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" Live out of your imagination

not your history "

Stephen R. Covey

Pagans & Pilgrims: Episode 3 – Trees & Mountains

March 22nd, 2013
The view from within the Yew Gateway at Knowlton, Dorset

The view from within the Yew Gateway at Knowlton, Dorset

The third episode in the Pagans & Pilgrims TV series currently running on BBC 4 was broadcast last night and I watched with some trepidation because I was asked to take part in this one and was interviewed by the presenter Ifor ap Glyn one windy day this January – but had never seen the result.

We drove through awful weather to get to Knowlton, and after a briefing over a pub lunch we set off for the site, which I’d never visited. I learned something new that day: you know those wonderful aerial shots you get in films like this? I thought they were taken from a helicopter, but most times (and in this series) they use a drone: essentially a model aeroplane with a camera in it that is operated from the ground. How clever!

The interview you see was done in virtually one take. The sun was setting, the rain had stopped, and we were all freezing and wanted to go home. After we had walked to the two magnificent gateway yews which from a distance looked quite young, and had been filmed as we looked at them, I remembered the  Ancient Yew Group (started by an OBOD member and friends). Nick, the author of Britain’s Holiest Places, looked the trees up on the website via his phone and we discovered that they are truly old, dating back to the 7th century, or perhaps even earlier since their girths (reaching 23 ft) suggest an even greater age. Both are female, and there used to be a third that was damaged by fire and removed.

At the close of this episode Ifor sums up the theme of the programme well: “Nature belongs to no-one – it is nondenominational. Trees and mountains are beyond dogma. They inspire within us  feelings that are mystical, difficult to explain, but maybe then that’s the point, because nature is so much greater than we are, and it’s in places like this that many of us feel that we come closest to the Divine.”

The episode is up on the BBC iplayer here for the next month and there are 3 more episiodes to go.

6 Responses to “Pagans & Pilgrims: Episode 3 – Trees & Mountains”

  1. It was a good episode, in a series that initially appeared to have forgotten about the pagan bit of the titles. Lovely yew gate too. Now looking forward to the fourth programme. 🙂

  2. I watched all three episodes this evening, and the series is quite fascinating. I particularly loved this third episode, though. It left me quite tearful, in a good way. Feeling very spiritual.

  3. Right, well, Philip, I thought you were very kind both during your interview, when you alluded to the Cristian sense of sacredness and demonstrated no bitterness toward their cultural invasion (I would be beyond myself), and in saying in your post that the presenter summarised the episode nicely – because for the rest of the episode he was not making any sense at all. “Nature still carried emotional value to people” – You don’t say! Why is this, I wonder? Could it be because we actually live in it, eat it, breath it, and we are ourselves nature? Although a Christian, surely Ifor ap Glyn must realise that he is not in fact a bodyless spirit, and that arms he waves about and the tongue in his mouth that he uses to speak are all part of nature? I mean, I think I understand that Christians must for some reason be in denial of their connection to the land, as when Ifor ap Glyn found, in Episode 2, a cube made of stone blocks more beautiful than all the magnificent sites that he visited, or when he just easily passed by the Goddess Temple – I mean, what, not even curious? but maybe at at least watching “Avatar” might help such people? 🙂

  4. Certainly was probably the best of the series which has been remarkable in it’s disappointment . I’m not sure what I expected from a programme with such a title, but there seems to have been little about pagans …
    Philip your measured tones and patience were a delight to listen to and , until this programme, I didn’t know about Knowlton either , but it looks like a place well worth visiting.

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