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
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
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
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
The Win Tun Dragon, with Old Winchester
Hill at its' tail and St Catherine's Hill on its' snout.
Photos and text by Adrian
Also see the BBC Southampton page on Spiritual
Places - Twyford Down