Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dean Hill


Little lamb chops

Today I walked up the steep Dean Hill Lane, to the Cotswold Way path, meaning to take a photo of the farmhouse where I think my Saxon family may have lived in the hollow. These lambs and their mother were in the fields,bleating away but not frightened of old Moss, who kept a decent distance from them. The next photo is the farmhouse, cradled in the hollow, if you google earth this particular area, their gardens are quite extensive with a tennis court; something rather sinister looking into other people's backyards.



Back along the track to join the Cotswold Way, but first a photograph of an old felled giant.....



Walking up the track we meet the two enormous husky/alsatian dogs, evil creatures that should be muzzled, they could easily tear Moss to bits, their owner has trouble holding them as I pass, one is snarling at me seemingly, but luckily they fall on each other teeth snapping, Moss has been diverted into the field with a ball and keeps well away from them.
The path up to Kelston Hill is about a mile, again no wild flowers on show, and it is too early for the cowslips on the hill. Skirting the hill I decide to walk down on the other side of the ridge down through the permissive path, which I am informed by the little map at the gate is very steep.



The way down is very steep, ankle-breaking steep, the funny natural terracing on the hillside. This photo shows the Lansdown to the North, the 'bowl' that Bath is trapped in is clearly defined, a great fault that maybe happened millions of years ago.



Another small 'hanging' wood on the way down.

This blog belongs with an earlier blog "Walking" 6th March, in which the wood Shagbear comes up, checking on Sweet's saxon dictionary,

beorg comes up as hill, whilst beorg-hlip means hill-slope. Shag could have the following meaning OE sceaga = coppice; Germanic skag. Therefore Sceapa beorg = Coppice Hill, or even Wood Hill.
Tracing words back into history is fraught with difficulty, but as there is a definite saxon naming of villages around Bath, and these 'hanging' woods clinging to the steep ridges would always have been part of the landscape, their names would come down through the charters.
Google earth picture of Shagbear wood




View to Stantonbury Hill fort



Ghostly trees touched by the sun





Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kinship

Kinship

By Seamus Heaney

i

Kinned by hieroglyphic
Peat on a spreadfield
To the strangled victim,
The love-nest in the bracken,

I step through origins
Like a dog turning
Its memories of wilderness
On the kitchen mat:

The bog floor shakes
Water cheeps and lisps
As I walk down
Rushes and Heather.

I love this turf-face,
Its black incisions,
The cooped secrets
Of process and ritual;

I love the spring
Off the ground,
Each bank a gallows drop,
Each open pool

The unstopped mouth
Of an urn, a moon-drinker,
Not to be sounded
By the naked eye.

ii

Quagmire, swampland, morass:
The slime kingdoms,
Domains of the cold-blodded,
Of mud pads and dirtied eggs.

But bog
Meaning soft,
The fall of windless rain,
Pupil of amber.

Ruminant ground,
Digestion of mollusc
And seed-pod,
Deep pollen-bin.

Earth-pantry, bone vault,
Sun-bank, embalmer
Of votive goods
And sabred fugitives.

Insatiable bride.
Sword-swallower,
Casket, midden,
Floe of history.

Ground that will strip
Its dark side,
Nesting ground,
Outback of my mind.

iii

I found a turf-spade
Hidden under bracken,
Laid flat, and overgrown
With a green fog.

As I raised it
The soft lips of the growth
Muttered and split,
A tawny rut

Opening at my feet
Like a shed skin,
The shaft wettish
As I sank it upright

And beginning to
Steam in the sun.
And now they have twined
That obelisk:

Among the stones,
Under a bearded cairn
A love-nest is disturbed,
Catkin and bog-cotton tremble

As they raise up
The cloven oak-limb.
I stand at the edge of centuries
Facing a goddess.

iv

This centre holds
And spreads,
Sump and seedbed,
A bag of waters

And a melting grave.
The mothers of autumn
Sour and sink,
Ferments of husk and leaf

Deepen their ochres.
Mosses come to a head,
Heather unseeds,
Brackens deposit

Their bronze.
This is the vowel of earth
Dreaming its root
In flowers and snow,

Mutation of wathers
And seasons,
A windfall composing
The floor it rots into.

