The First of May marks the beginning of Summer in the old Gaelic cultures, a tradition widely known as Beltane. And where better to celebrate this ancient May Day ceremony than atop May Hill itself, iconic landmark of the Gloucestershire countryside, former Iron Age hill fort, ley line intersection and epicentre of the Perry Pear Universe. Readily identifiable by the crowning stand of Corsican Pines planted to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, this landmark was known was previously known as Yartleton Hill, and it is only in the last 300 years that the change in name is documented.
One theory suggests that the name ‘May Hill’ is directly derived from the May Day celebrations that took place there annually. The thought that I am about to partake in a custom that has been undertaken since days of yore fills me a warm, fuzzy feeling as I wend my way up the gentle sloping hill face to the summit at 5am. Which is just well because it is (literally) freezing. But accompanying the frigid temps are a cobalt blue sky, a nigh-on full moon and an electricity cutting through the icy air, supercharging the atmosphere. This is something special.
And as the various Morris troops vie for handkerchief waving bragging rights, the rising sun unleashes its rays, not unlike that Map Room scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. But with the unique juxtaposition of sun and moon so prevalent in the sky, and the presence of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s doppelganger (on his mobile!), I can’t help but think of Tatooine in Star Wars.
Anyway, who needs fiction when the most evocative stories play out right before your very eyes. For once, rather than jabbering on, I’m going stop here to let the photos do the talking.