Land, stone and time in the valley of sarsens

Skylarks, crickets, and a stonechat’s chatter,

grass seeds click and harebells dance.

Wild horses gallop and frolic in the field just beyond,

small moments amid the land, stone, wind and time.

I am in an unusual valley in West Dorset where at the end of the last ice age, the freezing and thawing of the sandstone on top of the chalk ridge caused sarsen stones to break up and roll down the hill leaving a line of misplaced rocks. These provided the building materials for the construction of the stone circles and tombs that make the area as significant in terms of neolithic history as Stonehenge and Avebury. There is, it seems, much ancient history amidst the scruffy gorse and scrub.

I choose a sarsen stone slightly higher than the rest, a perfect seat to shut my eyes and contemplate. How many travellers have sat here and beheld this hidden valley I wonder? Who were the ancient kings who perched here just beyond the barrows guarded by the giant sarsens; stones that were pitted and lichened with time even then?

I close my eyes and feel the eons pass through me. The strong easterly wind is on my back, young buzzards are shrieking high in the thermals. There is a chill that comes and goes as the August clouds block the summer sun’s warmth.

But most of all beyond this, the every day, I feel a serenity and stillness that comes from time spent in this secret valley of ancient rocks.