I grew out of all this
Like a weeping willow
Inclined to
The appetites of gravity.

v

The hand-carved felloes
Of the turf-cart wheels
Buried in a litter
Of turf mould,

The cupid's bow
Of the tail-board,
The socketed lips
Of the cribs:

I deified the man
Who rod there,
God of the wagon,
The hearth-feeder.

I was his privileged
Attendant, a bearer
Of bread and drink,
The squire of his circuits.

When summer died
And wives forsook the fields
We were abroad,
Saluted, given right-of-way.

Watch our progress
Down the haw-lit hedges,
My manly pride
When he speaks to me.

vi

And you, Tacitus,
Observe how I make my grove
On an old crannog
Piled by the fearful dead:

A desolate peace.
Our mother ground
Is sour with the blood
Of her faithful,

They lie gargling
In her sacred heart
As the legions stare
From the ramparts.

Come back to this
'island of the ocean'
where nothing will suffice.
Read the inhumed faces

Of casualty of victim;
Report us fairly,
How we slaughter
For the common good

And shave the heads
Of the notorious,
How the goddess swallows
Our love and terror.

The Goddess Nerthus at Foerlev Nymolle




This must surely be his best poem of the Bog sequence, a flowing stream of words that rise and fall with the sadness of our frail humanity, it reminds me of something written in Homer's Illiad, "His words fell like snow melting into the ground"......

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Seamus Heaney



Bog Queen

By Seamus Heaney

I lay waiting
Between turf-face and demesne wall,
Between Heathery levels
And glass-toothed stone.

My body was Braille
For the creeping influences:
Dawn suns groped over my head
And cooled at my feet,

Through my fabrics and skins
The seeps of winter
Digested me,
The illiterate roots

Pondered and died
In the cavings
Of stomack and socket.
I lay waiting

On the gravel bottom,
My brain darkening,
A jar of spawn
Fermenting underground

Dreams of Baltic amber.
Bruised berries under my nails,
The vital hoard reducing
In the crock of the pelvis.

My diadem grew carious,
Gemstones dropped
In the peat floe
Like the bearings of history.

My sash was a black glacier
Wrinkling, dyed weaves
And phoenician stichwork
Retted on my brests'

Soft moraines.
I knew winter cold
Like the nuzzle of fjords
At my thighs -

The soaked fledge, the heavy
Swaddle of hides.
my skull hibernated
in the wet nest of my hair.

Which they robbed.
I was barbered
And stripped
By a turfcutter's spade

Who veiled me again
And packed coomb softly
Between the stone jambs
At my head and my feet.

Till a peer's wife bribed him.
The plait of my hair,
A slimy birth-cord
Of bog had been cut

And I rose from the dark,
Hacked bone, skull-ware,
Frayed stitches, tufts,
Small gleams on the bank.


So where does this bog queen come from you ask? did Heaney make her up, not quite, but Glob tells the story of the Norse Queen Gunhild which let us say is perhaps a fantasy story.

She was the wife of the notorious King Erik Bloodaxe, beautiful and charming when she got her own way, clever and eloquent, but when she was crossed she could be cruel, false and cunning.

It would seem that she, or her daughter, was enticed to Denmark by King Harald on the understanding that he wanted to marry her, but........................... when she got there with her retinue she was met by a party of slaves and house-carls and badly mistreated. She was then drowned and sunk in a terrifyingly deep bog, and that is how Heaney arrived with his Bog Queen. Now it is said, or at least, historians have worked it out, that a female body found in Juthe Fen in Jutland, on the ancient estate of Haraldskjaer, must be Gunhild, because the area around the bog the body was found in was called Gunnelsmose, that is Gunhild's Bog!

The body of the supposed Queen Gunhild was displayed in a church in Vejle, this body had been found in 1835 by workmen digging a ditch. She had long loose hair, and would have been about 50 years old, a small plump woman who had been pinned down into the bog by stakes and branches. This pinning down could have been because it was thought she was a witch, and that as long as stayed fastened to the earth, her spirit would not come back to haunt the real world.


And there is another poem by Steen Steensen Blicher written in 1841 on Queen Gunshild


Then

Then you were clothed in marten and sable,

decked with precious jewels

gems and pearls in you golden hair

evil thoughts in your mind.

