|Scutchamer Knob was once a 'moot' or 'gemot' place in Anglo-Saxon times. This basically means a 'meeting place' and was used for the local Anglo-Saxon leaders as a sort of 'Berkshire Parliament'. (Originally it was in Berkshire but the boundaries between Berkshire and Oxfordshire changed in the mid 1970's).
Local law and justice would have been decided here. The tradition of meeting outdoors to deal with important matters, as opposed to indoors, has its roots in the Germanic (i.e. A-S).
It was at this place that criminals would be tried and sentenced (sometimes to death). See 'Kilman knoll' nearby on the OS map as a possible site for the hangings.
Originally named 'Cwicchelmeshlaew' (or variaitions on the spelling), the place literally meant 'the law of Cwichelm' and referred to one of the early Wessex Anglo-Saxon sub-kings (a long time before Alfred the Great). This gives a date of use in the early Anglo-Saxon period, early in the 600's AD.
The place became symbolic in the later viking invasions and expansion into the area. The Wessex Anglo-Saxons were some of the last to resist the mighty and all-conquering viking invasions. It was sad if the vikings ever reached as far as Scutchamer Knob, then they wouldn't escape alive. This was reached by the vikings and sort of came true. Alfred led the local Saxons to victory against the Danes in the Battle of Ashdown in the year 871 AD somewhere in the local area (there are various places suggested for this site). The invaders were beaten and retreated back to Reading. This was a pivotal point in Anglo-Saxon times as the vikings had never suffered such a defeat on a large scale before. Although Alfred the Great suffered further defeat at the hand of the viking hordes and ended up fleeing to the Somerset marshes later, it showed they could be beaten.
Scutchamer Knob has had an important place to play in the history of England. The Anglo-Saxons of the kingdom of Wessex came out stronger than the other A-S kingdoms of England at the time of the viking invasions and went to to form the country we now know as England. Out of Wessex, came England.
Posted by wysefool
4th November 2003ce
Edited 4th November 2003ce