Category Archives: General

HUMAN HENGE EVALUATION REPORT

Laura Drysdale, December 2018

This is an edited version of the report we provided to the Heritage Lottery Fund on completion of Human Henge

SUMMARY

Based at Stonehenge, Human Henge engaged people living in Wiltshire with mental health conditions in a creative exploration of the ancient landscape. The project began in September 2016 and ended in December 2018. A parallel research project led by Bournemouth University addressed the question of whether Human Henge was an effective way to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. Evaluation by Willis Newson considered the project’s processes and behaviours as a contribution to its impact on participants mental health.

This evaluation and the research above concludes that Human Henge exceeded expectations in terms of its impact on participants, partners and the wider archive and mental health community. Overall it has been a successful project that we hope can be a model for similar projects to take place in other historic landscapes.

WHY HUMAN HENGE WAS CREATED

Human Henge grew out of a conviction, shared by the partners, that a connection with historic landscapes could play a real part in mental health recovery. Human Henge Change Minds was intended to have heritage, social and mental health outcomes, and as such amalgamated its partners’ concerns. English Heritage and the National Trust are heritage organisations with social purposes.  Richmond Fellowship is a national mental health charity with a history of using community assets including historic landscapes for inclusion. Bournemouth University is an academic body with a strong social purpose and local connection. The Restoration Trust is a bridge organisation linking these outcomes, as it supports people with mental health issues to engage with heritage in order to reduce social exclusion and improve people’s mental health.

The project was largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, but additional grants from English Heritage and Amesbury Area Board rooted it in Stonehenge and the local community.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

Broadly, Human Henge followed the Activity Plan we submitted with our original application, with agreed amendments.  Funding for Human Henge Avebury extended the programme of participation and research and in effect Human Henge at Stonehenge and Avebury became one project. However, this evaluation report focusses on Human Henge Stonehenge.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Project Board

The first step on securing the grant was to set up a Project Board representing partners and key stakeholders, chaired by Dr Sara Lunt, a trustee of the Restoration Trust. Project Board meetings were well attended and often quite powerful experiences. There was robust debate about important issues, such as the wellbeing of participants the nature of research, ownership and rights over local heritage, and communications strategies. Most meetings were minuted by a Stonehenge staff member who attended for this purpose.

Policies and procedures

From the outset we did all we could to make Human Henge as safe as possible for everyone involved by policies and procedures which conformed to legislation and best practice. Data protection, communications and safeguarding were key issues where we set up policies in the preparation phase, and put them into practice in our enrolment forms, partnership agreements and employment contracts.

Duty of Care

Human Henge aimed to improve the health and wellbeing of people who have mental health problems. It was not a mental health service. Although everyone had a duty of care to participants, to behave sensibly and kindly, and to record and share any concerns, Human Henge did not provide wider support. This was the responsibility of Richmond Fellowship. We maintained these boundaries in order that participants could enjoy Human Henge without feeling that they might be treated as patients or clients. It was also an important safety measure since mental health risk was assessed and managed by Richmond Fellowship.

LOCATIONS

In preparing to deliver Human Henge, we agreed the programme of sessions, and confirmed bookings of the Stonehenge Education Room, access to Stonehenge landscapes and exclusive access to the Stone Circle on the Winter Solstice 2016 and Spring Solstice 2017. Tapered sessions for participants, funded through Human Henge Avebury, were held at the Ancient Technology Centre and Wiltshire Museum in 2018, and Stonehenge Visitor Centre/Stone Circle (forthcoming, March 2019).

TRAINING IN MENTAL HEALTH AND HERITAGE FOR STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS

Mental Health Awareness

In October 2016 we offered staff and volunteers mental health first aid training delivered by an accredited Mental Health First Aid trainer who was also a Richmond Fellowship staff member. 16 people attended, including board members, staff and volunteers. 