Now

Now you lie naked, shrivelled and foul

With a bald skull for a head

Blacker far than the oaken stake

That wed you to the bog.

----------------------------




Bone Dreams

1
White bone found
on the grazing:
the rough, porous
language of touch

and its yellowing, ribbed
impression in the grass —
­a small ship-burial.
As dead as stone,
flint-find, nugget
of chalk,
I touch it again,
I wind it in

the sling of mind
to pitch it at England
and follow its drop
to strange fields.

II
Bone-house:
a skeleton
in the tongue’s
old dungeons.

I push back
through dictions,
Elizabethan canopies.
Norman devices,


the erotic mayflowers
of Provence
and the ivied latins
of churchmen

to the scop’s
twang, the iron
flash of consonants
cleaving the line.


In the coffered
riches of grammar
and declensions
I found ban-hus,


its fire, benches,
wattle and rafters,
where the soul
fluttered a while

in the roofspace.

There was a small crock
for the brain,
and a cauldron

of generation
swung ar the centre:
love-den, blood-holt,
dream-bower.

IV

Come back past
philology and kennings,
re-enter memory
where the bone's lair

is a love-nest
in the grass.
I hold my lady's head
like a crystal

and ossify myself
by gazing: I am screes
on her escarpments,
a chalk giant

carved upon her downs.
Soon my hands, on the sunken
fosse of her spine,
move towards the passes.

V

And we end up
cradling each other

between the lips
of an earthwork.


As I estimate
for pleasure
her knuckles' paving,
the turning stiles

of the elbows,
the vallum of her brow
and the long wicket
of collar-bone,

I have begun to pace
the Hadrian's Wall
of her shoulder,
dreaming of Maiden Castle.

VI

One morning in Devon
I found a dead mole
with the dew still beading it.
I had thought the mole

a big-boned coulter
but there it was,
small and cold
as the thick of a chisel.

I was told, ‘Blow,
blow back the fur on his head.
Those little points
were the eyes.

And feel the shoulders.’
touched small distant: Pennines,
a pelt of grass and grain
running south


In North (1975), in Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996, Faber and Faber, London, 1998.


-----------------------



‘No trembling harp,

no tuned timber,no tumbling hawk

swerving through the hall, no swift horse

pawing the courtyard. Pillage and slaughter

have emptied the earth of entire peoples.’


----------------------

From Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf - the speech of the last survivor


--------------------------------------




Strange Fruit
Here is the girl's head like an exhumed gourd.

Oval-faced, prune-skinned, prune-stones for teeth.


They unswaddled the wet fern of her hair

And made an exhibition of its coil,

Let the air at her leathery beauty.

Pash of tallow, perishable treasure:

Her broken nose is dark as a turf clod,

Her eyeholes blank as pools in the old workings.

Diodorus Siculus confessed

His gradual ease with the likes of this:

Murdered, forgotten, nameless, terrible

Beheaded girl, outstaring axe

And beatification, outstaring

What had begun to feel like reverence.


----------


This recounting of Heaney's bog poems has been a somewhat grisly experience, the photographs of Glob's dessicated bog burials are terrible to look at, the blackened remains would give you nightmares. But these fragile relicts of once animate human life are a sharp reminder of a history

long gone; played out somewhere in another world with stories to accompany them.




Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hares

This beautiful e-card was sent to me today by my friends for Easter. The hare has been painted by Jane Tomlinson http://www.janetomlinson.com/galleries, and her paintings are always full of life and colour, sunflowers, megalithic stones and animals she always pleases the eye.
Hares though are my favourite creatures, sometimes I see them out when walking, once Moss gave chase up on the racecourse, they both did the mile in record time, the hare winning of course.
But the card also brought to mind the lovely story of Saint Melangell and her little hare. She was the daughter of King Cufwlch and Ethni of Ireland and she fled to Wales to escape a forced marriage. She settled in Pennant at the head of a valley, and whilst one day sitting in a clearing she heard the sound of a hunt, dogs and horses galloping up the valley. This was Prince Brochwael of Powys hunting hares. As she sat a hare came into the clearing and Melangell hid it in the sleeve of her dress to protect it. When it peeped out the dogs fled, and so the Prince gave her the land on which he hunted, and she lived at Pennant for another 37 years and no animal was killed in her sanctuary. Hares were known as wyn bach Melangell or Melangell's little lambs, and to kill a hare was an act of sacrilege.
This story is taken from "The Book of Welsh Saints" T.D. Breverton, and there are other versions of the tale. But at Llanfihangel-y-Pennant near Llangynog is probably the site of her foundation, because on the church's medieval rood-screen are little hares.
A news item in today's Independent regarding the number of hares in this country, disputes the record number that has just been announced. Apparently many hares are shot by hunters, not only from people in this country but those coming on 'shooting holidays' from France and Germany. Senseless slaughter, (don't get me on the millions of pheasants who are reared and then shot for 'pleasure', let alone the terrible hunting of stags for sport) is still condoned in this country as long as it is controlled! but I would love to know what makes people go out with full bellies to hunt defenceless animals just for sheer pleasure.

