Cotswold Ways: Moyra’s Knoll to Stoney Littleton, in the footsteps of a visionary writer
From stunning views of Bath, high on Barrow Hill, this walk will take you down winding backlanes to Stoney Littleton Neolithic long barrow, in the footsteps of visionary writer Moyra Caldecott
There is a round hill in the south of Bath, off Mount Road, that may well be a gateway between the worlds. Moyra Caldecott, ‘Gateway’, from A Breathless Pause: poems and thoughts, Bladud 2007
On the southern edge of the beautiful Georgian city of Bath there lived a visionary writer who led, in her imagination, a multi-dimensional life. Her name was Moyra Caldecott and she was born in Pretoria, South Africa on June 1, 1927. She moved to London in 1951. She earned degrees in English and Philosophy and an MA in English Literature. Her husband, Oliver Caldecott, was a publisher, but it was under her own steam that she finally saw print in her late forties, going on to write more than 20 books. Her trademark oeuvre of Fantasy fiction and non-fiction works on myth and legend include the Guardians of the Tall Stones quartet set in and around Avebury stone circle; her Egyptian Sequence, and a pair of novels about Romano-british Aquae Sulis; The Winged Man, and The Waters of Sul. She was a founder member of the Bladud Society, a forum for discussion on aspects of mythology, and was made an Honorary Bard of Bath in 2008 for her works and inspiration. She was an erudite speaker and performed her poems at open mics in the city until ill-health prevented her from continuing. Moyra died peacefully on May 23, 2015, aged 87. In 2016 a bench was placed on Barrow Hill by her surviving children. It bears a plaque dedicated to Moyra and Oliver with a quote from one of her poems: But we alone on this hill/rejoice in the universe/and our part in it. Near her home in Southdown, Moyra liked to walk up the distinctive hill and spend some time contemplating and writing there. She noted in her poem ‘Gateway’ how In Spring/it is clothed in May blossom/like a bride.’ Her friends and family rechristened it Moyra’s Knoll in her memory. As someone who had a deep knowledge and appreciation of prehistory it feels like a fitting tribute to the writer to walk to Stoney Littleton long barrow from here – connecting the ancient to the modern, and the city to the wild.
Kevan Manwaring is a Stroud-based writer and storyteller. He is the author of Oxfordshire Folk Tales and Northamptonshire Folk Tales, a contributor to English Folk Tales and editor of the forthcoming Ballad Tales, all from The History Press. He teaches creative writing for the Open University and in the Stroud area. www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk
The lane to Stoney Littleton