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Druid and Keeper of the Stones -

Terry Dobney

Date of photography:  22nd March 2018

Terry Dobney, the Keeper of the Stones at the Avebury Stone Circle, is an Archdruid of some reputation.   Often seen on television and in documentary films, he was no ‘ordinary chap’ even in his previous life.   He has been a soldier, a motor cycle engineer and racer, a Teddy Boy, a Rocker and a Hell’s Angel.   As a passionate political activist, he could often be seen manning the barricades or marching with anti-war, anti-fascist or pro-feminist demonstrators.   A man of many parts indeed.   Terry has said:  “It is high time that the Druids were recognised not only as a religion but as one of the oldest religions in the world.   Druidism is thought to date back more than 11,500 years and thus pre-dates Judaism.   The early Druids were the Celts’ priestly cast, enshrining the laws and mores of Celtic society and often providing its leaders.”   While Britain is an increasingly secular society, where most established religions are deeply concerned about dwindling congregations, that’s not the case with Druidism:  the ‘congregations’ for Terry’s rituals at Avebury grow every year.   Christianity may have been found wanting but people crave spirituality in a world that, however stuffed it is with things, still leaves them feeling disconnected and empty.

The full story:

A recent pan-European survey showed that 37% of people in the UK believe there is a god, while around 33% believe there is some kind of spirit or life force, leaving 30% as agnostics or atheists.   Comparisons with London are interesting because, as we well know, ‘London is not England’:  the immense diversity amongst London’s population means that around 48% of Londoners describe themselves as Christians, 12% as Muslims, 5% as Hindus, 1.8% as Jews, 1.5% as Sikhs and 1% as Buddhists, with the rest presumably classifying themselves as agnostics, atheists or some other variety of non-believer.   This would suggest that religious belief is more widespread in the capital than in the nation at large, and what is certainly not in doubt is that London has, for centuries now, been a place where religion does influence the way of life for many people.   Faiths of many different kinds have given Londoners an identity, shaped the spiritual life of both rich and poor (in good and bad ways) and influenced politics, culture and the ‘state of the nation’.

In addition to the established, mainstream religions found in the capital - the major ones are listed above - and despite the steady growth of secularism, there are a goodly number of Londoners who espouse a range of belief systems, and who engage in a variety of spiritual practices, that are variously referred to as paganism, mysticism, witchcraft, heathenism, Wicca or Druidry.   There are others too.

Having already featured an Ecuadorian shaman in this project (www.londonersathome.org/shaman.html) I felt strongly that I should also look rather closer to home and say something about one of our ancient indigenous religious orders, viz the Druids.   Originally believed to have been members of a high-ranking, professional class in ancient Celtic cultures, modern-day Druids are often associated with the great megalithic sites, like Stonehenge, Avebury and literally hundreds of other stone circles dotted around Britain, Ireland and the European mainland.

Every year, on London’s Primrose Hill, with its panoramic views of the capital, people come to observe the Autumn Equinox in a ceremony performed by Druids, dressed in their traditional white robes - it is, in effect, a pagan harvest festival.   The Chief Druid, David Loxley, has been heard to say on this occasion:  “As the tree is in the seed, the answer is in the question:  our harvest is the one we deserve.”   Throughout the year, various Druid ceremonies are performed across London, to celebrate the phases of the moon and other key points in the Druid calendar.   Some of these are performed in conspicuous public locations while others are observed in people’s homes and other private spaces.

Very little is known about the ancient Druids.   While they were almost certainly literate, they were the priestly class in a culture that had a powerful oral tradition and they seem not to have believed in leaving behind any written records about themselves;  thus, what we do know of them is mostly sketchy.   We are almost certain that they were a key stratum of Celtic society, occupying a similar position to tribal priests or shamans.   They were spiritual leaders, healers, probably also legal advisers and adjudicators, as well as strategic and political advisors to the leadership of individual tribes.   Our knowledge of the Druids, such as it is, comes down to us largely from sources in Latin and Greek which were, inevitably, written from the position of the successful invader and conqueror, and an invader whose own culture was almost certainly perceived as superior.   Nevertheless, Julius Caesar wrote about them with a surprising degree of respect, noting their belief that, ”souls do not perish, but after death pass from one to another.”   More importantly, he also recorded that they were observers of ”the stars and their movements, the size of the cosmos and the earth, the world of nature, and the powers of deities.”   He observed too that the Druids were exempt from paying taxes;  they were excused military service;  they held the power to exclude individuals from religious practices, even to excommunicate them from the tribe;  and they practised human sacrifice, in which men, mostly criminals, were fastened inside a large effigy, called a ‘wicker man’, and then burned alive.   After the Roman invasion of Gaul, the Druidic orders there were suppressed and they subsequently disappeared from the conquerors’ written records, though this does not mean, of course, that their deep-rooted practices and beliefs were altogether expunged from Celtic culture.

