Wednesday, 24 October 2007

In search of Bat's Hogsty

Ordnance Survey maps are marvelous. They are extremely detailed maps originally created by the government for military purposes. Long available to the public they show details of roads, contours, buildings, footpaths, and points of interest. A must-have resource for outdoor activities in the UK. The one drawback is that they are expensive so I was delighted to recently discover that I can get parts of them for free online ( Our local map shows something called Bat's Hogsty. A walking guide has this to say about it: "Bat's Hogsty is a curiosity amongst walkers because of its name and because they cannot find it; amongst archaeologists because they cannot decide what was for. It is a rectangle of about 3/4 acre enclosed by four mounds with three ditches between them, externally 300' x 270', in total about 1 3/4 acres." Now how can you resist a challenge like that? Well, we couldn't.

We called Rachel to see if she wanted to join the adventure, drove by to pick her up and headed south to Aldershot. We started at the Wellington statue. This sucker is huge (40 tons and about 30 feet tall!) and but seems to be stuck off in a very
out-of-the-way place. When it was first made in 1846 it was taken by grand procession to London and installed atop the Constituion Arch. Some people were unhappy that it seemed out of proportion to the arch but there it stayed until the arch was moved to the corner of Hyde Park in 1882-3 and the statue was removed and later reinstalled in its current location. Wellington, of course, is a war hero, most famously from the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. He later entered political life and was Prime Minister - but apparently not a very popular one. I suspected it was the change in his popularity that resulted in the this kind of exile however I have since discovered that its current location used to be much more visible from the main roads before the surrounding trees grew tall enough to obscure it. Anyhow, here it is:

From there we went on our quest. It wasn't far and in the end we decided that we had indeed found Bat's Hogsty but it was a bit of a letdown. The site was on a scale made it hard to distinguish the four mounds bu the ditches were quite clear. It is in the midst of military lands that have been used extensively for training so there are remnants of old buildings and trenches and foxholes everywhere making the terrain of this particular point of interest kind of blend into its surroundings. It was also quite grown up in trees, ferns and shrubs that also masked the underlying land. We enjoyed walking around the area though and seeing the evidence of the changing season. Here are Robin and Rachel making their way towards Bat's Hogsty:

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