[Quoting Dr Stukeley:]"A high prominence of the Chiltern overlooks all, called the Five Knolls, from that number of barrows, or Celtic tumuli, which are round, pretty large, and ditched about, upon the very apex of the hill.From p29 of 'The Beauties of England and Wales' by John Britton, and others (1801). Yeah, John Britton sounds like a pseudonym for such a book title, but he was an antiquary. Online at Google Books.
Close by is a round cavity, as often observed in Wiltshire [ie a dry valley in the chalk hill]. This, we are informed, is called Pascomb Pit, and is a great hollow in the downs."
Tradition, that unwearying journalist of marvellous tales, reports that a church was intended to have been erected on this spot, but that the materials were removed invisibly as fast as brought together.
More on the 'Pascombe Pit', where there was the tradition of rolling oranges on Good Friday. The writer connects this with the removal of the stone from in front of Jesus's tomb. But really that wasn't orange and didn't roll down a hill.
The tradition of orange rolling is believed to have started in the mid to late eighteenth century and involved hundreds of people. The juiciest oranges were reserved for pelting one another and knocking off the top hats of those foolish enough to wear them at such a spectacle. Additional entertainment was provided by a local band which was later joined by several fairground attractions including a merry-go-round, a coconut shy and a shooting gallery. They positioned themselves at the foot of the hill.Sadly lack of oranges in the war led to the activity's suspension. And a revival later was 'squashed' by local traders in the sixties. Bring back the orange rolling!!
Attendance grew each year with people travelling from as far away as London by train, bus and eventually by motor car.
see Rita Swift's article here, which gives her sources.
Three photos from 1968 of the Orange Rolling Event can be seen here, at the Collections Picture Library.
Posted by Rhiannon
2nd May 2007ce
Edited 6th May 2007ce