkeley Castle and the Mediaeval Baebes


A dream was realised on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of July, 2006. I got to see the Mediaeval Baebes, my favourite group, perform at the Berkeley Castle Joust in Gloucestershire. Not only that, I got to see one of the most beautiful Castles in the West. I have since discovered that my ancestors are from this area. I have very fond memories of this time in England, even though I was a little uncomfortable with my company where I was staying at the time.

Jul. 24th, 2006 at 9:41 PM

No traffic in Cambridge - feet only!
jackdaw in forest
I had planned to meet my friend Anne in Oxford, and booked a train ticket for it, but the day before the trip, I heard from Anne who emailed me telling me she was staying near Cambridge instead, so I had to change the ticket for Cambridge to meet her there instead. It was Friday and a lovely sunny
day as I got to Cambridge and went into the city for over an hour before meeting Anne who was to pick me up from there. The centre of Cambridge is amazing, I remember wondering why I could hear everyone walking around, and realised that the silence of the centre of Cambridge was due to no traffic being allowed through. It makes it a peaceful place. Back at the train station I found Anne, and we began our journey to Cirencester in the West.
We drove south to the M25 - the London ring road, and got onto the M4. At one point we tried to stop in Reading, but did not find anywhere, and Anne, gave up, driving on to Cirencester. Four hours after leaving Cambridge, we got to Cirencester at about 7pm and booked into our Travelodge and ate at Little Chef. Anne felt terrible as she had not got much sleep, as she had met a lover on her journey.

We went to bed at about 9:30pm - my suggestion, and we slept, or simply rested, for 10 to 11 hours. On the Saturday morning we got up, felt better and ate pancakes at Little Chef. We drove onto Berkeley Castle near the River Severn to go to the Joust. It was another lovely day, overcast, but warm.

And when we turned up, we got very excited. There were bell tents everywhere, banners flags and so much colour, as a medieval fayre should be - not in a dusty, drought like Australia. People were dressed in period costume for the occasion, and it made me want to get back into re-enactment. We met some nice people who explained to us the history of the objects they had - mentioning we were students of medieval history got them worried, but we still don't know everything.

The Mediaeval Baebes
Everything we saw was a feast for the eyes. There were battles going on in a field almost all the time, some birds of prey on display and a joust was being shown at different times throughout the day.

Then the Mediaeval Baebes first performance was to be at 1.20, so we got front row to the right. I had to pinch myself often when I realised where I was and what I was about to witness. They wore mauve and they sang fantastically. It was so good to finally see them. I took a lot of photos and filmed a lot of songs, and when they finished their set, they told us that they are performing again at 5pm, all with a new set of songs. As soon as they got off stage, they sat down to do some book/cd signing, so we all queued up and I got out my songbook
which I had brought with me all the way from Australia and they all signed it, Anne bought a songbook there and got that
signed. I then got them to sign a postcard for Gemma, for all that she's done for me in the past few weeks, its the least I can do. Then I approached Marie Findley, the 'witty' one of the Baebes. I asked her to sign a post card for a friend of mine back home who loved the Ken Russell movie that she was in. She found that rather humorous.

signing my songbook
We saw falconry, archery demonstrations, and went for a tour in the castle. The courtyard is amazing, and we could not take pictures inside. The Castle is in such a lovely situation and the garden surrounding it is gorgeous! One of the bedrooms really struck me - it was such a romantic medieval style bedroom, exactly how you would expect a lovely bedroom to be. It was such I shame I could not take a picture of it. The interior of the Castle was the most beautiful I have ever seen, probably what everyone expects a lovely Castle to look like.

Courtyard of the Castle
We walked around the garden and enjoyed a drink and scones, before we made our way down to the stage again to watch the Baebes sing again, this time dressed in white and with a new set
of songs. We sat further away up the back. Their song 'How death comes' really hypnotised me, it was their dances and movements that did it. I was quite transfixed.

