Archive for the ‘Landscapes’ Category

9 June 1963, this aerial photo shows the Birches Sun Club within the Covert. (Staffs Record Office)


This, the final part, will focus on the naturist side: it opens with a brief look at the history of naturism – placing the Birches Club (the 1950s – 1980s) into context- before looking at what little is known about the Club itself… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/essington-laid-bare-springhill-and-the-birches-sun-club-part-3/

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Springhill House: built in Georgian style, it is orientated to face the old gardens, not the road. 2017.


This is the second part of a three part article on the archaeological and historical landscape of Springhill (Essington Wood) with a special focus on Springhill House and its Covert, a piece of woodland to the rear of this house that once hosted the Birches Sun Club, a former naturist (nudist, in parlance of old) site… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/?page_id=3544&preview=true

The 1834 OS Map, showing the canals and mineral railway from the coal pits near the Mitre Inn. The Enclosure took place after these were constructed. (Walsall Local History Centre)

This is the first of three articles that is on the landscape of Springhill in Essington Wood, the special focus on Springhill House and the Birches Sun Club, a former naturist (nudist, in parlance of old) site located in Springhill Covert, a piece of woodland to the rear of Springhill House (now Springhill Farm), off Broad Lane, in Essington… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/essington-laid-bare-springhill-and-the-birches-sun-club-part-1/

The heart of what was Little London. (2017).

The heart of what was Little London. (2017).


I started to look into the history of the White Lion pub in Walsall, which is located on the corner of Sandwell Street and Little London, in what is generally called the Little London area of Walsall. It quickly became apparent that it was old – and by that I mean it predated the both the current 1890s rebuild and the 1830 Beerhouse Act – so I knew that its early origins would be difficult, if not impossible to track. So, this part will indirectly look at the pub by concentrating on the place name and early development of the area known as Little London in Walsall, with some reference to the Little London in Willenhall; while the second part will look at the pub itself…https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/little-london-and-the-white-lion-walsall/

Margaret Marshall outside the front of the Black Horse - with Alfred and Clara? Alfred became a brewer and I bet he supplied the beer advertised. (WLHC)

Margaret Marshall outside the front of the Black Horse – with Alfred and Clara? Alfred became a brewer and I bet he supplied the beer advertised. (WLHC)

This article has aimed, through two pubs, to introduce Walsallians and Bloxwegians alike to a little history of a once important cross-roads and centre of an agricultural and mining estate. Nobody bats an eyelid there anymore; and while these buildings have mostly gone, like the miners and the farm workers, the area in many ways is not so different. This article is dedicated to the one constant in our story – the people of Leamore… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/tales-of-lost-leamore/lost-leamore-i-a-horse-of-a-different-colour/

Pottery found by St Joseph. See caption.

Pottery found by St Joseph. See caption.


The settlement of Pennocrucium lies astride Watling St. It occupies what would really be the prime location in the area for a civil development; it is on high ground and would not only have initially had a Roman garrison to financially exploit, but plenty of passing trade as it was at the junction of several major roads. Its origins are far from clear: the surrounding military ditches give the impression that it may have grown from a fort itself, but limited dating evidence suggests to me that it started out as a vicus (that is a civil settlement attracted by a military installation, for example) around the Watling St fort in the latter 1st century AD… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge-pt6/

Aerial photo of the site in 1971 (J Pickering)

Aerial photo of the site in 1971 (J Pickering)


There are three types of fort: the fortress was for an entire legion (5,000 men) and both Wroxeter and Chester were the closest fortresses to Pennocrucium; the vexilliation fortress, it has been mooted, dates to around the conquest period and was for housing half a legion – it has been suggested that Kinvaston was one of these; the auxiliary fort was for between 500 – 1,000 troops, be they infantry, cavalry or a mixture of the two. Pennocrucium has two of these… what do we know about them and their relationship to each other… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge-pt5/

Camp 1 from the SW. 1975. (CUCAP BTM 40)

Camp 1 from the SW. 1975. (CUCAP BTM 40)


Along with the several unidentified cropmarks that appear within our area (see part 3) there are three recognised Roman forts (Stretton, Kinvaston and Watling Street) and five Roman Camps (three near Stretton and two near Water Eaton). As the camps likely constitute, in my opinion, the earliest phases of Roman construction in the area, they will examined in this section while the forts, settlement and the villa will be in future articles… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge-pt4/

A palstave with ring, the description of the now lost axe-head from 1726. (J-M B Alvarez)

A palstave with ring, the description of the now lost axe-head from 1726. (J-M B Alvarez)


This is the third in a series of articles that ultimately together will make make-up my undergraduate degree dissertation from back in 1999/2000. The first article dealt with the introductions followed by the location, extent, topography and the origins of Pennocrucium as a place-name. The second dealt with the road system, known and suggested. This third part is a short article on the unidentified, possibly pre-Roman, cropmarks in the studied area, as well as the prehistoric finds – and it will act as a prequel to the examination of the Roman forts, camps, settlement and villa in the forthcoming articles… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge-pt3/

Watling St - through the settlement site, across the River Penk to where the Chester Rd once split. WA Baker 1970.

Watling St – through the settlement site, across the River Penk to where the Chester Rd once split. WA Baker 1970.


This is the second of a series of articles. The first article dealt with the introductions followed by the location, extent, topography and the origins of Pennocrucium as a place-name. In this section I want to look at the communication system that surrounded the civil and military installations at Pennocrucium. So, after a basic introduction to roads, I want to look at the several known roads and the several ‘possible’ roads in the area. After, a brief comparison will also be made between the settlement at Pennocrucium and that at Wall (Letocetum, near Lichfield); Wall was the neighbouring settlement, around 15 miles to the east, which also grew-up around a road junction – in this case Watling St and Icknield St.
https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/other-places/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge/pennocrucium-roman-penkridge-pt2/