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Belsar's Hill



In Willingham field, on the edge of the fen, about half of a circular entrenchment remains, which, when entire, contained about six acres; it consists of a high vallum and a ditch, and is situated near the end of Aldreth causeway, leading across the fens towards Ely: this entrenchment s known by the name of Belsar's hills, and is supposed to have been thrown up by William the Conqueror, when he beseiged the isle of Ely; it seems, nevertheless, more probable, from the resemblance it bears to the two works already noticed, of Vandlebury and Arbury, that it was originally a British work, afterwards occupied by the Conqueror, who probably threw up some additional works: it must at all times have been a very important station, as commanding the pass into the isle of Ely.
This source's phrasing seems to suggest a local story, rather than just an academic theory? From p74 of Magna Brittanica, by David Lysons, 1808 (vol2, pt1, Cambridgeshire). Online at Google Books.

The story of the seige is dramatised in Kingsley's 1865 'Hereward the Wake', as it was Hereward (and others) that resisted the Normans' move into Ely. Belasius, one of William's knights, is able to capture the city by bribing some of the monks to show him a safe route across the marshes. Hereward escapes to fight another day.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th May 2007ce
Edited 7th May 2007ce

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