The Wrekin from Viroconium

The Churches Concervation Trust guide book for St Andrew’s Church at Wroxeter provides and informative introduction to both the Wrekin and Wroxeter.

The name Wroxeter appears to mean ‘fort by the Wrekin’. This hill, which is prominent for miles around, has an Iron Age fort at its crest and the Celtic name for it is thought to have been Wreocen. When the Romans came they founded a large fortified town five miles (8km) away from the fort and close to where Watling Street crosses the River Severn. This ‘castrum’ supplies the second half of the name.

The Roman name for Wroxeter is Viroconium, also an echo of Wreocen. Their town was one of the largest they built in England, smaller only than London, St Albans and Cirencester, and became an important provincial capital. It extended to the Severn beyond the church and nearly as far in the other direction towards the present A5 road.

In his article in the June 2013 edition of the Wrekin News, George Evans refers to ‘The Wrekin’ as ‘The little mountain with many secrets’.  The article explains how he persuaded the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) that The Wrekin was worthy of being included in their 100 best walks in Britain.  His article mentions the local folk law, history and geology of the surrounding area. He explains that the hill still retains some of its secrets.

The Calendar stones are an enigma. They don’t look natural but I’m told no archaeologist has ever investigated them. Surely it’s not accidental that a shaft of light shows each equinox is it? The hill-fort was started about 3,500 years ago (we think), extended 2,500 years ago and disused after the Romans invaded. That’s 1,500 years. How was it built, who used it and for what purpose? There’s a nice little story to tell about the Magic Tree in the Druid’s Circles on the Little Hill and there are tales about the Devil’s Coach-house, where the four winds meet and King of the Wrekin.

The Wrekin from Viroconium

18 Comments CherryPie on Aug 14th 2014

18 Responses to “The Wrekin from Viroconium”

  1. Amfortas says:

    So many times have I sighted the Wrekin, yet never climbed it (strolled it?). I was at Bridgenorth (basic RAF ‘boot’ training); I was at Shawbury (four times!! at the Air Traffic Control School); I was at Ternhill (for the Jesus Christ Super-Star course). Each time I was flat chat working, studying, head in the office. I didn’t even get to see Viriconium.

    Talk about military training !!!! I would bet that the average Roman soldier (from as far afield as North Africa) based anywhere near had a better understanding of this English Landmark than this modern Englishman. Odds are they had to run up and down it quite regularly.

    • CherryPie says:

      It is a climb and not a stroll. On the most common route to the top it starts off quite gently and then gets steeper with a couple of false summits!! Or you can take the shorter route up the sides which is even more of a climb.

      The last time I climbed up there was in 2005 to highlight the dangers of relocating (and perhaps privatising) local MoD work to other areas.

      MoD both military and civilian has a long history in Shropshire, but I hadn’t thought of it going back so far as Roman times ;-)

  2. ....peter:) says:

    Two wonderful images of the ruins Cherie… but i didn’t read all of the write-up… it’s 1:30 a.m. now….peter:)


  3. james higham says:

    What a wonderful name The Wrekin is.

  4. A most interesting place…quite the history!

  5. Mandy says:

    You go to such interesting places Cherie and I find this aspect of British history so interesting! If I could go back to any time in history, it would be when Druids and magic were still alive on the island.

    • CherryPie says:

      Early history is fascinating. I like to hear alternative ideas that challenge the accepted ideas. We don’t really know what went on, we just rely on others interpretations of the past.

  6. ubermouth says:

    Beautiful scenery. There is something fascinating about ruins and gibbets that I could stared at all day!

    How long did it take you to climb this,Cherie? And when you say you did it to highlight the dangers of relocating the MoD,was it part of a work project or for personal reasons? You have quite the life! :)

    • CherryPie says:

      Shropshire does have some stunning scenery :-)

      I can’t remember how long it took to climb on that occasion. There were a lot of us milling around and we had armoured vehicles which we had to wait for on and off to avoid any mishaps.

      We did it because the proposal was wrong and we thought strongly about it. At the end of the day it was a military person who realised we had a point and his intervention halted the work.

  7. J_on_tour says:

    Fascinating. I went on a walking weekend with some friends last year and this walk was the focus of the saturday. Nobody talked about it’s history though as the leaders were more concerned about not making it down for the lunchtime appointment in Wellington.
    Hopefully a blog post about it at some point.

    • CherryPie says:

      As you see it has interesting history and fabulous views off the top :-)

      Where in Wellington did you go for your lunch appointment?

      • J_on_tour says:

        Great views from the top.
        The group was about 30 strong and due to a model transport exhibition, the hotel had to be changed as it was double booked from one near the bottom of the Wrekin (that we passed on the walk) to one in Shrewsbury town centre. We lost a lot of time in finding each other at the leisure centre car park and there was the attraction for a constant stream of people to use the facilities inside. The only place that the leader could find that would book thirty people was Wetherspoons. However as we were so late they had to give the table away. Some used it, but I went with two tables of four into an average looking cafe opposite and a few doors down the street … Sofia’s I think it was called, it didn’t seem to be a contemporary place and don’t recall the food being bad although it doesn’t stand out in my mind either. Went to Iron Bridge for a couple of hours afterwards, never been there before either.

        • CherryPie says:

          I was curious because I live near Wellington and I think of it as my home town. The only place I could think you might of met to eat was Wetherspoons or perhaps the Italian which I don’t rate after my latest visit earlier this year.

          I am not sure about the cafe you mention it is not one I have noticed or visited.

          The Hotel at the bottom of the Wrekin is probably the Buckatree, if so it doesn’t surprise me that there was a problem with the booking!

          If you are ever in the area again, let me know I can direct you to some good places to congregate (near to Wellington) for a meal ;-)

          • J_on_tour says:

            I looked up my filed e-mails from the weekend organiser and you were right, it was the Buckatree and was pointed out to us on the walk.
            She found accommodation at short notice in The Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury that turned out to be an excellent venue and location given the groups needs for a reception room, food and walking proximity to the town centre in the evening.
            I had another trip to Shrewsbury with another group of friends during the previous year, it seems that you have inspired me to post all this material in the near future.