http://www.greatorme.org.uk/melangell.html

Of course it must not be forgotten that the term easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre as Bede states here;

The English Months. In olden time the English people – for it did not seem fitting to me that I should speak of other nations' observance of the year and yet be silent about my own nation's – calculated their months according to the course of the moon. Hence after the manner of the Hebrews and the Greeks, [the months] take their name from the moon, for the moon is called mona and the month monath. The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giuli; February is called Sol-monath; March Hreth-monath; April, Eostur-monath; May Thrimilchi... Eostur-monath has a name which is now translated Paschal month, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. (Eostur-monath, qui nunc paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a dea illorum quae Eostre vocabatur et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit.) Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-
honoured name of the old observance.

So much of christianity's myths lay on the back of old gods and stories, and Easter is a prime example, this spring festival has as much to do with the dawn rising earlier each day heralding the new growing season than it has to do with Christ being hung on a cross for our sins. A story created and used for so many centuries by the priests to bring people to their own particular version of religion.

Grauballe Man

Seamus Heaney wrote of the Iron Age find of the man found in the Nebelgard Fen, near to the village of Grauballe, in Jutland, which is how this particular bog man came by his name. There were quite a few bodies found in these bogs, the two most famous being the Grauballe Man and Tollund Man.
The person who directed their excavation P.V.Glob wrote a detailed and fascinating book about the subject, and Seamus Heaney who went to Queens University in Dublin to study language and archaeology would have had his imagination captured by the vivid dramatic photographs that Glob took.
A note about Seamus Heaney's poetic language and its sparse descriptive edge will be found in the fact that he studied the Anglo Saxon language, and you have only to look at the Anglo-Saxon Seafarer or Wanderer to understand how he approached the writing of his poetry and of course his recent translation of Beowulf.
But to return to the Grauballe Man, he was found by men cutting peat, his head protruding from the peat when Glob arrived on the scene. He had been somewhat battered but the cause of death was evident, he had had his throat cut, almost severing the gullet, and there were several wounds. He may have been knocked unconscious, there was a wound at the back of his head but it could easily have been made when the men were digging for peat.
Completely naked there was no trace of any cloth, or marks of cloth on the body, he died with a look of terror on his face. His last meal, like the Tollund Man, was a vegetarian meal, composed of over a hundred different type of grains, with a small amount of bone/hair that might have got into the meal of gruel by mistake.
The date of his death is around 290bc, and it seems that his death was part of a sacrifical ritual either carried out in winter or early spring, probably mid-winter to hasten the coming of spring.
There is another explanation for the death of immersion in bogs and is to do with the Goddess Nerthus - a mother earth goddess - a religion that stretches right back into Neolithic times or so it is believed. The following extract from Tacitus's writing will give some idea of one of the rituals that is part of her myth,

In an island of the ocean is a holy grove, and in it a consecrated chariot, covered in robes. A single priest is permitted to touch it; he interprets the presence of the goddess in her shrine and follows with deep reverence as she rides away drawn by cows; then come days of rejoicing and all places keep holidays, as many as she thinks worthy to receive and entertain her. They make no war, take no arms; every weapon is put away; peace and quiet are then, and then alone, known and loved, until the same priest returns the goddess to her temple, when she has had her fill of the society of mortals. After this the chariot and the robes, and if you will believe it, the goddess herself, are washed in a sequestered lake; slaves are the ministrants and are straightforward away swallowed by that same lake. Hence a mysterious terror and an ignorance full of piety as to what that may be which men only behold to die"

She was probably a stature in a waggon drawn by a pair of cows/oxen, and the ritual drowning of her slaves echoes the findings of bodies in bog. Though of course female bodies were also find in the bogs, one girl with her head shaven, this was probably due to the fact that she had been punished for adultery...
Tacitus again..

