One of the reasons I got involved with the Avebury project was because I am a Wiccan/Pagan, and the stones are an important spiritual site for those people following a similar spiritual path. I am particularly interested to learn when the site became a popular place for like-minded “Witchy folk” to visit.
I am currently transcribing Denis Grant King’s journals, and it was with great delight that I came across the first reference to someone visiting Avebury for spiritual reasons.
The journal entry is for 21st January 1939 and reads as follows:
Saturday, January 21st 1939
“Went to the work-in-progress room in afternoon to write some letters, but interrupted by two groups of visitors who came thinking the museum would be open. I allowed them in. One gentleman was a Rowntree whom I remembered seeing in August. Also, with the other group, a dark-haired young lady, Mrs [here a space is left to insert her surname] dressed in a vermillion jersey, whom I had met before at Perry’s:- the lady, I fancy, comes to Avebury periodically to commune with the spirits of the stones. I almost thought she was going to fall into my arms, her greeting was so familiar. On leaving she said she did not suppose it would be long before she came again, and she asked for my name!”Denis Grant King’s ‘Journal of my visit to Avebury’, 1939, Alexander Keiller Museum item reference, 1732623-002, p. 58.
1939 is the year Gerald Gardner, the man widely credited with beginning the modern Wicca religion (this early phase is now commonly known as the Gardnerian tradition), was initiated into the New Forest Coven. However, Gardner did not introduce his Wicca religion to the public until 1954. This makes me wonder if the lady donning the vermillion jersey was from the New Forest coven?
I shall be keep my eyes peeled for any mention of a return visit from this lady and keep you posted.