The Giant’s Dance
In the first posting on this newly reactivated thread we looked at the significance of Wally Hope’s Stonehenge People’s Free Festival in terms of its descent from a far earlier festival, rooted in Custom Law and Common Right, the origins of which are lost in the deepest primordial mists of Ancient Time. Many of those involved in the long running Open Access to Stonehenge Campaign have continually attempted to use these facts as the basis for their arguments for greater access, so in this posting I have decided to look at some of the ancient and well established traditions relating to some of the genuinely documented Rites (and Rights) of Assembly that were formerly enacted there as recorded by Ancient Bardic historians.
One of the greatest Medieval repositories of Ancient Welsh Bardic lore are the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ contains much interesting information about Stonehenge. Although, like many Medieval histories written up by Medieval clerics, openly hostile to the pagan traditions that many of them were so successfully to preserve, Geoffrey’s work is riddled with inaccuracies, there is a great deal of hidden knowledge contained within its pages that Geoffrey himself was unable to understand: and therefore largely unable to interfere with as a result.
Amongst the traditions preserved by Geoffrey in relation to Stonehenge is that it was previously referred to by the indigenous Britons as ‘The Giants Dance’. The fact that gigantic hill figures, such as the Long Man of Wilmington and the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, were undoubtedly worshiped by at least some of our remote ancestors, whether as fertility symbols, ancient prehistoric surveyors, or in some other guise, is beyond any questionable doubt. It is therefore probable that at some point during the Solar Year the various priesthoods of the myriad of cults with which these great landscape effigies were at one time formerly associated came together at Stonehenge to commune through music and dance.
As we saw in my previous posting, old antiquarian representations of what are believed to have been the earliest festivals in the vicinity would tend to support this point of view, so it is indeed a credible scenario. Similarly, another of the activities which appears to have taken place on or near the site, at least according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, include manifestations of the ancient Folk Moot, or traditional Parliaments: in many ways a more ancient and uniquely British, as opposed to Norse, version of the old Manx Parliament, or Tynwald, formerly enacted on the Isle of Man.
Elsewhere in Geoffrey’s ‘History’ we are told of how Ambrosius Aurelianus, King Arthur’s direct ancestor, is said to have enacted just such an assembly in the vicinity of Stonehenge itself; shortly before his death, and internment, close at hand. Indeed, according to Geoffrey, Ambrosius Aurelianus’s remains are said to have been buried within the precincts of Stonehenge itself. Regardless of the clear lack of historical accuracy in relation to many of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s statements, archaeology has shown conclusively that the immediate area around Stonehenge was used extensively as a burial ground for what were almost certainly a dynasty, or dynasties, of Sacral Kings; as far back as the era generally referred to as ‘The Beaker Period': when the civilization generally referred to as ‘The Wessex Culture’ were the dominant social force in the region.
The ‘Old King’s Barrows’ sketched by the eighteenth century Antiquarian, William Stukeley, whose pioneering field work around Stonehenge and Avebury was to preserve for posterity a reasonably accurate visual record of many unique landscape features that have failed to survive the test of time, clearly show that the area around the monument itself was formerly used as some kind of ritual complex directly connected with the internment of ancient primordial sacral kings. On the face of this evidence then, it is probable that these self same rituals were also in some way linked to the election of each sacral king’s successor.
We know from the earliest surviving records that a system of electoral, as opposed to hereditary, monarchy was practiced in Ireland and Scotland right the way down into Mediaeval times. It is also fact that the legend of the Sword and the Stone that lies at the heart of the Arthurian Tradition makes direct reference to Ambrosius Aurelianus’s descendant, Arthur, as having been elected king in this way. Although Geoffrey makes Arthur’s Father, and predecessor, Uther Pendragon, the brother of Ambrosius Aurelianus, genuine Breton, Welsh and Cornish sources give a different rendition of Arthur’s pedigree altogether.
Taking this into consideration then it is perhaps significant that recent excavations in and around Tintagel have unearthed some sort of ritual complex in no ways dissimilar to that which formerly existed at Dunadd in Scotland: the ancient place of ritual election and enthronement of the Scottish Kings of Dal Riada. Of further significance is the fact that amongst the sacred objects rediscovered at the site was an ancient stone carved with an equally ancient footprint similar to that in which the the successful Dal Riadic royal candidate was made to stand during the course of the Coronation Ritual.
Of further significance still is the fact that amongst the successors of Ambrosius Aurelianus who are listed by Geoffrey of Monmouth as having been buried somewhere within the Stonehenge ritual complex is Constantine King of Cornwall: a successor of Arthur who features in the writings of Gildas the Wise. It is fact that Tintagel was formerly one of Constantine’s landed possessions, in addition to being the legendary birth place of King Arthur.
So what can we learn from these facts, and how do they relate to current efforts to restore Open Access to the Stones to the people who still venerate them as sacred? Geoffrey of Monmouth’s history is quite clear with regard to the ancient Prophecies of Merlin that the successors of Hengist and Horsa, the Anglo-Saxon invaders whose emblem of the White Horse is identical to that of the German House of Hanover from whence the dynasty of Windsor ultimately descends, would be driven from power in these Islands by a descendant of the indigenous Welsh. Is the deep seated fear amongst those with a vested interest in the present monarchical set up, that the rise of a new royal line, rooted in a heritage of Ancient British Princely descent, would see the fall of the old, as the New Age is ushered in, the real reason for the ludicrous situation as regards Stonehenge? Or is there something even more sinister afoot when it comes to Open Access to Stonehenge?