Glastonbury Festival: How low-flying swans etched the sacred space of Worthy Farm in stone 30 years ago

The Worthy Farm Stone Circle is a magical megalith that every festival-goer must visit at least once

You haven’t truly experienced the essence of the Glastonbury Festival until you’ve embraced your inner hippie and risen early – or stayed up all night – to watch the sunrise from the vantage point of the Stone Circle.

The spiritual center of the festival, this grand megalithic monument of standing stones in the king’s meadow beyond the green fields seems to have been there forever. It is in fact a much more contemporary creation, carefully constructed 30 years ago as the centerpiece of a special sacred space of harmony, healing and ritual celebration. So how did the huge stones get there?

Encouraged by organizer Michael Eavis, the circle was precisely designed and built by the late Druid King Ivan McBeth, born in Devon, who had spent years traveling the world’s ancient sacred sites, seeking to replicate their remarkable energies. in modern buildings.

READ MORE: How Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage became set in stone

For the Glastonbury megalith, Ivan had a vision of egg-shaped stones. In the book Glastonbury: An Oral History of Music, Mud and Magic by Crispin Aubrey and John Shearlaw, he describes his thinking: “The shape would be that of the star constellation Cygnus the Swan. The main stones in the design would correspond to the brightest stars, and if someone looked over the stone representing the belly of the swan at sunrise in midsummer, the sun would rise directly overhead. of the swan.

Michael scoured the field with Ivan to determine his exact position. They rejected the original 19 stones which arrived badly damaged from a quarry near Wellington. The replacements are those you see today – beautiful parts from Torr Works in nearby Pilton, each of which was individually and carefully delivered.

Towards the end of May, the night before the stones were transported to their final positions in hand-dug holes, Ivan (real name Iain MacBeath Smith) became riddled with doubts about the project. Sitting with his girlfriend by the fire in the field, they heard a “strange and frightening noise, a rhythmic hiss like the singing of spirits. Suddenly seven swans, flying very low in a V-formation, flew over our heads and directly over the stones. We looked at each other in astonishment. All doubts have faded away forever.

The circle was completed on Midsummer’s Eve and the Druid Order of Glastonbury held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the space was open to festival-goers when the doors opened on June 25.

The 1992 festival program presented the new area as follows: “This year sees for the first time the creation of a sacred space at Kings Meadow. Over the years this beautiful and special land has been enjoyed by many as a place to ‘be’, a space to relax, stretch out in the grass, salute the oak tree, walk the maze and take in the spectacular views. .

“This year, we’ve taken that a step further and deeper, and, in harmony with the land (and its inhabitants, visible and invisible), have created a space where you can come and reconnect with the Earth, with the elements. , with the spiritual or sacred aspects of all things green.

“Come experience the pure elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water in the Magical Elemental Gardens. Sit with the stones in the stone circle. Listen to the birds sing, watch the sun rise and the grass grows!Enter the Temple of Day and Night.

And that’s what festival-goers have been doing ever since, some with more respect than others!

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For beautiful historical images from the past, take a look at and see what you can discover

Jan G. Gilbert