The nature of the death penalty differs according to the offence. Traitors and deserters are hung from trees; cowards, poor fighters and notorious evil-livers are plunged in the mud of marshes with a hurdle on their heads; the difference of punishment has regard to the principle that crime should be blazoned abroad by its retribution, but abomination hidden....

The Iron age was primitive and barbaric, local tribes probably savage in their retribution. Tacitus paints a frightening picture and some would say a particularly romanised viewpoint, but it must be remembered that his son-in-law Agricola was somewhat daunted by the 'wild screaming' blue painted women he met at Anglesey. And I believe it is also recorded that when Boudicca stormed and ravaged Colchester and London she tied up the roman matrons and cut their breasts off - no civilised acts of war here either.
There is also evidence of the Lindow Man found in a bog in this country, that he also suffered a ritualistic threefold death, though again this is contentious, but strangulation marks on his neck of cord could well point to the famous gold torques representing twisted cord or string, a death ritual immortalised in gold.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Seamus Heaney and poems about the Bog people


The Dying Cu Chulainn,

Grauballe Man

As if he had been poured
in tar, he lies
on a pillow of turf
and seems to weep

the black river of himself.
The grain of his wrists
is like bog oak,
the ball of his heel

like a basalt egg.
His instep has shrunk
cold as a swan’s foot
or a wet swamp root.

His hips are the ridge
and purse of a mussel,
his spine an eel arrested
under a glisten of mud.

The head lifts,
the chin is a visor
raised above the vent
of his slashed throat

that has tanned and toughened.
The cured wound
opens inwards to a dark
elderberry place.

Who will say ‘corpse’
to his vivid cast?
Who will say ‘body'
to his opaque repose?

And his rusted hair,
a mat unlikely
as a foetus’s.
I first saw his twisted face

in a photograph,
a head and shoulder
out of the peat,
bruised like a forceps baby,

but now he lies
perfected in my memory,
down to the red horn
of his nails,

hung in the scales
with beauty and atrocity:
with the Dying Gaul
too strictly compassed

on his shield,
with the actual weight
of each hooded victim,
slashed and dumped.


Seamus Heaney
Heaney alludes to the Dying Gaul, a famous Roman stature in a Paris Museum, the picture above is the Dying Cu Chulainn in the General Post Office Dublin.
--------------------------------------

Nerthus

For beauty, say an ash-fork staked in peat,
Its long grains gathering to the gouged split;
A seasoned, unsleeved taker of the weather
Where kesh and loaning finger out to heather
---------------------------------------------
Kinship
'Kinned by hieroglyphic
Peat on a spreadfield,
To the strangled victim,
The love-nest in the bracken

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sacred Hills maybe





This is a not very good 'photoshopped' image of Silbury, when I tried this out a few weeks back I was trying for a more spiritual aspect of Silbury. The mound is often described as 'pudding like', and photographs do not always do it justice.
The truth of the matter is that Silbury is a very physical entirety, it is founded on hard labour and massive size and it dominates the landscape in which it sits.
Whether or not it was part of a new way of religious thinking, a platform, a way of reaching to the sky or perhaps uniting sky and earth one cannot tell. But a couple of years ago, one cold March I went up to Knap Hill, the causewayed neolithic enclosure that sits on one side of the Vale of Pewsey facing Adams Grave longbarrow.
The day I went was misty, and the hill curved steeply down into the plain on the other side. In the far distance to my right was Picked Hill,

A very misty Picked Hill and a slightly better photo on TMA

http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/26854/images/picked_hill.html

a conical hill, and if it had been up north, would have probably been called 'sacred', it had a strong dominant presence in the landscape; now whether Picked Hill inspired our bronze age builders to create their own enormous hills I don't know, but it is strange that Marden and Marlborough mounds are also in the vicinity.....

