Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Mendip Hills, England - August 30, 2010

Priddy, a village with a population of less than 1,000, is in the county of Somerset and is situated in a small hollow close to the high point of the Mendip hills at nearly 1,000 feet above sea-level. The Mendip Hills are classified as one of 35 AONBs - area of outstanding natural beauty - in England. Each year since 1348 the annual Folk Festival  and Sheep Fair has been held on the village green and from the 1920s, the Mendip Farmers' Hunt fox hounds have been based there. It does sound exciting, doesn't it?
Lead mining developed in the area between 300 to 200 BCE and the relatively easy opencast extraction became an attraction for the Romans, evidenced by lead ingots found in the neighbourhood that have been dated to 49 CE. Remnants of St Cuthbert's Leadworks, which closed in 1908, are still visible.
The village church, St Lawrence, dates from the 13th century and underwent some rebuilding in the 15th century with a major restoration in the 1880s. In 1997 the three original bells were augmented to five.
In the surrounding area are the Priddy Circles, a Neolithic stone circle from around 2180 BCE making it a contemporary of Stonehenge. A further characteristic of the area are the dry stone walls bounding the fields constructed from local limestone and containing no mortar.
Other historic features in the vicinity include evidence of more than 250 round barrows, or burial mounds. Much less ancient are vestiges of a WWII bombing decoy constructed on top of Black Down at Beacon Batch intended to confuse bombers targeting the city of Bristol, and piles of stones (known as cairns) that were built around the same time to discourage enemy aircraft using the hilltop as a landing site. Less romantic than one might otherwise have surmised.
More views of the area here.

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