With the passing of the summer solstice we can definitely say that the nights are drawing in again. As a former archaeologist and enthusiastic dabbler in all things historical I am always interested in seeing how the solstice is celebrated at notable archaeological sites such as Stonehenge or Carnac. Whether the commemorations that we see each midsummer bear any resemblance to the gatherings of past generations, who knows? That said the ingenuity of our ancestors in aligning monuments along astronomical lines never ceases to amaze me. On a similarly archaeological theme I was pleased to read that a long running archaeological project has published its findings. The National Hillfort Survey is a piece of research led by professional archaeologists supported by citizen scientists who have assisted with the collection of data. Hillforts or oppida are found all over Europe and were created by pre-Roman societies; Orléans is built on one. Usually found on top of a hill they consist of a series of earth banks or ramparts and they were originally seen as having a military function. Recent work suggests that the hillfort was not a defensive structure but rather a collective, community structure. A place in the landscape where people could gather and celebrate the passing of time. Perhaps in our own way the School fulfils the role of central place, a gathering spot for locally based families.
Tomorrow is our own midsummer celebration and I am sure that we are all looking forward to the Summer Fair when the community can come together to enjoy each other’s company, raise funds for the School, support our UWS project in Cambodia and collect donations for the Red Cross. Like a hillfort, the School tomorrow will fulfil a multitude of functions, all of them community based and all constructive. Such endeavours do not come without careful planning and lots of hard work so I am sure that you join with me in thanking the BSPS committee who have given unstintingly of their time to ensure fun for all tomorrow.
I hope to see you there. Unlike the solstice at Stonehenge you don’t have to be at the School at dawn to take part, we start at 12!