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Incidents from Tilebury's History

Dr Harriet Longstepp

1 May

Remains of the First Village.

I thought we might all go together into the past a bit further this month. I've got something I doubt many of you know even though it is within half a mile of where you live.

I was talking to an old lady who lives in the woods the other day - I think her name is Meg - and she told me a marvellous story and showed me a place I have never seen before where the normal routes through the woods do not go.

Well, Meg said she has been reading my little articles in the Harbinger and was one of that large group who have been kind enough to say they really enjoy them. I am so happy to be able to bring historical stories to people in an entertaining way. I always used to think it was a pity when my predecessors seemed intent to convert these wonderful 'Tales of Tilebury' into dry forensic lists of facts and events. That is no way to get anyone involved in their own background. I like to make an effort to make them real for you and to fill in some of the necessary gaps with what are clearly the obvious inferences about what must have happened.

Well Megan said she could show me something "from Morthyn's time, aye when they druids were in Arthur's castle and so" and then she was straight away up the hill and into the woods at the top of the old quarry. Better directions than that I am not able to give, as Meg moved at lightning pace for an older person and the paths she took wouldn't be obvious to you or me. Also she didn't want me to say where it was in case of vandals.

So when we arrived at our destination I was a bit disorientated and out of sorts and I admit at first it wasn't obvious to me what we were looking at, because, it would look to you as it looked to me - just like a flat rock.

But the important thing was what is under the rock. If you squat down in the right place and lean down you find you can suddenly see under it and even, as Meg demonstrated, slide in under the rock to a tiny alcove or cave. Well dear readers, for you I put my liberty at risk and followed Meg down, leaning back to avoid smashing my chin and sliding painfully down four or five feet of stony slope during which I broke a heel and absolutely ruined a Versace dress I'm rather fond of.

But I can promise you it was worth it. There in the light of a torch Meg had in the pocket of her poncho I could see ancient carvings all around the tiny cave. Most are stick men and there are some which might be runes or animals - and unfortunately there is one rather deep carving which records a visit by 'D' and 'A' within a heart symbol under which is written '1987'. However, other than that one, they are all very interesting.

And Megan told me what they were - "They's most rubbish, but 'ee there be magic. 'Ee's a droo-tree, an' they's eyes of the triskel watchin' round 'ee. Right Powerful symbols, they."

I think its wonderful that amongst all this modernity we are reminded that this land is truly ancient and there is still evidence of the Celts so close to us. I asked if anyone had been buried in the cave and Meg said it wasn't a barrow. But never mind. Nonetheless, I hope you find it interesting to know that such places exist.

Thank you Meg.

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