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Little Solsbury Hill

Hillfort

<b>Little Solsbury Hill</b>Posted by pure joyImage © Martin Bull
Nearest Town:Bath (4km SSW)
OS Ref (GB):   ST768679 / Sheet: 172
Latitude:51° 24' 32.78" N
Longitude:   2° 20' 0.97" W

Added by Rhiannon

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Fieldnotes

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Visited 14.2.2007.
I remember the date well because as a special Valentine's day treat I took Karen for a day trip to Bath (she likes Bath and it gives me a chance to re-visit the Roman Baths). I also thought it would be a good chance to visit this hillfort. We drove up the steep narrow lane which takes you to the gate leading into the hillfort. Karen stayed in the car as I walked up the steep snow covered slope onto the top of the hillfort. It was a lovely sunny day and the views over Bath are great. I thought Karen would enjoy this view of Bath and persuded her to walk up for a look whilst I sat in the car. This was where it all went wrong! I didn't notice that Karen got stuck on the muddy slope and couldn't get down. I saw here sat there but thought she was admiring the view. I didn't realise she was crying in frustration and anger as she was getting her new boots (Xmas present from yours truly) covered in mud! After being helped by a stranger walking his dog and getting back into the car she wasn't very happy. However, we are still together so I must be doing something right!!
Posted by CARL
16th June 2010ce

Good Friday 14th April 2006. The date is important, because as I walked up the steep lane met a lot of friendly people coming down. Arriving at the top, someone stopped to talk to me, and explained what was happening. An open air church service, followed by a picnic and kite flying for the children. Everyone had walked round the different churches in Batheaston, a service at each one and carrying a wooden cross, then they had walked to the top of the hill with the cross. It was extraordinary touching for one who does'nt believe; I likened it to the pagan festival at Avebury, which perhaps was'nt the wisest comment but she agreed..
I record this because it is part of the hills history and local togetherness, which is repeated every year.
The maze has been burnt at the entrance, either in some symbolic act, or wanton malice, but I'm sure it will mend with time.
Wandered round the ramparts which are very impressive and took a photo of Bathampton Down's celtic field system on the other side of the valley.
It was possible, the air was clear after rain, to see to the older prehistoric Priddy landscape, Penhill TV mast, with a longbarrow on its flanks and to imagine the 4 henges that are close by and the bronze age burial mounds. To the south, the landmark to look out for is the Lansdowne? Obelisk on top of Cherhill down, there's a clump of trees in front of it. Perhaps the smoke from prehistoric settlements could be seen from a long distance. Solsbury, Avebury, Priddy and Westbury, especially at night the fires would have been very noticeable.
moss Posted by moss
14th April 2006ce
Edited 16th April 2006ce

I popped up here with my sister at the weekend and found that by squinting wildly it was possible to discern the plume of smoke from the cement factory at Westbury - and yes, just to its right, the Westbury White Horse at its hillfort - ie the edge of Salisbury Plain just visible between the landscape of the much closer hills.

Looking in the another direction you can convince yourself you can just see the edge of the Pewsey Downs - but really you'd want a map and compass with you to be sure. With some binoculars I spotted the television transmitter on the edge of the Mendips (near Priddy) which is quite a way.. I am getting more caught up in this 'intervisibility' thing all the time.

The maze is getting a bit overgrown - so get up there and tread it :)

---

Also came up here recently as the sun was going down. It is strange that this place is so quiet and peaceful yet is so close to the city. It does wonders for your state of mind. I wouldn't want to be accompanied by half of Bath of course but it is well worth discovering how to get up here.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th August 2004ce
Edited 26th April 2005ce

Little Solsbury Hill - 23.1.2004

I like Rhiannon's example of walking from Bath, but unfortunately my visit was a bit of an after thought and the sun was going down, so I lazily drove all the way up to the edge of the common land that surrounds the hill top!

There is room for 2 cars to park (at ST770678) at the end of the dead end lane that leads right up to the top of the hill. The hideously out of place house and virtual scrap yard at the top of the lane has 'No Parking' signs outside but presumably that means don't park in front of their gate. I can't see any reason why people couldn't park a few metres down the hill, as I did.

