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I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain recording and interacting with special places that have a spirit about them. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.

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The C12th south transept door at Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire.


"I have a belief, I guess, in the power of the aggregate human attempt – the best of ourselves. In love and hope and optimism – you know, the magic things that seem inexplicable. Why we are the way we are. I do have a sense of trying to make things better."

Meryl Streep.


The Whispering Knights

I park up Woody and walk through a copse into a field and see the stones for the first time. The field is empty and the stones are beautiful in the softened light. I walk over to the centre of the circle.

My Billingham bag holds all the paraphernalia of a travelling photographer. I’ve set up my device upon a tripod right at the heart of the circle. My finger hovers over my watch which acts as a remote for the camera on my device. With the stones encircling me, I feel as though I’m at the centre of the universe.

Then, just as I’m about to take the shot, people start to team in through the entrance at the opposite end of the field. They each react to the stone circle in a different way. One family starts to count the stones. They walk intently around each stone and shout out the numbers as they pass. One man, dressed in a long white robe, walks over to the bench at the side of the field and sits in contemplation.

"One man, dressed in a long white robe tied at the waist with a rope, walks over to the bench at the side of the field and sits in contemplation."

"They're all behaving a bit oddly", I think. I smirk at the stone-counters and raise an eyebrow at the robe clad man.

Can’t they see what I’m trying to do? Couldn’t they just hold back for a second? I feel frustrated - I want to get my shot - to record the stones.

Of course, it’s a misguided form of entitlement, underpinned by technology that tells me that I’m undeniably at the centre of everything: the me, myself and I - my viewpoint incorruptible.

Unfulfilled, I pick up my device and walk out of the field.

I see a sign for the Whispering Knights. They lie a few hundred yards away in another field. I take the dog-leg path that circumvents the field. The path turns in on the stones, offering a view of them across the valley. As they get closer they rise above the horizon - each stone entangled with the other. Again, the light is soft and welcoming and the stones look magnificent against the backdrop of the valley beneath.

There’s nobody else here, so I pull the camera from my bag and start to take some photographs, until I’m shuttered by an overwhelming feeling to strip back - to remove the paraphernalia of modernity. And it isn’t a completely pleasant feeling - my hackles are raised, I feel uncomfortable.

"I’m shuttered by an overwhelming feeling to strip back..."

So I do it. I take the 360 cam from around my neck, I put the tripod and pocket cam back into my bag. I switch off my iPhone and put it into my pocket, and finally, I take off my watch. I place it all behind a tree next to a bench and walk over to the stones.

For a moment, I disappear: Andy Marshall the frustrated and entitled photographer, the writer, the anxiety ridden camper-van-camino chap - completely disappears.

I walk back over to the stone circle and notice that I’m trying to rub away the indentation marks that my watch has made upon my wrist. At the stone circle, I watch as more people walk into the field. Students, lovers, hikers, academics and tourists. I hear laughing, chanting and chatter. A young man hangs something on a nearby tree. Now there’s a large group of students who are counting the stones. Two young lads with back-packs stand in the corner of the field, wrestling each other to the ground. One of them drops a crisp packet on the floor. In the middle of the circle there lies a couple - prostrate - head to head - with arms outstretched.

Where do I fit into all this - the grumpy photographer?

Then I see it through the blurred movement of people passing in front of me. From where I’m standing, it looks like an orange dot against one of the stones on the other side of the circle. It seems to be blinking.

I walk around the outer edges of the circle (and pick up the crisp packet) - then cut through the centre, past the prostrate couple who are now sitting up and having a smoke. As I move closer the bright orange dot takes shape.

It’s a butterfly. It looks so utterly fresh and present against the ancient oolitic that it grounds me in the here and now.

A new cohort of tourists walk in through the gate. They see the druid on the bench, the couple smoking at the centre of the circle, and a middle-aged man on his knees intently observing a bright orange dot on a stone.

At the heart of it all the stones stand still and silent like an echo of the universe. Their stillness and silence is so polished with time that they have become mirrors. The full gamut of human existence passes through them like the motions of an orrery.

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The Rollright Stones.

I came to the Rollright stones after visiting the remarkable church at Long Compton (just a couple of miles away).

They consist of three areas of stones: the King's Men stone circle; the Whispering Knights burial chamber and the King Stone.

Legend has it that they are a king and his courtiers petrified by a witch. The story was first mentioned in William Camden's Britannia in 1586.

The King Stone.

The King Stone stands in a field on its own, behind it are extensive views of the Cotswolds. It is the youngest of the stones and is thought to be Bronze Age c. 1500 BC.

The King's Men Stone Circle

Dating from the late Neolithic, c. 2,500 BC. It is said that the stones are impossible to count - that you never come to the same number twice.

I'm struck by their gnarled and weathered appearance, but, even more remarkable, is that the stones have been a habitat for rare lichen - some of the colonies are over 850 years old.