Heritage Skills

The Coordinator is an archaeology and natural voice practitioner, so she brought heritage and creative skills to the project. Therefore, it was unnecessary for the Richmond Fellowship Locality Manager to acquire heritage skills, and he already had a deep interest in and knowledge of the natural world and creative writing.

PARTICIPANT ENGAGEMENT

Participants

In total 32 people were recruited and 23 people attended the programme as committed participants, i.e. they attended more than half the sessions. All these people consented to take part in the research component of the project.

Recruitment and Enrolment

Participants were enrolled through contact with their Richmond Fellowship support workers. Our recruitment leaflet was designed to be as clear and informative as possible, and also to alleviate anxiety about doing something entirely new. The enrolment form including consent for information sharing, photography and communications, as well as information about the participant and a wellbeing plan. Enrolment forms were held by both Richmond Fellowship and the Restoration Trust.

HUMAN HENGE SESSIONS

20 sessions were held, 10 for each group, weekly on Friday mornings (10.30 – 1.30). Transport, refreshments and materials were provided. There was no cost to participants. Each group followed a broadly similar plan:

EVALUATION RESEARCH

Human Henge was intended to be a pilot project into the efficacy of using historic landscapes for mental health, so it was essential that we had a robust evaluation strand. This fell into three categories.

  • Project staff – the Project Manager and Coordinator – collected data about attendance, events, visitor numbers and so on, for reporting outcomes at that level.
  • Bournemouth University were commissioned to carry out research addressing the question: “Does a creative exploration of historic landscape achieve sustained, measurable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people with mental health conditions?” Answering this was achieved through two parallel investigations. First, a study of available literature and published case studies was collated and published as a chapter in the volume A handbook of well-being edited by Kate Galvin (Darvill et al. 2018). Second was an evaluation of the impact of the Human Henge project on the mental well-being of its participants. This was published in two reports; firstly in June 2017, secondly in December 2018. An appendix to the final report will be produced when Human Henge Avebury participants complete a final 1-year post project questionnaire and focus group.
  • Willis Newson were commissioned as the project’s ‘Critical Friend’/Evaluator, with a brief to: take an observer / critical friend role asking sometimes difficult questions; contextualise the project within wider work taking place across the Arts and Health sector / arts on referral / arts and health evaluation and research /good practice; signpost / make introductions to what is going on nationally; comment on how best to make the research findings accessible and implementable with the sector and amongst practitioners. Jane Willis’s report on Why and How does the Human Henge Project Support Participants Wellbeing was completed in July 2018.

Mental health and wellbeing outcomes

In brief, outcomes are summarised below.

Bournemouth University mental health research

It is difficult to answer the original research question “Does a creative exploration of historic landscape achieve sustained, measurable mental health and well-being outcomes for people with mental health conditions?” conclusively at this stage as data collection and analysis is still ongoing. Nevertheless, findings to date highlight that involvement in Human Henge had a positive impact upon participants’ mental health and well-being, and to some degree this was still apparent one year after involvement in the programme. However, caution is required because of the relatively small sample size and the limited extent to which it is can be said to represent the bigger picture. Accordingly, further data collection is needed before any claims about the generality of the findings can be made. It is proposed that a larger study, possibly with a control group, needs to be undertaken to explore the potential of this type of heritage programme for the health and well-being of people with mental health conditions.

Process Cycle

Willis Newson (Arts and Health Consultants) theorise that Human Henge is a cycle of transformative processes through: safety and trust; challenge and risk; achievement and confidence; connection.

  • Safety and trust is built by secure partnerships and structures and good communication.
  • Participants are overcome challenge and risk through expert facilitation.
  • A sense of achievement is felt which leads to increased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Positive feedback to mutual sharing enhances the sense of connectedness.
  • The enhanced sense of connection leads to an increased sense of safety and trust.
  • New risk and challenge is introduced and the cycle continues.
  • A deeper sense of achievement leads to increased self-esteem. Continued sharing leads to deeper connections. Deeper connection and bonding leads to an increased sense of safety.

New Economic Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing.