Over a muddy stile and up the short slope to the top of the fabled hill. It was a misty drizzly day but the views were still spectacular. As Rhiannon says, the flat hilltops surround you and look like you could reach out and touch them; I know Lansdown and Bannerdown particularly well. I walked all the way around the triangular top, surveying the lumpy land and fortifications below, and trying to recognise all the areas and features I know from my home city. I'd love to return in the summer and be able to lay down and chill more!
pure joy Posted by pure joy
25th January 2004ce

I walked up here from Bath. It's further than you'd think and of course I picked the hottest day this year. But if you ask me (where possible) walking is half the point, part of the pilgrimage!

Bath is surrounded by flat-topped hills (one of them being Bathampton Down). You can see the abbey, it's right in the middle of the valley - and that's where the unique hot springs are. What a fantastic landscape this must have been in prehistory. Even the sprawl of Bath and the vile bypass can't ruin it today.

The hillfort is triangular - I walked round the top. The first corner's a triangulation pillar (lovely) but at the next corner a turf maze (a 'labyrinth' if you want to be pedantic as it's just one long path without branches) has been cut into the step of the hill. The horrid roar of the A46 floats up through the beautiful valleys - but it looks like the maze is here to combat that {found out today that it was cut by road protesters a few years back - perhaps they did site it there just for that reason!}. It's an ancient design. I traced it inward and outward. It made me think about a journey of introspection you have to take before you can bring that knowledge back out to use in the world (I was in that kind of mood, ahem). The maze twists so you think you aren't getting there, but suddenly there you are.

At the final corner a small fire was burning. Though it was the hottest day for months I wanted to stay by the fire. I could happily go back there now. In fact I could cheerfully sit up here all day. I had no idea of the time. There must always have been fires up here. Whatever we don't know about our ancestors, we can be pretty sure they must have sat up here looking at the view with their fire burning. It just seems like a thread of sanity in the world.

Coming to a place like this sorts your mind out; it gives you peace and space to think/not to think.

On a more mundane note, on the way home I completely lost the footpath and ended up avoiding muddy cowpats and nettles. Typical.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th July 2002ce
Edited 6th September 2004ce

Miscellaneous

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A book by Adrian Arbib on
Solsbury Hill
Chronicle of a Road Protest

Foreword by George Monbiot and Paul Kingsnorth

http://www.bardwell-press.co.uk/publications/solsburyhill.htm
moss Posted by moss
20th June 2009ce

The National Trust info board says "The National Trust owns only the top of this hill which was a walled village of the Early Iron Age from about 300BC to 100BC. At first the area near the edge of the hilltop was cleared to a rock base on which substantial timber framed and wattle huts were built. A 20' wide rampart was then made faced inside and outside with well built dry stone walls and infilled with loose stones. The outer face was at least 12' high. After a period of occupation some of the huts were burnt down and the rampart was overthrown. The site was abandoned and never occupied again".

P.S. - The slopes of the hill (Little Solsbury Common) are administered by the Batheaston Freeholders Association.
pure joy Posted by pure joy
25th January 2004ce

Apparently the ancient looking small stones on top of the hill are the end markers for medieval strip fields. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th February 2003ce

Funny isn't it. I've noticed other people (e.g. see Kingston Russell) say that they've lived close to something and never properly been there. I've lived around Bath, on and off, most of my life and certainly knew about Solsbury Hill but never got off my arse and walked around it. My mother and father (whilst he was alive) tried to buy a tiny delapidated cottage with an acre of paddock just to the east of the Hill (and what an amazing place it would be to live) but even that was out of the price range. I guess we don't always appreciate things on our doorstep. I also drink more cider now that I'm not living in the West Country! pure joy Posted by pure joy
24th November 2002ce
Edited 25th November 2002ce

Peter Gabriel wrote an esotericy song about Solsbury Hill. The video is rather hill-less though. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th July 2002ce
Edited 12th March 2011ce