Monday 29 July 2013

Wildlife Walks Through Sussex's Pagan Past

On sunny summer days there's really nothing I'd rather be doing than walking in the countryside - preferably somewhere where there aren't crowds of other people. I'd much rather be wandering down shady woodland paths, across meadows of wild flowers and beside cool rivers and lakes, alone or just with my loved one, than be sitting on a beach with hundreds of holidaymakers.

One of my favourite books of country walks is Wildlife Walks Around the Cuckmere Valley.It doesn't just give directions of what stile to cross or what path to take at a fork, it also explains what plants, birds animals and signs of ancient land use to look out for along the way.

The last walk in the book ends with the scene pictured above, as you cross a small bridge and a stile. The books says:: “The church of St Pancras stands before you, sheltered by Yew and Horse Chestnut trees. This must be one of the oldest of the Sussex churches and stands on the site of a remote pagan cemetery where Bronze Age urns with human ashes were once dug up. Nearby, a wide patch of water on the Cuckmere is called Bell Hole. Some connect this with Bel or Baal, the sun god of ancient peoples, which itself could be associated with the great figure that looks down from Windover Hill.”

If you are on holiday in Sussex this summer, I recommend taking a day away from the throng of Brighton or Bognor and head inland to explore the peace, quite and ancient landscape. Copies of that book of walks are really cheap second hand too.

Links and previous related posts
Wildlife Walks Around the Cuckmere Valley

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