  • Take notice: the whole group has an intense sensory experience of the landscape.
  • Be active: people get out and about, walking further and more confidently session by session.
  • Connecting: people connect across deep time, with the place they live, and with each other.
  • Learn: archaeology, creativity, nature, knowing a place. How to be with a group.
  • Give: the group shares the experience. People help each other in practical ways. 

Research methodology

Human Henge research by Bournemouth University comprised a mixed-methods approach summarized schematically below. The process was reviewed and approved prior to the start of the first programme in line with Bournemouth University Research Ethics Code of Practice.

It was important to capture both quantitative and qualitative data because the sample size was small and, whilst interesting, means that conclusions derived from the evaluation so far have limited generality. At the start of each delivery of the Human Henge programme the participants completed a baseline questionnaire capturing their thoughts and feelings towards the project. The Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (Tennant et al. 2007) was used to measure their mental wellbeing, supplemented by questions regarding their interests in history, heritage, and archaeology (see Table 2). The same questionnaire was repeated in the middle and at the end of each 10-week programme, and again for a final time in 2018 a year after the sessions finished. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics as well as content analysis, qualitative data from the evaluation was analysed thematically using the Braun and Clarke (2006) process of thematic analysis.

MILESTONES TIMELINE

2016

Sept

Grant received, Project Board Meeting 1 at Bournemouth University

Project manager, coordinator, consultants, designer and volunteers appointed.

Communications policy agreed

Research ethics approval received from Bournemouth University

Enrolment leaflet circulated via Richmond Fellowship

Press release approved.

Group 1 Session plan agreed

Oct

Mental Health Fist Aid training for staff, consultants and volunteers

Human Henge launch event at Stonehenge

Website, social media and publicity material launched

Group 1 participants recruited

Group 1 sessions begin

Group 1 mental health research begins

Nov/Dec

Website and publicity material launched

Group 1 reflective practice research begins

Project Board Meeting 2 at Amesbury Communitea Café

Group 1 sessions culminate in Winter Solstice celebration

Group 2 participants recruited

2017

Jan/Feb

Group 1 end point research

Group 2 mental health research begins

Group 2 sessions underway

March/April

Human Henge introductory session for National Trust staff and volunteers

Group 2 sessions end

Group 2 Human of Stonehenge private Facebook group formed

Radio 4 Open Country programme Stonehenge and Mental Health broadcast

Project Board Meeting 3 at Salisbury Museum

May/June/July/August

Exhibition at Amesbury Library

Stakeholder consultation meeting at Wiltshire Museum

Presentation at Culture Health and Wellbeing International Conference

Exhibition and workshop at Festival of Archaeology Salisbury Museum

Human Henge picnic at King Barrow Ridge

Exhibition at Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Sept/Oct

Project Board Meeting 4 at Avebury

Heritage Open Day walk at Stonehenge

University of the 3rd Age lecture at Bournemouth University

Exhibition at Salisbury Library, Melksham Library, Chippenham Library

Nov/Dec

Funding awarded for Human Henge Avebury

Follow-up research with Group 1 participants

Theoretic Archaeology Group conference session on Archaeology, Heritage and Wellbeing and Mental Health

2018

Jan/Feb

Human Henge Avebury sessions underway

March/April

Project Board Meeting 4 at Avebury

Human Henge Avebury sessions end

Workshop at West of England Learning Symposium

Presentation at Trowbridge Service Users Group

World Heritage Day walk at Avebury

Follow up research with Group 2 participants

Historic Landscapes and Mental Wellbeing conference at Bournemouth University

Exhibition at Bournemouth University, Avebury, Devizes Library, Wiltshire Museum

June/July/August

Heritage and Welling workshop at Canterbury University

Human Henge follow-up event at Ancient Technology Centre

Sept/Oct

National Women’s Register presentation at Salisbury

Nov/Dec

Human Henge follow-up event at Wiltshire Museum

REVIEW

Summary of what worked

Human Henge has amply met all the Restoration Trust’s criteria for success, which are informed by and embodied in the project.

