In 1874 John Ruskin, art critic, Fellow of Christ Church, and Slade Professor of Fine Art, was riding out in the countryside around Oxford when he noticed the terrible state of the road that ran through the village of North Hinksey.
A coda to my recent visit to Wayland’s Smithy. The standing stones have multiple circular holes drilled in them. I don’t what the purpose of these holes was, or whether they were part of the original design or added later. But I noticed that some ears of barley (or was it wheat? Barley, i think) had been placed in one of them.
I’ve visited a few Neolithic sites in Britain but I don’t think I’ve ever been to one as serene and captivating as Wayland’s Smithy. These ancient places are always awe-inspiring, but the atmosphere of pagan ceremony can often be discomforting in its distant inscrutability, not to say occasionally terrifying in its imagined strangeness.