A TOWERING wickerman is slowly taking shape at Butser Ancient Farm in readiness for the annual Beltain Festival bonfire.

Roughly about 30ft high, the wickerman burning is the climax of the pagan festival, celebrated each year at the farm off Chalton Lane.

Rachel Bingham of the farm said: “It is being made by volunteers led by Darren Hammerton and Michael Bennett who work in the sustainable local woodlands from which the timber and coppiced hazel for the Wickerman is sourced.

“The festival is inspired by an ancient Celtic celebration to welcome in the warmer summer months and bless a good harvest, and a Druidic ritual will open the proceedings.

“The festival will be jam packed with stalls, culminating in the burning of the unique wickerman at dusk.

“The evening also includes a real ale bar, live music, hot food, traditional crafts, a chance to dress up in traditional costumes, folk dancing, and much more with new additions including the South Downs Singers.”

Also at the festival on Saturday, May 5, will be a Saxon re-enactment group, who were at the farm over Easter, living as Saxons in the round house there.

Jennifer Comley of Herigas Hundas said: “Easter visitors to the farm enjoyed the living history and fighting demonstrations from Herigeas Hundas, and we will be giving action packed fighting displays and living history demonstrations for visitors at the Beltain Festival.”

Tickets for the Beltain Festival cost £17.50 for adults, and £12.50 a child in advance, or £25 for adults, and £20 a child on the night. For more information about the festival, and to book tickets visit the website at: www.butserancientfarm.co.uk.