Alban Elfed at Thornborough Henges

Members of Mandua Briga Seed Group and friends from the Heart of Brigantia Coven / Durham Pagan Moot at Thornborough Central Henge, 25th September 2022. From left to right: Carl, Sue, Paula, Claire, Paul (Meggie), Tracy, Debra and Jane.

Seven members of Mandua Briga went to Thornborough Henges on Sunday 25th September to celebrate Autumn Equinox at the Mabon at Thornborough Henges event that has been held there annually since 2012. We did a small ceremony in the Central Henge after the main ceremony, and it was lovely to celebrate together again and also to be back at Thornborough Henges again.

Altar for our small Alban Elfed Ceremony in the Central Henge. Our replica Stanwick Horse Mask, cast by the amazing Mike Shorer from a mould taken from the real one in the British Museum is in the centre.

Afterwards several of us took the short walk to the Northern Henge. It is one of the best-preserved henges in Britain and its bank and inner ditch give an impression of how awe-inspiring all three henges would have been when they were built. It was getting towards twilight by the time we got there so we didn’t take any photographs, plus we all wanted to enjoy the moment of experiencing the very special atmosphere there. To give an idea of it though, here is a video that another attendee of the event took just a few hours before, featuring our friend Steve Cousins playing the pipes.

the hundreds of people who now congregate yearly within the henges to celebrate Beltane represent a welcome and long-overdue reminder of the site’s broader role.

Cult, Religion, and Pilgrimage, Jan Harding, 2013, p.12

The first modern pagan celebration held at the Thornborough Henges took place in the central henge on May 1st 2004, organized by Oliver Robinson and inspired by the Stonehenge Free Festival, the 1985 Battle of The Beanfield and the growing protests against Tarmac‘s plan to quarry right up to the edges of the henges. Jenny, Nick and I went along for the first time the following year in 2005 and we have been back many times, both at Beltane and Autumn Equinox. This year Nick, who was sadly too ill to attend, was very much missed.

Jenny (back left) and Nick (back right) plus members of the old Darlington ‘Mucky Duck’ Moot at Thornborough Central Henge, Beltane 2006.

Back at Beltane 2005 I met a gentleman in the Central Henge who, with a couple of friends, was singing songs very enthusiastically and informing everyone around him that he was the person who had written the famous 1980s British film Letter to Brezhnev. I was a little doubtful to say the least (although I didn’t actually say that to him) and afterwards went home and googled the film and compared photos of the writer to the one I had taken of the gentleman I’d met (below) – only to find out that he was indeed Frank Clarke – not only the screenwriter of Letter to Brezhnev but also the screenwriter of one of my favourite films of all time – The Fruit Machine. It was a massive opportunity missed to tell him how much I loved the film and thank him in person for his wonderful work, and a lesson learned about not being so overly suspicious and cynical about what a stranger might tell me… so Frank, if you ever do read this, I‘m so sorry I didn’t believe you and thank you so much.

Frank Clarke and friends, Beltane 2005

by Liz

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