The Longstone, on downland above the tiny village of Mottistone, Isle of Wight, has as many moods as there are days in each year, in the perpetual cycle of death and rebirth that plays out here around the ever-turning wheel of each year, over which it has watched since Neolithic times.
Probably the oldest and finest sacred site on the Island as well as one of the most southerly in England, The Longstone is the remains of a long barrow with one 12ft stone remaining upright and another fallen, altar-like, at its feet. Archaeologists believe that the two stones, of local greensand, were the original uprights at the revetted entrance to the great barrow mound, now mostly organically assimilated back into the lovely sculpted downland landscape. The fallen stone is reputed to have been moved by a local squire, curious to see what was underneath, although he found nothing.
The Longstone faces the rising sun in the East and at its back are the now near-flattened remains of the chamber and its perimeter ditch, excavated in 1956 when Neolithic pottery remains were discovered. Round bowl, bell and disc barrows of different periods dot the hillsides above, where rises Five Barrows Down (although, in fact, a total of eight barrows are to be found there).
It seems certain that the village of Mottistone with its picturesque ancient manor, an enchanting short walk down through a gorgeous dell-dappled bluebell wood and with lovely gardens occasionally open to the public, was named from The Longstone and its time-honoured use as a place of solemn community meeting and perhaps, also, of judgment. The Old English motere means public speaker and a mot (or moot) was a meeting so it seems likely this was an important meeting place and the site itself, the local speaker’s stone.
The ancient Brythonic Druids are believed to have met at The Longstone, the most central of their Island sites, before their banishment farther North and West. In Roman days it is claimed to have been a widely-renowned centre of the military Mithras bull-worship cult, visited from near and far. And the Saxons and Jutes who later dominated the area are also believed to have used the site as their local parliament. Through the Dark Ages, it also played an important part as a sacred place of meeting and counsel for the Island.
Today, Pagans are drawn to this spot at each festival and many handfastings and rites of passage are celebrated here. One local Morris side has a regular fixture at The Longstone and simply turns up annually at dawn, unadvertised, with its traditional barrel of beer, its delightful music and dance, to pay its own particular form of homage.
Although not directly under threat and only a couple of hundred yards from an isolated National Trust-owned cottage, the site is beginning to suffer from erosion to its sandy soil from its many thousands of annual visitors and the stones themselves from damage to their age-old lichen, as a result of being climbed and clambered on by the misguided. Offerings are almost always to be seen on or around the stones, usually mercifully biodegradable but sometimes regrettably not.
The greatest tribute a visitor can pay to this beautiful and unique sacred site is to tread gently and to respect the sanctity of the stones, leaving The Longstone exactly as they found it – and might perhaps hope to find it if, or when, visiting again, in this or another lifetime.
- Maurice Paul Bower
Next Festival: Alban Eiler/Spring Equinox
By star and stone
By the power of the land
Within and without
By all that is fair and free…
HAIL, Spirit, and welcome to the online home of Wight Druids, the Isle of Wight Grove, and of the public face of Druidry on the Isle of Wight, a small but beautiful and sunny Island just off the south coast of England.
Here the ancestral torch has been re-kindled after many hundreds of years so its inhabitants may once again celebrate the turning of the wheel of the year in harmony with their roots and with their natural surroundings.
This website is intended to be a useful resource for anyone interested in learning more about this powerful native tradition and a point of contact for anyone living on the Island, holidaying here or even just passing through who wishes to know more or simply to experience the tremendous beauty and joy of re-establishing intimate contact with the natural world around them, with the ways of their ancestors and with the true depth of their inner instinctive selves.
Wight Druids, or the Grove of Ynys Wyth, was established at Midsummer 2004 to celebrate the eight Druid festivals at the key nodal points of each year in open rites and to provide a nurturing ‘home’ for all those in search of their true inner selves, their wellspring of inspiration.
You are invited to return to this site as it grows and develops to explore further or, in the meantime, click on the ‘Contact’ menu item to get in touch directly.
Alternatively, go to the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids website at
for an excellent in-depth tour of modern UK Druidry.
And may your Journey be Blessed.
This year's dreadful pandemic has obliged us to create podcasts in lieu of our usual open celebrations of the eight Druid festivals. These are, so far:
Summer Solstice 2020:
Alban Elfed/Autumn Equinox 2020:
Alban Arthan/Winter Solstice 2020:
Wight Druids, part of the Isle of Wight Druid Order, are proud to be affiliated to The Druid Network