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Sunday, 30 November 2008

TV archaeologist to lead school on treasure hunt

An archaeologist known to TV viewers will lead Blandford children in an excavation that could yield treasures from the Bronze Age.

Julian Richards, the presenter of BBC television’s Meet the Ancestors, will help local children get first hand experience of an archaeological dig during a two-week excavation in January.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Sunday 30th November 2008

Lawrence of Arabia’s motorcycle letters sold

Letters by Lawrence of Arabia in which he says how well his Brough Superior motorcycle is running and speaks of his love of book collecting have sold at auction for £10,000 – almost three times their estimate.

READ MORE - Source: The Times, 30th November 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008

2008 meeting of Friends of the Museum of Witchcraft

Next weekend is the date for the 2008 Friends meeting. Speakers will be Joyce Froome who is the museum's historian, and the ever popular & interesting Professor Ron Hutton. It will be held at The Wellington Hotel on Saturday 6 Dec & drinks will be had at The Wellington on the evening of Friday 5th, with music from the Dorset group 'The Dolmen' to support. Anyone who needs information should contact houseoftheoldways@talktalk.net . Hope to see some of you there & I may have some fab photos of the 'do' next week.

Source: Museum of Witchcraft Diary Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Magic at Lulworth Castle

Between Sunday 21st December 2008 to Friday 2nd January 2009 Lulworth Castle will be bringing the magic of Christmas alive this year when we welcome Merlin the marvellous Magician to enchant and charm you over the festive season.

Whilst Merlin sprinkles his magic over the Castle, you and your family can enjoy traditional games, ‘Hunt the Cracker’ and make a star, Wizard’s hat and wand at the themed activity table. There will also be face-painting* and Christmas quizzes to puzzle over with prizes to be won!

The Castle will be dressed in fine Festive decoration and you can help too! Everyone will have the opportunity to help make the longest ever paperchain to adorn the Castle.

So come along, wave your magic wand and enjoy a sparkling and spellbound magical Christmas time at Lulworth Castle from Sunday 21st December 08 to Friday 2nd January 09 (Closed 24th & 25th December). Gates open 10.30am until 4pm. Activities included in normal admission price. Family tickets available, under 4’s go free. For more information call 0845 450 1054.

Wuff Waters (Epic doggy paddle turned out all Wight)

It must have been the scariest doggy paddle of his life. But Bailey the Labrador proved he was far from wet behind the ears when strong currents dragged him a mile-and-a-half off out to sea.

The salty sea dog had gone for an afternoon dip off the beach at Milford-on-Sea when he got in to difficulties. Before long the tide had pulled him so far out that he had almost reached the Isle of Wight.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Saturday 29th November 2008

Friday, 28 November 2008

Dorset adventurer sails into pirate-infested seas

A Dorset adventurer is preparing to sail through the pirate-infested waters off Somalia in his quest to recreate the first circumnavigation of Africa.

Philip Beale of East Chaldon is leading the Phoenician Ship Expedition, which departed from Syria in August. The crew has now reached Port Sudan in the authentic replica of a 600 BC Phoenician ship.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 28th November 2008

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Did you see lights in sky over Christchurch?

Several people reported seeing a UFO over the sea south of Mudeford on Saturday night.

A Mudeford man was visiting a friend in the St Catherine's Hill area of Christchurch and saw unexplained lights in the sky over Hengistbury Head.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Thursday 27th November 2008

Iconic visitors seen gliding over reedbeds

Visitors to Weymouth’s Radipole Lake and Lodmoor nature reserves have been on the lookout for winter residents including marsh harrier and the elusive bittern.

The harrier, a beautifully marked female, is frequently seen gliding over the Radipole reedbeds on low hunting flights or perched in the crown of a willow, while there are believed to be at least three bittern using both reserves that have been showing obligingly throughout November.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 27th November 2008

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

To explore the surface of Titan, you should start on Chesil Beach

Three o’clock Sunday afternoon, we leave Milton Keynes with the car loaded up with equipment.

"We" are John Zarnecki, Professor of Space Science, and Karl Atkinson, PhD student, both from the OU’s Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute.

"The equipment" is an aluminium contraption about two and a half metres high, of tripod shape with a horizontal arm that can drop a sensor from various heights.

We are off to Chesil Beach, on the coast of Dorset. Why are two planetary scientists going to the Dorset coast?

Obviously, because Chesil Beach is like the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon!

