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Early History

The higher lands in the east of Ropley were origi- nally part of the great Andredsweald forest which originally covered much of Southern England. Alice Holt and Woolmer are the only extensive woods that remain of this in Hampshire (though they are not primary woodland) and fractions remain in Ropley in Old Down Wood, Dogford Wood, Charlwood, Winchester Wood and Stoney Brow.

The earliest evidence of human existence is from the later Bronze Age (about 1000 BC). A Bar- row (used as burial ground) used to stand in a field to the West of Old Down Wood but was levelled in living memory. A beautiful gold torque necklace was dug up in Lyewood in 1845 dating from this period, a replica of which can be seen in the Curtis Museum in Alton. It is probable that there were early settle- ments in the Dean, with a Roman road, but there is no direct evidence of this. Roman coins have been found in Ropley, but the nearest Roman ruins have been found in Bighton and Bramdean on the out- skirts of Ropley.

The name Ropley is probably Anglo-Saxon, the meaning uncertain. “Ley” was originally a wood and later a glade in a wood. “Dean” in Anglo-Saxon means an open glade bordering woodland, and the

6 — Ropley at the Millennium

The Ropley Torque — an “armilla” or armlet.The original is in the Royal Cornwall Museum having been purchased from Sir John Evans in 1925

local names of Bramdean, Bordean, Brockwood Dean and Ramsdean trace the original borders of the Andredsweald forest. Imagine a landscape of predominantly thick forest, with clearings made in it by settlers which gradually developed into farms, leading to a scattering of small hamlets at North Street (“Straet” means “hamlet”), South Street, Church Street, Gilbert Street.

The village centre pond

  • Archbishop’s

Cottage can be seen behind on the left

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