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A new native thorn bush has been planted at Sires Hill to replace the ancient Hadden Thorn – and this was one of many landmarks visited at the Beating the Bounds ceremony on 12th May.

The thorn marks the spot where the 4 parishes meet, and so it was fitting that it was planted by representatives of the councils from North Moreton , Long Wittenham and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

It was common practice to use trees as marker points along the parish boundaries, and the Saxon Charters make several references to the Haddon Thorn on Sires Hill, which seems to have had some significance at the time, though now unknown .

An article in the April/May edition of the Vllager – now online – explains:

'Have you ever wondered why part of Sires Hill is in Brightwell parish? Well, it dates back to Saxon times when a large estate was split into smaller units. The ancient boundaries of these between Brightwell and North Moreton and Little Wittenham follow lines similar to their current parish boundaries, which all meet at the top of Sires Hill.

'However, the boundary coming up form North Moreton had to make a sharp westward turn to do so as did the one coming the other way up from Little Wittenham and the Thames, and it is not known exactly why they did this. Was it because the top of the hill had some special significance as a meeting place where four parishes, three Saxon hundreds and the major route from London to Gloucester coincide?

'Clearly, it was the highest point round about so a good views in all directions and we know also that ancient ‘lay lines’ cross here too. Interestingly, there was a thorn tree located at the site, which is mentioned as the Haddon Thorn in several charters so clearly must have been a significant feature on the landscape at the time. Did it mark an important meeting place? or commemorate an ancient event or a burial place ? We don’t know but it stood for many years.'

Click here for full details of the Beating the Bounds Ceremony (in .pdf format).

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