As one element of the Celtic revival, during the late 18th and 19th centuries, various fraternal and ‘neo-pagan’ groups were formed, many of these based on the little that was known of the ideas and practices of ancient Druids.   Academics have sometimes labelled these endeavours at revivification as ‘Neo-Druidism’, maintaining that some of the freshly espoused ideas, practices and beliefs were fabricated on the basis of shaky foundations, inadequate because, even today, there is so little reliable information about what the ancient Druids actually believed and practised.   There is even some dispute about who actually conceived and founded the modern ‘Ancient Druid Order’, but nowadays most scholars seem to agree that it was probably George Watson MacGregor Reid, in 1909.   Of course, somewhat earlier, antiquarians like John Aubrey and William Stukeley had postulated connections between the Druids and the great megalithic monuments, like Stonehenge and Avebury.   The Druids were also featured in some of the great works of 19th century English Romanticism and, while they were often dismissed, ridiculed even, by the established religions, Druidism continued to make followers of those who were in search of some higher truth, some mystical explanation of the meaning of life, in which the more prosaic conventional religions seemed wanting.   One of the particularly attractive aspects of Druidism is that it could teach you how to prosper in the practical world but how to be spiritual as well.   To the great consternation of Melanie Phillips, writing in the The Daily Mail, Druids also managed to form a recognised charity, called the Druid Network, with the aim of fostering networks between various Druid groups, together with the promotion of Druidry as a religion, educating people about it, and inspiring them to espouse it.

It was my earnest intention to photograph and interview a practising London Druid but after many months of searching for a volunteer, I could find no-one willing to come forward.   So, it was my great pleasure to have my invitation accepted by someone very special, someone who had been closely connected with London in the past and who still visits in order to teach, to make presentations, to hold meetings and to conduct funerals:  Archdruid, Terry Dobney, the Keeper of the Stones at the Avebury Stone Circle.

When I was invited to the Archdruid’s ancient Wiltshire cottage, to photograph and to interview him, I must confess to experiencing a frisson of apprehension:  one sometimes entertains the notion that religious or spiritual leaders must be by their very nature somewhat aloof, perhaps even on a different plane altogether from us lesser mortals, but I am pleased to say that my fears were ill-grounded.   Instead, I was very warmly welcomed by Terry Dobney, and by his partner Sue, both of whom were delightfully informal and immensely cordial.   However, Terry is undoubtedly a very charismatic individual:  he may well look his age (he’s 69) but the vitality and the sheer joie de vivre he radiates is what you might expect of a much younger man.

These days, Terry is an Archdruid of some fame and reputation - he is often seen on television and in documentary films - but, as I was soon to discover, even his life as an ‘ordinary chap’ was quite extraordinary.   He has been a soldier, a motor bike engineer and racer, and as a young man in London, he was a Teddy Boy, a Rocker and a Hell’s Angel.   As a passionate political activist, he was to be seen manning anti-war barricades and marching with anti-fascist and feminist demonstrators.   He is a father, he used to run his own motorcycle business, and lots more besides.   Despite all of that, and despite his present elevated position within English Druidry, I did not discern the slightest sign of an inflated ego and I hope that the photograph I took of him confirms how down-to-earth he is.

Knowing but a few skeletal details about Terry, I asked him to tell me something about his childhood, which he duly did:  “I was born in Farnham, in Surrey, but was brought up in Aldershot in Hampshire, often seen as the ‘Home of the British Army’.   It was only me and my sister, and she is very, very different from me in every way.   Both of our parents were on active service during World War II and, just like my grandfather, my father was a professional photographer, though he later became a Driving Test Examiner.   My mother was Scottish and she had spent the War serving as the Nursing Matron in charge of the Burns Unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where they specialised in caring for young fighter pilots who had suffered horrific facial burns.”

I asked Terry if he had had a happy childhood, and he went on:  “After the War, lots of people were badly traumatised and it took both my parents some years to turn over on to a new page.  They were very strict with both of us, money was incredibly tight, and yes, we did have lots of childish adventures and things to inspire us, but I can’t say I remember our home being filled with a great deal of joy or happiness - there wasn’t a lot of laughter to be heard in our house.   But life wasn’t easy for our parents;  well, after the War, it wasn’t very easy for anyone amongst our class of people.”

