I went to a fantastic talk at the Avalon Rooms in Glastonbury, by archaeologist Peter Knight.
He has written many books including work on West Kennet Long Barrow near Avebury,
and on Symbolism taken from paganism by Christianity.
But tonight he gave a talk to promote his book Dartmoor Mindscapes, talking about
Dartmoor, Southern England's last wilderness.
Peter has explored Dartmoor on foot in many weathers, saying that he can walk the same route many times, but every time is unique, every time there is something new. And he has found many new, previously undocumented features.
One thing he noticed is that many of the ancient stone circles and rows point to one of the many Dartmoor tors. There are alignments all over the place! And he noticed that the ancient sites were usually placed in the exact spot where the most tors could be seen. 50 metres away one or other of the tors may drop out of sight behind a rolling hill.
Visiting these various tors, Peter noticed and photographed many intriguing rock features, such as faces of giants, dragons, pixies, and old women. He describes how people long ago, when they lived here, may have seen these features and taken for granted that these were actually giants, dragons and so on. The landscape literally gave people their myths and legends.
One thing he emphasised was that it matters not whether people did actually see things the way we do now (metaphorically not literally: the rocks have maybe weathered a few inches, but the shape would have been exactly the same in Neolithic times), what matters is how we experience the landscape now. There is nothing to say that the people then didn't feel the same magic and awe that we do now.
Peter recommends experimenting with 'how it feels to do something' in the landscape... lay under a rock in a tight space that looks as though it will fall on you; squeeze into a cave and drum your heart out; stand naked on top of a tor. Go on, dare you!
Find out more about Peter's talks, books, guided shamanic-style walks around Dartmoor, and more, visit his website: www.stoneseeker.net