UK: Stonehenge Bypass Update

WILTSHIRE, England – Arguably the UK’s most famous monument, Stonehenge has undergone a roller coaster century since it passed into public ownership in 1918. With a controversial new visitor centre and an even more controversial plan for the surrounding landscape, the henge is rarely out of South Western news at the moment. Let’s take an overview of the project to date. In 1915, a barrister named Cecil Chubb attended an auction in Salisbury, allegedly planning to bid for a pair of curtains. He came out of the auction with Stonehenge, having paid £6,600 for it (around £474K in sterling today).

UK: Pagans arrested over Stonehenge trespass

Salisbury, UK. Stonehenge has been back in the news recently with the arrest of three pagan women who are said to have breached access restrictions to the sacred site. Maryam Halcrow and Angela Grace, identifying as witches, and Lisa Mead, identifying as a Druid, were found guilty of entering the site without reasonable excuse. All have received 6-month conditional discharges. Grace and Halcrow are from Swindon; Mead is from Aberdeenshire.

UK: mythical giant to hold up bridge?

Menai Bridge (Pont Grog y Borth), Wales, U.K.  The legends of the collection of Welsh tales, the Mabinogion, are still very much alive in the principality, including a proposal for a new bridge held up by a statue of the mythical giant Brân the Blessed. The proposed bridge is to cross the Menai Straits, separating the island of Anglesey (Ynys Môn) – often seen as the last stand of Britain’s Druids against the Romans – from the North Welsh mainland. The most famous tale involving this giant hero/god concerns the marriage of his sister, Branwen. Hoping for an alliance with other countries and tribes, Brân gave his sister Branwen’s hand in marriage to King Matholwch of Ireland – a common practice among tribes, to cement alliances. This was not a completely popular move and Bran’s brother, Efnisien, was furious – perhaps because he wanted Branwen for himself (incest being not unknown in such legends and  depending whether Efnisien was, in fact, a foster brother).

Samhain celebrations happening across the UK

UNITED KINGDOM — It’s once more coming up to Samhain, and there are a series of seasonal celebrations happening across the UK as Pagans anticipate the period of Samhain itself and others remain content with the pumpkins and trick or treating of Hallowe’en. It’s become fashionable in recent years for the British to complain about the customs we associate with Hallowe’en as being ‘American,’ but this is not exactly correct. A number of the practices that are followed at this time of year originated in the British Isles, and were taken to North America by British and Irish immigrants. ‘Guising’ – the practice of visiting your neighbours and asking for treats – was commonplace throughout the UK at various times of the year. It was usually, if not exclusively, carried out by groups of boys or young men, who might play a trick on the unlucky householder if they didn’t get what they asked for.