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Dead Woman's Thorn

Ledbury to Eastnor

If drovers ever took this route to Hollybush, their cattle were tough; as can be seen from #1 & #2.  The Council have presumably put in the steps to avoid being sued but Welsh beasts were used to slopes like that.

I would have liked to include a fascinating true story about “Dead Woman’s Thorn” (SO 722377), but no such story seems to exist.  Why has a tumbledown corrugated iron shack been cursed with such an unforgettable name?  (#4)

Then I read an article by Jeremy Harte, “Down among the Dead Men”, who says that nearly 300 examples of Dead Man’s Lane/Field etc. can be found all over the country, mostly dating from before 1700 and mostly near or on parish boundaries.  He concludes his article with this:

“Out of all the categories traditionally identified as a source of Dead Man names, the only one compatible with a distribution of these sites on parish boundaries is that of an outcast burial.  The parish purged itself of its unwanted dead by dismissing them to the boundaries: here lie the heretic, the criminal and, most often, the suicide.” 

(Read JL Carr’s “A Month in the Country” for more on that.  It’s unforgettable.)

There is a bit of pasture around DWT – you can see the start of it in #3 – then some easy track leading to the village of Eastnor (#5).  The sound of children playing happily echoed around the hills and we came away thinking Ledbury and district is such a happy, lucky town.  What makes an area happy/lucky?  Money, is that all?  No, I think it’s space too, and there’s lots of it around Ledbury.

(The top of Eastnor Castle is just visible on #5, but you have to look just right of centre, above the village houses.)


PS And why has the owner of the thorn changed gender over the past 150 years?  Or was that a misprint?  It's referred to as DMT in some books, if I remember rightly.






Dead Woman's Thorn image 1
Steep Start...
Dead Woman's Thorn image 2
Dead Woman's Thorn image 3
Then Pasture
Dead Woman's Thorn image 4
Dead Woman's Thorn
Dead Woman's Thorn image 5