On May 13th, we hosted the first Loop in the Landscape outdoor writing workshop at Stonehenge.
We enjoyed an afternoon of bright sunlight and clear views across from the early twentieth-century silage silos to the gap in the woods, cleared in the 1980s so that the ancient Cursus earthwork might run uninterrupted between Stonehenge and Woodhenge.
Wrote wrote in long lines and wrote on the move.
We talked and wrote in radiant circles, frisbeeing colourful hoops like surveyors’ quadrats from the tops of barrows and writing detailed poems about the little landscapes that they landed on. We turned things upside down in magnifying lenses and looked to the distance to look for childhood homes and future road tunnel entrances.
All of the participants’ work will be included in LOOP, our publication, and we are excited to be working on the images of the event and the writing with artist + writer Ellen Wilkinson.
Our next workshop will be on Sunday 9th July and tickets are now available. Please check EVENTS for more information and booking details.
Here’s the lychgate – or lich-gate or lyke gate – in Amesbury’s old cemetery. A lychgate is a small shelter or house where the living and the dead wait together before a burial.
There is some strangeness in the Old English for the dead body – lic – sounding now so much like like, like sameness, like fondness. This lychgate and its neon lichen will offer shelter only three or four more times before the cemetery is full and closed.
But even then, the lychgate continues to be an odd little dwelling made by the living for the dead who, in turn, make this a space for the living. We continue to walk here, read the names on the stones, move through the trees, take a quick breather after visiting the park just along the same path.
As in the overlapping circles of Stonehenge and Woodhenge out on the edge of town, here an avenue of conifers guides the living through the gravestones to a great slow oak and back to the lychgate and – just like that! – back out into the world.
On my first visit to Amesbury, I wanted to have a quick look around and see what caught my eye. Everyone I met told me I should look at the Stonehenge bluestones, west of the town along the A303. Or they told me to head back east to look at the pink flint being prized out of the warm waters at Blick Mead, the archaeological dig site in the crook of the Avon.
I set out east to the bluestones and while I walked I read about those eighty-odd odd bits of old sod and blue spotted dolerite spotted flying on plain thick air from the Preseli Hills. (Either we did it, a version of we, or it was wizards). That was one story.
Another was that the bluestones are glacial erratics, carried from one place slowly slowly until they are out of place in another.
I carried on my own erratic journey, passing by the pink flints on the way out of town. There’s a collection of finds in a perspex box in the Amesbury History Centre. On a small card in the museum I read that the colour is thought to be caused by an algae – Hildenbrandia rivularis – that grows in the spring at Blick Mead. This, the archaeologists claim, is what brought people to Amesbury. Warm pinks and warm waters and a ‘land of the living’.
I carried on out to the blues, heading east to west, pink to blue, slowly slowly until I was looking at one place out of place in another. A land of the dead.
On my way back to Amesbury and my parked car, I googled ‘blick’.
I was reading that blick’s roots are in ‘glitter’, in ‘shine’, to ‘twinkle’ but also to ‘glance’, to have a quick look and I looked up. Between the blue stones and the pink, in the graffiti on a knapped flint wall on Salisbury Road, a bright blue blick brick caught my eye.