Today I visited Whiteway Roundhill on the edge of Bath. I was struck by the flatness of the top, and by the earth ledges on the slopes circling the hill. It was a truly magnificent place to be, very high up, with views for miles in all directions.
The hill seems to be in an alignment with the Holborne Museum (and therefore with Great Pulteney Street) and the Wells mast. As if it is a waymark of significant points across the country. And if you go and climb one point, you can line up with the neighbouring two, thus maintaining the straight line. When I turned on the spot, I found another alignment with Beckford’s Tower to the North and another flat top hill to the South. To add to the curiosity, there is a massive metal post stuck on top, probably iron, and looking like two bits of train track on end.
It reminded me of Silbury Hill, though Silbury has an obvious man made shape to it. And of Glastonbury Tor, which is a more natural shape and also has ledges around it. All have flattish tops. Like tables. Like a table top. And there are many mountains and hills in the world that are called table top mountain, or something similar. It seems that hills were once called mountain or mount. There is a Mount Road on Whiteway Roundhill. And plenty of other examples of hills which have “mount” in surrounding place names.
We now think of a table as something you eat from in a house or cafe. But it is possible that “table” first referred to the flat tops of hills. And the furniture version was named after the hill. Which means that King Arthur’s Knights might have had more to do with flat hill tops than round bits of furniture. That makes more sense to me. There is a lot of power in a hill top, and they seem to have had great significance in many parts of history, the Iron Age “Hill Forts” being the most obvious example.
Tintagel Island, where Arthur was born, is flat on top, and was long ago part of the mainland. It is known as his castle, though the man made castle that is there was actually built later on by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. King Arthur’s Castle was not necessarily a building, it may just have been a place. It is only our current day interpretation of “castle” that makes us think it must be a building. “An Englishman’s home is his castle”, and I take this to mean that “castle” is the name you give to the place you call home. Maybe a very special magnificent sort of home, but nothing to do with bricks and mortar.
Tintagel Island has many signs of being an Iron Age Hill Fort. It has rampart remains leading up to the current bridge to the island, and my guess is that when the coastline was further out to sea, the ramparts encircled the flat top that now remains. It is interesting that the flat top centre seems to be made of stronger stuff than the surrounding land, and has not been eroded. The same pattern is evident along the Cornish coastline from Newquay up to Tintagel, with the original hill fort centre being the last part to resist the sea.
King Arthur is strongly associated with Glastonbury, which has been of immense spiritual significance throughout history. Glastonbury Tor has a flat top, and is a very striking part of the landscape, not to mention the incredible earth energy currents that swirl around underground. Undoubtedly a place of great natural power.
The more I study flat top hills, the more I notice how many there are. They don’t all have tourist car parks and English Heritage ownership to draw your attention to them. Some maybe more special than others. But I think they all have significant power within them, and they are there everywhere for us all.
(See earlier post: Power Points)