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Meon Hill - The Devil's Playground

Meon Hill is a mysterious plateau that looks down on the villages of Lower Quinton, Mickleton and Ilmington. It has always had a reputation for witchcraft and hauntings with evidence of this even today, but is there any truth to these tales?

Lower Quinton is probably most well known for the infamous murder of Charles Walton and the witchcraft conspiracies associated with it, and to be able to do his case justice I will go more in-depth in a separate post to follow this one. Briefly for those not familiar with the case, Charles Walton was a farm labourer in his 70s who, while still working, was found savagely murdered in the hedgerow he had been cutting on Valentine's Day 1945, on the lower slopes of Meon Hill. A team of detectives came up from London led by Chief Inspector Robert Fabian, the self styled “Fabian of the Yard” who, while never solving the case, claimed in his memoirs that Charles had been hacked to death in a pagan ritual because he was believed to be a warlock. Fabian went on to say he was certain a “witch cult” was still active and that they were behind the murder. The case remains unsolved to this day and continues to spawn various theories and ideas about the goings on in Lower Quinton at that time.

Fabian often walked around the hill and claimed that he encountered a spectral “black dog” one evening which vanished once it had walked past him, and a local lad who Fabian asked about the hound went white with fear and ran off. Others have seen this Black Dog too, huge and red eyed, but one local old fellow I got chatting to told me he once saw a headless dog walking about!

Another mysterious phenomena is the “Mickleton Hooter”. This began with a unexplained booming sound coming from Meon Hill, becoming a long low horn noise as the weeks went on. The Black Dog returned, this time sometimes seen with a ghostly headless woman behind it, before the eventual arrival of a spectral coach and horses that sped through the darkness before disappearing into the hill itself. An old legend used to claim that a gateway to Hell itself was somewhere on Meon Hill so it's not difficult to imagine why these stories have been passed around, but I still wonder what the root of it all is.

Witches have long been associated with Meon Hill, and with it's proximity to Stratford on Avon some have claimed that Shakespeare based his three witches in Macbeth on stories he had been told of a coven meeting on Meon Hill. This might explain why the big oak in the filed on the summit is known as the Witch Tree, as nobody local can offer any other explanation for it. Mercifully free of the clooties and ribbons commonly hung in trees popular with modern pagans, it's bare and gnarled appearance is very striking.

Every other place in England seems to claim that it was an inspiration on JRR Tolkien for one of his Middle earth locations, and Meon Hill is no exception. A cousin of the great man had a fruit and vegetable farm nearby and said the hill was definitely the real life model for the hill of Weathertop. Both book readers and fans of the films will remember the flat topped fortress as the scene of a dramatic confrontation between the Nazgul and the Hobbits led by Aragorn, where Frodo is pierced with the Witch King's blade. Meon Hill was a large fortress during the Iron Age and the earthworks and fortifications from that time are still very much visible, so it's easy to see what Tolkien was thinking.

Perhaps this is the root of the sinister tales that Meon Hill has spawned, that the tribe who lived inside the fortress before the coming of the Romans built a temple or shrine of some kind, the memory of which prevailed down the centuries like ripples? The Devil himself is said in one legend to have actual created Meon Hill by hurling a huge slab of earth in disgust at the newly built Evesham Abbey but the combined prayers of the monks and the visiting Bishop of Worcester repelled the missile, it fell short and became Meon Hill. I will say that someone left various animal bones in a kind of shrine around the trig point at the summit, for what reason I have no idea.

The old fellow who told me about the headless dog whispered a tale about a much more recent event that went on in the shadow of Meon Hill. In a field directly behind Lower Quinton, three demonic figures would crawl from their home in a grass covered burial chamber, brightly coloured and babbling bizarre nonsensical words. They openly worshipped the sun as a deity in the form of a child, and would fall down in a state of mania as this child god showered strange rays down on them, before stumbling back into their barrow. Yes, the TV show Teletubbies was actually filmed right here at Meon Hill! When the BBC departed they left the “tubby house” as it was, becoming a mecca for groups of youths to hold parties and wild gatherings, even a rave was allegedly put on there. The farmer that owned the land could stand it no more and razed the mound flat, replacing it with a pond and a nature reserve.

So a walk around Meon Hill is an atmospheric experience, there is a real stillness here that makes you feel as if you are completely alone and somehow inside another reality, separate from the world below. A place of power that is unlikely ever to change.

The Witch Tree on Meon Hill

Animal bones on a cairn built on the summit, possibly a badger?

Cairn built around the trig point on Meon Hill

Before and after - the Telletubbies home under Meon Hill now and then

Charles Walton's old house in Lower Quinton

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