Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Bit of a slog this week. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers, seem to me to be:

Q1. Shaftesbury

Q2. Woodhenge

The initial clues place us in the Dorset area, Shaftesbury to be more precise. I found references which claim that the town is between 600 and 700 feet above sea level, so does appear to be on a hill. A saint who is possibly buried there (at Shaftesbury abbey), is Edward the Martyr. He was murdered by Aethelred the Unready's followers at Corfe castle c978 (so fits the 10th century clue) and his feast day is reported to be on 18th March. Aethelred was his half brother and he wasn't really 'unready' his nickname was actually 'Aethelred the poorly counselled', it's just that the original Anglo-Saxon sounds like the current English word 'unready'. He was indeed badly advised and experienced a lot of problems with the Danes who were invading Wessex around that time (he fled to Normandy when old Sweyn Forkbeard came over to have words (Aethelred allegedly massacred a lot of Danish settlers)). An eleventh century king who died at Shaftesbury abbey c1035, was the Dane, Cnut (sister Estrith) who once tried to command the waves to prove a point. According to some of the references I checked, the quote "A place where the churchyard lay nearer heaven than the church steeple", may be from a work by Thomas Hardy, called 'Jude the Obscure' (c1896) and possibly refers to St John's church at Enmore Green, Shaftesbury. From the photographs I have seen of it, the graveyard does seem to be higher up the hill than the church.

Travelling five miles north east of Shaftesbury brings us to Old Wardour castle. This sits beside a lake and according to the spiel on the English heritage site, it was constructed c14th century and you can actually climb the turrets. Around four miles north east of there, lies the site of RAF Chilmark. The quarry was the RAF's ammunition store and according to some sources, was originally hewn to provide stone for Salisbury cathedral. This site allegedly came into use by the air force c1937 and closed c1994 and was for a time the RAF's sole ammunition dump. Around eight miles to the north west of Chilmark carries us to some villages with the suffix 'Deverill', these are Kingston Deverill, Monkton Deverill, Brixton Deverill and Longbridge Deverill. A saint who is said to have been active in that area c12th century, is Wulfric (feast day 20th february). Wulfric was a bit of a hippie by all accounts and likely lived in a cave and took magic mushrooms.

North from the Deverill suffixed villages lies the White horse at Westbury, a hill fort near it and the site of the Battle of Edington, where King Alfred battered Guthrum the Dane and his team, for ruining their Christmas dinner c878 (The Eastender Himself has been hiking in this region but prefers the white horse at Uffington).

Seventeen miles east of the Deverill villages, brings us to Woodhenge. From the pictures I saw of this, it does seem to be next to a bend in a river and is marked out with concrete blocks, which delineate where the wooden posts which made up the original Henge stood. It is reckoned to be neolithic and c2500bc ish, so fits in with the clues about concrete blocks and postscripts.

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