Construction Diary from Beech Hill Stone Circle (2001)

One of my earliest dowsing-related articles, this charts the first ‘official’ meeting of The Geomancy Group, and was originally published in their newsletter ‘The Dragon’s Egg’.

I flew into Gatwick from Riga the Saturday before and, after a couple of days in London met up with Maria to go down to Richard’s place. We had intended to go on Tuesday as we were keen to do some megalithic engineering with Ivan McBeth, and even set off Tuesday evening, but the weather was atrocious and we were forced to turn back. This confirmed a dowsing test earlier when I’d asked which day we should go, and got ‘Wednesday’. Always listen to your first answer!

So we arrived early Wednesday afternoon, and walked up the field to get our first look at the site.

The circle of nine stones was already complete, and the remaining stone was the final one, an outlier in the north that would point to the North Star. The stones, picked by Ivan, were brought from a quarry in Portland, which is one of the last in the country that still vibrates the stones out rather than blasting, and are a lovely white limestone that has lots of shells and fossils visible in it. Many plants and flowers in pots also populated the circle, a ‘sacred garden’ that had been touring the festivals all summer, and would be incorporated into the decorations of the circle for Saturday night’s equinox ceremony.

Ivan was over at the far side of the field with a few other stone-workers. They had just managed to raise the stone onto its cradle of planks and rollers, having had a hard time persuading it to part company with the ground that it had been lying on all year since being dumped off the lorry that brought it. It was quite comfortable lying where it was, it was in tune with the dragon energies, and it didn’t want to move, thank you very much. It had taken most of Monday and part of Tuesday just to get it up onto the rollers. This also happened to be the biggest stone in the group, and the heaviest at just under 9 tons.

We joined in as everyone made a circle around the stone, touching pinkies, and ommed and toned at it for a bit, visualising where it had to go and generally thinking light thoughts at it. I swear, after a couple of minutes of this you could feel the stone rocking gently back and forth. It wanted to move!

After some further instruction from Ivan, we started attaching ropes and strops to it to winch it round the field. Not quite as easy as it sounds, this. We had no anchor point for the winch at this stage, and had to use a Land Rover and a Toyota pickup braced side by side as an anchor. But we were not pulling with the vehicles at all; they merely served as an anchor.

it moves!

I was quite pleased to find that the main pulling cable was made of steel and went through a hand winch (but the steel never touched the stone itself). If you remember from his slide presentation to the class in Glastonbury, Ivan previously used a more authentic device known as the ‘Spanish windlass’, which involves ‘winding up’ two twisted ropes in the manner of a rubber-band-powered model plane, using large planks. However, this device is spectacularly dangerous if it gets out of control, and he opted for the safer winch after someone suffered a broken arm during construction of a previous circle.

After lunch, and with two more bodies on the case, the stone was soon persuaded to move along its wooden ‘railway’ of large planks. The stone itself sat on a wooden chassis on top of rollers that moved along the track. It moved easily, although the process wasn’t particularly fast as we stopped every couple of feet to move rollers from back to front and move planks about for the track; but the energy was high and controlled, and the stone really wanted to move with us. By the end of the afternoon, we had moved it a quarter of the way round the circle to where it wanted to be; an unprecedented achievement in this particular circle, according to Ivan.

the stone moves into position

After a great meal in the communal cottage that served as eating and toilet facilities, we retired to our tents in the next field, and we both slept like the proverbial big round wooden things.

Thursday began with building a geodesic dome (another useful skill) for the equinox party, and it was early afternoon before we linked hands around the stone again. Today was a bit slower, as we had the trickier task of turning the stone on its axis so that it was oriented properly for its final position. Quite technical bit this, and it involved much manoeuvring of rollers and moving vehicles about. We managed to use a couple of the existing stones as anchors for some of it, but for the final few feet we were back to using the two vehicles. By the end of the day the stone was more-or-less aligned north to south, and lay on the ground just a few feet north of where its hole would be.

preparing to lift

Next day, we had to raise the stone up about a foot and a half and get it back onto rollers again, prior to digging the hole for it to drop into. So intense focus and concentration was required as teams manhandled two telegraph poles into place as levers, and others placed or adjusted big planks and beams (known as ‘stollage’) into place under the stone as first one end, then the other were raised up by the two levers.  Then after lunch it was all hands to the shovels and picks as we started to dig the hole for it to drop into. We couldn’t get this as deep as Ivan wanted due to an absolutely solid layer of rock about four feet down, so that had to be enough.

It’s really intense work energetically, and even those who were not actually labouring were tired from just holding the energy. But by the end of the day we were nearly there, having positioned the stone over the hole and raised it up to a height of around four feet. But we were behind schedule now, and there was still a lot of work to do on Saturday, the equinox.

