|Reading the new-agish 'Legendary Landscapes' by J D Wakefield (1999) I came across a photo of the 'Devil's Trackway'. Apparently it is a "strange serpentine bank and ditch that leads down the entire facade of the south side of [Knap Hill], descending the most precipitous part of the escarpment into the vale."
When the Cunningtons excavated Knap Hill in 1908/9 they noticed how it was difficult to see close-up, but showed up at a distance. Mrs C saw it following the curve of the hill at the top and then descending straight down (apparently in WAM 37 - 1912). It was known by her local workers:
From the road up Alton Hill it can be seen well and looks like a wide cart track, and locally it is known as the 'Devil's Trackway'. Our labourers knew it well by sight, but appeared to think it a kind of optical delusion that vanished at close quarters, and were much interested when the actual bank was pointed out to them. It was suggested that the bank might be merely the result of levelling to make a pathway, possibly down to the nearest water, but the hill is so steep at this point as to make this very improbable, if not indeed impracticable.The markings are quite clear on the photos in Wakefield's book (p25/26), and actually you can see it well on the Viewfinder photo linked to below. (He/she gives the line a serpenty / goddess-umbilical cord style theory, but does anyone know a modern archaeological interpretation? Is it something prehistoric? It's certainly unusual as it can't be a non-devilish trackway, the way it's careering off down that perilous slope. Is there some relevance that the Viewfinder caption says "There is little knowledge why the earthworks on the southern side of the escarpment are missing" - the south side being the very side that the Trackway cuts across?)
As MJB explains in the thread here
the trackway actually is the traces of the method used in medieval times to transport quarried chalk down into the valley below.
Posted by Rhiannon
7th September 2005ce
Edited 9th September 2005ce