Sunday, October 19, 2008


Neolithic Dew-ponds and Cattleways by Arthur and George Hubbard 1905

The following photographs are taken from the above book, apart from the one glaring mistake they made i.e. Neolithic dewponds with which they entitled their piece then went on to describe Iron age hillforts, the book should not be read except for information..... but the photos show that the landscape was very different in those days with more trackways defined on the sides of the hillforts. And as I love old books and way out theories, this particular book is a great treasure....

This last sketch plan of Oare Hill and Martinsell Hill is interesting, take no notice of the wolf/sentry platforms, though they added a nice little piece about wolves, but for the dew-pond marked. It seems that a dewpond marked as a Saxon boundary on Milk Hill was noted in 825 see this link...

Most existing dew ponds date from the 19th or early 20th centuries, although a few may be 18th century. The only apparent ancient one is Oxenmere on Milk Hill on the downs to the north of the Vale of Pewsey. A Saxon charter of 825 refers to this pond as marking the boundary of Alton Priors, which it still does. It is possible that a pond has been here since that date but only if it has been cleaned out and its lining renewed every 100 to 200 years for Ralph Whitlock estimated that the life of a dew pond is 100 to 150 years.
Quotation from the Hubbard book;
The month which we now call January our Saxon ancestors called wolf-monat, to wit, wolf-moneth, because people are wont always in that month to be in more danger to be devoured of wolves, than in any else season of the year; for that, through the extremity of cold and snow, these ravenous creatures could not find of other beasts sufficient to feed upon. Richard Verstegan, Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities 1673

So the moral being don't go wandering down that old Saxon trackway beneath Martinsell Hill in January for you never know there might be a wolf or two lurking......

SU 07303 69348 grid reference for Beckahampton dew pond?


  1. Oh wow! I'm not unique. Someone else likes the same obscure (interesting) things that I do. Just bookmarked you and see I have LOTS of catching up to do. Yippee!

  2. Welcome, sadly yes I do love the obscure in history, wolves guarding Iron Age forts always make me laugh...

  3. There was an Iron Age enclosure in the field next to ours - until Next Door decided he would quarry it . . . There are two streams joining in the corner of it (boundary of our land) and our spring also flows the excess water down to join them and I think it is the most marvellous liminal area, very special, still. Now I shall have to look over my shoulder for WOLVES!!!

  4. Good morning. I've just tagged you over on my blog. I hope you will join in - although there's no obligation.

  5. Thank you, not sure what tagging is,though I notice it on my photo account the 'gadgetry' that comes with blogs is a bit of a mystery to me.....