17th February 1571. The Land that Moved.

Sir Aston Cokaine (Cockayne), in the style of the Roman writer Ovid, advised a Sufferer of Love,  ‘To go to view the beauties and wonders of the world, Hereford behold/and see Marclay Hill whose motion is so told.’

A 16th century reference, in the 13th year of Queen Elizabeth, as to what might have been an earthquake,  was noted Today in 1571, when land near the little Herefordshire village of Much Marcle started to move.(1)

‘It began at 6pm when according to contemporary reports, ‘The hill which they call “Marcley Hill”, did rouse itself as it were out of sleep, and for three days together moved on its vast body with a horrible roaring noise, overturning everything in its way. Hedges, trees, cattle, houses and an unknown number of villagers were swallowed up.'(2)


Yew tree supposedly moved from churchyard of Kynaston Chapel. Pic Ref below

The outlying chapel of Kinnaston (Kynaston), was so obliterated that its bell was not discovered for another 269 years. The spot where the ‘The Wonder’ started is at the hilltop hamlet of Woolhope Cockshoot. The ‘Slip’ Tavern is two miles away.

The landslip passed into legend so much that Victorians from far and wide visited what became known as The Wonder.’

The British Geological Survey, however, discounts the idea of an earthquake, but admits it was a land-slip of sizeable proportions. Rumbling continues to this day with reports of pheasants ‘starting up’ for no reason.

(1) Many writers allude to it including William Camden, the cartographer, John Speed, Samuel Butler in his 16thc Hudibras.

Referred to in The ‘Cider Poem’ by John Philips: ‘Tis unsafe to trust deceitful ground/Forsaken to thy neighbour’s bounds transfer’. Lamenting the movement of full-grown apple trees to a neighbour’s land. Quoted in Natural History of Selborne, by Rev White (1720-93).

It was also chronicled by George Sandys’ Anglorum Speculum 1684.

(2) William Camden (1551-1623). In language of the time: ‘Neere unto the place where the Lug and Wy meet together,Eastward, a hill which they call Marclay Hill in the yere of our redemption 1571…’


On the Ordnance Survey Map, Marclay Hill is called The Miracle.

Ref: texts, wishful-thinking.org.uk/much marcle.

Ref: Camden’s Britain or Chorographical Description of the most Flourishing Kingdomes)sic), England, Scotland and Ireland. London, George Bishop and John Norton, 1610.

Ref: roy25books.blogspot.co.uk.

Ref: Taylor’s Map of Herefordshire, refers to the ‘Natural Wonder’.

Ref: Edward Widlake Brayley, John Britton 1805.

Ref: wikipedia.org/ Pic.Ref.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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