Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Martin Down

Man made ditches stretching down the hillside
Martin Down, ten miles from Salisbury is a site with a long history, a bronze age enclosure and enormous ditches acting as boundary markers.  The scale of these ditches is remarkable - it would be a huge undertaking even today with modern machinery.  It was all dug by hand.  It's all grassed over now, but when it was first dug the great white stripes across the down as the chalk was exposed would have demonstrated the power and dominance of the people who created it.

It's now a nature reserve providing a downland home for all the creatures who specialise in that kind of habitat.  We went at the end of October, so not much in the way of flowers and butterflies to be seen.  Lots of sheep though.
A Derbyshire Gritstone
The Derbyshire Gritstone is one of the oldest British breeds of sheep originating in the Derbyshire Peak District in the mid eighteenth century and is well able to survive on the top of a hill in the south of England.   I have two little books called 'Know Your Sheep' by Jack Byard and they tell me that the wool of  the Gritstone is used for high quality hosiery, knitted outerwear and underwear.

An ancient burial mound
On top of the hill an ancient burial mound lay among yew and holly trees.  The ancient druidic trees.  Very fitting for such a site and very atmospheric.