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The Ridgeway

Ancient Trackway


England's Ancient Ridgeway Trail

An interesting article in The New York Times....

THE Ridgeway is the oldest continuously used road in Europe, dating back to the Stone Age. Situated in southern England, built by our Neolithic ancestors, it's at least 5,000 years old, and may even have existed when England was still connected to continental Europe, and the Thames was a tributary of the Rhine.

Ridgeway Trail; Once it probably ran all the way from Dorset in the southwest to Lincolnshire in the northeast, following the line of an escarpment — a chalk ridge rising from the land — that diagonally bisects southern England. Long ago it wasn't just a road, following the high ground, away from the woods and swamps lower down, but a defensive barrier, a bulwark against marauders from the north, whomever they may have been. At some point in the Bronze Age (perhaps around 2,500 B.C.), a series of forts were built — ringed dikes protecting villages — so the whole thing became a kind of prototype of Hadrian's Wall in the north of England.

The land here is downland, somewhere between moorland and farmland, hill after hill curving to the horizon in chalk slopes (the word down is related to dune). Here on these pale rolling hills, the plowed fields, littered with white hunks of rock, sweep away in gradations of color, from creamy white to dark chocolate. The grassland becomes silvery as it arches into the distance. The wind always seems to be blowing. The landscape is elemental, austere, with a kind of monumental elegance. The formal lines of the fields and hills not only speak of the severity of life in the prehistoric past, but would also match some well-tended parkland belonging to an earl......

three pages read on....
moss Posted by moss
1st November 2009ce
Edited 1st November 2009ce

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