  • Participants have problems with their mental health.  Human Henge participants had complex mental health needs.
  • Participants are involved in management.  One participant became a member of the Change Human Henge Project Board, 8 contributed to a Sharing Event and 4 attended a Restoration Trust Participants Council. The Project Board included a Patient Public Involvement member.
  • Partnership with heritage and health organisations. The partnership between the Restoration Trust (RT), English Heritage, Richmond Fellowship and Bournemouth was confirmed in a signed partnership agreement which stated that the partners would deliver the project according to our application to Heritage Lottery Fund. All    partners are members of the Project Board. Contributing organisations, including the National Trust, Avon and Somerset NHS Partnership Trust are represented on the Project Board.
  • Groupwork is the core.  All sessions were group sessions and informed by relevant theory and practice. They were based on the view that lasting change can occur within a carefully conducted group.
  • Safe framework and practice.  The partners’ policies and practices meet the required standards, and due diligence was applied when forming the partnership. Staff and volunteers worked to relevant professional standards and, if it was required for their role, had external validation of their suitability to work with vulnerable people by showing evidence that they have Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate (DBS).
  • Proper measurement of impact and outcomes. Research by Bournemouth University and Willis Newson. Ethical approval by Bournemouth University Ethics Committee. Participants were recruited as Richmond Fellowship clients rather than NHS patients so research did not need NHS ethics approval
  • Sustained and regular involvement. 10 weekly sessions. Three workshop sessions after the project ended. Ongoing informal connections between people and through the Humans of Stonehenge private facebook group. Richmond Fellowship ongoing history projects, including visits to Wiltshire Museum, and a series of workshops at          Salisbury Cathedral.
  • Privileged access to real cultural assets and expertise. Assets: Exclusive use of Stonehenge Education Room, special access to Neolithic Huts with Stonehenge volunteer input, special access to Stone Circle, special access to National Trust Cottages for King Barrow Ridge. Expertise: sessions with Professor Tim Darvill, Dr Sara Lunt,   Katherine Snell, Yvette Staelens, Mark Vyvyan Penney, Briony Clifton. Museum visits included Wiltshire Museum tour with the Director, Salisbury Museum (Festival of Archaeology).
  • Encouragement to be creative. Music, pottery, creative writing, photography and encouragement to tell stories and share language and song.
  • Learning for staff and volunteers. Health learning: Mental Health First Aid. Heritage learning: Prehistory and the Stonehenge landscape; collections, Neolithic pottery and firing; bread making. Research learning: Staff and volunteer reflective practice focus group. Good practice learning: Project Manager supervision by a Group         Analyst, Coordinator supervision by the Project Manager. Professional learning: Staff and volunteers attended relevant professional meetings. Learning from participants: experiences of nature, photography, music, spirituality, history, archaeology, managing mental health, practical financial advice and friendship.
  • Progression for participants. Volunteering and participation opportunities offered by all partners. Participation opportunities taken up at conferences, workshops, events and media.

What worked less well

Resources. We needed to allow more time and money for project management and digital engagement. As a small organisation whose backroom activities are funded through projects, we need more unrestricted funding to maximize the impact of this high-profile project. Our Chair devoted more pro-bono time to the project than she had anticipate

The demands of the site. The immense benefit of running a project at Stonehenge in terms of public and professional attention was matched by the need for attentive management of the delicate balances required in dealing with conflicting interests at a contested site. We were not always successful in negotiating these tricky waters, and indeed they were not really our business. However they sometimes impacted on the project, or rather they demanded more time than we had allocated for project management.

Partnership. The Restoration Trust is a small organisation managing a complex partnership of much bigger organisations, some of whom have competing interests.

Cuts to services and contracts. The Richmond Fellowship’s outreach and inclusion contracts have been reduced since the project began, and this has made it more difficult for the Locality Manager to provide staff resources to support people to attend follow-on activities.

