Ancient ritual sees Wicker Man go up in smoke!

Festival of Beltain at Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton
Festival of Beltain at Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton
James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

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VISITORS were once again awed by the annual Burning of the Wicker Man at Butser Ancient Farm.

The Festival of Beltain marks the beginning of summer with rituals performed to encourage growth and protect the cattle, crops and people.

The Wicker Man takes around six weeks to build and is 50ft high. It takes just minutes to burn.

Jamie Gibson, 36, joined thousands of others at the event, near Clanfield. The dad-of-two said: ‘It was our first time at Beltain and it was fantastic. There was so much more there than we expected.

‘The atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was in such a positive mood. We didn’t hear a bad word all night.

‘The burning of the Wicker Man itself was something we will never forget. While it was burning there was drumming going on in the background and we were lucky enough to be right at the front.

‘It made you feel very connected to the earth.’

Although it was the main event there was also ancient musical performances, live folk from Feckless and local ale and cider to keep spirits high. Visitors could encounter birds of prey, enjoy storytelling, Roman gladiators, and look into the telescopes of Hampshire Astronomical Society.

To find out more about Butser, a charity, go to butserancientfarm.co.uk.