Malvern Hill Range - Framed Picture - 12" x 16"
The Malvern Hills are a range of hills in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and a small area of northern Gloucestershire.
They are known for their spring water – initially made famous by the region's many holy wells, and later through the development of the 19th-century spa town of Great Malvern, a process which culminated in the production of the modern bottled drinking water.
The name Malvern is probably derived from the ancient British moel-bryn, meaning "Bare-Hill". It has been known as Malferna (11th century), Malverne (12th century), and Much Malvern (16th and 17th centuries).
The 'Shire Ditch', a late Bronze Age boundary earthwork possibly dating from around 1000 BC, was constructed along part of the crest of the hills near the site of later settlements.
The Wyche Cutting, a mountain pass through the hills was in use in prehistoric times as part of the salt route from Droitwich to South Wales. A 19th-century discovery of over two hundred metal money bars suggests that the area had been inhabited by the La Tène people around 250 BC.
Ancient folklore has it that the British chieftain Caractacus made his last stand against the Romans at the British Camp, a site of extensive Iron Age earthworks on a summit of the Malvern Hills close to where Malvern was to be later established. The story remains disputed, however, as Roman historian Tacitus implies a site closer to the river Severn. There is therefore no evidence that Roman presence ended the prehistoric settlement at British Camp. However, excavations at nearby Midsummer Hillfort, Bredon Hill and Croft Ambrey all show evidence of violent destruction around the year 48 AD. This may suggest that the British Camp was abandoned or destroyed around the same time.
During the medieval period, the hills and surrounding area were part of a Royal forest known as Malvern Chase. Riots by commoners and legal challenges from land owners ensued when King Charles I attempted to disafforest the Chase in 1630. Ultimately, only one third was disafforested, and commissioners were appointed to ensure any further encroachments did not leave the common lands as the most meagre in quality.