Mental health discrimination. There is a level of unconscious discrimination against people with serious mental health problems which is manifest by partner organisations and professionals in unexpected ways. Excessive anxiety about what people might do on site, or how to cope if they became unwell reflect wider societal attitudes. Participants were sometimes surprised and disconcerted by views expressed by volunteers, staff, students and the general public.

Ending the programme. The ending of the programme was experienced as a considerable loss, as it was rather abrupt. As a result we gained funding to run three follow-on sessions, which have been successful gatherings of Human Hengers at local heritage venues (Ancient Technology Centre, Wiltshire Museum, Stonehenge Stone Circle in March 2019).

CONCLUSION

Overall Human Henge has been a successful project, with benefits for participants, partners, stakeholders and the local and professional community that went beyond our expectations. It justified our original supposition that walking with intent in ancient landscapes has the potential to support the recovery of people with complex mental health needs, although research outcomes are not conclusive. However the enthusiasm with which Human Henge was received by both heritage and health professionals shows that imaginative use of heritage landscapes can make a profound difference to individuals, and we hope also to mental health and heritage policy and practice at local and national levels.

We are very grateful to our partners, staff, volunteers, researchers, board members, local media and national media, and those who visited Human Henge exhibitions and events.  We thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for their grant, which enabled the project to take place. Our foremost thanks go to all the Human Hengers, who through their courage and commitment turned the idea of a creative exploration of historic landscapes into a powerful experience for everyone involved.

Wayfaring at Maiden Castle

Performances:
Procession to Maumbury Rings: 15 September, 2pm
Installation: 17 – 21 September, daylight hours
Live event: 22 September, 7.30pm
Location: Maiden Castle
FREE and suitable for all ages

 

Wayfaring is a journey of exploration, inspired by the present landscape and ancient routes of the Icknield Way.

The culmination of our groundbreaking Lifecycles and Landscapes project. Artists And Now: will create a series of artworks in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty inviting audiences to think about movement and migration; how we arrive at, understand, inhabit, protect and leave a space.

Using local and found materials the artists will craft an installation on Maiden Castle which audiences can move through, investigate and contribute to. On the final weekend fire illumination, music and performance will transform the installation into an intimate celebration.

The Wayfaring digital artwork, an evolving sketchbook of observations and learnings created by And Now: that compliments the live work can be found here.

Co-commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Corn Exchange Newbury, 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Space and Oerol Festival.

More information here.

Human Henge catch up

Events

2018

Tuesday September 11th Ancient Technology Centre Day for Human Henge members

Friday December 14th – Wiltshire Museum Day for Human Henge members

Wednesday March 21st Spring Equinox Day for Human Henge members

Saturday October 6th Audacity to Dream Conference with Human Henge session

Publications

Just out

Case study in Museums as Spaces for Wellbeing, a second report by the Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing

Coming up

Case study in the Heritage Alliance’s forthcoming report on Heritage and Wellbeing

Historic Landscapes and Mental Wellbeing publication of papers from Human Henge Historic Landscapes and Wellbeing Conference April 2018

Media coming up

Feature in the National Trust Special Place campaign, celebrating Avebury and Stonehenge.

Feature in Heritage Lottery Fund Changing Lives blog in October, celebrating 100 years of public ownership of Stonehenge

 

Summer Solstice 2018 – Human Henge on the Heritage Lottery Fund blog

Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for featuring Human Henge in their latest blog post about Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge!

How Stonehenge can improve mental health and wellbeing

“I’ve actually been a human being for three months, rather than (being seen as) an illness or a condition or a client or an end user.” 
Female participant in the project

Our Human Hengers have had some amazing experiences celebrating Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox at Stonehenge over the last couple of years.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge from the air with infra red, photo by Wiltshire Police

stonehenge-sunrise-wide.jpg
Summer Solstice, photo by Amy Freeborn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Winter Solstice, photo by Jessica Swinburne

World Heritage Day 2018 – Human Henge Avebury Walk 20th April 2018

Photos and captions by Shane Faulkner.

