The Wrekin Hill

The Wrekin is a prominent landmark located near the center of the county of Shropshire.  According to ‘The handbook of the Wrekin’ (a small definitive guide to ‘The Wrekin’ by R.E. Davies a well known local historian), published in 1895 ‘the Wrekin’ is considered to be the highest mountain in Europe in proporotion to the circumference of its base. It is situated in beautiful countryside and from its summit you can see for miles.

The Wrekin is a  Scheduled Monument and as such is an example of a nationally rare monument type. At its summit is a large and prominent hill fort that possesses two lines of ramparts which follow the countours of the hill, although they are very much eroded now. The oldest of the Wrekin’s geology was formed 680 million years ago and fossils such as trilobites from the Precambrian and Cambrian periods have been found nearby. Archaeological excavations have shown evidence of Bronze and Iron Age domestic occupaton spanning several hundred years. The handbook of the Wrekin states the outer vallum measured at least a mile and was capable of housing twenty thousand men. The entrance to the outer vallum is known as Hell Gate and the inner entrance is known as Heaven Gate.

It is thought that the Roman military campagin forced the hill fort’s abandonment in the mid first century AD. The Romans finally settled in Viriconium and the settlement spread for miles including parts of what now is the Attingham Park estate. One third of the Roman city of Viriconium whose public baths have been excavated can be seen at Wroxeter which is close to the Wrekin.

Local folklore tells us that a giant had a grudge against the people of Shrewsbury and how he set off to flood the town and kill off its inhabitants. He collected a spade full of earth and headed towards the town. When he arrived near the town of Wellington he met a cobbler who was returning from Shrewsbury market with a sack full of shoes that needed repairing. The giant asked the cobbler for directions to Shrewsbury and told the cobbler of his plan. The cobbler advised that it was a long way to Shrewsbury and said that he had worn all the shoes out in his sack on the way from Shrewsbury. This caused the giant to abandon his plan, so he dumped the earth on the ground beside him, where it became the Wrekin hill. The giant then scraped the mud off his boots and this formed the smaller Ercall (prounounces Arcle) hill.

A local phrase “all round the Wrekin to get to the Ercall” is used to express that you are going “the long way round”.  Another local phrase is “to all friends around the Wrekin” which is used as  a toast especially at Christmas and New Year.

Some claim that the Wrekin is the inspiration for Middle Earth, it certainly has that feel about it and J.R.R. Tolkein did enjoy walking on the hill.

1 thought on “The Wrekin Hill

  1. this makes me homesick for all things england!!!! (but i’m going home in march…..hooooray!!!) – what a great pictures and telling of it, I had no idea Tolkein spent time there, how wonderful (LOTR remains one of my favourite books of all time)
    January 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterEliza

    Eliza, what great news to go home in March… something to look forward too… LOTR, we watched that over the holidays, all three of them, nine hours of great time
    January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChantal

    Leave it to you, Cherry, to give us this fascinating history and geography lesson. You and my mom would really get along! Who would have believed this is the highest mountain in Europe based on the circumference of its base. I love that kind of trivia…as well as knowing someone so famous as J.R. Tolkien may have gotten some of his fantastic creativity from walking the place.
    January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinnie

    I just love the story about the giant. The child in me still believes in fairy tales…and so – for today – I’m going to take that as my history lesson and the way in which Wrekin Hill came to be. And what a gorgeous….magical scene and image!!!
    January 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterMarcie

    What a wonderful story, thanks for sharing. And a beautiful image. I love the English countryside
    January 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterPetra

    I’ve never heard of this geographic feature before and really enjoyed reading about it. You covered it well – geography, history, mythology and local culture. It was all fascinating. Not to mention the great illustration….
    January 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterseabluelee

    Never heard of that either. So interesting! Hm, it looks like I need to go on exploration there one day.
    Nice picture with deer.
    January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJozica @ Creatissimo

    This would be a great question for Trivial Pursuit… and I would know by now!!! Thanks to you, Cherry!
    I have to admit, though, that I am not a LOTR person – not at all.
    January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarola

    Such an interesting story and a beautiful legends surrounding it. Thank you Cherry I especially love the one with the Giant 🙂
    January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnyes – Far Away in the Sunshine

    how great to stop by your post and feel transported just by clicking the mouse. wonderful.
    January 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhoney

    I enjoy learning about a people and places from their folklore. Thank you for sharing this story.
    January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaery Rose

    A lovely snippet with new knowledge and learning and a fabulous photo as well. It really transports the viewer to the place. Thanks so much for sharing.
    January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

    I love to learn new things and I always do reading your blog or our posts here. Timeteam is on of my favorite TV shows. When my son was in England last year he was visiting the “hill” from the movie “The man who went up a hill and came down a mountain” Not so many high places in UK.
    January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrida

    what a magical place! i can see it as middle earth, just perfect.
    January 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkelly

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