We had heard that there was a project called the Valley of Visions but little information could be found about this, however in September we were contacted by Richard Haynes of the Kent Downs AONB Unit. Richard is the Landscape, Heritage and Access officer for the Valley of Visions project and so has a direct interest in the White Horse Stone.
Richard had heard about the work the Guardians had done and our interest in the WHS, Richard said in his e-mail “My project, which is part of the Kent Downs AONB Unit, is working throughout the area known as the Medway Gap. One of the of the sub-projects focuses on the ‘Medway Megaliths’ and as the Odinic Rite has been actively caring for the stone and such like”.
We have always been willing to work with the various organisation and authorities which have an interest in the area of the WHS and for the stone itself, so we were delighted to be approached by Richard and only to pleased to have a meeting to discuss their project and any plans that involve the White Horse Stone.
On 23rd October a fitting date (It is Hengest, the festival of Settlement in the Odinic calendar). I met Richard and a lady from English Heritage at the WHS. It was very clear from the start that the lady from English Heritage was keen to see the removal of the tree that stands at the rear of the WHS and has done for a good many years. Now whilst we appreciate that the tree is very close to the Stone, it does not appear to have affected the stone in anyway at this stage. The lady’s concerns though where also for the damage that the tree may cause to any potential archaeology that may or may not exist under the tree.
Now we appreciate that tree roots may cause damage to archaeology, but as there is no evidence at this stage for there being any archaeology at the WHS, it is pure speculation to say that the tree is damaging archaeology. After much discussion it was agreed that for the time being the tree stays. We have agreed to relocate the small hedge plants that we planted close to the stone. English Heritage have a legal responsibility to look after the Stone as it is a listed monument. We, the Guardians of the WHS also have a responsibility to protect this Ancient monument for future generations. Our heritage is under threat from those that do not understand or appreciate its importance. Whilst we are happy to see more people visit this ancient site, we want people to understand that the WHS is more than just a listed monument. The WHS is a spiritual site, a resting place, a place of religious importance, a historical site and very important to a great many people across the world. The Guardians have given up hundreds of hours of their time to care for this wonderful site, and the sitting of this ancient monument is part of it. If the area surrounding the Stone was to be “opened up” as suggested at the meeting, then the ambience of this sacred site would be soured.
We discussed the potential for some archaeological investigation to be carried out, hopefully not of an intrusive nature, geophysical or the likes would be an option, thus not disturbing the ashes of those that have been scattered at this sacred site. We are as keen as any to learn about the stone, but we believe that any archaeological investigation should be non intrusive.
At the time of posting this brief report, we have not heard from the Valley of Visions team as to whether they intend to carry out the geophysical investigation or call in a tree surgeon to asses the health of the trees surrounding the Stone, some are obviously dead or dying. When and if we hear anything, we will keep you updated via our website.
We have cared for the WHS as an organisation for over 20 years. We have received enormous support over the years from those that truly care about their heritage. We will continue to care for the White Horse Stone and if need be we will fight for it as we have in the past.
We sincerely hope that together with Kent Downs and English Heritage we can secure the future of this wonder sacred site for generation to come.
The information below has been taken from the Kent Downs Valley of Visions website.
What is Valley of Visions?
Valley of Visions Landscape Partnership Scheme is an exciting and complex programme that aims to make a real difference in the Medway Gap. The £2.5 million scheme, funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund and delivered through the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is investing in landscape, access, wildlife and heritage whilst providing opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and celebrate the local area.
The Medway Megaliths
Over the years the majority of the valley’s megalithic sites have fallen into neglect or been destroyed entirely. Valley of Visions is working to improve public access to the remaining Megaliths, as well as interpreting the sites to better understand their history and relevance.
For further information please visit: http://www.kentdowns.org.uk/Valley%20of%20Visions.htm
Category: The Stone