The Baebes in white
After a while, the day ended at 6pm and we moved our car from the event car park, which was in a field, to the public car park of the Castle. Anne had booked tickets for us to go to the Banquet feast and got a free glass of Mead, then watched a medieval dance group do some fantastic dances. We had front row view of the whole feast, will a prefect view to watch the entertainment that night, and to see the Baebes sing again. I let Anne sit front row. The food was great and so was the entertainment - all dressed 
as lords, there was an MC going by the name of Sir William, and two lords representing Lancashire and Yorkshire - the War of the Roses. And then there was Devilstick Peat the Fool in red and yellow, who juggled, did amazing tricks, and generally made us laugh.

The Baebes came into the tent before the second course. They wore their mauve again. They sang some of the same songs from that day - and they were fantastic. I thought it was great that I got to see them perform three times in one day.

Entertainers posing for my camera
The dessert comprised of jelly in a Castle mould shape. There were even fortune tellers going around the room, giving people readings - one who visited us was a geomancer.
The evening was very enjoyable, we were well fed and entertained - it was worth every penny.

I've been to many a medieval feast in my time, but nothing like one at a real Castle. Looking forward to visiting Berkeley Castle again one day. The Joust held at Berkeley has been cancelled since. I
believe the 2007 event was a wash out (cancelled due to floods - Devilstick Peat told me that 2 years later), so I was lucky that I went the year I did.

The Feasting Marquee
A dress on display


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Visiting East Anglia and then Avebury for the Solstice

Suffolk, Norfolk and Wiltshire
JUNE 2006
On a bit of a fortean hunt for Black Shuck, I went to visit friends visiting Bungay, where a famous event apparently occurred. Saw Rendlesham Forest and Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon Burial Site, Blythburgh Church, and Caister St Edmund's 'Venta Icenorum' Roman ruins. The day after I got home, we went to Avebury Stone Circle for Midsummer for the night.
jackdaw in forest
I have been to 3 counties in 6 days. First, I had a great weekend up with friends, then I came back to London, only to bus it off to Avebury stone circle for the Summer Solstice dawn.

Firstly, I got up on Friday and caught the train up to Norwich in Norfolk, and at 1pm, met up with my friends, and we had lunch in the park next to the Castle, then went into the Castle. We saw artefacts from Boudicca and the Iceni tribe of the Celts, also some Anglo-Saxon. Dave and I booked to go see the dungeon which was amazing - but really - seen one dungeon, seen them all - dark dingy, ghostly, and smells of musty air.

Norwich Castle

Outside Norwich Castle - its a strange castle - It's old with a newer façade. And mainly a museum now, with artefacts from local digs. Majority of the interior is modern with a central desk where you queue up for tours to the dungeon. The artefacts of Celts and Anglo-Saxons are plentiful. Then after the dungeon tour in which we heard about famous killers imprisoned there, we went up to the Keep, which was a lovely room.

Artefacts from East Anglian Celts - the Iceni
Celtic head

Watching an interaction of someone saving a tribe
from Romans by using a chariot
Dave in the Norwich Castle Dungeon

We walked into Norwich towards the old market, after meeting Dave's mother. This market was lovely and has been running for about 800 years. Dave and I head off to the bus stop to catch a bus to Bungay, while Sharn took everyone else home. When we arrived in Bungay, I could not believe how untouched the village was. I saw the Black Dog weather vane and then the bus stopped outside the back of St Mary's Church. We walked through the cemetery getting some great shots of the old Priory Church ruin out the rear part of the church. Dave told me where the black dog went, as he ran into the church in 1577.

'All down the church in the midst of fire,
The Hellish monster flew
And, passing onward to the choir
He many people slew...'

On Sunday August 4, 1577 in Bungay he tore through the congregation of St Mary's Church during a service. The fiery dog killed two and left another injured, shrivelled "like a drawn purse."

