Notes on the Herepath

Herepath is an alternative name for sections of The Ridgeway: it is Anglo-Saxon for Army Road. The greatest military activity near the trail in historic times was indeed at that period – the Romans seem to have preferred their own strategic highways. Later this year, I mean to reprint an article on Alfred and […]

By |January 31st, 2014|History|1 Comment|

A Cockney Clerk’s Enchantment

(An article by Maurice Mendoza, first Chairman of the Friends, reprinted from Aspects of The Ridgeway)

I was first enchanted by the Ridgeway over forty years ago. I had just started as a clerk in what was then the Ancient Monuments Secretariat of the Office of Records. I had begun straight from my grammar school […]

By |January 31st, 2014|History|0 Comments|

Coal on The Ridgeway

A colourful Ridgeway anecdote recounts  its use for the delivery of coal. The source is Highways and Byways of Berkshire  (1919). “There are men living in the Vale of White Horse now who remember the days when coal came from South Wales along the Ridgeway by waggon and the residents in the Vale sent […]

By |January 31st, 2014|History|0 Comments|

Ballooning on the Ridgeway

1) George Graham
I’m open to informed contradiction on this, but I believe the first manned flight over The Ridgeway took place on July 16th 1824 at around 19:45. It was the first perhaps the only entirely successful flight of an accident-prone aeronaut, George Graham. The earliest balloonists had used hydrogen, hot air or lethal […]

By |January 31st, 2014|History|0 Comments|

Autumn on the Ridgeway

To the surprise and delight of us all, 2013 presented us with a beautiful summer, with a mini-heat-wave in July, not too hot, but dry and sunny for a golden fortnight.  It was a great summer for walking, and for enjoying the views across the Vale and over the Downs.  Now, suddenly, and promptly […]

The Ridgeway and Alfred

(reprinted from Aspects of the Ridgeway)

From the hills south of Oxford, from Boars Hill and Wytham, the dark line of the Downs marks the horizon. Between it and the river lies the ancient borderland between Wessex and Mercia.

The way that runs along the ridge of the downs between Avebury and Streatley has kept its name unaltered since Saxon times. Some names and boundaries provide evidence older than the literary evidence of Chronicles and early histories: the Ridgeway was already ancient when Alfred was born at Wantage in 849 A.D. and the name of the Icknield Way is pre–English. Our ancestors seem to have assumed that earthworks whose origins were unknown to them should be ascribed to Woden, Grim (a Norse god) or the Devil; these ditches and dykes were probably boundary marks rather than communication routes. We can deduce from dated charters that sections of ancient roads were recognisably in existence in the time of Alfred and later. […]