Brigantes Tribal belly dancers at Beltane at Thornborough 2016 | Photo by Ralph Turner

About Beltane at Thornborough


Beltane is the Celtic fire festival that celebrates the beginning of summer. The festival originated with the rural tradition of lighting 'lucky fires' at the start of May. The purpose of these fires was to provide magical protection to people and livestock in the year ahead. Druids were said to have once performed these ancient rites.

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Thornborough Henge

Thornborough Henge is a prehistoric monument consisting of three giant circular earthworks. It was constructed 5000 years ago by the first neolithic (new stone age) farmers as an enclosure for their ritual gatherings. The Henge became an important centre in Britain for pilgrimage and trade, although its exact purpose still remains a mystery.

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Brigantia is the Celtic goddess of the Brigantes tribe, who were the largest tribal group in Britain at the time of the Roman invasion, 2000 years ago. Their territory extended from the river Mersey to the river Tyne, and covered most of what is now the north of England. They are also recorded as having held territoy in the south east of Ireland, and Brigantia may be considered cognate with the Irish deity Brigid.

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Thornborough Henge is located in the heart of the tribal kingdom of Brigantia. It is for this reason that we celebrate the festival of Beltane at Thornborough in the name of the goddess Brigantia.

Hail Brigantia!

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Beltane at Thornborough 2012

Beltane at Thornborough 2006

Handfasting at Beltane at Thornborough