READ MORE - Source: Open University - The Material World: On Chesil Beach 25th November 2008

St Catherine, St Catherine, O lend me thine aid - The Traditions and Customs of St. Catherine's Day

Today is St. Catherine's Day, and it is customary for unmarried women to pray for husbands, and to honor women who've reached 25 years of age but haven't married.

St Catherine was renowned as a virgin Martyr, hence the reason for her being a patron of unmarried maidens. The St Catherine’s Chapel at Abbotsbury was once a popular place of pilgrimage for girls seeking their true love. Many would visit the chapel on St Catherine’s Day, where, inside the south doorway, there are three ‘Wishing Holes’. The girls would put their knee in the lower hole and their hands in the other two above and wish for the man of their dreams, saying as follows:

‘A husband, St Catherine
A handsome one, St Catherine
A rich one, St Catherine
A nice one, St Catherine
And soon, St Catherine’


St Catherine, St Catherine, O lend me thine aid
And grant that I never may die an old maid.

Wishing or praying to St Catherine for a husband was also a popular custom at Cerne Abbas, where there was once a ruined S
t Catherine’s Chapel on Cat-and-Chapel Hill. With the chapel now gone the custom has since switched to St Augustine’s Well, where there is a ‘Wishing Stone’ upon which is the wheel of St Catherine.


Similar to
St. Martin's Day on November 10, St. Catherine’s Day also marks the arrival of winter. like St. Martin’s Day, St. Catherine’s Day is basically a secular holiday and is even somewhat pagan. Generally, St. Martin’s Day and St. Catherine’s Day are described by their differences: St. Martin’s Day is primarily a holiday associated with men and St. Catherine’s Day is associated with women, which means that the latter day has acquired a strongly feminine meaning.

‘As at Catherine foul or fair,
So will next February’.

Below, Extract taken from the Chambers Book of Days November 25th 1864, details the traditions of St. Catherine's day.

Among the earlier saints of the Romish calendar, St. Catharine holds an exalted position, both from rank and intellectual abilities. S
he is said to have been of royal birth, and was one of the most distinguished ladies of Alexandria, in the beginning of the fourth century. From a child she was noted for her acquirements in learning and philosophy, and while still very young, she became a convert to the Christian faith. During the persecution instituted by the Emperor Maximinus I, St. Catharine, assuming the office of an advocate of Christianity, displayed such cogency of argument and powers of eloquence, as thoroughly silenced her pagan adversaries. Maximinus, troubled with this success, assembled together the most learned philosophers in Alexandria to confute the saint; but they were both vanquished in debate, and converted to a belief in the Christian doctrines. The enraged tyrant thereupon commanded them to be put to death by burning, but for St. Catharine he reserved a more cruel punishment. She was placed in a machine, composed of four wheels, connected together and armed with sharp spikes, so that as they revolved the victim might be torn to pieces. A miracle prevented the completion of this project. When the executioners were binding Catharine to the wheels, a flash of lightning descended from the skies, severed the cords with which she was tied, and shattered the engine to pieces, causing the death both of the executioners and numbers of the bystanders. Maximinus, however, still bent on her destruction, ordered her to be carried beyond the walls of the city, where she was first scourged and then beheaded. The legend proceeds to say, that after her death her body was carried by angels over the Red Sea to the summit of Mount Sinai. The celebrated convent of St. Catharine, situated in a valley on the slope of that mountain, and founded by the Emperor Justinian, in the sixth century, contains in its church a marble sarcophagus, in which the relics of St. Catharine are deposited. Of these the skeleton of the hand, covered with rings and jewels, is exhibited to pilgrims and visitors. A well known concomitant of St. Catharine, is the wheel on which she was attempted to be tortured, and which figures in all pictured representations of the saint. From this circumstance are derived the well kown circular window in ecclesiastical architecture, termed a Catharine wheel window, and also a firework of a similar form. This St. Catharine must not be confounded with the equally celebrated St. Catharine of Siena, who lived in the fourteenth century.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Holy Wells, Shitcocks and Piscombe: Folk history of the Bincombe and Upwey area

With with the ever changing landscape within the Weymouth area, and construction work already started on the Weymouth Relief Road (see previous blog entry The route to history). I thought I would share a couple of articles from the late Audrey Johnson's column Dorset Diary (Dorset Evening Echo March 10th 2004). Discussing the nearly forgotten folk history and stories of the Bincombe and Upwey area.
"Bincombe's Link to ancient spring
More information flows in following ex-pat's query over village.