More of the group turned up; Maryrose and Jamie arrived during the day, and Sara, Susie and Nicola during the evening, and we tried to lay some plans for the weekend. But Maria and I were so committed to the stone by now that we just had to carry on with it on Saturday.

final raising

Next morning Sean and Paul arrived at the camp. Work on the stone was so intense that I almost failed to notice. It took the best part of the day to get the stone up to its final height. We almost ran out of stollage a couple of times as we rebuilt the support structure under the stone. Then more delicate positioning of the stone, strapping a telegraph pole underneath the stone to act as pivot, and adjusting the stollage for the final manoeuvre where the stone would pivot into position and (hopefully) drop into the hole. The sun had set as we frantically dug smaller postholes at the side of the stone, where logs would be sunk as brake posts to arrest the pivot if the stone showed a tendency to fall forwards when it went into the hole. This operation was finished by torchlight. John, who had arrived that day, was delighted to be asked to join in on one of the big telegraph pole levers.

Lots of people had gathered for the midnight dedication ceremony and equinox celebration, the band (Kangaroo Moon) were setting up in the dome, and candles were being lit; but those of us working on the stone held the focus and worked frantically to get this finished. Ivan was determined that it was going in this night, and indeed so were the rest of us! By candlelight, offerings were placed in the hole as people gave their own blessings to the stone. This did involve climbing into the hole underneath 9 tons of carefully balanced stone, so there was always that slight risk of things going wrong. But we held the energy together as long as we could, until even Ivan asked people to finish up as he wasn’t entirely confident on the safety due to the size of the stone….well needless to say that sped things up considerably! I satisfied myself with a cleansing with my new Latvian rattly-jingly thing (can’t remember the name of it, but it’s a nice noise!).

By this time it was about 10 pm and very dark, although the crescent moon was up. Some final adjustments were made to the stollage, to the sound of drums and chanting, and a temporary brace was placed under the front of the stone as the levers and stollage were carefully removed. I was watching from the side of the stone and suddenly sensed things shifting, just as the last stollage was removed (I think by Maria?). Just time for a shouted warning, and suddenly the brace bent like a banana and then snapped, and the monster megalith dropped into position with a tremendous thump, a huge rush of energy from the rest of the stones, and cheers from the assembled multitudes. Talk about grounding your energy! All of the stone workers were completely shattered afterwards.

The huge stone, which had been so willing to work with us, had waited just exactly long enough for the last piece of stollage at the front to be removed and everyone to get clear, before the brace had given way, snapping in two. It could hardly have been better behaved.

Closer inspection showed that it wasn’t sitting as vertical as planned, probably due to the hole not being quite deep enough. It was also sitting a little to one side so wasn’t pointing at the North Star as it should. As the circle wasn’t technically complete Richard felt that we couldn’t exactly do a dedication ceremony, and settled for much music and dancing instead, with midnight being marked by three rockets.

In the light of day the stone was clearly quite happy to sit more or less where it was, and efforts to winch it more vertical proved fruitless. It’s very difficult to do this at the best of times as it requires much more effort, and in this case it proved too much for the hand winches. It was possible to move it sideways a little so the top was pointing in the right direction, and once there it actually looked right, leaning a little towards the north, so it was decided to leave it there and the hole was filled.

We didn’t get involved with this, as our group still had to fit in a meeting of our own. So we took ourselves off into the forest to do some further dowsing practice with Sean and Paul, after I gave a brief grounding exercise. We found a great example of a tree distorting to be over a water line, and Paul and Sean demonstrated with muscle-testing how the weakening effect of standing on the edge line could be negated by holding onto the tree – literally ‘earthing’ the energy.

We also practised finding energy leys and blind springs, and noting their physiological effects on us. Then to a pub lunch where we discussed what our next meeting 7-9 December was going to be about. John has very kindly offered his place for that, and it is still planned that we will do space clearing, with a possible ceremony.

We also discussed the name thing – opinions were still varied, with EGG (European Geomancy Group) vying with BIGG (British Isles G.G.), or Sean’s suggestion of COG (Circle of Geomancers). This one may run for a while yet, so in the meantime we agreed to adopt the ‘lowest common denominator’ of just ‘The Geomancy Group’, which had been what we had all been introducing ourselves as all weekend anyway. If anyone has any better suggestions, or has a favourite among those listed, please let’s hear from you!

Thanks to Richard for a wonderful time and hosting our first meeting; thanks to Sean and Paul for the advanced dowsing lessons, thanks to John for agreeing to host the next meeting in Dorchester, and thanks to everyone who came. Here’s to the next one!

PS On checking the stone the following night, we discovered that it was actually leaning at the correct angle to point directly at the North Star, making it a doubly appropriate marker. Clearly larger forces than ourselves were at work here; a good indication that we were ‘in tune’ with the Spirit of Place.

© Grahame Gardner

September 2001

A view of the finished circle. Our ‘stone’ is second from left.

Grahame Gardner
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