Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dumpdon Hill

There is a slight but intriguing wikipedia entry for Dumpdon Hill which reads:

 Dumpdon Hill is an Iron Age Hill Fort near Honiton in Devon, somewhat overshadowed by its better known neighbour Hembury Fort it is nonetheless as impressive an earthwork.

 Situated in the valley of the River Otter, it is one of the largest, and most distinct hills in the area due to a large clump of beech trees situated at its summit. The top of Dumpdon is owned and maintained by the National Trust and is 250 metres (800 ft) above Sea Level. The small area of woodland on the top of Dumpdon Hill is considered locally as slightly mysterious and, due probably to its long history, is a popular location for practitioners of paganism and other types of the occult. There is also much mystery over an incident in the 1970s concerning a certain Dr Glanvill, and the rumoured discovery of bodies of which very little is known.

There was this local Dr Glanvill -
Chard and Ilminster News 
This Dr Glanvills' son, also a doctor, recently discovered what turned out to be the largest cave in the Mendips: The Frozen Deep

--It is, of course, a common practice in most places to make a neighbouring ancient object a kind of standard of age. At Honiton, and in the country round, "As old as Dump'n " used to be, and perhaps still is, a popular expression, the reference being to a British or Roman earthwork conspicuously visible on Dumpdon Hill, close by.
From Notes and Queries, November 4th 1876.

A story about a tunnel from The Truth About Dumpdon Hill

Legends about the impressive earthwork survive today, including a most improbable one about the existence of a tunnel from Marwood House, in High Street, to the hill’s summit.

For centuries, the myth of the tunnel has been passed from generation to generation.

Daniel Defoe visited Honiton, in the 1720's, saying of the town that it was 'large and beautiful...very populous and well built'. There are a still a few older buildings which survived a fire in the 18th century.  Allhallows Museum in the High Street, once a 13th century chapel that later became a schoolroom is the oldest building in the town and 17th century Marwood House, built by John Marwood, whose father, Thomas, was physician to Elizabeth the First.

Dr Thomas Marwood was born in 1512, travelled to Padua to study medicine and practiced in Honiton until well into his eighties. In 1592 he was reputedly invited to London to cure the Earl of Essex, a feat which earned him great wealth. He married three times, the third time at the age of 96. He built a house in Honiton, which was only demolished during the construction of the railway in 1846. However, Marwood House, the house he built for his son, still stands today, at the end of Honiton High Street.  Dr Marwood apparently died in 1617, at the age of 105, and his black marble tomb can be found in St Michael's church, though elsewhere it states that the tomb was destroyed by a fire in 1911. His grandson, Thomas Marwood, attended James I in his last illness, of which he left a MS. account, in Latin.

Arms of Marwood. Gu. a chevron Arg. between three goats' heads - erased Ermine. 

We visited in July and there is an impressively long and slow climb to the top of the hill, with the lanes leading there small and narrow. Though near the Honiton to London road, it seems quiet and remote out here. There is a small carpark, and we took the longer path around the perimeter of the hill before ascending the south side and meeting the triangulation point at the top. This part of the hill is extremely flat and open and has recently been cleared, so there are great views from the west round to the east, with plenty of space for sky.

Behind the trig point is a small wood, which feels dark and slightly sinister. Photographs taken in the, ahem, late 1970's show a more open wood, also here, so a lot of the trees have grown in the last thirty years or so. The larger trees are mainly beech, but other types are also present here. By the amount of initials carved into the trees it seems that the hill has been very popular over the years as a destination of some local significance. I haven't seen as much initialing in any wood that I can remember. All in all definitely worth it for the view and the peace and quiet. Cadbury Castle next time.