30 DoA #12: Places

Wayland's Smithy, Oxfordshire, England.
Wayland’s Smithy, Oxfordshire, England.

12. Places associated with this deity and their worship. The most obvious place to honor Wayland is, of course, Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire. It is relatively close to the White Horse of Uffington, the great chalk equine scraped into the hills of the Ridgeway.

From the English Heritage Website:

Excavations in the 20th century revealed that the barrow seen today actually covers an earlier burial structure, and human remains found on the site indicate that 14 people were interred there between 3590 and 3550 BC.  The circumstances of these deaths are a mystery, and the original barrow was closed a short time afterwards.

However, the site once again became active when, between 3,460 and 3,400 BC, a second far larger barrow was constructed on top. A trapezoidal mound with a monumental façade, it is the ruins of this – a strikingly late phenomenon compared to other long barrows – that can be explored by visitors to the site today.

I once met a Heathen woman from the area of Wayland’s Smithy at a pub moot here in the U.S. When I told her about my desire to eventually make a pilgrimage to the Smithy, she was very adamant that there were specific protocols that should be followed before one tried to meet the Smith and other wights of the area. Sadly, she didn’t say what these were. The unspoken threat of “bad things will happen” hung palpably in the air as she spoke of her own experiences amongst the stones. Frankly, it sounded to me that she and her mates had one too many beers and proceeded to do a fine job of scaring themselves witless. Still, good manners are always prudent when dealing with a place of power, whether it be inhabited by elves or ancestors.

Hmm, a string on my harp just snapped as I write this. Coincidence or omen? Or perhaps both.


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