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Bardon Hill, near Coalvillemarker, is the highest point in the Englishmarker county of Leicestershiremarker and the National Forest, 278 metres (912 feet) above sea level. The hill has two very distinct faces – one half preserved as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), the other removed by Bardon Hill Quarry. It is also the site of a radio mast. The second highest hill in Leicestershire is the nearby Beacon Hillmarker.

Quarry

Bardon Hill has been the site of a quarry since at least 1622. A small quarry is shown on a map of 1835, with large scale working starting in 1857. The Leicester and Swannington Railway, opened in 1832 and taken over by the Midland Railway in 1845, ran conveniently close to Bardon Hill. A short branch line from the quarry allowed the granite to be easily transported over the railway network. In 1877, the quarry was described as "great", and in 1890 as "much enlarged". It is currently owned by Aggregate Industries.

Royal visit

In 1840, the then beautiful deer park was chosen as a picnic spot for a visit by Queen Adelaide, the Queen Dowager. T.R.Potter describes the Royal scene in The History of Charnwood Forest – Her Majesty, in a dress of elegant simplicity suited to the occasion, supported by Earl Howe, and her Royal sister (the Duchess of Saxe Weimar) by Lord Curzon, ascended the steep with great apparent ease. On arriving at the summit, upwards of an hour was spent in the enjoyment of the wonderful prospect, of which her Majesty frequently expressed her admiration – Lord Howe pointing out the many remarkable near and distinct objects which the fineness of the day brought within the reach of view.

The Queen’s repast was laid out on the grass on the east side of the Summer House, but her Majesty, finding the sun oppressive, wished to remove to the adjoining shade – and setting the example, took up the first dish, and was followed by the rest of the party, all bearing some portion of the viands. The place selected by the Queen for the rural banquet has since been named “Adelaide's Bower.”

Summit view

The landscape was already attracting visitors before John Curtis wrote in the 1830s: he suggests that the view extends to over 5000 sq m or one twelfth of England and Wales. Potter also notes of the view from Bardon Hill that ‘it probably commands a greater extent of surface than any other point of view on the island’ and that ‘An outline, described from the extremity of this view, would include nearly one-fourth of Englandmarker and Walesmarker. It may be deemed one of the most extraordinary points of view in Nature’. This feature of the hill has not escaped the notice of the telecoms companies and large transmitters and radio masts have replaced both the Summer House and Queen Adelaide’s Bower. The view is still there and on a clear day you can see the Sugar Loafmarker in South Walesmarker, the Malvernmarker and Shropshire Hillsmarker, summits in North Walesmarker and Derbyshiremarker and Lincoln Cathedralmarker.

King Arthur

An unlikely but nonetheless enticing local legend suggests that Bardon Hill is actually the Mons Badon of King Arthur fame. It is known that Romano-British and Celts severely defeated an invading Anglo-Saxon army at the Battle of Mons Badonicus some time around the year 500. It was a major military and political event of the 5th/6th century in Britain, but there is no certainty about its date or place. Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People' names Ambrosius Aurelius, a Roman, as the man who led the Britons to victory at the battle, but by the 9th century the victory was attributed to King Arthur.

Local stories claim that Arthur watched the approach of the Saxons from the summit of the hill and that his forces then swept down the hill and massacred them. A nearby field name is still referred to as `Battle Flat'marker, and the legend also claims that the dead were buried at nearby Billabarrow hill.

See also



References



  • Potter, T. R. (1842) The History of Charnwood Forest. - The Villages of the District, London: Hamilton, Adams and Co. Reprinted by David Dover, Loughborough
  • Curtis, J. (1831) A Topographical History of the County of Leicester. Ashby-de-la-Zouch: W. Hextall; p. 9


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