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Arminghall is a small village which lies approximately 2 miles south of Norwich. Most of the houses in the village are located close to the church near the B1332 road to Poringland. However, the village also stretches down into the valley of the River Tas.

Site of Arminghall Woodhenge

Site of Arminghall woodhenge

It was close to the River Tas that, in 1929, the pilot Gilbert Insall noticed a circular pattern on the ground while flying overhead. Six years later the site was excavated and the earth markings turned out to be the remains of a large wooden henge monument. The henge dated from c.2500BC and measured 270 feet in diameter.

One night in 1983, while driving through the village, I experienced the sensation that a Neolithic man had come back to life and was standing close to the site of the henge. I was inspired to write the following poem:

Arminghall Man

Across the crest of the moon-tugged hill
He stands and stares like half a hoop,
The effervescence reflected in his ape-wide eyes.
He has a clairvoyant’s brain under
The flattened back skull, above
The mammoth crag of jowl—
A brain that knows when it’s being watched.

The valley falls away before him,
Moon-beamed and copsed
With incalculable primal greens.
He has a colour fetish that ekes
Away at his clay mind, all through the day
While he punctures and scratches the soil
With the scapula of a deer:
The fetish is the embryo of choice.

A glint of creativity sits like a boulder
On the escarpment of his face;
It is a sixth sense, a third eye
That tells him of eclipses
And wakens him to the sound of inaudible noises.
He takes the idea and grinds it sideways on;
An idea before fire or tree wheels,
That forms for him out of the earth,
Becomes choate out of the mooned river,
For he is the prognosticator.
He goes down to stare into the water;
He is lulled by its lunar depth,
Tempted in by its promise of fish;
He knows his bones are too heavy for swimming.

He has far to see, a schedule
To meet with history.
Rejoice root-man and see far—
Far over the river’s plain
To the slope out, the slope up,
For you are the exultant dawn,
The first light on the morning of creation.
The slide upwards begins in his limbs
Like a hunger for food, a thirst for water:
Resist it brain-clod, resist it sand-man.

The dark quiescence of unformed land
Squats in the night,
When cycles begin. Can you hear me
Silt-troglodyte, earth-worker?
With your collective instincts,
The ones that you skimmed from the minds
Of dead animals—
The ones that lend you that glimmer of propagation,
That wizard’s eye to the future.

Can you feel me root-man with your dowser’s appendix?
Can you see me across your moon-tugged hill?
For I have passed through you turf-man.
I am your lost seed.

The water that will not hold you from drowning
Washes over me in the dream of another life.

More photographs of Arminghall




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