Last week Sally Morgan, an ex-pat Dorset woman, sent me an e-mail from her home in Normandy asking about Bincombe where she grew up (Diary, March 5). She said she is "interested in trying to gather together some of the hamlet's anecdotal past, in particular relating to around 11 cottages that have now disappeared, with their inhabitants".

I quoted from a Topigraphical [sic] Dictionary of England, written in 1831 by Samuel Lewis, who said that the River Wey runs through the parish, in which are quarries of fine stone and a mineral spring. Numerous barrows are visible on the neighbouring downs.

Mark North, author of Dark Dorset, was quick to reply, saying he believes "that Lewis may have been referring to either the spring at the Wishing Well or the Spa at Nottington as the mineral spring. Ronald Good gives a good description of this in his book Weyland, the story of Weymouth and its countryside.

He says: "the southern boundary of Broadwey parish took a very wandering course by which it enclosed the hamlet of Nottington. This place also has a mill, but its leading feature is a mineral spring that rises on the margin of the Wey. The water of this spring is sulphurous, and its medicinal virtues, especially in cases of skin disease, have been known at least since 1700.

"We are well aware that the course of the river doesn't divert through Bincombe. However, there was once a mineral spring in the parish of Bincombe, near the hamlet of Elwell at the base of Ridgeway Hill as mentioned in Jeremy Harte's article on Dorset Holy wells.

"He points out that 'the hamlet of Elwell in this parish is Helewill in 1212, and is derived from haele, safe, haelu, health, or hael, omen - so that it was either an oracular or a healing well.

WELL LINK: (above) The Royal Oak Inn, circa 1910, once situated at the bottom of Ridgeway Hill on Dorchester Road at Upwey and demolished in 1968 to improve traffic visibility at this point. The bus stop at the bottom of the hill now marks the site of the inn

"In recent times it was known as the Healing Well, 'a spring in a field at the bottom of Ridgeway, behind where the Royal Oak Inn used to stand. Healing properties,especially in connection with eyes, were attributed to this spring'. This folklore connection with healing of sore eyes has also been connected with the Wishing Well waters as well.

"References to the name of Elwell (Heal Well) can be found on a map of Bincombe Parish in the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments Books of Dorset which clearly states the valley, since destroyed by the railway embankment, as Hellwell Bottom, though it fails to mention the location of the well behind the Royal Oak Inn, now demolished. It does, however, highlight a spring on top of the hill as well as the ancient Celtic field systems and one humorous name for a valley, which has, I expect, long been removed by OS maps."

Above: segment of map of Bincombe Parish taken from the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments Books of Dorset. Below, Shitcocks and Piscombe as it appears today prior the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road.

It's certainly deleted from my 1:25 000 map, as is Hellwell Bottom which also appears on the early map from the Historical Monuments book. The small valley lies just south of Lower Bincombe Farm and rejoices in the name Shitcocks and Piscombe - though why it was so named I can't imagine, unless it was the site of the village midden. Do any locals still use this odd name?"
An article followed up the interest in the holy well in Elwell - Dorset Diary (Dorset Evening Echo March 22nd 2004).
"The melancholy tale of military execution
Shallow mounds could mark last resting place of two corporals shot in 1801

The Bincombe story (Diary 5/3,10/3, 20/3) seems to be drawing to a close, unless you know more.

Sally Morgan, who asked the original question, has e-mailed with 'a little more information I picked up from Dad (Brian Dibben) and Ken Pashen (an elderly farmer from Bincombe) who was able to give me quite a list of villagers who once dwelt in the cottages.

Mr Barter lived in a cottage that is still there, opposite the church, and walked to Portland every day - but was it to work in the quarries or not?

Particularly relevant to your article from Mark North, about the springs in Upwey, Walt Tizard, who I remember had a rich Dorset accent and dialect and died some years back now, told my father that a field called Bat-hays, behind the old chapel off named because the locals used to bathe their eyes there and that the water was rich in iron.

Apparently, the spring behind the Royal Oak went to a water trough for the horses to drink and the steam engines to fill up before the haul up over Ridgeway.

The Royal Oak was the watering hole for one Bincombe inhabitant, a Mr Bullock, who Ken Pashen tells me was a carter who walked to Upwey every evening for a quiet drink. 'It was his evening constitutional. Not so for one poor man who is said to have over-indulged and drowned in a ditch on his way back to Bincombe. The man who drowned would have been coming back into Bincombe from Broadwey.

