If I had researched the geographical locations of the sites we were intending to visit I would have placed this one last.As it happens it was positioned in the middle of the day, but as you may have come to expect – it turns out we visited the site at exactly the right time. Here’s why.
The Devil Points North
There are three remaining tall standing stones close to the A1(M) road that passes by the town of Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire. Collectively they are known as The Devil’s Arrows. There is the usual story about their placement – the devil threw down the ‘arrows’:
“The name stems from a legend traced back to 1721, where the Devil was supposed to have thrown the stones, aiming at the next town of Aldborough. He stood on Howe Hill and shouted,
Borobrigg keep out o’ way,
For Aldborough town
I will ding down!
But obviously his aim was not that good, and so they landed short of their mark.”
(source: Brigantes Nation)
Ooh – that angry old Devil! When will he learn that his aim is never that good when he’s hewing these menhirs around? Silly billy. Anyway – there they stand, up to 30 feet tall and in a not-so-straight alignment, said by Paul Devereux to link the southern-most moon setting with an ancient fording point across the nearby River Ure. There is an assumption that they formed a part of a larger complex that includes the three Thornborough Henges.
Our visits to sites often start with the question: “Where do I need to be?” If this is asked of the dowsing rods in te context of a spiritual path or a quest then we usually find we are taken to a place where we can ask questions and get answers about the work we are doing. So, with that question asked I began to trudge across the edges of the muddy farmed fields and made my way to the second of the remaining three Devil’s Arrow stones.
Kal was firmly ensconced at the third stone, so I had this stone to myself. The dowsing rods had taken me around the base of the stone until I was standing with my back to a hollow groove blackened with ancient mosses and dirts.
Standing at the base of the stone I blended the hum of the motorway with the hum of the wind, and soon I was able to get into a trance state where I felt I could connect with the Spirit of Place. The usual protections were in place, and a tentative request was made to the spirits of these stones – could we connect? Indeed we could. Soon I was asking questions and receiving answers as usual.
I was being told that my most important answers would be found at the next stone, so I narrowed the scope of my questioning to this: what is the purpose of this particular stone?
The response I got was that it exuded a fertility energy.
I felt like I should offer something here – just a feeling. I reached into my coat pocket and found a feather that I had picked up earlier that morning from St Michael’s Church in Kirklington. That would be perfect. I looked for a spot to leave it and found that it fitted perfectly into a long thin crevice in the millstone grit monolith.
The Arrow Pointing North
At the third arrow Kal was still working when I arrived. We found that the best place for us to work was exactly the same place – in the middle of the northern face of the stone. We jockeyed for position, and then got into meditative states ready to connect our intuitive senses to the stones.
I asked if I could request information about my new quest, and got a response that I could. My quest, if you remember, was now to “follow Arthur” (or his constellation – The Great Bear). I felt as though this stone was connected to that in some way, and so I got my StarWalk mobile app out and used it to follow the alignment of the stone, taking a photo of the stars in their positions as pointed to by this stone right now.
The stone was pointing to The Ursids – the meteor shower that was at its peak around the time of The Winter Solstice. Polaris – The Pole Star – was also prominent in that snapshot, as was The Little Bear constellation, part of The Little Dipper asterism. Draco – the dragon, and symbolic of subtle energies – was also encircling this cluster of stars. Ursa Major, seen from Thornborough earlier in the morning, is a very close neighbour of these stars.
I think that the information I was being given is related to this set of stars: Ursa Major and Minor, Draco and The Pole Star. The progression of stars around the Pole Star is the movement that I need to be tracing as the year progresses, I feel. I am tracking The Bear across the heavens like The Hunter (Herne).
This quest feels like it has ancient resonances. For some reason it feels like going back to the original quests of our ancestors as they tried to make sense of the movements of the stars, and to create stories that explained their movements.
The fact that these stones are pointing to these stars, and that I was specifically directed to follow The Bear this year, just reinforces for me that these stones are most active at Winter Solstice, and that they have an Arthurian connection.
Next on our journey we are heading to Fountains Abbey near Ripon.