The Vale of Pewsey has an extraordinary atmospheric feel, the old ghosts of the past come back to haunt you, prehistory still sits lightly on the land, the Wansdyke like some giant worm still snakes it way past Adams Grave; some say that Wansdyke is the boundary of ancient kingdoms, delineating old Wessex from whatever lay on the other side. It has Woden's name writ large, the Saxons settled here as well, for up on the ridge skirting the Pewsey Vale is a hanging place, and if you go to Oare, and park in the village, go down a little unmade lane, you will find yourself on an old saxon road that goes under Martinsell Hill.

Adams Grave or Woden's if you prefer


Terracing or lynchets outlined by hedges

Knap Hill causewayed enclosure


Martinsell Hill

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tulips and gardens




As the strong winds of the storms bend the trees in the garden, I wander around not able to do much but have noticed that there are lots of tulips in various places their flower buds preparing to break. There was a time when I did'nt like tulips, sometimes their colours are harsh and matt but slowly over the years I have acquired a few, some deep red ones, a yellow mass in the front that always brings the sun to mind, a white one edged with green, a clump I hate that friends gave me years ago.
It brings to mind the story of 'tulip mania' in Holland in the 17th century. Tulip bulbs there developed a 'mosaic' virus and erupted into marvellous combinations of colours, they became prized possessions and took on enormous value, I believe they also caused a sort of stock market crash as people went bankrupt over them.
A story I had read as a child..... A Dutch man had one of these prized beautiful tulips, but he was very poor and very hungry, so sadly he ate his tulip bulb and forthwith expired. So he was buried and forgotten about, but the next year on his grave a beautiful tulip grew - the rational eye will see the flaws in that story, the dreamers will forget that he must have chewed the bulb...
Images of another garden below that also grows a lot of tulips, this is a large private garden at Malmesbury next to the Abbey church, the garden is open to the public and very beautiful, the owners garden with very little on, and I had gone there with friends and my oldest grandson on a very hot day in summer. I had taken several photos of Tom messing around, one as he knelt down and genuflected in front of some modern 'romanised' statues another under a 'green man' face.


part of the ruins of the old abbey


the gardens in full flower

'the green man' Actually I have mislabelled him, he is the goat-horned god Cernunnous by the look of him





Roy in cool shade

the lily pond with Tom's head 'nuisance child' as he jumped up in every photo

the rather good modern statue, reflecting the owners preferred mode of wear with a lizard precariously near.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lansdown Saxon History



This is an example of an ancient boundary marker. One of the barrows at Langridge, marking the modern day boundary between Gloucester/Somerset


Another example of one the many small streams that emerge on the hills, this one is on the Langridge side.

This is Lansdown with the racecourse, nestling in Great Down. On the racecourse are three bronze age barrows, with a further two just before the pub at Braythwaite

Little Down backs on to Great Down, and in the corner the triangulated Iron Age fort, which had 3 barrows in it before they were ploughed . There are a further 3 barrows in the field outside; the rectangular mark in the field is an old civil war defence enclosure.


The following extracts are taken from Miss Hargood-Ash's little book - Through the Middle Ages in a Somerset Village. She must have been writing in the early part of the 20th Century, and the book is a library copy and badly worn, so perhaps it would be prudent to record some of the information she found. Especially as I always write about the Lansdown but hardly any historical insight. Yet the lands up on these high downs have been in use since prehistory, and under saxon rule land charters were laid down. I find these saxon boundaries a marvellous evocative memory of the past, where is that little apple tree now long gone into dust, or Pucan spring, did Puck roam these hills as well, or was it a spring that belonged to Pucan the saxon?
The translation was made by Prof.Earle, and the notes in brackets are by Rev.T. Whale, who apparently lived at Mountnessing in Weston Park, just across our valley of gardens, almost opposite my house.
Boundaries of the Lands Granted to Aethelare by King Edmund AD946

