The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 207 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.

Hazel.- Wee have two sorts of them.  In the south part, and particularly Cranbourn Chase, the hazells are white and tough; with which there are made the best hurdles of England.  The nutts of the chase are of great note, and are sold yearly beyond sea.  They sell them at Woodbery Hill Faire, &c.; and the price of them is the price of a buschell of wheate.  The hazell-trees in North Wilts are red, and not so tough, more brittle.
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Coven-tree common about Chalke and Cranbourn Chase:  the carters doe make their whippes of it.  It growes no higher than a cherry-tree.
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Buckthorne very common in South Wiltshire.  The apothecaries make great use of the berries, and the glovers use it to colour their leather yellow.
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Prick-timber (euonymus).- This tree is common, especially in North Wilts.  The butchers doe make skewers of it, because it doth not taint the meate as other wood will doe:  from whence it hath the name of prick-timber.
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Osiers.- Wee have great plenty of them about Bemarton, &c. near
Salisbury, where the osier beds doe yield four pounds per acre.
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Service-trees grow naturally in Grettwood, in the parish of Gretenham, belonging to George Ayliffe, Esq.  In the parke of Kington St. Michel is onely one.  At the foot of Hedington Hill, and also at the bottome of the hill at Whitesheet, which is the same range of hill, doe growe at least twenty cervise-trees.  They operate as medlars, but less effectually.

Pliny, lib. xv. c. 21.  “De Sorbis.  Quartum genus torminale appellatur, remedio tantum probabile, assiduum proventu minimumq{ue} pomo, arbore dissimili foliis plane platani”.  Lib. xvi. cap. 18.- “Gaudet frigidis Sorbus sed magis betulla”.  Dr. Gale, R.S.S. tells me that “Sorbiodunum”, now Old Sarum, has its denomination from “sorbes”; but the ground now below the castle is all turned to arable.
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Elders grow every where.  At Bradford the side of the high hill which faces the south, about Mr. Paul Methwin’s house, is covered with them.  I fancy that that pent might be turned to better profit, for it is situated as well for a vinyard as any place can be, and is on a rocky gravelly ground.  The apothecaries well know the use of the berries, and so doe the vintners, who buy vast quantities of them in London, and some doe make no inconsiderable profit by the sale of them.
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At the parsonage house at Wyley growes an ash out of the mortar of the wall of the house, and it flourishes very well and is verdant.  It was nine yeares old in 1686.  I doe not insert this as a rarity; but ’tis strange to consider that it hath its growth and nourishment from the aire, for from the lime it can receive none. [In August 1847, I observed a large and venerable ash tree growing out of and united with the ancient Roman walls of Caistor, near Norwich.  The whole of the base of the trunk was incorporated with bricks, rubble, and mortar; but the roots no doubt extended many yards into the adjacent soil.- J. B.]
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The Natural History of Wiltshire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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