As the shocked townsfolk reeled from the tragedy, news came that not long before, Shuck had struck just a few miles away at Blythburgh where he had again attacked the church congregation. A man and boy were killed there and others left scorched and hysterical as the church spire crashed through the roof, breaking the font while the tower bells tumbled down.
St Mary's Churchyard
Now, Bungay and its black dog, is a favourite tale of cryptozoologists, folklorists and historians. But historical records tell of the two that died that were in the belfry (bell tower) as the church tower was struck by lightening. Nor is there mention of any black dog.

Blythburgh is about 12 miles away, so how did the Black dog appear there as well half an hour later. Shuck is quite a magical creature anyway, and can appear anywhere.

All that is left of St Mary's Priory
Front entrance of St Mary's

St Mary's, Bungay
View of the Church from the street.

There is a wide belief that the Black Dog is a spectral being, and is seen around East Anglia quite often. The East Anglian name for this spectral hound is 'Black Shuck'.

Old Shuck, Black Shuck, Shuck Dog, Shock, Old Shocks, Old Hucks - call him what you will. He's Shuck, the ghostly dog who has wandered the dark lanes and windswept coasts of East Anglia for centuries.

Thus is he often described in the literature: "He takes the form of a huge black dog, and prowls along dark lanes and lonesome field footpaths, where, although his howling makes the hearer's blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound. You may know him at once, should you see him, by his fiery eye; he has but one, and that, like the Cyclops', is in the middle of his head. But such an encounter might bring you the worst of luck: it is even said that to meet him is to be warned that your death will occur before the end of the year." (W. A. Dutt: 'Highways & Byways in East Anglia', 1901.)

Or from a more recent source: "He usually appears as a black shaggy dog of enormous size, with eyes like saucers that glow in the dark, but sometimes he is invisible, his presence only detected from the blast of his hot breath and his padding footsteps." (Jennifer Westwood: 'Albion', 1985.)
Dave and I then walked over to the Bungay Castle which is the most romantic setting I've ever seen. The ruin is covered in flowers and ivy, and when we passed by it the afternoon, the gate was shut.

Gatehouse Tower

Ivy on the wall, with summer flowers - this is
what you call 'Romanticism'

After arriving in Bungay and seeing some of the villages sites we went down the back streets to Dave's parents place.
The next day, we prepared to go down to Rendlesham Forest near Woodbridge. We drove south, towards Woodbridge, then to the east side of the forest and went for a walk down one of the tracks. Later we drove around and found the Rendlesham Forest camp and picnic site. This is what we were originally looking for. It was lunch time anyway, so we ate. We picked up the brochures we wanted too - the Forestry Commission had a leaflet called 'Rendlesham Forest UFO trail.'

In December 1980, several UFOs were seen around the USAF Woodbridge Airfield Base - a few of the personnel left the base field to follow lights they had seen in the forest.
Today, you can walk the site where the men saw the UFOs, the landing sites and whether or not it was the Orford Ness Lighthouse flashing in the distance, or stars in the sky, as some of the sceptics have said.

UFO Trail 3

UFO Trail 3
'At the clearing towards the edge of the forest the patrol were to report that they had spotted a conical object about the size of a car, floating on beams of light just 12 inches off the ground. There was a mist surrounding it and the craft appeared to be metallic with black markings on one side. They tried to approach the object - it was like walking in slow motion. Suddenly the craft rose rapidly in a flash of light and disappeared.

UFO Trail 3 again -
different angle
The next day the area was searched. Some of the trees in the clearing had broken tops and they found 3 small triangular depressions on the ground. Radiation levels were taken - they were 10 times the normal background level. This area has since been re-planted, however, the trees would not re-grow.'

UFO Trail 5
Here is a clearing where witnesses saw a UFO and also heard the sound of women screaming. Time was also cut in half, like everything was half speed. Local herds of animals were agitated on this night.

UFO Trail 5
All up, the walk was 3 miles long and took 2 hours, all in glorious sunshine. The tour was an interesting one, a very good one for the UFO buffs out there, sometimes I think it is catered for the tourists a little too much.

