Wednesday, 25 January 2012

To "The Firs" then up and over Easton Down to the "Bridge Inn" at Horton.

"Strip Lynchets" on Easton Down
This morning's walk up and over Easton Downs took us past these "Strip Lynchet" the remains of a Celtic farming system of flat ridges ploughed into the side of a hill, making a sloping surface workable for the growing of crops.   The walk of just under five miles was a recce, (short for reconnaissance) a walk into the unknown, needing to be "recced" in the hope of finding the right path, thus avoiding the walking group becoming lost!

This part of Wiltshire is famous for its many barrows, ancient burial sites made by prehistoric man.   The county has 80% of the entire chalk grassland in Britain, and to cultivate so much undulating land, early man needed ingenuity, thus the "Lynchets" formed in the hillsides.   Silbury Hill, that strange man made mound reaching up to the sky is just out of shot in the photo below.   Know one knows why it was built, and a lot of man hours went into its construction, which could have been spent on growing food.   We may never know the real answer of why it was built.  Below's view shows the rolling landscape nature of beautiful Wiltshire.
Looking towards the Marlborough Downs

The "Wansdyke" defensive ditch.
"Wansdyke" consists of two sections, 9 and 12 miles long with some gaps in between. East Wansdyke, the part that runs across this landscape is an impressive linear earthwork, consisting of a ditch and bank running approximately east-west, between Savenake Forest and Morgan's Hill.  Here the bank is up to 13 ft high with a ditch up to 8.2 ft deep. 

Wansdyke's origins are unclear, but archaeological data shows that the eastern part was probably built during the 5th or 6th century.  After the withdrawal of the Romans and before the takeover by Anglo Saxons, the ditch on the north side, was presumably used by the British as a defence against West Saxons encroaching from the upper Thames Valley,  westward into what is now the West Country.

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