Morgan's Hill is so named after a Mr. Morgan of Heddington who murdered his uncle. For this he not only hung but his body was left hanging on the hill top gibbet.
Gibbeting was common law punishment, which a judge could impose in addition to execution. This practice was regularised in England by the Murder Act 1752, which empowered judges to impose this for murder. It was most often used for traitors, murderers, highwaymen, pirates, and sheep-stealers, and was intended to discourage others from committing similar offences.
As was the case with murderers, he was not given a Christian burial in a church yard but what was left of his remains were placed face down and covered with stones. In Morgan's case, this was somewhere on the parish boundary between Heddington and Bishop Cannings, probably just over the road from Smallgrain Plantation. It would appear that the spot contains several bodies of highwaymen too, but none of the infamous Cherhill Gang who robbed the stagecoaches naked, for none was ever caught.
This tale told to me by the late Mr. Atwell of the motor museum who was shown the very spot while out horse riding "on the same day they buried Winston Churchill".
After the rain
a long view - and larks.
A climb through three gates,
but worth it for the best of Wiltshire.
We, surprised even now by this green antiquity
touching instinct, breathe in and smile.
And the sun points out meadows,
clouds paint themselves
and high Morgan's Hill sings its great wide song
to us until
we turn to the circle of trees,
and the hollow hauls us into itself.
A stump, scattered stones,
a fire's corpse and a stagnant pool;
a rook floats, sodden, swollen.
Here we are no longer part of things -
or part of something other.
We leave symptoms of ourselves everywhere.
Out there the winds dilute us.
Here, face to face with these echoes,
we fall silent.
Saddened, with nothing
but the rushing of beech about us,
we stumble out,
finding a sky we do not recognize
full of something darker than the rain.
Morgan's Hill has a lot of interesting features - a cross dyke from the middle Bronze Age, numerous round barrows (some apparently in a group), and various unprehistoric things like Wansdyke and a Roman road. It's also got great views, and lots of chalk downland plants and animals. It's relatively easy to pinpoint from afar, as it's got a large wireless mast and a distinctive clump of trees.