“I went to primary school in Aldershot where, naturally, there was a high percentage of Army children.   It was a bit of a ‘rough and tumble place’ and the education we received was basic and brutal.   After that start, I progressed to secondary school, also in the locality, and while I didn’t do too well, I did well enough to get into an Engineering apprenticeship at a well-known company, called Rockwell, that manufactured welding equipment.   This gave me a good, basic grounding in Engineering which has served me well throughout my life.   After Rockwell, I switched to working in a motorbike shop, while I carried on with my Engineering studies at night school and as a day-release student.   Remember, this was very much still the post-War, ‘make do and mend’ period in England - everything that could possibly be fixed, got fixed;  we did it all ourselves and engineers were still in great demand.”

In those early days, Terry was still living at home with his parents and, as is not uncommon, disagreements between father and son were not infrequent - two strong men living under one roof do find it hard not to engender tension and conflict.   Terry’s father had had higher expectations of his son, while Terry was growing up into a self-willed young man with a strong personality;  he certainly knew his own mind.  

By this time, Terry was not only repairing motorcycles but riding them too and, as is often the way with young bikers, he loved to drive fast.    At the tender age of 16, he collided at speed with a Land Rover and sustained such horrific injuries that at one point he virtually ‘died’ on the operating table.  The surgeons managed to revive him, however, though his recovery from the trauma of having 21 bones broken did take a long time and, unsurprisingly, some of the damage proved to be permanent.   “Yes, that was a bad time for me, Milan, but by the time I got over the accident, I’d matured, I’d become a man;  I was old for my age.   While in the Scouts, I did a fair amount of boxing, and I had a reputation for being a bit of a toughie.   I did more boxing later on too.”   Terry continued to work in the bike shop but by then he was doing a lot more than just repairing motorcycles:  his aptitude for ‘wheeling and dealing’ began to serve him well but he also took up competitive motor racing and even did some marshalling at race events.  

“Then I did something incredibly stupid, considering how much I already knew about the dark side of army life.   By the time I was 18, with my father glad to be rid of me, would you believe it, I joined the Army.   I fitted in well amongst the recruits - I was already quite competent at drinking and fighting and these talents, as you might imagine, stood me in good stead.   I was only in for 19 months, however, before I received a medical discharge;  I’d been too badly injured as a result of my accident and I simply wasn’t able to get fit enough.   I shouldn’t really have been signed up in the first place but they were very keen to let me in - they badly needed experienced mechanics.”

It was 1968:  ‘flower power’ was resonating all around London;  hemlines were going up;  parks were filled with rock music;  the post-War gloom had begun to lift at last;  and Terry was up for it all. With a laugh, he continued:  “Fresh out of the Army, I felt freedom in my soul, and I wanted to be part of this ‘love revolution’.   No, I wasn’t handsome but I was a bit battered and gnarled.   My nose had been shifted sideways by the boxing and when I joined the Teddy Boys, I certainly looked the part.   From there, most of the lads went on to become ‘Rockers’ and, with powerful motorbikes now between our leather-clad legs, the natural progression from that was to join the Hell’s Angels.”  Terry is not someone who does things by half:  he lived for his powerful motorbikes and he loved the speed - during one year alone (1969) he was stopped by the Police for speeding 76 times, so often, indeed, that he managed to lodge a claim against them for victimisation.

When not hanging out at the Hell’s Angels’ favourite meeting place, Stonebridge’s iconic Ace Cafe, Terry could be outside the American Embassy, protesting against the Vietnam War, though he might equally well have been marching for women’s rights, for nuclear disarmament, or for some other anti-establishment, pro-human rights cause.   With a mischievous laugh, Terry says:  “Yes, you might say that I was a touch rebellious!   As a Hell’s Angel, I got arrested by the Police in London just for being who I was;  I was picked up simply for being a Hell’s Angel, in a public place, not actually doing anything.   They would make up some rule or other just so they could nick me.   I got arrested umpteen times, all over London.   But I wasn’t just in the Police’s bad books:  from time to time, I also had serious disagreements with the other Angels, mostly because of our increasingly divergent politics.   Many of them didn’t approve of what they saw as my left-wing views and, while I remained a loyal member of the tribe, I couldn’t accept the racist and white supremacist views exhibited by some of my fellow Angels.   Of course, the old Hell’s Angels community lives on;  I am still an honorary member and now I get asked to officiate at their funeral services.  It is a brotherhood after all.”

