The magic of nature and history.
Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. I made the effort to awake at 4.00 am today to visit Hilly Fields, Colchester to mark this Solstice. I suffered a series of challenging dreams where I was late, or in wrong locations, or suffered other mishaps in trying to mark the Solstice, waking up in one dream from another, wheels within wheels, the alarm woke me my relief to the real world. The dreams and my dislike for such early mornings tempted me to stay in bed.
I synchronised my watch with the time on the internet, but the internet was less helpful about the time of sunrise in Colchester, giving me three separate times, not that it really mattered since there was no megaliths in Colchester to mark the rising sun against. It seemed surreal that outside was daylight for more than an hour yet the sun was yet to rise.
I rushed out of the door with ten minutes to go before sunrise, the sky was already blazing golden-orange. I sprinted down the road that was once an ancient river. I passed a soldier who threw a comment in my direction, I did not hear it. I vaulted over the wall dividing the Southway. I passed a surprised worker having an early cigarette. I was glad no police patrol crossed my path, not that I would have stopped for them. Down a gravel path I shot, to my right the new housing estate that now covered what was once the workhouse for the poor, much feared by the people who remembered it. I avoided treading on the slugs, crossing over a spring, then into a field. The rabbits scattered, as I zigzagged a mine field of rabbit holes. Then through a line of trees I was into the palace of the kings of my ancient ancestors.
This much neglected spot is really a wide open field upon the top of a great hill, once was the palace of Cunobelin, first king of Britain of the kings and queens that extend to our modern Queen Elizabeth II. A great fortress of wood and soil, now long gone, the archaeology hidden in the ground, left to the imagination to conjure up its splendor. Here was once the industrial and trading centre of Cunobelins mighty kingdom, capital of Britain, where they minted hundreds of thousands of gold coin. Immortalised by Shakespeare in Cymbeline, King Cunobelin held court surrounded by warriors and druids; both his ancestors and descendents over one hundred years brought troubles to the shores of Britain as family power struggles caused first Julius Caesar to invade Britain, then a hundred years later Emperor Claudius. This to me was Camelot, here alone with the rabbits I celebrated the Summer Solstice.
I positioned myself near the spot of an information sign relating the finding of a 3000 year-old cauldron, buried ritually upon its side, its opening facing east. Cauldrons held a magical significance to my Celtic ancestors, connected to prosperity, rebirth and creativity. This is the Sheepen Cauldron a highly valuable object to bury by my ancestors, buried into the side of the hill of the palace of Cunobelin. The ideas associated with cauldrons may have evolved into the Arthurian legends of the Holy Grail, which had similar otherworldly properties.
The sun was attempting to fight through the rain clouds, the sky was a blaze of golden-orange. Behind me a rainbow was forming. Towering over me this rainbow was huge, with a ghostly second rainbow above it. This display of nature in a place of history conjured up to me alone, whilst most of Colchester slept oblivious of this magical wonder.
As quickly as the rainbow came, it vanished. The wind began blowing, the temperature dropped and it started raining. It was time to leave. I took a route back home, down the roads of the living, with their large houses and gardens, sharing the spaces that was once the vast cemeteries of the Romano-British dead, the long gone tombs and temples of my ancestors. As I crossed the modern road upon an ancient Roman road which connected the Balkerne Gate of Roman Colchester to the Celtic settlement at Gosbecks, I remembered the legend associating rainbows with pots of gold, perhaps a sign of prosperity ahead upon the challenging road I must walk.