So that afternoon, we drove down the road from Rendlesham to Sutton, to the Anglo-Saxon burial mound, where a great boat was found in a burial, on a field near a farmhouse in 1939. It was getting late when we arrived, and the gift shop was shut, but we walked through the museum, which had some fantastic displays. In a dark room, on display, was the actual gold buckle they found in the diggings. This is one item of the burial that did not get to the British Museum.
A replica boat in the entrance near the gift shop

Entrance to the Museum

Replica grave in the museum

Replica helmet - original in British Museum

So that afternoon, we drove down the road from Rendlesham to Sutton, to the Anglo-Saxon burial mound, where a great boat was found in a burial, on a field near a farmhouse in 1939.
The Gold Buckle that did NOT go to the British Museum
After the museum, we only had perhaps 20-30 minutes to walk down to the fields where the ship burials are. So in the afternoon sun, we walked down there and saw where the diggings occurred in the 1939. It was a lovely area. Sheep were even grazing by the mounds.
A mound remains...
In the background, behind the sign is the mound where they
found the boat in the 1930's. Below are more mounds.
An image of the buckle with a
mound in the background
We left Sutton Hoo near 6pm. That night, after a cool shower, Dave and I walked the dark streets of Bungay, to see how it was at night, but also for a black dog hunt. We first went into St Mary's church.
St Mary's and the Priory at night..

St Mary's and the Priory

Thinking of Black Dogs appearing, but doubting it, due to people being all around going to and from pubs, we went onto Bungay Castle again.
It does not look like much, but this is a section
of Bungay Castle at night. As there is no
lighting, there is not much to see.
We both jumped the metal fence, I got horrible bruises doing this! But we snuck around in the dark - this being dangerous, as I have not been here during the day to see the site. We relied on lights glowing off the sky, the village was lit up enough to make our way around. Dave had been here before a few times, so knew the ground.

As we walked back to Bruce's house, we went via the back streets again, seeking black dogs, instead we managed to scare some girls scantily clad for the pubs I suppose, probably very drunk and as they turned the corner, saw us, screamed, turned and ran. I really wished we were in black hooded robes.

The next day, we were to relax a bit more than yesterday. Dave and I walked into Bungay, to see inside St Mary's and finally legally go into Bungay Castle.


St Mary's and a gargoyle

Proof that myth still runs strong in this
Suffolk village

Inside St Mary's. White washed walls like this often
have amazing medieval murals underneath them.
One example is at Pickering Church, Yorkshire

Bungay Castle, much brighter in the sunlight

Looking toward the Gatehouse

Inside the Keep

View of St Mary's from the Castle
After Lunch, Dave and I drove 12 miles away to Blythburgh to see the other church - the Holy Trinity - that the Black Dog attacked that same night, during the tempest, only about half an hour later.
We arrived to find people gathering at the large church for, what looked like a Christian concert of some sort - people were everywhere and we went around the north door to see the scorched claw marks on the door that were left there by the dog, as it tried to leave the church. The lady I spoke to was very suspicious about me entering the door to look behind it. But I was barely a minute.
Dave had told me about both the towns reactions to the 1577 Hound attacks - it was obvious today - While Bungay seems relaxed and enjoys its history, not minding about bringing up discussions regarding the Dog, Blythburgh seem to be in denial of it, like they seem to be more pious, and often believe that the Dog was the Devil himself. We had the strong feeling there was very sceptical Christian views present.
Lovely Holy Trinity church, Blythburgh

Holy Trinity

Now a picture of the famous scorched claw marks on the North door...
Claw marks of the Shuck??
'As the dreadful dog flew from the church, he is said to have left deep scorch marks on the door. The legend continued for centuries even though there were no signs of the marks on the original door. Then, in 1933, the door was cleaned and burn marks - some say they were the devil's own fingerprints - were there for all to see. They remain there today.'

Then we drove to Caistor St Edmunds - where Venta Icenorum, an old Roman ruin was. The only visible remains were the Roman wall, and the field which the old town was, is now a sheep pasture. It was a long walk and we took it up by scratching around in mole hills to try to find artefacts of any sort. Found lots of flint which is what the wall is made of anyway.