"...even more remarkable, is that the stones have been a habitat for rare lichen - some of the colonies are over 850 years old. "

When the people come and go, most don't realise that there is another life force inhabiting the stones. One that has had a consistency of habitat for thousands of years.

The Whispering Knights

The oldest of the stones on this site. The dolmen or burial chamber is early Neolithic c3800-3500 BC.

From certain angles they do look as though they are in conversation - leaning in on each other.

Once again, on the south aspect, I see a flash of colour - somebody has placed an apple in the well of the stone. I find the combination striking - the transient and mouldering apple (a symbol from the very beginning of mythical time) against the 160 million year old oolitic limestone that has been standing upright for over 5000 years.

I move from the macro to the micro with my camera - from the gnarled surface of the stone to the dented, fleshy skin of the apple.

I'm reminded of the stained glass window at St. Edmund in Falinge near Rochdale in Lancashire: Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and the drama behind a single piece of fruit.

And because places are portals to other thoughts - I'm taken off at a tangent, once again, and remember a snippet of a poem by Betjeman called An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffield

The sounds are discreeter
Of shoes upon stone -
The worshippers wending
To welcoming chapel,
Companioned or lone;
And over a pew there
See loveliness lean,
As Eve shows her apple
Through rich bombazine;

The next best thing to being there...

Members can see three VR 360 images of the Rollright Stones by clicking on the box below (viewable on any device):

Be there: Rollright Stones in glorious VR
Legend has it that they are a king and his courtiers petrified by a witch. The story was first mentioned in William Camden’s Britannia in 1586.

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Getting there:

There's ample parking right next to the stones on the main road. There's a cafe nearby (a short drive away) with toilets.


There's a lovely walk that takes in Long Compton and the Rollright stones here:

Walking around Long Compton

Church Little Rollright – Whispering Knights loop from Whichford | hike | Komoot
Detailed maps and GPS navigation for the hike: “Church Little Rollright – Whispering Knights loop from Whichford” 04:41 h 16.7 km


Not the bridges of Madison County, but the churches of the Romney Marsh.

Van life doesn't get better than this. Photographing a series of churches from the van - my respite, my studio and mode of transport.

Recently, I was interviewed by journalist Didier Rochard about my journey through the Romney Marshes.

Click the box below to read the interview:

Photographing the Romney Marsh Churches — Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust
RMHCT’s Project Assistant, Didier Rochard, spoke to photographer Andy Marshall about his experience photographing the churches of Romney Marsh.

Van Life Gallery
My van, Woody, is my time-travelling machine, taking me to some remarkable places that have altered my mind like wine through water.


Markenfield Hall: Home sweet 14th-century home – e2e.bike
Chieftains, saints and sinners: eight of the best unsung castles and abbeys of Ireland
In a country where historic buildings appear around almost every corner, these lesser-known treasures offer brilliant visits without the crowds
Wrexham’s 480-year-old sweet chestnut crowned tree of the year
Tree that’s withstood storms and firewood collectors wins contest highlighting those in urban areas
How a team of Shropshire villagers rallied to save their local pub
The Falcon Inn in Hinstock lay empty and abandoned. After a huge community effort, it will reopen on Saturday

Start the Week - Stonehenge, and conserving the future - BBC Sounds
Adam Rutherford with Neil Wilkin, Rebecca Nesbit and Thomas Halliday.


The Genius Loci Digest from this time last year:

"This day I have photo shoots in several locations and I’m travelling with a heightened awareness of the landscape around me. The villages I pass through are of the earth - it’s as if the geology beneath has broken through the earth’s crust as an expression of architectural harmony. From my drone the villages are golden and textured and take on an organic plan not that dissimilar to lichen."

Andy Marshall’s Genius Loci Digest - 21 Oct 2022
I took this shot last weekend with the drone and inadvertently caught the act of spill-joy - that time when a wedding party bursts out of the west front after the formality of the nuptials.

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Member Powered Photography Status Page
In essence I’m offering my professional services for free to historic locations in Britain.

New Content:

This week I've added additional Augmented Reality content for Brigstock - particularly the Anglo Saxon door inside the bell tower. AR is amazing - check it out here:

Up Close and Personal: Saxon door at Brigstock in AR
MEMBERS ONLY Anglo Saxon door and stone surround at St. Andrew, Brigstock, Northamptonshire. St. Andrew at Brigstock is renowned for its Saxon tower and circular stair turret. The spire is a later addition. Inside the tower is a classic Saxon doorway.


Thinking about getting your Christmas Cards? Friends of Friendless Churches have just brought out this years Christmas Cards and they both include photographs taken by me:

Our 2023 Christmas cards are now on sale - Friends of Friendless Churches
Our 2023 Christmas cards are now available to order. When you buy our charity Christmas cards you support our work to save and repair historic places of worship all year around.

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Andy Marshall’s Genius Loci Digest
Andy Marshall is documenting his travels in his time-travelling camper van 🚐📸🏛

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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.