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Scutchamer Knob (Cwichelmslaewe)

Within a small woodland adjacent to the ancient Ridgeway path, where it crosses the parish of East Hendred, stands Scutchamer Knob. It is a raised earth mound and legend has it, that it is the burial mound of the Saxon king Cwichelm.

Scutchamer Knob was excavated and ruthlessly dug away in 1842, which has given it the shape of a crescent moon or a croissant depending upon your imagination.

The excavations here discovered the moot-stake, an oaken stump bound with willow twigs - unless this was a post for the beacon, which was later set up on the mound. No sign was found of any burial, although it was clearly believed that the old king Cwichelm lay buried beneath this place of judgement.

The men of Berkshire met at Cwichelmslaewe; it was a meeting place and a place of magic. The Danes struggled uphill to camp here in 1006, observing a prophecy that if they did so they would never take a ship from England again - which came to pass in the usual grim way of prophecies, for the men of Wessex killed them, every one.

Meetings of one kind or another persisted on this hill. As late as 1620 the inhabitants of East Ilsley, on being granted a charter for a fair, demanded in the interests of their monopoly that the customary market at the barrow be put down.

Access to Scutchamer Knob is either via the Ridgeway, or straight through the village of East Hendred, which can be found off the A417 near Wantage.

Image Copyright: 
Simon Topham
Simon Topham

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