burial mounds, or are they? and their beauty
September 24, 2010
Decades ago before the birth of blogs, I used to go past these landforms in the meadows around Oving almost daily. I was always taken with them then – their beauty, evocative quality, sense of history – and felt the same in anticipation as I turned the corner to climb the road up to Pitchcott quite recently. They’re quite humble and easily missable especially as the view to the south, in the other direction, across the vale of Aylesbury is remarkable and surely hasn’t changed that much over hundreds of years. There is no geological reason for the forms as far as I can fathom and, to me, they look like the tumuli near Buckingham.
Jack Hunter farmed this land when I lived there (one of the Oxford colleges had owned it since the desolution of the monasteries) and being a Scot his favourite herd on this land was Aberdeen Angus. The church, nestling in the trees, is now a private house.
Another mound just behind the graveyard in Oving and just behind the family house. Although the ground is rising this formed dome is extensive and has a defined profile. It has a very strong presence. Pre-Roman Celtic Britons had settlements here and the Romans, Saxons and Normans followed. Remnants of a Roman camp were found on Oving Hill at the top of the village. The church dates from 13C but an earlier timber building stood on the site.
The young village children messed around in this half secret arbour and but it wasn’t so secret from our house – they didn’t know that of course!
This view reminds me of Gray’s Elegy . . . a few verses are below . . .
. . . and 2 little lads got very excited when they first saw this headstone . . .
. . . a lovely group . . .
. . . . finger pointing the way to heaven or as admonition?
The view past the mound to North Marston where traces of medieval ploughing and ridge and furrow patterns are still evident in the landscape
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;
‘There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
‘Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross’d in hopeless love.
‘One morn I miss’d him on the custom’d hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
‘The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,-
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.’