Monday, 31 August 2009

Finding the Polisher Stone

The axe-sharpening stone - grooves made by the Neolithic (Stone-Age)

My first attempt at finding the almost mythical Polisher stone was Lammas weekend last year. A small group of us, with a reluctant child and two dogs in tow, trundled up Green Street looking at wild flowers and insects on the way. None of us has seen it before and although we knew it was close by we were unsuccessful on that occasion. A few more lone attempts followed but I always seemed to instinctively turn right instead of left up on Fyfield Down. However, each walk in the Avebury landscape was rewarding in its own way; the clouds, the hills, and the wildlife complimenting the scattered sarsens.
Earlier this month the sun came out and an Avebury friend, PeteG, offered to show me the Polisher … as we headed up Green St we watched a flock of swallows give an amazing aerial display – they were in fact successfully chasing a predatory sparrowhawk away. Pete, being Pete, didn't take me by the straightforward route but down across Fyfield Down and through a private wood. He assured me that it was not grouse shooting season but we proceeded cautiously anyway. A barbed wire fence to climb the other side (walking with Pete usually involves a fence or two which is what makes it challenging but fun). As we picked our way through the greywethers it started to feel very warm so it was a rare occasion when my sunhat made an appearance. On the slope leading up to the Polisher we spotted and enormous circle of mushrooms (*parasol mushrooms I believe). A Fairy Ring – we stepped in a Fairy ring … neither of us disappeared so we continued uphill.The Polisher was everything I imagined … ancient, lichened, smooth like marble in places. We sat for a while soaking in the silence and peace, the only sound being seeds popping on a nearby gorse bush.
I took some photos then asked Pete to take one of me by the large triangular shaped stone nearby, with the Polisher in the foreground. A couple of photos and then Pete said excitely 'look behind you'; I turned to see the legendary Red Arrows fly past … they were on the flight path to RAF Lyneham where an air display was taking place. Eventually, we walked back down; me … hot but happy at having finally found the Polisher.
After I parted company from Pete over near East Kennet I walked back to Avebury via Waden Hill through the newly cut grass … a wonderful smell from childhood. At the top of Waden I usually stand and reflect awhile, on Silbury and the stunning land/sky-scape. That afternoon there were two men, Buddhists perhaps, sitting quietly chanting, we smiled at each other as I walked past.