Nunney - An Outline History
by Richard Lewis
In the beginning...
The old tracks are almost forgotten
Where the wind whines in the grasses
And the hawk hangs over the heather…
The primitive tribesmen who padded along the Ridgeway
2,000 years ago travelled a lonely and narrow track through a district
thickly covered in oak forests. The valleys were swampy and uninviting,
and the wild boar, the bear, the wolf and other beasts roamed through
a region where dwellings were few and roads non-existent.
A handful of tribes thinly scattered over the land spent their time
hunting and fishing, herding and weaving creating metal tools and
weapons and, above all, fighting to defend their hill settlements
against the incursion of jealous and ambitious neighbours.
Here dwelt the Belgae, a fair-haired people who had their main settlement
locally on Postlebury Hill, a commanding eminence which gave them
a good view of the surrounding countryside.
Nunney had, as yet, no existence as a village: the Ridgeway was
the main thoroughfare carrying the traffic that passed, mainly on
foot, from one settlement to another, bearing goods for trade and
barter, primitive medicines, perhaps news and rumours of local and
general interest. Along this route members of the tribe doubt- less
gathered for the great religious festivals which would bring them
together in communal worship and feasting from time to time. Travellers
on that ancient track would have little reason to turn aside to
explore the uninviting depths of remote and hidden valleys.
Along this path must have arrived the first news of the Roman invasion,
and the account of the inexorable advance of the legions would be
conveyed with increasing anxiety from settlement to settlement.
Suddenly from the south the hardy veterans of the mighty 2nd Augusta
Legion would have appeared, led by their determined commander Vespasian,
destined to become Emperor in 71 AD. Recently stationed in permanent
quarters on the Rhine, and probably resentful at being transferred
to so remote and inhospitable a district, they would have made their
way irresistibly forward, moving watchfully in skirmishing order,
the track unlikely yet to be wide enough to take a legion in formation
of march. Their advance would eventually carry them past the lead
mines of the Mendips, already long-established, and on to Caerleon
or Isca Silurum, where the legion finally established its permanent
base on solid, well-constructed barracks, the foundations of which
are visible to this day, as is the site of the amphitheatre.