'Unlike Mr Bullock, who would have walked back up across 'Biscombe' or 'Piscombe'. 'I understand 'Shitcocks' has become 'Shitrocks', which for the younger generation may have something to do with the dangers of driving very big tractors down very steep hills, but for older villagers is because in a field running from Lower Bincombe to Bincombe Village there is a line of rocks inhabited by a large rabbit population that deposits its droppings all over the rocks.'

Holy Trinity Church, Bincombe

Military historian Ted McBride also wrote to remind us about the story of the deserters, mentioned in an earlier Diary, and he sent a cutting from the published just after the event.

'On the Downs above the rural hamlet of Bincomb (sic), a military camp was set up, where desertion wasn't an option - a little story of that period ...

'On Tuesday, July 3,1801, were shot on Bincombe, near Weymouth, two Corporals of the York Hussars, pursuant to the sentence of a general court martial held on them for desertion. They, together with four privates of the regiment, took a boat from Weymouth Harbour and proceeded towards the enemy coast.

'They went as far as Jersey, which they mistook for the Continent, and were then taken by a King's ship and sent home as prisoners.

'On this melancholy occasion the whole line of the garrison, and all within ten miles, were present, and formed at the same time one of the most martial, as well as awful, scenes ever witnessed in Dorset. The prisoners were taken to the parade ground in a mourning coach, followed by their regiment.

Attended by Mr Brooks and Mr Stanley, two priests from Lulworth Castle, they alighted from the coach dressed in white and, with the priests praying to them, passed in slow time in front of the whole line and returned as far as the centre where their own regiment formed in front of the grand line.

'The prisoners advanced to the front for a little distance, and after a few a dozen carbines at about ten paces distance. Both fall instantly, like Christians and heroes; more fortitude and resignation had rarely been witnessed.

'The bodies laid on the ground till the whole line had passed them in slow time, after which they were put into their coffins and interred in Bincombe churchyard. The four privates were sentenced to be flogged, but owing to their good characters were forgiven.'

Ted wonders if the graves are marked. There are two schools of, thought on this. Most locals say that the graves are each marked by a stone slab, proof being the outline of an Iron Cross - a sure German connection.

The Hussar Graves? at Bincombe

But there is a snag - two, in fact. The Iron Cross is a prestigious decoration awarded for distinguished service, so the two deserters would certainly not qualify for its use on their graves.

More significant is that the 'Eiserne Kreuz' was not introduced as a Prussian military decoration until 12 years after the executions. It was solely for the Prussian War of Liberation, but its use was revived by William I for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, recreated in 1914 for World War I, and last revived by Adolf Hitler on September 1,1939, the same day that German forces invaded Poland.What the icon in Bincombe churchyard marks I know not, but it certainly wasn't the last resting place of two corporals from the York Hussars. The story is well-known as the basis of Thomas Hardy's short story The Melanchcholy Hussar which, the writer avers, was quite factual and told to him by an old lady (who had an emotional involvement to the story) when he was in his midteens, though he was urged to silence by the teller until she was dead,buried and forgotten.

So this poignant love story was 'put on hold' for over 30 years, during which time Hardy's own rather melancholy mind had kept it secret,and who knows what effect that had on the writer? '

Suffice it to say that it is a powerful and sad love story, no doubt emroidered by a fertile mind.

In the story Hardy mentions that the two were buried near the church wall. To this day two unmarked, shallow mounds can be seen by the wall beside the track leading up to Bincombe Bumps. Could these mark the graves? Only an excavation will reveal what secrets are held there.Of course, we mustn't forget the Bumps, simple Bronze Age tumuli in an ancient barrow cemetery, and believed locally to be the Music Barrows, traditionally home of the fairies. According to folklore, it is possible to hear fairy merrymaking if you place your ear to the barrows at noon."

Friday, 21 November 2008

No, it really was THIS big

Renowned wildlife cameraman Hugh Miles is giving members of the public a preview of his latest series of films at the Barrington Theatre in Ferndown.

Cinematographer Hugh, of Corfe Mullen, has contributed to several seminal television wildlife programmes over the last few years, including Life on Earth, Flight of the Condor and Kingdom of the Ice Bear. He has won three Baftas.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Friday 21st November 2008

Archaelogical experts seek relics under Blandford school site

An archaeological dig is being planned to find out if a suspected Bronze Age barrow lies under the site of a new school.