From Pucan Wylle (under Kelston Knoll) along the brook to Hidewood (now Shagbear wood); from Hidewood up to the three acres; from the three acres to the angular point to the other angular point (near the monument); along the ridge (boundary of Langridge) to the little maple tree; from the maple tree to the hawthorn; from the hawthorn to the brook (at Langridge); so up by the brook to where the black spring arises (Langridge side); from the black spring to the 'wic' (dwelling) (Chapel farm house) to the west of where the black spring arises; from the wic to the apple tree(the 84 acres of old down probably means the part that we think of as Lansdown behind the pub at Blaythwaite, just before LittleDown?);
from the apple tree to the birch tree stone in front of the hill (at the boundaryof the edge s.e. of chelscombe farm); from the birch tree stone to the two wics standing in a row(there are now two fields as you begin to descend Lansdown Lane called 'Old Wic'. Also the boundary, goes as far as the wic standing beneath the boelles way (Weston Farm - a number of stone coffins have been found near this land, probably called the boelles way as the funeral pile road). From the wic within the boelles way as far as the path (this may be the footpath just below Heather farm leading to the kennels, or Broadmoor Lane); along the path as far asthe hollow (a little south of Weston Wood); from the hollow to the maple tree, to the road to Huttes oesce (ash). ( We now seem to be going s.e towards to the village); so by the hedge to the little spring(above Newbridge Hill House); from the little spring to Pucan spring (this may be the spring on Dean Hill farm, and looks like Pucan wylle with which we began). From the old Homestead that Aethelare owned to Plegi-dic(probably where the court was held on Pen Hill ridge); From the plegi-dic to the highway. From the highway into the solitary thorn. Up the solitary thorn into selardes pole (the lord's mill pool into Loxan (Locksbrook); from Loxan into the Avon (this brook goes through our garden, and the mill would have been at Montrose cottages, just down Weston Lane.)
As a footnote when the brook was put into a pipe by the water board a few years ago and a great ditch stretched through Weston village and the valley of gardens, there was evidence of sluice walls in our garden, showing the longevity of this mill through the middle ages.
So by the water to Brightwold's Weir; from the weir to the dyke(at Newbridge); from the dyke to the spring; from the spring to the leap-gate; from the leap-gate to the Hach (perhaps the oak) into cloenan field. From there on to Loxan. Along by Loxan into the gemytha (mouth?) From the gemytha up to Midridge. From Midridge to Studardscombe, to rawuwe; from the rawuwe to Stony way along by the Edge till you come to the spring (under Weston Wood). From the spring so northward till you come to the wall. From the wall along by the spring till you come to Ellborough into Stanclude along by the hedge to the Old Wic, to the wall. From the wall along by the hedge(boundary) back into the 13 acres of Loxan extending by the byri ( either a burgh or burying place where Partis college now is) near the Abbots boundary.
The second Boundaries of Land 'Restored' to the Abbey of St.Peter at Bath by King Edwin
A.D.961
First from cortimeade (now Cork Street,etc) to Aesc (ashwood); thence to pleg dic; thence to swincumbe (there is still a field called Swincumbe running up to the head of the combe under Primrose Hill); then to Crawen Hylle (Cran hill); thence up to Dune (lansdowb) west be ecgge to lacwege(eastward by Edge?, still retaining its name to the springwater way); thence to ceolescumbe (chelmscombe farm); est be ecgge to tham weallon (eastward along the slope to the wall at the top of Lanswon Lane); thence to tham tune (to the village); thence on gighwey (the village street) to aenlypan thunan, thence on selardes pole (the lord's mill adjoining the road to Bath -Weston Lane);thence ut auene (following the eastern bank of Locksbrook to the Avon), thorna eft aerost on the ealden lane to horpytton upp on epenn(then back again, first along Pen hill Lane to the cucking stool pit (pond,where brawling women were ducked on the end of a plank) at the upper corner of the first large field on the right 'horepytton became 'horepit' then 'hollypit', thence up on Pen Hill); then on Heanoescs (Ash 6wood on the hill facing Weston House)' thence andlange weges to blacan lega, to there ealden dic (along the road to Blackley and to the old dyke, now called Shipslade)bence a be graue to Wulfslade (by a grove to Wolfslade, which became Wilslade, then Winslet); thence a be wega to alesbeorga (by the road to Alesburgwhich is where the boundaries of Aethelare's holding of Kelston, Northstoke and this holding meet); thence to tham hlypgate a be wealle to lincube (to the leapgate along by the wall to lIncumbe); thence to midda hriccges wege (to the road by Midridge);thence to studardes cumbes grafe ( a grove or wood in the coombe to the west of Foxhall Farm); thence to Starforda(Starfurlong) and lang broces to tune (following the brook to the village)
Brief Anglo saxon timeline by Miss Ash; At the end of the 5th century the West Saxons landed under the leadership of Cerdic, but it was not until 552 that the 'invader/pioneers' reached Wiltshire and drove the 'Walas' as they called the British out of Sarum. In 577, they were in our district for it is in this year that the decisive battle at Deorham(Dyrham)was fought, some 10 miles north of Bath. In that battle the saxon kings Cuthwine and Ceawlin, killed three British kings Commail, Condidan and Farinmail; the cities of Gloucester, Cirencester and Akeman(Bath) fell, after many years Akeman was a desolate ruin, with perhaps a little hamlet outside called ;Wals cote' (Walcot) the cots of the Walas.
Foundation of a nunnery at Bath under Abbess Bertana in 676, destroyed in the first half of the 8th C it was refounded in 775 by King Offa, as a house of secular canons.
It is interesting to note that in Offa's time, only the thegns were allowed to build weirs and block streams for mill-water, so that the villagers had to pay a 'fee' to have their corn ground. All hand querns were destroyed by the time of the conquest.
A brief period of peace was of course followed by another invasion of the vikings at the end of the 8th century. Guthrun their leader - king of the Danes, became King of Wessex in 871 and it was'nt until the battle at Edington that Guthrum was desposed. As Bath lay in the centre of the turmoil, the villagers probably had a hard time of it.
End of 10th century Weston was divided into two estates, each with a considerable acreage of land, Aethelare owned one parcel (see the first charter), and Miss Ash gives no name for the second estate. Aethelare's holding lay on the slopes of the Lansdown and west of the present Lansdown Lane. She presumes that his homestead was on the site of the present Dean Hill farm, his mill was at the western end of the village.

