A Night at Wayland Smithy
Jane, Buckinghamshire, UK
This turned out to be a pretty good night despite its false start. Let me first tell you a little about the place we went to.
Its called Wayland Smithy and its up on the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire. The closest town is Swindon but that's about 20 or 30 miles away to the west. Other than that there are a few small villages dotted around the base of the hill but not much else.
Its about 5000 years old and a burial mound to the local Chieftains. I have heard two different legends about Wayland himself, one Saxon, one Viking but both the same.
Wayland was the blacksmith to the gods and he made 7 swords one of which was Excalibur.
The locals say if you take an unshod horse to the arena in front of the mound and leave a penny, the horse will have shoes by the morning, courtesy of Wayland.
On one side of the White Horse hill is a large chalk carving of, you guessed it, a white horse. This is about 2500 years old. The path that runs over the hill and down the other side is about 2 miles long and ends at Wayland Smithy. This place has been occupied for all this time but now it just has tourists.
When we passed both car parks they were empty. We parked 2 thirds of the way down the track which meant we had about half a mile to walk to reach the burial mound. We arrived at about 9.50pm. As you look up towards Smithy there are trees on the left and right but they don't go all the way up on the right. The trees stand just past the cross-roads at the top of the first piece of track. As we walked up to the cross-roads, we had lots of natural company such as birds singing and bats bobbing about. We could hear the odd fox as well as small rodents in the bushes either side. The sun had just set and it was a beautiful evening. You can't hear the traffic at all but there was the sound of the odd aeroplane.
We got to the cross-road and went on our way to Wayland. This where the first rather abstract thing happened. As we entered the other side of the cross-road everything just seemed to stop. No birds, no bats no sounds of any kind could be heard. My dog Ike showed a reluctance to walk on the left where the trees were. Unusual because we all know what dogs are like around trees. He preferred to stay close to the hedgerows on the right. To say the least it became rather eerie.
Just behind the hedge, we could see a small copse and in the middle of this was the mound. So it was through the gate and up to the Smithy.
I'm not sure what I expected to see, as this was my first visit here, but to say it was a grand place would be about right. It was big. The mound was about 80 meters long and the front stood about 4 meters high. The entrance had two sentinel like stones on either side and a cap stone on top. The area in front is known as the arena. This was the place that all ancient rights of the past were performed. The large stones stuck up over the top so you could see them from behind, on top of the mound. This was were we decided to sit.
We were there for about 10 minutes when the strain on our senses began. I am well aware that a dark and lonely place such as this can set your imagination off, but this was more than that. A sense of dread and depression set down on us. We could all feel it. I should tell you there were 3 of us, Bob the guy we share the house with and me and my Bob.
The silence was almost unbearable and after another 10 minutes of trying to convince ourselves that nothing could hurt us, we decided something was not at all happy to have us there. To stay would not be healthy to mind or spirit. At 10.20 we decided to leave whatever it was to its loathsome self.
We headed back down the track to the cross-roads, constantly aware of being watched.
We made a faster time going back than we did going up there and you can imagine why. We reached the cross-roads and as we crossed it the world seemed to pop back into being: the bats and night birds and all the other sounds and sights we had enjoyed on the way up. We slowed our pace because we felt a little more at easy and it was to dark to see the path properly, although we had a torch with us. The dog had settled down again and we returned to the car.
So as not to waste the evening we drove around the hill to a car park on the other side of the hill, just about 200 meters from the top.
All I can say for this place was WOW. It was beautiful. From here we could see Swindon in the distance and all the lovely little villages we passed on the way here. The stars were above us in a clear sky and there were no other sounds but those of a distant train passing every half hour or so. But the silence here was not the sort we had experienced at the Smithy. By this time it was about 11.15. We sat in the car and had coffee and something to eat. This took us to about 11.45. We got out of the car and stood on the chalk track between us and the top of the hill. You could see the brow of the hill against the skyline. This point we thought we could see what looked like figures going up and down the hill. Having again passed both car parks on the way round we saw they were both empty as when we had arrived.
As the time reached midnight the activity became more intense. The place the figures appeared to be was the track that's leads to the Smithy. But right at the top of the hill suddenly was a large object and it appeared without warning and stood there as if watching the others. Still we did not feel uneasy where we were. We watched silently as the figures moved back and forth. Midnight came and went and then we saw the lights. Tiny little lights where the figures were and on the front of the hill. Again the dog began to whine and we also heard faint sounds of people talking. We checked round but there was no one else about. We were alone in the real world. We could also here what sounded like horse bridles rattling and then chanting. All the time we could see them up at the top wandering on the track. Then from the other side of the hill where we had left Wayland Smithy there was a bright light that shone up over the brow of the hill for about a minute or so and then faded away. Not a car headlight that was for sure. We could see them at a distance and it was not the same. Besides we would have heard the car.
We could not think of anything that could have explained the strange light. There was nothing around Smithy that could have accounted for it.
But as we watched there was something else that came from our left.
We saw the light come up the road that led to the car park and then the solitary motorbike with its rider roared in to view. It broke the moment. He rode on over the cattle grid just up from us and disappeared except for the sound of his bike. This was the end of our little adventure and we left at about 2.00am.
As we went I felt sad to leave them there whatever they were. I wanted to know about them and why they were there. That's my task at the moment , to read all I can about the vale of the White horse. There was something else. I had my watch on when we left Wayland when I got back in the car at the bottom of the track it was gone. It's a heavy watch and I'm sure I would have heard it hit the floor. I never took it off at any point so where it went I shall never know.
When we got home I made a complete search of the car in the hope I had dropped it in there, but no luck. I have dropped it before and I noticed it gone and returned to look for it. It was a bit of a lucky watch in that respect because it always came back to me. How I didn't notice it gone this time I'll never know.
I hope this was of interest to you. Thank you for taking to time to read it.