The ancient presence was revealed after an electromagnetic scan of land for the new Milldown Primary School on the current Blandford School site.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 21st November 2008

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Warning as cliff crashes onto beach

Two landslips at Stonebarrow are a reminder of just how unstable the land is on the coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

The 50 metre wide slips happened almost a mile east of Charmouth, ‘without warning’, according to earth science expert Richard Edmonds.

Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 20th November 2008

Treasure lost off Chesil Beach up for auction

Long-lost treasure from a ship that sank off Chesil Beach more than 250 years ago is to go under the hammer.

When the Dutch vessel Hope sank in 1749 she was laden with gold, silver and other treasures which are worth more than £4 million today.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 20th November 2008

Gothic mystery based at Corfe Castle

Avant-Garde French musician Margaux has taken Corfe Castle as her latest inspiration.

Spookydubois at Corfe Castle is a gothic mystery with almost filmic qualities that flies between Dorset’s premier ruin and the south of France.

It is a supernatural tale which, when finished, will be in three parts – Spookydubois at Corfe Castle, The Miracle Cross and The Battle of the World. Set in 1650, the world is under threat from the Dark Lord Matravers and his force of Parliamentarians who have wrongly taken over from the king. The heroine, Spookydubois, awakes during a lunar eclipse and is told by the Wiseman Peter of Pomfret that she must run to Corfe’s clock tower in order to climb it and save the world.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 20th November 2008

THE STORYLINE of Spookydubois At Corfe Castle (Part I) :
Corfe Castle, Dorset England 1650 AD. A lunar eclipse lifts a curse to awaken heroine Spookydubois suffering from amnesia causing the unrightful ruling tyrant, 'Dark Lord' Maltravers to disperse malicious Parliamentarian troops to try and prevent her from reaching the village clock tower !

After escaping and scaling the tower walls critically Spookydubois manages to reverse the clock hands and grab the 'Miracle Cross' during the total eclipse; this sends her and the troops back in time through a whirlwind of raining caterpillars to an Underground Cathedral in Southern France.

A dangerous epic quest follows and guided by the 'Blind Raven' and butterfly messengers she embarks on a trail of clues in search of her destiny...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Family returns after bolt from the blue...

Their life was literally blown apart by a one-in-a-million lightning strike.

But almost eight months to the day since their Upton home was destroyed by the freak bolt, the Day family have moved back into their own house.

(See previous blog entries Storm Terror: Family's Miraculous Escape and Saved by Seconds)

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 19th November 2008

Edward Sexby - Governor of Portland Castle

Tonight starts the four-part TV series The Devil's Whore on Channel 4 at 9.00pm.

The Devil's Whore tells the story of the seismic events of 17th-century England, when political disobedience turned to revolution and civil war, and English history changed forever. The story is told through the experiences of a spirited aristocratic woman, Angelica Fanshawe (Andrea Riseborough), who comes to know the key figures on both sides of this bitter conflict. It is a story not just of political and historical significance, but of love, loss, murder, courage and betrayal.

Life on Mars actor John Simm (see picture) plays Edward Sexby. Sexby was born in Suffolk in 1616. On the outbreak of the Civil War Sexby joined the Roundheads and by 1643 was a member of the regiment led by Oliver Cromwell.

A supporter of the Levellers Sexby was one of those soldiers involved in the Putney Debates. He demanded the immediate establishment of male suffrage and opposed any attempt to reach a compromise with Charles I.

Despite his radical political views Sexby became Governor of Portland Castle in 1649. The following year he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and commanded an infantry regiment in Scotland. He also raised an infantry regiment for service in Ireland.

In February 1651 Colonel Sexby took part in the siege of Tantallon Castle. A few months later he was sent as an agitator to France. He distributed a French translation of The Agreement of the People and worked closely with republicans living in Bordeaux. Sexby returned to England in August 1653.

Sexby grew disillusioned with the dictatorial policies of Oliver Cromwell and in 1655 joined John Wildman and Richard Overton in developing a plot to overthrow the government. The conspiracy was discovered and Sexby fled to Amsterdam.

In May 1657 Sexby published, under the pseudonym William Allen, Killing No Murder, a pamphlet that attempted to justify the assassination of Oliver Cromwell. The following month he arrived in England to carry out the deed, however, he was arrested on 24th July.

