January 17th 2017
Monty Trumpington, (a pen name it transpired) from Ludlow Museum, spoke to us this month on the landscape of the English village. Formerly an A&E nurse, with an understandable interest in bones, he subsequently studied archaeology, and now works in Ludlow Museum. His talk was an overview of the marks in the landscape which tell our history; marks such as trackways and forest clearings and drovers’ routes, but also churches and pubs.
Monty recommended using Google Earth, especially when the photographs were taken in summer, to reveal Iron Age fields and enclosures.
From the Iron Age we have features such as Caer Caradoc which was fortified and yet domesticated with evidence of querns and huts. Evidence of Roman occupation is not only in obvious places such as Wroxeter, but in village churches where Roman tiles have been incorporated in north-facing walls, and at the church at Wroxeter even a font made of a recycled inverted Doric column. In our area such survivals occur because the parishes could not afford to rebuild. Churches, too, have often been built on old sacred ground denoted by a henge or circular graveyard; Hope Bagot and Stanton Lacy are good examples.
Churches and their monuments also reflect the different epochs, and make each one individual. They are often too complex to be specifically labelled by date as, for example, with Heath Chapel in Corvedale which is very early but has a Norman arch. The Normans often imported stone and thus their ‘new’ churches sit more ostentatiously in the landscape.
Early pubs were ‘church houses’, created to keep the rowdy out of the solemnity of the church. Their names may reflect this, thus ‘Six Bells’ when the bells were cast in the churchyard.
A recent arrival in Ludlow, Monty is fascinated with the curve of Corve St, and wonders if this could be part of a circle, and a sacred site extending to Bromfield. He disputes previous definitions of the name, suggesting ‘low’ means a burial mound, and ‘Lud’ a pre-Roman king. The river crossing in Roman times was at the bottom of Old Street. There was a drawbridge under the Wheatsheaf pub and the church in the castle is a rare Templar example.
We were encouraged to visit the museum in its new site in the Buttercross (open Fri-Sat 10-4) and the archive stores in the library (appointment necessary) and look forward to the results of Monty’s future researches.
(Footnote: at the monthly meetings we are now making various items from the archives available to view eg. the contents of an archive box, books for loan, files of a census)