Then, when he was 23, Terry got seriously involved with Labour politics.   He stopped drinking beer and learnt to enjoy wine instead - he even drank tea with Tony Benn - and he courted a local beauty who just happened to be a prominent Labour activist.   This was the time when he opened his own motorbike shop in Camberley, specialising, amongst other things, in restoring and selling iconic bikes to the Americans.   He was also one of the first dealers to sell Hondas - these had only just arrived in Europe from Japan - and he was involved in building highly specialised racing bikes.   For many years, he took part in the complicated politics of the bike racing world and he knew all the big names in the business.   For over 11 years, he was closely associated with the Isle of Man TT Races.

Terry continues:  “Then I got an invitation to go to America to help set up some vintage racing events there.   The Americans were rather late getting in on the act but once they’d discovered that there was money to be made from vintage bikes, these promotional events really took off.   In the early 1980’s, I got involved with some people selling Russian motorcycles and, in 1982, I got sponsored to ride around America on a Russian motorbike and side car, called a Dnepr (made in Kiev apparently).”   What a delightful irony that must have been, a bearded, leather-clad British lefty riding round the States, promoting Soviet-made motorbikes in a land where everyone was still in fear of the ‘reds under the bed’.   “You could not make it up,” Terry laughs, “riding all over the US on my own, visiting various dealers who’d expressed interest in selling these Dnepr motorbikes;  it was great fun, certainly a great adventure, and I got paid for it too.”

That might have been thirty-five years ago but Terry has still not relinquished the enthralling world of speed on two wheels:  under the same thatched roof, in the cottage where I photographed and interviewed him, there stand three, massive, lovingly-restored motorbikes.   And there are 13 more in the garage outside!   Self-evidently, these magnificent machines continue to be very much a part of Terry’s life;  as soon as he’s astride one of them, he’s a Hell’s Angel all over again and still ‘king of the road’.

It was at this point in his story that I wanted to explore how Terry had progressed from his previous, primarily biker existence into becoming an Archdruid and Keeper of the Stones at Avebury.   It soon became apparent that it wasn’t a clean break;  there was no Damascene conversion;  Terry’s two worlds continue to be intertwined and in many ways they complement each other magnificently in his unorthodox personality.

“Milan, I have now lived in this historic cottage for almost 20 years but, considering that this part of the world was inhabited by a succession of ancient tribes for thousands of year, you could say that I’m a bit of a late arrival.   The first time I came here I was nine years old;  it was 1958 and it was on a trip organised by the Scouts.   Though I was still a Cub Scout, I was already a big lad by then. Whilst we were all admiring the Avebury Stones, and the monumental Silbury Hill nearby (it’s the largest man-made prehistoric mound in Europe and compares in height and volume with the Great Pyramids) my scoutmaster told me that these temples were all built by Pagans and Druids.   Immediately, I wanted to learn more, but when I asked my Religious Instruction teacher at school, and a local priest, about who the Druids were, they both responded in a peculiarly evasive way, a way that only piqued my inquisitive spirit further.   I knew that I was on to something and they were not prepared to talk to me about it.”

Terry claims that he still has not the slightest belief in the existence of God, and he keeps quoting Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist, high priest of atheism, and scourge of true believers everywhere.   Terry only worships the Earth, with some praise, of course, for motorbikes!   That single Scout trip aroused in a young mind an interest in the life of Druids, a desire to find out what they believed in and what they had left behind.   It was a jigsaw puzzle which many have attempted to put together, yet no-one has managed to produce a single, coherent picture that is entirely convincing, perhaps because so many of the jigsaw pieces seem to have been lost in the mists of time.

“I discovered that every year the Druids celebrated the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge so, from 1962 to 1969, I was there with them.   Initially, I was not so much drawn to the spiritual side of the ceremonies;  the mechanic in me wanted to understand how these monumental temples had actually been constructed and once when I understood some of that, I naturally started to ask what purpose had they served.   It was then that I began to find the existing explanations anything but convincing.   The archeologists, the historians, and the religious theoreticians had all had a go at it, but to me, though some of what they said made sense, a great many things seemed to me plainly wrong.”   Terry is certainly not someone who would swallow any old orthodoxy ‘hook, line and sinker’, for he has an analytical and scientific mind;  he draws his conclusions about the world around him by observing it, by discovering and understanding nature’s patterns, and by uncovering the simplicity within the complexity.