Edward Sexby died in the Tower of London on 13th January 1658.

(see previous blog entry about the English Civil War Commemoration at Chapelhay Gardens)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Here is a woman who lost her head, she's quiet now - because, d'ye see, she's dead! The Legend of St. Judith

Today is the feast day of St. Judith or in Anglo Saxon Juthwara, Juthware (pronounced Uth-are) . However her translation is generally held to be 13 July.

Saint Juthware was a Brythonic virgin and martyr from Dorset, who probably lived in the 6th century. Her relics were translated to Sherborne Abbey during the reign of Ethelred the Unready in the early 11th century and her shrine remained a place of pilgrimage there until the Dissolution.

Until recently, Halstock had an inn called, 'The Quiet Woman,' with a sign outside depicting a headless woman. Though no longer run as a pub, but is now as a guest house for visitors (www.qwhdorset.co.uk) the gruesome tale it commemorated still haunts the village to this day.

In the seventh century a baby girl called Juthware, was born in the village, but it was a difficult birth and her mother died leaving her to be brought up by Benna, the girl's father.

Benna looked after his daughter as best as he could, but what the girl needed was a mother, and in time he relinquished his loss by taking another wife. This second wife was a Welsh woman called Goneril who was also a widow and had by her former husband a son called Bana. All was well at first, but as the years passed Goneril began to despise her step daughter, for not only was she beautiful, but she was a devoted Christian, often fasting and doing penance for her sins.

Many pilgrims and wayfarers travelled the roads and would often seek shelter at Juthware's father's house. Benna was a good, but sick man and remembering the kindness of his first wife was always keen to show hospitality. And so while they ate Juthware would pass among them with drinking horns of wine and ale and listen to their wonderful stories of Our Lord's birth and life.

When Benna died Juthware followed her father's example of hospitality. This angered Goneril who could not stand her stepdaughter's good qualities any longer and so she contrived a plan to be rid of her.

Goneril's chance came one morning when Juthware came to her complaining of chest pains. She told Juthware to rub some cheese onto her chest and stomach first thing in the morning and last thing at night and the pains would go.

When Goneril saw Juthware doing this she went secretly into the wood and there slaughtered a lamb and left it for the wolves. The next morning she went to Bana and told him that Juthware had given birth to a child in the wood and had fed it to the wolves. However, Bana would not believe her, so she took him into the wood and showed him the remains of the bloodied carcass. But still Bana would not believe it, so she brought Juthware to the wood and ordered her to remove her vest. Bana examined the garment and found the stains of motherhood.

In a fit of rage he drew his sword and cut Juthware's head clean off. Goneril's face was triumphant, but as she revelled in her stepdaughter's death, to her horror Juthware's severed head called to her body. It jerked and slowly rising to its feet gathered the head and moved with measured mechanical steps down the hill and along the lane to the church and there placed her head on the altar before finally dying.

Soon after, Juthware became known as Saint Juthware and a shrine was dedicated to her at the place of her martyrdom.

But the gruesome tale doesn't end there, for at one o'clock in the morning on All Saints Day (1st November), Saint Juthware's ghost is said to return to repeat the incident. She is said to be seen carrying her head in the lane leading to Abbots Hill, alias Judith Hill.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Dorset features in new film

Dorset is shown off in a new film written by Weymouth-based historian and author Maureen Attwooll.

The Discovering Dorset DVD is a ‘spectacular portrayal of one of the most enchanting areas in Britain,’ according to producers.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Monday 17th November 2008

Injured seal pup is rescued from beach at Chesil Cove, Portland

A grey seal pup found malnourished and injured on a Portland beach is being nursed back to health.

Members of the public alerted coastguards to the animal’s condition after finding it beached and dying at Chesil Cove.

The call was passed to volunteer marine medic Adrianna Hawczak who rushed to the animal’s aid from her home in Dorchester.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Monday 17th November 2008

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Books uncover town's ghostly residents

Julie Harwood is the Founder and Group Leader of SPUK - the Southern Paranormal UK. She has recently had published her new book 'Haunted Dorchester'.
There are plenty of stories to be told about apparent hauntings in and around the town, but do these relate directly to Dorchester's history or are they merely stories and legends passed down over the years? Many of the reports have remained unconfirmed by locals but the purpose of this book is not to prove or disprove the paranormal or the existence of ghosts. Instead, it is to disclose a little local history with each spooky story and tell the fascinating tales of haunted Dorchester, and let you, the readers, decide for yourselves. Discover the ghost of Thomas Hardy who restlessly walks near to his statue on Colliton Walk, or the phantom sobbing lady in the Dorset County Museum. This collection of ghostly stories and paranormal legends will scare and entice locals, as well as those who dare to visit one of England s most haunted towns.

