Earlier this year I really enjoyed studying archaeology on-line, as a MOOC (massive open on-line course) which was from Brown University in the USA. It was wonderful, marvellous, I enjoyed everything about it, and learnt such a lot. We had eight assignments to do, and I did several about the village where I live, Uphill. I recently came across an excellent little book by Graham Farr called ‘Somerset Harbours, published nearly sixty years ago in 1954. How I wish I’d had access to it when I was doing my course because it has a great deal of interesting information that I didn’t previously know.

It is a picturesque little village… the savants say the Romans first made a port at Uphill. They called it Ad Axium, and it is reasonably certain that they exported lead from the mines of Mendip, brought along the trackway on the top of the ridge by which the earlier inhabitants avoided the salt marshes below.

Then for several hundred years the Somerset levels were torn by strife as the Saxons crept westwards, beating back the Celts and in turn the Danes came by sea and land to harry the Saxons.”

Mendip, or the Mendips, are a range of hills striking inland from the coast of North Somerset. Farr later mentions a local pub, the Hobbs Boat:

Hoob’s Boat Inn is still to be seen by the road from Bleadon to the south, though the structure is modernised. Anciently there was a ferry across the Axe and some say that Hobb is a corruption of Hubba, the Danish pirate, who is also connected to Hubbastone near Bideford. And, incidentally, is it even said that Uphill was named after Hubba’s Pill, later corrupted to Uphill.”

Bleadon is the next village inland from Uphill, and the River Axe runs through Uphill past its neighbour. It is possible that the name Axe, comes from the Roman name, Ad Actium. Bideford is on the north Devon coast. I had heard the pirate story but in the version I’d heard he was Oppa, not Hubba… very similar though!

 

 

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