Breedon Hill Walk Notes

The Name
Swindon gains its name from two words Swine and Dun: thus pigs on a hill.

The toponym, of Breedon, is derived from the Celtic word bre for hill and the Old English word dun for hill. Hence in its current form the name combines three forms of the word hill. Briudun, an early spelling, has been traced back to A.D. 731


Some History
Breedon Hill was the site of a hill-fort during the Iron Age period. The Bulwarks - remaining earthworks comprising a single bank and ditch around the hill site - suggest that a large settlement was enclosed in the third/fourth century BC and continued in occupation into the Roman period. Between 675 and 691 AD, a monastic church was founded on the Hill from Medeshamstede (Peterborough) and it is believed that it was destroyed by the Danes at the close of the ninth century, although there is no specific evidence. The monastery may have received a new lease of life a century before the Norman Conquest as part of Aethelwold's monastic reforms and in the early part of twelfth century a new foundation took place of an Augustinian Priory at the site.

At the dissolution of the monastic house in 1535, the Church was sold by the Crown to the Shirley Family of Staunton Harold Hall; later the Earls Ferrers. Much of the Priory was demolished and all that remains is the choir and the north and south aisles of the church and its once central tower. The Shirleys used the north aisle as a private chapel and gave over the remaining parts of the building to be used as the church for the Parish of Breedon. The north aisle was handed over to the Church Authorities by the Earls Ferrers in 1959.

The village, which may have been originally established to serve the monastic site, developed with a predominantly agricultural based economy until the second half of the twentieth century. The lands of the Parish were enclosed in 1759 and 1802. Prior to these enclosures the lands around the village were divided into four large fields; Wood Field to the north of the village, Nether Field to the east, Dam Field to the south and Great Field to the west. These fields were divided into strips and would have been cultivated on a rotational basis. The physical remains of the ridge and furrow field patterns created by this medieval agricultural land use are visible to the south of the village and along the north-western side of Ashby Road (adjacent to Breedon Priory Nurseries).

The Trees
There was formerly one group of mature trees within the Conservation Area covered by a Tree Preservation Order - a row of Lombardy poplars on the open space bounded by Melbourne Lane and the property at No. 1 Melbourne Lane. Each of the trees was planted as an individual memorial to a man of the village killed in action during the First and Second World Wars - as denoted by separate memorial plaques. In late 2000, the poplar trees were largely destroyed by high winds and were subsequently replaced by Green Spire Limes.


The Lombardy Poplars near Wilson were planted by the Shields Family and inspired by the trees planted in nearby Breedon to commemorate the dead of the Two World Wars. Standing in rolling fields and with their similarity to Italian Cypress trees, this picturesque area reminds many people of Tuscany.

More Lombardy Poplars have been planted on the golf course and the combination of all of these and the topography makes the area distinctive and attractive to photographers.

The Quarry
The limestone outcrop at Breedon was exploited for mineral resources as early as the thirteenth century and by the turn of the nineteenth century, Breedon Quarry had been established under the ownership of the Earl of Stamford to the north-east of the village. In the twentieth century the rapid expansion of the quarry northwards removed much of the eastern side of the earthworks forming The Bulwarks.

The Railway
Tonge and Breedon railway station was a station at Tonge that served the adjacent village of Breedon-on-the-Hill. It was on a Midland Railway line built in 1874 from Melbourne to a junction on the Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line near Ashby de la Zouch.

In 1930 Tonge and Breedon still had a passenger service but by 1939 it had been withdrawn and the Midland's successor, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, was using the line only for freight services. During the Second World War the line became the Melbourne Military Railway. In 1945 the War Department returned the line and station to the LMS.

In 1980 British Railways closed the line and by the 1990s the track had been dismantled. The trackbed through the former station is now part of National Cycle Route 6 and The Cloud Trail.


This link contains photographs of the Saxon Carvings

As does this one:

The Railway and The Cloud Trail