A Roman wall - up to 1800 years old
Monday - NORWICH
Hawthorn green man
On the Monday, I headed down to the Bungay book shop with Dave, then we parted ways - he had to go to Lowestoft for the week with the family, and I had to get to Norwich. I got into Norwich, had lunch and walked to Norwich Cathedral, to look for the gold leafed green man. After entering the east side of the cloisters I looked up to the ceiling and found the first roof bosse I saw was the very Green man I was looking for.

Near the cloisters

Norwich Cathedral

The Nave

I caught the 2.30pm train back to London, and taking my time to get home - which was about 5pm. I uploaded all my East Anglia photos, and when Gemma came home, we got ready for the next day, our trip to Avebury Stone Circle and village for the Midsummer Solstice of 2006.


We got to Uxbridge in good timing (10am) and caught a bus with 30 people - all these people we had met at the Beltane Bash and the Ealing pub moot - our new friends - including Ian who we met at the Pagan Pride March. A quick stop on the way, and then onto Wiltshire. It takes two hours to get there. Our bus had letters pinned on it spelling 'Druid Express.'

When we got there we had to go to the Red Lion pub to get off and lug our bags and tents to the campsite next to the National Trust car park. We helped Gina set up her tent, as we were going to use it too. Then we ate lunch and head into the village. Crowds had not really arrived yet - it was mid afternoon, and we spent the rest of the day going into the pub, going to souvenir shops that sold postcards, henge merchandise and lovely books and things about the surrounding wonders, like Uffington White horse and Stonehenge and places like that.
National Trust Café
We also found the National Trust Café as well. Then we walked the entire circle of Stones, and along the outer barrow dyke, visiting the copse of beech trees dotted around the site. We left Danae, who was bored, in the 'comfort' of a café or pub, while we went out in the sunshine.

Back at the site, we ate and then when it got dark, went back into the village to sit in the pub, but I left to go to the stones and found those drummers again that I had seen at the Beltane Bash. I found Ian straight away and watched the drummers. They were surrounded by a circle of torches and people of all ages were dancing. There was a Green Man Giant as well, and the energy was fantastic. When it finished, we all parted to go back to the camp site, maybe eat and rest. Our friends camping with us were drunk, therefore doing things like setting fire to the grass after burning all the hamburgers on the disposable BBQ then burning wood on it.

At dawn we all struggled up and went to the stone circle to watch the sunrise - the drunk, drugged-out hippies all paying no attention to the rise. We stood there for almost an hour waiting for the sun. When it came we all cheered. Down in the circle there was a huge circle and 3 druids were there talking about the past few days being the solstice, and that we were technically there too late. People were still sleeping under a tarp in the middle of the circle and there were laughs all round when one of them woke up.

It was 5-5.30 am and no pub or café was open yet, so we went back to camp and ate a bit, then I took the blankets and slept by myself for about 3-4 hours. I felt better.

The kinds of characters you get at a
pagan gathering
We all went to the National Trust café and had breakfast too. I had planned a walk to Silbury Hill, the Avenue and West Kennet Long Barrow. Gathering some friends, we walked the mile to the Hill, and Jerry and I walked up it.

Then we walked onto West Kennet Long Barrow. Gemma had a sore hip, so we went the short way home, missing seeing the Avenue. We rested at the camp site before we packed up and went to the village again. I spent more time at the Stones, as I did not know when I would see them again. Maybe not for years. Then at 5.30 we walked back to the car park and caught the bus home. Almost everyone was sleeping on the way back. We had an early night when we got home.
Avebury Stone Circle

The three Beech trees

Stone circles

The gathering of the people

Fire twirling and drumming in the evening

The midsummer dawn

Druids conduct a ceremony

Silbury Hill

View of West Kennett Barrow from Silbury Hill

West Kennett Barrow

Entrance of West Kennett

West Kennett

Silbury Hill from West Kennett

My farewell shot of the stones