“I was always drawn towards Avebury.   I took part in the ceremonies held here, attended by only a few people in those days, and I always had this feeling that Avebury was on one of nature’s energy centres and that, at specific times, these energies increased - they seem to be at their peak around dawn.   In the late 1980’s, I was still living near Camberley where I had my business restoring and racing classic bikes, as well as teaching engineering at the local college.   At that time, I used to come over to Avebury with someone who insinuated that she worked on the ‘dark side’ of the Craft;  she claimed to be a witch and she told me that, for her, visiting Avebury was an empowering experience.   Her magic worked in more ways than one, though:  we had had two children together and then, quite suddenly, in 1993, she disappeared with both the children, who were were still very young.   She seemed simply to have vanished from the face of the earth and I didn’t see my children again for over 11 years.   Apparently, she changed their names as well as her own and, just as all witches are supposed to do, she vanished into thin air.   Life sometimes does take extraordinary turns, doesn’t it?”

In 1959, R J C Atkinson, a professor of Archeology, had published, Stonehenge and Avebury and Neighbouring Monuments:  his treatise maintained that these monuments predated the Druids who, as Celtic priests, had come to these isles some time after 250BC, by which time these great monolithic constructions were already abandoned and in ruins.   English Heritage, which is currently responsible for maintaining Stonehenge and the neighbouring monuments, all of which are now major tourist attractions, used Atkinson’s work as the justification for its aggressive and systematic endeavour to discourage attention on the Druids;  indeed, every effort was made to prevent the performance of the annual Summer and Winter solstice ceremonies.   Unsurprisingly,  these small-minded and ill-conceived efforts resulted in a backlash, not only from the Druids themselves but from thousands of others who opposed what they saw as the high-handed appropriation of a long cultural heritage that was the common property of everyone.   In consequence, for a number of years, there were annual clashes between the Stonehenge authorities, assisted by the Police, and hundreds of protesters who asserted their right of access to the stones.   Eventually, some kind of truce was established and, in recent years, limited access to Stonehenge has been granted to a select group of Druids who are permitted to perform their solstice ceremonies.   But trust has been damaged:  even now, an article by the Daily Mail’s provocative and notoriously dogmatic columnist, Melanie Phillips, has been re-published on the English Heritage website;  the article contains a tendentious and vitriolic attack on the Druids and heaps ridicule upon their beliefs.   One has to wonder why English Heritage shpild wish to be so provocative and give further airing to such an obnoxious rant.   Terry eagerly adds:  “We know with some certainty that the Celts did not come to England until around 1700 BC, when the great monolithic temples were already two thousand years old.   It is our belief that the people who built these temples were Proto-Druids, and we have a fair idea who these people were.”

Like everything else, the motorcycle world has changed dramatically in recent years:  the mechanics are now very highly sophisticated, the electronics are impenetrable, and what used to be a two thousand pound bike has now become a twenty thousand pound machine.   The sale and distribution of motorbikes have changed enormously too.   Feeling less and less inclined to accommodate such wide-reaching change, Terry decided to call it a day;  he sold his business and his bungalow in Surrey and moved into his present cottage near Avebury, thus avoiding a great many 50-mile trips.   At last, he would be there, on the spot, and able to perform all the timed rituals, especially the eight sun-related ceremonies and the thirteen ceremonies marking the cycles of the moon.  

Terry continued:  “The previous Keeper of the Stones lived here.   He was an enigmatic man from the art world, and a well-known art appraiser, but as a Druid he regularly performed the rituals here in Avebury and became known as the Archdruid of Wiltshire.   When he became very ill and no longer able to perform the rituals, I was elected to take over the role as Archdruid and ever since then, I have performed the great majority of ceremonies here at Avebury.   To start with, I became a sort of liaison officer between the nine different groups of local Druids, but also linking in with local healers and wiccas.   I have to work with the Police, the local Parish Council, and be a friendly face to the press and the media, who are not always on our side.   I also sit on the English Heritage committee and get involved with the numerous archeological groups that come here frequently.   When the Silbury Hill was being explored by archeologists and other researchers, I performed the appropriate ceremonies at the beginning and the end of their work.   I also make sure that my face is seen during all the major strategic and political discussions about our monuments and temples around Avebury.   As you can imagine, there are often conflicts of interest and these have to be resolved amicably;  this requires considerable diplomacy and a lot of patience - a great deal of heat and antagonism has to be got through.   After a long day of wrangling and argy-bargy, I sometimes think of it all as ‘bitchcraft’.”   Terry laughs.

