Slimbridge Dowsing


Field trip to St Augustine's Farm, Arlington

History comes in layers. Archaeologists dig from the surface down, and find a new century at every level.

Dowsing, on the other hand, finds things all at once, and then we have to dowse for dates too, to clarify the situation.

During our field trip to St Augustine’s Farm in Arlingham on Saturday, 28th September, we split into groups and found all sorts.

Indications of a rectangular building for the detention of mental patients, A.D. 1100; not one but two Neolithic long barrows (4000 to 2400 B.C.); a Saxon cottage (A.D. 410 to 1066) with three wells, and more besides, possibly a lost village dating from the same era.

Ros, one of our best dowsers, found indications of an isolation hospital (lepers? (A.D. 1400); plague?? (A.D. 1665-6), and a circular church. The Pagans (pre-Christianity) had circular graveyards surrounding their churches, so that there was ‘no corner for the Devil to hide’, but did they build circular churches too? We thought not.

The Knights Templar certainly did (A.D. 1096 to 1307), and Ros felt part of it was probably attributable to the Knights Hospitallers, who came after the Templars, with later extensions (1700s?)

Over the centuries there has been a LOT going on at this site. Close by there is a Roman road named Silver Street, probably from the word ‘Silva’, meaning woods or woodland. In Roman times (A.D. 43 to 409) this would have led to an important Severn crossing. More recently, of course, the Severn has become a very treacherous river, hence the canal being built in the late 18th Century.

We confirmed each other’s findings, or argued happily over disparity in dates, and our leader, Barry Goldring, took measurements with his GPSr and will produce a plan shortly. (Good luck with that, Barry!)

Most exciting of all, this time we have permission from the farmer, Rob Jewell, to investigate further, and dig in the field if we wish to do so. History comes in layers, so who knows how deep we will have to go? Spade, anyone?

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 10th October, when visiting speaker Peter Taylor will talk about his dowsing for Oil and Gold.