Above Saxon villages

On Sunday we walked through a part of mid Wiltshire collectively called “The Deverills*” referring to a string of villages, all containing the word Deverill, along the valley of the River Wylye.

There’s an interesting link here with some history of this Saxon area of England. There are  water meadows, watercress beds and  pastures  bordering  the river, but we walked up onto the  downland ridges with their fabulous 360 degree views.

The path rose  through a sporting estate where  many pheasants and partridges clacked loudly as we disturbed them. More tunefully we stopped and listened to a male blackcap singing his heart out in a hedgerow, before the unmistakable song of a cuckoo drifted across from a distant wood. The first one I have heard this Spring. Up on the top of the ridge another summer visitor, a male wheatear, watched us quizzically from the top of a fence post, as we selected a place for our picnic lunch beneath the trig point on  the evocatively named Cold Kitchen Hill. My other half has posted a series of pictures of this little bird on Flick here. It was fun to watch him creeping up on the bird, who waited until he was quite close, before hopping to the next perch.

The concrete post that is the trig point is used by birds as  a  look out point, by amongst others, an owl, as a owl pellet was caught in the metal work of the recording plate on the top. Another treasure. I brought it home with the intention of doing some research about how to dissect one. I had a childish ambition to find and dissect an owl pellet and I never found one. Now I have.

The highest point of this down appears to be where an old drove road ,used to drive sheep and cattle from the places they were reared to market, crosses the Downs. Many of them date back to pre-history and this one almost certainly does. There is a Roman road not far away too. You can see the track  as a white streak on the picture below, taken when we had dropped back down into the valley.

* There is an interesting speculation about the origin of the name Deverill here. Many English place names derive from Celtic, British, Saxon and Viking words and in the 21st Century it is still  fascinating to be able to recall the arrival of invaders and settlers in the names of villages. You might want to check out the origins of your own surname there too, as many of those derive from place names too.

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