Carleton College is rich in Druid lore. Students may not know it today, but whenever they use the term “Hill of Three Oaks”, they’re referring to that little mound with a name invented by Druids!
The early Druid chronicles report that all Carleton services were traditionally held in what today’s students call the Upper Arboretum—indeed, this is still the case, for the Upper Arb is close to campus and some places on it feel like they have a special power, whereas the Lower Arb is very far away and is under constant renovation by the secular Arb Office. There are many places in the Upper Arb important to Druids, two of which were named by Druids, and one of which was built by us!
In Early Chronicles 3.6, an altar is built on a hill in the Upper Arb. According to the note it is Monument Hill, where the the trees are sparse. The Christian monuments on that hill are still there today, but there is no trace of the old altars. Hill of Three Oaks took the place of Monument Hill quite quickly, but in the preface to “A Service for Beltane” (1976), Richard Shelton notes that the hill used for services is usually Monument Hill. It is no longer used today.
The Hill of Three Oaks
In Latter Chronicles 8:8-11 the Druids go looking for a new place to have services. They came to a hill in the fields of the Lower Arb (this is before the Rec Center was built and the grass mowed), wishing to dub it the Hill of the Three Oaks, and as explained in the note, they were surprised to find that the three trees on the hills were indeed all oaks. Other notes suggest that this is where most services were held over the next years, including the one where the President of Carleton was initiated into the 1st order. Today, Hill of Three Oaks is a beloved place for drunken revelry which makes it perfect for continued Druid use.
The Druid Den
A large fire pit with a stone circle around it, just across from Three Oaks, was known as the Dancing Sisters in the early days. Today it’s more often called the Druid Den or the Little Grove. It is accessible through an old wooden gate; it’s also not clear to me who the gate was ever meant to keep out. Its secluded location also makes it good for initiations and services.
The Stone Circle
The Stone Circle was built by the Archdruid Irony Sade ’99 out of cleared rocks. The admissions website at Carleton refers to the Stone Circle as the home of the Druids, but this is not true. Unfortunately the woods around it have been razed to get rid of buckthorn. Although my 1st order initiation was there, the other two places have a much more spiritual quality to them and are used more frequently.
The Lower Arboretum is an enormous and mysterious place, little-used by students except during jogging. The best places in the Lower Arb are all secret, and are discovered anew by each generation of students. I have only the names of many of the locations from past years: the fairy hills, the old sweatlodge, Dragon Isle, the waterfall, the fairy road, the wish portal, the prominence of power, the chair of Arthur, the nest of dragon eggs, the oak tree with boulders, the prairie altar.
I myself can attest to the discovery or construction of three locations in the Lower Arb: the deer beds, the crazy beaver’s timber, and the shrine.