Julie's other book 'Haunted Poole' published earlier this year. Contains a collection of stories of new and well-known spooky tales from in and around Poole. Drawing on historical and contemporary sources Haunted Poole contains a chilling range of ghostly phenonema including the town’s own tragic Romeo and Juliet tale, legendary Poole pirate Harry Paye and his ghostly galleon, the screams of Alice Beard and ghoulish beggars wandering the streets. This incredible gathering of ghostly goings-on is bound to captivate anyone interested in the supernatural history of the area.

Both books are published by The History Press LTD.

Whale meat again...

A whale washed up on a Purbeck beach was too badly decomposed to ascertain the cause of its death, according to experts.

It is believed that the pilot whale had been dead for some time before it beached on Thursday.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Saturday 15th November 2008

Friday, 14 November 2008

Dead whale washed up

Experts are trying to find out what caused the death of a seven-metre whale found washed up at a Purbeck beauty spot.

Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Officers discovered the creature at Worbarrow Bay. The incident was reported to the Natural History Museum and a vet will try to determine the cause of death.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 14th November 2008

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The route to history

At least one burial mound and evidence of a prehistoric landscape have been uncovered during advance archaeological work ahead of building the new £84 million Weymouth relief road.

Two diggers and two 25-tonne dumper trucks have been working to strip away nearly 30,000 square metres of top soil at Ridgeway to reveal possible archaeological features in the chalk landscape.

Dorset County Council environment director Miles Butler said: “Progress has been good on the advance archaeological works.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Wednesday 12th November 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

Home fit for a king

Local legend has it that a king once slept at Eastfield House, Cheselbourne. In those days back in the 1600s, the house was called Mayden Revil and there is some debate over whether the king in question was Charles I.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Monday 10th November 2008

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Record crowds at town Museum

Poole Museum has become one of the region’s most popular after attracting record crowds in the past year.

The museum in the High Street, near the quay, only re-opened in July 2007 following a long closure and a £1.3m makeover.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Sunday 9th November 2008

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Aliens land in Wyke Regis

Shocked pupils arrived at school to find a spaceship had crash-landed in their playground.

Youngsters at Wyke Regis Junior School in Weymouth spotted debris from where the alien craft had touched down and blasted off again – including burn marks and slimy green footprints.

Police sealed off the scene while a government scientist took readings and probed the evidence.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Saturday 8th November 2008

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Dorset Grove of Druids is hosting a Magical Evening

The Dorset Grove of Druids is hosting a Magical Evening on Saturday Nov 8th at 7.30pm at the Corn Exchange, Dorchester. Entrance £5 (in aid of Dorset Wild Life Rescue)

Peter Knight will be presenting his all-new Ancient Ambient Chill-Out , plus 60-80's music disco afterwards!

Supported by Tam Lyn (Pagan duet - guitar, vocals and fiddle). Plus Bar!

Come along for a great night with like-mided people - all in aid of a good cause.

For tickets or more information click here http://www.dorsetgrove.co.uk/nws.htm

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The bird that made an impression in Bridport and survived to tell the tale

They are describing it, somewhat tongue in cheek, as the animal world’s equivalent of the Turin Shroud.

It is in fact just a kitchen window that bears the imprint of a bird in flight – captured in the most remarkable detail as it thundered into the glass at breakneck speed.

It’s eyes and beak, feet and delicate tail feathers are all clearly ‘etched’ into the pane – a perfect self-portrait ‘painted’ by the oils in its ruffled plumage.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 6th November 2008

Monday, 3 November 2008

New Videos: Highlights of the Regency Weekend 2008 and 'The Recollections of Rifleman Harris' audio book

With the new ITV drama of 'Sharpe Peril' starring Sean Bean premiering our screens yesterday evening. I thought I would catch up and finish the rest of the films highlighting some of the events at the Regency Weekend in the wonderful setting of the Kingston Maurward estate on Saturday September 27th and Sunday 28th 2008.

Over the wee
kend, there was an exciting recreation of a Regency period Fair with many different historical participants. With Regency dancing, music, games and a public wedding performed by The Madding Crowd. See video below.

