|From "On The Ancient British, Roman, and Saxon Antiquities and Folk-Lore of Worcestershire" 2nd ed - Jabez Allies (1852):
"At a land-slip at the top of Bredon Hill, which happened at the beginning of the present century*, a considerable quantity of wheat, of a parched appearance, and which had been buried in the earth, was discovered. This is supposed to have been an ancient granary, but of what people is uncertain. A specimen of the wheat was presented to the Worcester Museum by Mrs. Davies, of Elmley Park. Wishing to know the particulars, I wrote to Mr. William Prior, of Kemerton, who, in reply, informed me that about thirty-five or forty years ago, after a very wet season, as the late Miss Martin, of Norton, was riding along the parapet on the top of Bredon Hill, in the field called Kemerton Camp, her horse began to sink in the ground suddenly and rapidly; that however she kept her seat, and the horse, which had gone down about four or five feet below the level of the firm ground, sprang up and regained his footing. That so soon as Miss Martin had recovered from her surprise, she saw that a land-slip had occurred, and that she had landed on the firm side of the chasm, which at that time opened about thirty feet wide at the surface and about forty feet deep**; but that it is since partially filled up by the crumbling down of the sides. That he was at the house of the late James Martin, Esq. of Overbury, some few weeks afterwards, when a portion of the parched wheat, found in the excavation, wa shown to him and some other gentlemen, and the general opinion was, that it was part of the stores left behind by the Romans, Saxons or Danes, at the time when they were there encamped.
*About the beginning of the last century, a hillock on the side of the hill, containing about an acre, with its trees and cattle, slipped nearly 100 yards down.
**Some say the chasm was about 200 yards long."
Inevitably there is a lengthy discussion on when and how the wheat came to be there, with far too many commas and the names of various local gentry Mr Allies spoke to. He concludes:
"Perhaps the best answer to the above is, that the ancient Britons parched their corn before placing it in subterranean granaries for long keeping*.; but whether it was parched in the ear and then thrashed out, or parched after it was thrashed, may be a question.
*Similar subterranean granaries are mentioned by Tacitus in his account of the customs of the Germans."
Indeed. As a postscript, deposits of Iron Age wheat have been found on Bredon Hill during modern excavations, for example in association with infant burial in a post hole during a 1937 excavation ("The Excavation of the Iron Age Camp on Bredon Hill, Gloucestershire, 1935-1937" - T. Hencken).
Posted by thesweetcheat
11th February 2009ce
Edited 11th February 2009ce