An ancient ceremony was enacted at the anti-fracking camp on the outskirts of Chester to mark the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year.
Members of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids (OBOD) visited Upton Community protection Camp, off Duttons Lane, on Sunday (December 20) to perform their rituals.
Strictly speaking the Winter Solstice in the UK occurs at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) on Tuesday, December 22.
Watch the video below - at four minutes see the piper and drummer perform to the circle of people gathered.
Life is rarely dull at the anti-fracking camp which was established in April 2014 to try and stop IGas Energy drilling an exploratory borehole for coalbed methane because of environmental concerns.
The energy firm recently gained an eviction order with bailiffs expected at any time so Sunday’s ceremony must have proved a welcome distraction.
Everyone was invited to the ceremony, with the reassurance that ‘you do not need to be a druid, nor even pagan’. There was a request for ‘no alcohol or other substances’ prior to the ceremony but promise of wine or mead and cake to be shared afterwards.
Anti-fracking Upton Labour Cllr Matt Bryan believes ‘direct action’ is now the only way to prevent fracking at the site but has not yet decided how far he personally is prepared to go in the battle that lies ahead.
He commented: “There is a really positive vibe up there; people are looking forward to Christmas. The camp continues to enjoy a huge amount of support from the community. People have been bringing food and Christmas cards.”
The councillor, who said tree houses had been created and tunnels dug ahead of eviction day, added: “People are resolved to resist but in a completely non-violent way.”
Police will be on hand when the bailiffs arrive to ensure there is no breach of the peace.
And last week Cllr Bryan attended a meeting with Cheshire Constabulary's Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts and Chief Inspector Paul Williams, who heads up the Chester policing team. However, Cllr Bryan is unaware when the eviction will take place. He said the bailiffs will have the authority of the High Court but will be paid by IGas and removing stubborn protesters could cost thousands of pounds per day.
IGas spokesman David Petrie said in a previous statement: “We respect the right to peaceful protest however it has been made clear to the protestors they are on our site illegally and without consent. Having recently taken ownership of the lease for the site, we expect the protestors to cease occupation and leave peacefully.”