Around ten days ago, I was idly pondering some of the features in the Stonehenge landscape when some ‘thing’ quietly called out for my attention. This is a sensation I long ago grew accustomed to, but despite the fact that I recognised that a faint voice was trying to be heard and I listened carefully and calmly as a result, all I could ascertain was that it was something to do with the Avenue at Stonehenge.
Since then, I’ve allowed the thought to ferment, if that’s the right expression, so it may be that I might have something original to say about this ancient structure soon, although I won’t know until I publish my post whether or not someone’s observed it before, or if indeed it has any value. Nonetheless, it’s always exciting when these things happen, when a few otherwise meaningless and unconnected dots come together in a pattern that suggests the existence of something new and previously unremarked-upon.
I’ve been studying Stonehenge for a long time and I don’t suppose that I will ever grow bored with contemplating the ruins, or with trying to find something in the landscape that will allow me a glimpse into the distant past through the eyes of those who once worshipped and performed their ceremonies there. A few days ago, I noticed an exchange online wherein some newcomer was asking questions about the place, to receive the learned reply that the only things of any real value to be learned or discovered about Stonehenge will come about through archaeology and anthropology.
As archaeology is the study of things created by humans in the past and as anthropology is the scientific study of mankind, the expert in question would appear at first glance to be casting his net extremely widely. However, anyone with even a passing acquaintance with these matters will be aware that science holds numerous fields of study in contempt, to put it politely; one that has an obvious connection to Stonehenge is astrology and it’s inconceivable to me that this wasn’t practised at Stonehenge in former times.
Another is the subject of dogs, or black dogs, something that we explored in some depth on Eternal Idol, bearing in mind the creature that was discovered buried by the shrine at the Cuckoo Stone; also the appearance of a black dog in an Arthurian tale about a Perilous Chapel that I’m certain was a clear memory of Stonehenge in its active use in prehistory.
I’ve written little if anything about British black dogs here, but they’ve been occupying my mind more and more in recent times. I’ve encountered three of them over the last twenty-five years or so, I know of other people who’ve also seen them and I’ve read as much about them as I can lay my hands on. They seem to me to be an elemental aspect of the British countryside and while I do not know how long these strange phantoms have been wandering carefully-defined paths around our islands, they are to me a subject that stirs the blood.
And so it is that I’m extremely grateful to Hannah Gardiner, an accomplished and insightful researcher and bibliophile who is fortunate enough to live in Bungay in Suffolk, for sending in the photographs she took last night of a waxing gibbous moon through the spires of St Mary’s Church.
This particular phase of the moon is frequently mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft’s menacing, enchanting stories, so that alone gives this celestial apparition a great allure for me, but when a gibbous moon falls in conjunction with the spires of a church wherein Black Shuck slew two hapless members of the congregation on August 4th, 1577, my mind starts reeling, my pulse starts racing and I feel like Byron on the Acropolis.
“All down the church in midst of fire, the hellish monster flew, and, passing onward to the quire, he many people slew.”
My grateful thanks once again to Hannah Gardiner for the evocative photos of St Mary’s Church, Bungay.