The Famous Midridge, stretching to Kelston Round Hill.
1) This is a photo of Kelston Hill with cross roads/track marked at x; to the left goes down to Weston, to the right to Northstoke; this trackway is considered to be the old roman Via Julia road. The following photos will attempt to show them in better detail.


This is the old stone that marks the crossroad, Via Julia and Cotswold Way under Kelston Hill. The strange shadow is Moss with ball in mouth, making sure that we both go down the same track as he never trusts me...

This is the trackway down to Weston and Bath from the Midridge, a steep but picturesque walk through the trees.




Looking back up to the top. A tale to be told; at the top until last year was a thick hedge, but the farmer cut it down last summer, and discovered a body of a 60 year old man underneath it. It turned out that the man had disappeared 3 years ago from a nursing home, and presumably had a heart attack from such a steep hill and died.... but why was he under the hedge?


This is looking to the opposite direction of the track to Northstoke, if it is the Via Julia, then this is the way the romans would have travelled to Abona (Sea Mills) past the great Keynsham villa and the other villas down by the river......

Now all the above is supposition, there is no concrete facts to identify the old Roman road, except perhaps that in the field adjoining this part of the track old roman stone coffins were found. The Romans normally buried their dead along the road away from towns or villas.

But to return to the Saxons and their boundaries. Miss Ash states that the Saxon holding was up on Dean Hill Farm, its land lies under Kelston Hill on the south side. Today I walked up the steep little lane that ends up on the Cotswold Way. At the top are two farm 'labourers houses, now empty, they must have been built in the 1960s, ugly looking bleak houses. The track leads up to Kelston Hill, but there is a left hand track down to an old farm just below the hill on the Newton Loe side, and it would be interesting to find out its history.

Given that as the boundary here could be the 'hogs back' ridge up to Kelston, there should be a spring somewhere round, the so called 'black spring' though to be quite honest most of the springs as they emerge from the earth look black. Miss Ash says that "Aethelare's land lay on the slopes of Lansdown and west of the present Lansdown Lane down to the river Avon". As I walked the furtherest boundary yesterday at the top of the Lansdown in beautiful weather, amongst old trees and fields, today's weather was overcast and grey, and my camera had run out of power. But what did strike me what a beautiful stretch of land he had in his possession, protected by a high scarp, graceful woods, and gentle sloping fields he was truly rich in the bounties of nature.

The overhanging scarp that probably formed a boundary

Partof Weston Wood