Start of Spring
Birth can be tricky at the best of times, but atop a bitterly, and I mean bitterly, cold South Downs hill at 6am in the morning, it must have been a shock for this lamb. It was May 1, the start of Spring, which has been very much on hold this year in the UK. This shot shows the lamb’s mother encouraging the lamb to stand up, only moments after the birth next to Chanctonbury Ring.
Another shock was to come moments later, given the location of the birth and the reason why I was there, shivering in the cold, to witness this moment of Nature. Chanctonbury Ring. The faint remains of an old Iron Age hillfort, commanding views across the Sussex Weald and then across the southern English coast. A place of legends, myths, of tales of The Devil, UFOs and the ghosts of Caesar’s legions. An evocative Sussex landmark, just north of modern day Worthing and the remains of an even bigger hillfort at Cissbury. The focal point in the early morning on May the 1st of a uniquely English custom – morris dancing.
The men in white, bedecked with flowery hats, bells on their ankles, sticks and hankerchiefs in their hands, descended upon this spot, just a few metres from where the sheep had given birth, to entertain this newborn lamb with songs and bouncy dancing. An eccentric English ritual to welcome the sunrise and the start of Spring. The sun though, this year, decided to stay behind cloud cover until it had finished.
This annual event can be seen here, mindful of Google penalising duplication of content, I’ll leave it as a link to my other website. But still, on one cold morning, two symbols of Spring in England, a newborn lamb and Morris dancers! Set against a glorious landscape and a land of myths and folk tales…