Today’s episode is the second of our walks to include some location recording, which seemed be so popular (according to our poll of three listeners) following our first attempt two weeks ago. Between them Glyn and Paul have done this walk three times already this year. It was that good!
To begin with, in our catch up of the last two weeks in Wiltshire, we provide a bit of an update on how the outside broadcasting is going (pretty good we think) as well as a sneak preview of some really exciting plans involving video and audio, working with David Carson whose family has farmed the area around Alton Barnes and Alton Priors for over 100 years. More of that later in the summer.
Paul has spent the last few days of the hot weather locked indoors printing photographs for the upcoming Marlborough Open Studios arts tail that takes place each weekend throughout July. Together with our very own musical genius Steve Dixon, Paul will be exhibiting his work at the gallery he and Steve help run which is owned by photographer Alan Cowley. It’s called The Photographers Studio (no apostrophe!) and can be found in the beautiful surroundings of Roundway, Devizes just below the white horse. There’s a link to the page on Paul’s website that contains more information below.
But on to this week’s walk. Glyn and Paul did this walk one evening a week or so ago to record some sound on location. It was a lovely peaceful evening, and we had the hills to ourselves. We were really pleased with the audio, our new equipment coping well with the strong wind on the hill tops. We repeated the walk a few days later in conjunction with David Dawson from Wiltshire Museum, guiding a number of delightful people who had purchased tickets from Wiltshire Museum. It was fantastic to have a proper archaeologist with us and for once Glyn and Paul didn’t have to make assumptions about what we could see in the landscape. Or make things up!!
The walk begins outside the church in Sutton Veny where we spent a while talking about the Commonwealth cemetery there and in particular the large number of ANZAC graves, many of whom fell victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 100 years ago. It was so sad to think how many young men, and the women who nursed them, survived the horrors of the trenches only to succumb to flu in a field hospital in Wiltshire.
From Sutton Veny the route, which you will find in Glyn’s blog linked below, heads steeply at first across the slopes of Whiten Hill to the top of Littlecombe Hill by Haycombe Hill Farm. The first section, with the gallops of the local racehorse stable in view to the right, is a real lung buster and nearly finished us off not long after we started. But persistence and a steady pace (it’s not a race right?) paid off. The views from Littlecombe Hill are immense and, despite being on a hot weekend afternoon, our little group again had the place to ourselves.
David was a fantastic guide, pointing out various burial mounds visible as far as Cold Kitchen Hill in the far distance, explaining why they were positioned the way they were. We also discussed the ancient trackways that criss-cross this landscape, with some commentators believing that the route we were on actually formed part of the Great Ridgeway that supposedly traversed the country from East Anglia to Devon.
This area was also very important to the Romans and from our vantage point on the ridge we could see the locations of the Roman temple at Bidcombe Down above Kingston Deverill, the huge Roman villa found at Brixton Deverill and a network of Roman roads, including the one hidden under the canopy of Great Ridge wood to the south of where we were walking. However, there was to be more even closer by. As we stood by a farm gate by the track that leads back down to Tytherington David pointed out the very clear remains of a Roman settlement in the field not 50 feet in front of us. Curiously a Roman settlement not by a water course.
Returning to the valley we came to Tytherington and its beautifully simple little church, where Glyn and Paul had recorded late one evening a few days earlier. Then across the fields via two more burial bounds to the fascinating abandoned church of St Leonard’s in Sutton Veny. As you may have seen on this website the church yard contains what is believed to be the only iron mortsafe in Wiltshire, guarding a grave that contains the bodies of the Parham family interred here across the space of 17 years in the mid 19th century, their bodies kept safe from body snatchers by the wrought iron covering over the grave.
We finish with the usual housekeeping. A reminder about the Hidden Wiltshire Online shop (link below) and a reminder about the offer to listeners of the podcast from Lowa Boots UK. You’ll need to listen to the podcast for details of how you can save 20% on their walking boots and shoes, which this week we omitted to mention is obtained by using the discount code HW20 when ordering on their website.
The music and sounds in the podcast are provided by the multi-talented Steve Dixon. The piece in the Introduction is entitled “The Holloway”, whilst the piece introducing us to the walk is a new one entitled “Bee Leaf”.
For more information about Marlborough Open Studios 2021 the relevant page on Paul’s website is here Paul Timlett Exhibitions
Glyn’s photographs can be seen on his Instagram feed @coy_cloud