76.—The Herefordshire Beacon.details

[Picture: 76.—The Herefordshire Beacon.]
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76.—The Herefordshire Beacon.

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There are disagreements about whether the Herefordshire Beacon is the remains of an iron-age hill fort or perhaps is an unfinished Norman motte-and-bailey castle of the 11th century; an excavation in the 19th century did a lot of damage. Modern consensus appears to be that it dates from the 3rd century BC. At any rate this is a fine engraving, using thickness of line to indicate distance, and with the figure in the foreground of a man hunting with a dog, to give a sense of scale. Charles knight wrote, in 1845:

But if the chariots have perished,—if the spears and the axe-heads are doubtful memorials of the warlike genius of the people,—not so are the mighty earth-works which still attest that they defended themselves against their enemies upon a system which bespeaks their skill as well as their valour. The ramparted hill of Old Sarum, with terrace upon terrace rising upon its banks and ditches, and commanding the country for miles around, is held not merely to have been a Roman station, or a British station after the Romans, but a fortified place of the people of the country, even in the time of the great Druidical monuments which are found scattered over the great plain where this proud hill still stands in its ancient majesty.

The Roman walls, the Saxon towers, the Norman cathedral, which have successively crowned this hill, have perished, but here it remains, with all the peculiar character of a British fortress still impressed upon it (Fig. 23).

Such a fortress is the Herefordshire beacon (Fig. 76) which forms the summit of one of the highest of the Malvern hills, and looks down upon that glorious valley of the Severn which, perhaps more than any other landscape, proclaims the surpassing fertility of ‘Old England.’

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