Throughout later British prehistory - a staggering period of time encompassing the New Stone Age ("Neolithic"), Bronze Age and Iron Age - the communities who lived and died here in Oxfordshire considered the Hill to be of sufficient importance to warrant the construction of a number of impressive monuments upon its crest. The youngest was a hillfort now known as Uffington Castle, apparently constructed in the Late Bronze or Iron Age; the impressive ramparts are still visible, with sheep grazing in and around it, much as they probably would have done throughout later prehistory. Older still was the neighbouring White Horse of Uffington, the geoglyph which gives the hill its name. Recently dated to the Bronze Age, it's a wonderful piece of prehistoric artwork, and most probably had ritual importance of some sort. Despite the steep treck and biting cold December winds, it is possible for the visitor to make their way up to the very top of the great horse, offering a thoroughly enrapturing experience that I would not hesitate to recommend.
|Weyland's Smithy, as I approached it from the south-east,|
in the winter twilight.
|The megalithic entrance to Weyland's Smithy; although largely|
reconstructed, it helps to give an impression of the original
Early Neolithic architecture.
Pagans in the United Kingdom: The 2011 Census Results
Also of interest to many of my readers will be the newly released information that has just been published from the 2011 United Kingdom census which was undertaken last year. According to the respondents of this nation-wide survey, on which the "religion" category was optional, around 80,000 people currently either describe their spiritual path as "Pagan" or use a related term, such as "Wiccan", "Thelemite", "Shaman" etc. That's roughly double the number who did so the decade before: in the 2001 census, around 42,000 inhabitants of Great Britain and Northern Ireland had decided to classify themselves as "Pagan" or something similar, a number that made it the seventh largest religious group in the country but which many analysts thought was surprisingly low.
|Inside the chamber of Weyland's|
Smithy: place of ancestral spirits ?
For more information, check out the latest blog post over at The Wild Hunt site, an excellent Pagan-run blog all about... well, Paganism.