Rocks and Ruins
In August we were lucky enough to visit the impressive Maes Knoll hillfort in fine weather, and the steep walk up was worth it for superb views SW across Chew Valley Lake to Mendip Hills; over varied countryside to the east; and northwards, rather surprisingly, over most of Bristol City. (Which explains the location of a Home Guard lookout post on the top of 'The Tump' - a huge bank with corresponding ditch at one end of the fort.) This Iron Age camp is also the western end of Wansdyke, that enigmatic 'dark ages' boundary work which runs for some 40 miles eastwards towards Malmesbury. Was it built by local Britons to limit the Anglo-Saxon invaders; or vice-versa? Or perhaps it was an act of defiance by the Roman army before it caught the last boats home?
In September we examined the building stones of Wells churches, starting with St.Thomas's, built in the 'polychromatic' style, with alternating layers of contrastingly coloured stone, red Trias and Blue Lias, which must have been a very dramatic sight when the colours were still fresh. Going on to The Cathedral, we found the north wall rather boring; where as the frontage is reputed to have some of the best carvings in Europe, in White Lias. Flanking the main doors, what were local stone columns have been replaced with 'Kilkenny Marble'. Over in Chamberlain Street, the Catholic Church of St.Joseph & St.Theresa is rather less flamboyant, made mostly of Blue Lias (confusedly weathering to cream). And further along, St. Cuthbert's is said to be the largest parish church in Somerset. It was originally built of wood in the 900's, then rebuilt more than once, and some early bits are still visible. On the south side there's a bit of wall that's been pebble-dashed!
John Clutterbuck (Group Leader) 416059
New members welcome; for details please contact me.