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Solsbury Hill is located in Somerset
Location of Solsbury Hill within Somerset.
This article is about the hill called Solsbury near the city of Bath. For the Peter Gabriel song, see Solsbury Hill (song).
Panoramic view on top of the hill

Little Solsbury Hill (more commonly known as Solsbury Hill) is a small flat-topped hill above the village of Batheaston in Somerset, England. The hill rises to 625 feet (191 m)[1] above the River Avon which is just over 1 mile (2 km) to the south. It is within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It gives impressive views of the city of Bath and the surrounding area. The hill was immortalized in 1976 by Peter Gabriel in his song 'Solsbury Hill'.

It is sometimes misspelled as Salisbury, or Solisbury, perhaps because of confusion with Salisbury Plain (a plateau in southern England), or the city of Salisbury. Salisbury and Solsbury can be difficult to distinguish in speech. The name Solsbury may be derived from the Celtic god Sulis, a deity worshipped at the thermal spring in nearby Bath.

Contents

History and Archaeology

Earthworks at Solsbury Hill

The hill was an Iron Age hill fort occupied between 300 BC and 100 BC, comprising a triangular area enclosed by a single univallate rampart, faced inside and out with well-built dry stone walls and infilled with rubble. The rampart was 20 feet (6 m) wide and the outer face was at least 12 feet (4 m) high. The top of the hill was cleared down to the bedrock, then substantial huts were built with wattle and daub on a timber-frame. After a period of occupation, some of the huts were burnt down, the rampart was overthrown, and the site was abandoned, never to be reoccupied. This event is probably part of the Belgic invasion of Britain in the early part of the 1st century BC.

The hill is near the Fosse Way Roman Road as it descends into Batheaston on its way to Aquae Sulis.

Solsbury Hill is a possible location of the Battle of Mount Badon, fought between the Britons (under the legendary King Arthur) and the Saxons c. 496, mentioned by the chroniclers Gildas and Nennius.

The hill also has a quarry listed on the North West side on an 1911 map, and one an old quarry on the West side in 1885 - 1900. [1] [2]

Wildlife

The slopes are a classic example of limestone grassland reflecting the underlying geology of the area. This limestone habitat supports a wide range of specialist plants and animals, including some rare species. Examples of plant species found here are Bird's Foot Trefoil, vetches, Greater Knapweed, and Bee and Pyramidal Orchids.

Insect species that may be present include the Six-spotted Burnet Moth and a number of butterflies including Chalkhill Blues and Meadow Fritillary.

The Grassland has not been improved through any agricultural practice. The Yellow meadow ant hills are evidence of this. These grassy mounds show that the site has not been ploughed for at least fifty years.

The skylark nests on the hill. Its liquid warbling of short trills is usually the first thing to be expected by the observer. This is followed by the sight of a small fluttering and hovering speck high in the sky. This is the song-flight of the Skylark, lasting up to an hour and reaching heights of up to 300m.

The skylark population has halved since 1990. It is believed this is because of intensification of farm practices leading to the loss of habitat and available food supply. The management of grassland and scrub is important to allow these birds to flourish, although the farmers in the area have not intensified their farming methods, and the agricultural land available has not changed since in all this time, it might be worth noting that the new A46 opened in 1996 removed a substantial amount of natural habitat.

Cultural references

Solsbury Hill is also the inspiration for rock musician Peter Gabriel's first solo single in 1977, which reached the 13th and 68th positions on the UK and US record charts respectively.

Contemporary Issues

People protesting against the building of an A46 bypass road cut a small turf maze into the hill during its construction in the mid-1990s.

References

  1. ^ Scott, Shane (1995). The hidden places of Somerset. Aldermaston: Travel Publishing Ltd. pp. 16. ISBN 1902007018.  

Coordinates: 51°24′34.58″N 02°19′58.39″W / 51.4096056°N 2.3328861°W / 51.4096056; -2.3328861

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