In a recent interview, Terry said:  “It is high time that the Druids were recognised not only as a religion but as one of the oldest religions in the world.   It is thought that Druidism dates back more than 11,500 years and thus pre-dates Judaism.   The early Druids were the priestly cast who enshrined the laws and mores of Celtic society and provided its leaders.”

“Milan, I have been a frequent visitor to Avebury - latterly a resident - for almost half a century and, mostly by myself, I have discovered the powerful energy forces that are present here.   On the basis of my own, detailed local knowledge, I frequently debate with the archeologists and social anthropologists who come here, armed with their official beliefs and orthodoxies;  we exchange ideas on how this place actually functioned.   Though I feel strongly that I have a pretty good understanding of it, I have never been reluctant to learn whatever I can from others - I might be 69 but you’re never too old to learn and to discover more.”

Terry believes that we now have a good idea about why the various Avebury sites were constructed:  they provide an earthly chart that relates directly to the celestial bodies above.   The circles also provided a centre of activity for the appreciation or worship of the sun and the moon.   What we have here is a complex, giant sun-dial, capable of predicting lunar eclipses.

“What do the English talk about most?   The weather!   And whom do they trust the least?   Weathermen and politicians, of course!”  Terry chuckles and continues:  “I believe that this place helped the people who lived here to predict the weather too, and this aided successful agriculture, upon which everyone’s life depended.   As we know, there would not be what we now think of as ‘modern civilisation’ without agriculture.   Hunter-gatherers don’t survive in large numbers, and they don’t tend to stay in one locality.   This place was all about teaching people about their connection to Mother Nature, and how to read her signs.   Yes, there are certainly ley lines that meet here but there’s lots more going on around us and below our feet than you would imagine.   There is unique geology here:  there is granite underneath the chalk, which is full of water, and important aquifers flow beneath the temples.   Because the stones are 70% quartz, which is a crystal, some people believe that this place is also a transmitting and receiving station.   For myself, I see Avebury as a solar and lunar temple.”

Britain is increasingly becoming a secular society and most established religions are deeply concerned about their dwindling congregations, so I ask Terry how he sees Druidism fitting into it all.   “I am often asked this question and my answer is quite simple:  the mainstream religions might be in decline but all I can see is that Paganism is growing.   At the beginning of the new millennium, my ceremonies usually attracted about 40 participants and visitors;  four years on, it was 400 and the numbers have continued to grow.   Indeed, with the increasing numbers of participants and the general increase in tourists, we are beginning to be concerned about how best to accommodate all these visitors without damaging the environment.   We don’t want to create too many restrictions on access but we also have to ensure the preservation of the stones in a living landscape.   For example, in recent times, Silbury Hill has been badly damaged by people climbing up what is now quite a fragile structure.”

“Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the Harry Potter books and films have encouraged visits from quite a few Millennials, searching for explanations and hoping to feel the energy for themselves.   Lots of people come here to recharge their ‘spiritual batteries’, to cleanse themselves of the stresses of hectic, modern life, and to rediscover some inner peace.   In their quest, many will discover Druidism as a congenial and satisfying belief system which eventually becomes the guiding light in their lives.   Personally, I don’t charge for conducting Druid ceremonies but I strive continually to maintain high standards and to avoid any corrupting commercialisation.   And, of course, Druids are not the only faith group who celebrate the Summer Solstice;  North American Indians, Aborigines, many African tribes, and Mongolian Shamans celebrate it too.”  

As well as leading the observance of the Summer Solstice and the other seasonal celebrations at Avebury, Terry also conducts Druid ‘handfastings’ (marriages) and other religious ceremonies throughout the year, including farewells to those of his fellow Hell’s Angels who’ve finally come to the end of the road.   Of course, he still continues to work on his motorbikes and, despite the stroke which affected him badly, he continues to enjoy riding his magnificent, powerful machines just as much as he ever did.

“Milan, we are all influenced by the moon;  there would be no life on this planet without the moon and, while I worship the sun too, our understanding of the moon is, in my opinion, more important than our understanding of the sun.   The sun is totally straightforward;  there it is and it shines every day.”   Well, perhaps Terry is right, but as I leave his ancient cottage and head back towards London, I drive through landscape still partially covered by snow;  the vegetation is still grey and dormant and no doubt longing for the warmth of Spring.   Meeting Terry Dobney, Archdruid and Keeper of the Stones, has been a fascinating experience:  I have learned a great deal;  we laughed a lot;  and I left feeling that the full biography of this extraordinary man is just waiting to be written.  

Text edited:  15th April 2018

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Page modified: 17th March 2019