This view is from near the top of Upham hill looking north over Aldbourne Warren in the foreground, and Liddington Warren in the mid-ground to the clump of trees marking Liddington Hill. Liddington Castle, a Bronze/Iron age hill fort is out of shot to the left. If you were to stand at the clump of trees and look north you’d see the sprawl that is Swindon in the lowlands before you. Yesterdays tractor tracks in a field of barley were off frame to the right, below the stand of trees.
The lavender field is flax, used for making linen, paper, linseed oil and a whole bunch of other things. I think it’s a close relative of scratch, that fundamental material from which anything at all can be made with the right degree of inventiveness and industry.
Despite having lived around here for many years and seeing this view daily, it was only when composing this post that I wondered what the term ‘Warren’ meant. I turned to Wikipedia for an answer (over three million articles in the English version to Encyclopedia Britannica’s 120,000 articles in their now defunct print edition I believe I read recently).
I found quite quickly that it was an area of land to which someone (the Warden) was granted the rights by someone else (such as royalty or other landowners) to hunt certain animals without fear of breaking the law. The flip side of these rights was that they also had to prevent others from hunting in the warren. Then I went down a rabbit hole into articles on forest law and common law and the words kept getting longer and more obscure.
For grins I decided to search for ‘warren’ at the free part of the Encyclopedia Britannica site and got a whole list of articles about people with the name ‘Warren’ but nothing on the origin of the term in English countryside names. Maybe that’s behind the paywall or maybe its in the 2,880,000 articles the EB folks have yet to write.
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