A detour from the usual blogs I thought this time. I have walked on the hills many times and all weathers.. but probably not as much as so many dog walkers and thought of the ancient past of hill forts. It always surprises me how many springs there are and how many times you come across one you never knew existed, there’s always another one somewhere. I must say I’ve never boiled the water even though apparently you’re meant to. If its spring water surly its got to be ok. I wonder how old the water is ? The water must have been in the aquifer for quite some time. Once I was up there in the snow in a blizzard about 6 years ago. I only saw white sky and white ground and literally didn’t know where I was, which way was north or south – great for taking photos if your hands don’t freeze. My interest is photography but I’ll leave that to another time.
The areas I find most interesting on the hills are the 2 hill forts, midsummer hill and British camp which tap in to what I think is a very interesting period of our history Bronze and Iron Age. Midsummer’s isn’t as well defined as British camp but Im sure no less interesting. Both are Iron Age forts the latter is an ancient scheduled monument. Not all hill forts such as these two were Iron Age. Some were Bronze Age too , however I don’t know which is which.I’m no expert but take an interest in them.
When these forts were occupied the’ British’ people i.e. England and Wales, were made up of numerous tribes such as – Iceni, Brigantes, Trinovantes, Selures in southern Wales and the Dobunni who were the tribe covering the Malvern area! That covers Herefordshire and Worcestershire area. I doubt if anyone here today can truly claim to be a Dobunni, but you never know. Caledonian tribes were the Picts, in what we now call Scotland. Perhaps it should be called Pictland as the Scots came from Ireland. Trouble was for all of them is that they weren’t united which would have been pretty handy when the Romans came.
The myth is that at British Camp, Caracticus, you know, was once at British camp making his last stance against the dreaded Romans. For anyone who doesn’t know the name…he was an outstanding British tribal chief who fought the Romans and was taken captive then taken to Rome itself. There he made an impassioned but clever plea to be spared and showed that the emperor would be admired by his people for being merciful too not just a great leader. It worked and he was spared.
I know Time Team had some investigations up on the hill and mentioned Caracticus with some doubt he was there. These forts, many around southern around wales, were occupied for hundreds of years. I think even the Romans wouldn’t of captured a hill fort had the numbers been equal – but they never were.
So what language was spoken at these times? The two Celtic languages were Brythonic and Goidelic, eh? The Irish Scots and Manx (Isle of Man) spoke this the others Welsh Cornish and Britany. English poke old welsh but also Anglo – Frisian, Germanic tongue.
The forts pretty much went out of use after AD 100 down south but in the wales and the north of England and west they Hill forts were still being used in early medieval times (5th century. Medieval now theres a question. Everyone seems to thinks 12th – 13th century buy I understand it more 5th to 14th century that’s medieval.
Today the hill fort is still used as a tourist attraction or place of interest so you could argue that these ancient places still have a function in modern times in keeping alive our interest in the past alive and kicking. I m sure the hills wouldn’t be used as much if there wasn’t a smacking great fort on the top which can be seen for miles and visited for its own sake.
The latest idea at least as an addition to the hills of course was the Cable car fantastic or not? hmmm. There are those for and against but I don’t want to start any arguments here. There were good ideas on both sides. Would it be used enough to make a decent profit? Or would it just rust away after the initial enthusiasm has died down.
Pre Saxon times this area had Welsh speaking peoples here. I think up to the river seven, I was told. Of course Malvern is pronounced ‘mol’ and is is not an English word, but derives form Welsh meaning bare hill or tree less. Moel is still used to day in Welsh for rounded hill.