Following the water course.

The kennet meandering along by Silbury Hill.

It wasn’t just man’s best friend and us walking this path – Badger prints. 

The clear chalk stream waters of the Kennet.

Down at the river bank.

 Silbury Hill from Waden Hill.

The sun began to shine as we reached the hill top.

Steve talks about archaeoastronomy

Silbury hill and Dandelion, bugs eye view.

Male Wheatear freshly in from Africa.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly and a Pied Sheildbug

A lovely pleasant days stroll down the hill.

Different Perspectives.

Interesting shapes with the Lichen

West Kennet Avenue.

Beech tree canopy.

The keen eye of a Jackdaw.

The bond. 

 

Avebury Session 9: Equinox Ceremony in Stone Circle – 20 March 2018 (Part 2)

Photos and text by Shane Faulkner

After the last drops of HP sauce were wiped from our chins, we were ready for our next ceremonial adventure. We had a chat with Briony about making a ceremonial totem style pole to symbolise our journey. A tree would be chosen and using clay, we would create images that represented our memories of Human Henge.   To illustrate, Briony drew some detailed, life-like image examples on the white board 😉

We headed back out to face the chill and to create our totem. Next to our tree was set up all the clay making equipment needed and a tree stump length was used as a table. We selected our clay and started to create individual symbols of our journey. People chose different parts of the tree trunk, and soon everyone was working intently within their space. Creations started to cover the trunk, right the way around. All the while, a cold easterly wind blew at us as we worked, but it didn’t deter us from having a good laugh as we went along. A bucket of warm water had been provided to wash our hands, and as the time went on attracted group members like flies, using it to warm their hands in.

Our totem took shape, covered in clay to head height. There were moons, stars, stones, snakes, hands, faces, naked figurine forms, a fairy and even a Ghostbusters logo? And there it stood, it was now complete, our collective group symbol, our group identity.

We headed back into the warmth of the gallery room. We relaxed and settled down to hear some music that had been written by a group member. I was looking forward to this moment as I had already heard the two songs performed in a previous session. Overcoming her fears, she played the guitar and started to sing. Wow, what a voice and what moving and emotional lyrics. Everyone in the room was focused on the song, the words, the voice, the meaning. It was very powerful indeed. On her second song Max joined in with his flute for a harmonising duet of styles, it was perfect. Yvette also took the floor and sang a most beautifully haunting melody that awoke a deep, ancestral spirit within me. After the singing, Yvette handed round a plate of Preseli Blue stone. It was for us all to take a piece home to remember our time during Human Henge, which was a lovely thought. There were also some groovy Easter Bunny biscuits for all to have too.  During this time, post-it notes were given out so we could write a personal message to go on a large board, I believe to be shown at the conference coming soon.

As the day concluded Laura thanked all people involved and there was a large round of applause for them and all the work they had put into this project.

I would like my own personal note of thanks to go to the other group members, who made this a very memorable and happy experience. Human Henge was very much a unique shared experience. A shared experience that, I hope, we all can go on sharing, together, in the future. I would also like to thank Yvette and Laura for letting me write the blog.

And on behalf of myself and all group members: I would like to thank all at National Trust Avebury, Human Henge, Richmond Fellowship, Restoration Trust, Volunteer Steve, the peoples of the Neolithic period, the weather gods and lastly of course Greggs, for a very unique experience.

P.S. I have a confession to make…it was me who was man down and fell into the planter and squashed the spring  bulbs! Sorry NT gardeners 🙂

Videos from Session 9

Avebury Session 9: Equinox Ceremony in Stone Circle – 20 March 2018 (Part 1)

Photos and text by Shane Faulkner

Well this was it folks, the final session, the culmination of the past 10 weeks of the Human Henge Project. And what a session it was!

