Dragon Network: Environmental Paganism
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Past Campaigns: Twyford Down

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Conservation

 

For centuries, Twyford Down has been regarded as one of the most mystical places in the South, and was supposedly 'the most protected site in Britain'. The Down was a registered Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and as the habitat for a number of rare species, it was a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

But in the early 1990s was in the way of the new M3 motorway extension.

The road meant a 400-foot wide and 100-foot deep slice through the face of the chalk Down, and protestors weren't going to let it go without a struggle.

St Catherine's Hill
St Catherine's Hill

The core of the protest was a group of 15-20 young people who lived on St Catherine's Hill for most of 1992. This was ancient land. The Hill was a centre of human settlement around 3,000 years ago, and is recognised as a gathering place for ancient tribes. The Down themselves are criss-crossed by 'Dongas', the ancient pathways formed over centuries by people walking to market and travelling between ancient sites

So it was that these young protestors came to be known as 'The Dongas Tribe', a new tribe called by the land as warriors against the bulldozer and the digger.

Defending the Land
Defending the Land

It's significant that this new tribe was named after the land they defended, because it's an expression of their political and spiritual beliefs.

Tales were told of the legend of the Wyntun Dragon, who stretched 17 miles from Old Winchester Hill to St Catherine's Hill. It was said that when the focus shifted once more to St Catherine's Hill, the Dragon would turn it's head and the Tribes of England gather...

Win Tun Dragon

The Win Tun Dragon, with Old Winchester Hill at its' tail and St Catherine's Hill on its' snout.

Photos and text by Adrian Harris

Also see the BBC Southampton page on Spiritual Places - Twyford Down