There was an authentic Living History Encampment which gave a fascinating insight into the world of Napoleon, George III, and the Duke of Wellingt
on. An excellent demonstration of skills at arms by Andy Smerdon of History Horse. See videos below.

In attendance w
ere the allied army units from England, including the famous Green Jackets of the Rifle Brigade, made popular by the TV Series "Sharpe's Rifles". The Sharpe Appreciation Society, where there with many items used during the filming of the series with guest appearances of Jason Salkey (AKA Rifleman Harris) and Julian Fellows.

We were later entertained by a mock skirmish by the re-enactment groups of the The Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards (1815), the 2nd Battalion 95th Rifles Re-enactment Group, 45eme and the 21eme see video below.

The success of the weekend was down to the Pike And Shot Tour & Event Company, who specialises in organising historical public events. With the success of the first, next year the Regency Weekend will take place on Saturday October 3rd to Sunday 4th 2009. We hope that it continues to be an annual event.

'The Recollections of Rifleman Harris'

Latest news is that Jason Salkey who played 'Rifleman Harris' in the 'Sharpe Series' has completed the long awaited audio adaptation of 'The Recollections of Rifleman Harris' by Explore Multimedia priced at £7.99.

'The Recollections of Rifleman Harris
' is a memoir published in 1848 of the experiences of an enlisted soldier in the 95th Regiment of Foot in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. The eponymous soldier was Benjamin Randell Harris, a private who joined the regiment in 1803 and served in many of the early campaigns in the Peninsula War. In the mid-1830s, Harris was working as a cobbler in London when he met an acquaintance, Captain Henry Curling, who asked him to dictate an account of his experiences of army life. This account was then held by Curling until 1848, when he succeeded in getting the manuscript published, preserving one of the very few surviving accounts of military service in this era from a private soldier.

Benjamin Harris is vague about his origins in his text, but investigations by Eileen Hathaway in her book A Dorset Rifleman: The Recollections of Benjamin Harris have revealed that he was born in Portsea, Hampshire around the 28 October 1781. His family however were shepherds from Stalbridge in North Dorset, and it was here that Benjamin grew up, in a large family with whom he remained until 1803.

'Recollections of Rifleman Harris' is read by Jason Salkey, with sound effects provided by The 95th Rifles Re-enactment Society. A musical score by Adam Wakeman adds to this lavish production. A great deal of care and time has been spent creating an audio book which truly honours the Rifleman of the Peninsula.

For more information of how to obtain your copy click here www.harrisaudiobook.com

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Here Be Dragons by Michael A. Hodges

Here Be Dragons by Michael A. Hodges examines the history of dragons, the different types and the cultural differences, while trying to determine the idea of what is a dragon in different times and places.

The book relates stories of saints battling with dragons and deals with English folklore about them, concentrating on Wessex in particular, and especially the Christchurch area. There are many dragon carvings in Christchurch Priory.

Ley lines, which can also be known as ‘dragon lines', as dragons are supposed to fly in straight lines, are straight line alignments which pass over ancient sites and horizon features. This book also identifies some local ley lines and these are shown in full in the appendices. Ley lines probably originated as Neolithic farming calendars and remained in use for generations. Such alignments exist all over Great Britain and overseas, wherever the first farmers needed calendars at a time before people could read and write.

The book is priced at £7.95 and is published by Natula Publications also available at amazon.co.uk

For further reading about Dragons look no further than this excellent publication 'Dragons - More than a Myth?' by Richard Freeman, cryptozoologist, author, explorer, adventurer, and Zoological Director of the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation 'The Centre for Fortean Zoology'. Richard follows this mysteries creature right across the globe, from prehistory to the present day. He tracks it from the steamy jungles of the Congo, to the desolate lakes of eastern Siberia. The dragon rears its scaly head in every culture on Earth; from the Indians to the Australian Aborigines, and from the Vikings to the Pygmies. The inescapable conclusion is that there are very real beasts at the core of these fantastic stories. The dragon has its teeth and claws deep into the collective psyche of mankind, and it’s not about to let go. Our most ancient fear still stalks the earth today. Beware. This is no fairytale! When your parents told you that there were no such things as dragons, they lied! With illustrations by Mark North, (co-author of Dark Dorset Tales of Mystery Wonder and Terror) - this is truly a fascinating insight into the world of Dragons.

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