With the alarm beeping, I awoke before my resident Blackbird (I got the worm) around 5:40am. Our session start time today was 7:30am, thus the early wakeup call. As I had my breakfast the sun started to illuminate the dawn sky with its brilliance. It was the sun that was to be the crux of today’s celebrations. Today would mark the astronomical first day of spring, a time of rebirth and new beginnings – the vernal equinox. However, no one had told the winter this fact and it still had a strong, icy grip on proceedings. Over the days, there had been more easterlies, bringing temperatures dropping with lots of snow. The ‘Beast from the East’ 2.0 had struck!

On arrival, Avebury was dressed in a picturesque white coating of snow. After all meeting in the gallery room for a chat, we walked over to the SW sector of the henge. Along the way, a few group members & staff couldn’t resist the appeal of the snow, and an all-out battle commenced. There were snow balls flying everywhere, with many near misses and a few direct hits. Suddenly, we had a man down! They had tripped over a large stone planter and ended up lying flat out on top of it squishing some of the sprouting bulbs! After recovery, the battle died down and we walked through the lovely village church yard. We arrived at a snow covered SW Sector of the henge, which was to be the start of the stone processional walk and equinox celebrations.

…I then realised I had forgot my walking boots! So I had to walk all the way back to the gallery room to pick them up.  Whilst I was gone, there was a brief talk by Prof Tim Darvill about the amphitheatre like nature of the henge and the symbolistic idea of the inner world being the henge and the outer world being beyond the embankment.  The group then started the equinox celebrations with a spiralling dance around the first stone, complemented by flute from Max. …Ok, I was back with the group, and ready for the procession. Max fired up an evoking tune and we started walking anti clockwise along the line of stones. The sun was coming and going through the clouds, creating contrastingly lit scenes on the snow covered embankments.

We continued journeying along, melodies flowing between the stones, we felt the atmosphere, we were a group, and we were smiling. Some of us stopped to touch the stones: to have a moment with them, to connect, to understand, to respect them. Others danced along, laughing and having fun as they went. This was a journey, part of a bigger life journey, a journey that we were all walking along together.

At the ‘barber stone’ we gathered to listen to Max play and Prof Darvill talk about the stone’s history. He mentioned change; that everything over time is always changing. The Stones act as anchors for us through these changes. We carried on the procession, up over the road to the SE sector where we were greeted by more impressive stones. We walked over to the ‘Ring Stones’ that form an inner circle in the southern half of the henge.  Within this inner circle was a square like feature of stones, called the ‘Z-stones’. These stones form a straight line within the circle. There was also a central stone, called the ‘obelisk’. For us, it acted as a marker, a beacon, and we all converged around it.

An evocative talk was given about more symbolic meanings of the henge. The possible way the stones represent a controlling of the inside, inner world, from the outside self-determining universe.  A kind of Inner manifestations of outer occurrences.

And now, gathered around the obelisk, the procession had reached its ceremonial destination. Music started to be played loudly and we danced around the stone holding a partner by the shoulders – forming a human chain. We circled, we let go, our inhibitions melting as we went. More dancing commenced and people were expressing themselves in their own way. We were having great fun, and for brief moments life was wonderful, and there wasn’t a care in the world. Even the cold couldn’t chill our mood! …it was an emotional peak of the Human Henge journey…It felt special.

After the stone ceremony was over we decided to have fun over in the deeper snow. Some members created snow angels, whilst others transformed into their inner child and ran about and jumped in it. We eventually left the SE sector through a gate, but not before leaving our mark as we went.

All around us, the wintery views were fantastic.  The snowy downs scape creating a sense of longing and awe. From here we returned towards the manor with a brief look at the NE sector and the remains of the northern inner circle, The Cove. We ended this part of the morning’s celebrations and strolled back through the village to the gallery room…some faster than others… follow that smell of bacon! Courtesy of Laura (and Greggs), we all had bacon and egg baps and warm drinks awaiting, which was most welcome indeed, after being outside in those cold, wintery conditions…