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24 September 2014

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You are in: Shropshire > places > Place Feature > The Wrekin

Sunshine at the top of the Wrekin

Sunshine at the top of the Wrekin

The Wrekin

Find out more about one of Shropshire's most cherished landmarks - the Wrekin.

The Wrekin, although only the 15th highest peak in Shropshire, is arguably the county's most distinctive landmark. It rises to only 1,334ft (406.6m) but the surrounding countryside is flat enough to allow the hill to dominate the landscape.

From the top of the Wrekin you can see the hills of South Shropshire - including Caer Caradoc, the Long Mynd and beyond - as well as the River Severn snaking through the flood plain towards Ironbridge and Buildwas (look out for the chimney stacks of the power station). On a clear day the toposcope points out the distant hills amid a stunning 360 degree view.

It's also easy to understand why some people declare an almost spiritual connection with the hill. Along with the Iron Bridge, the Wrekin is one of Shropshire's most potent symbols, and climbing it has become a rite of passage for people across the county. Travelling home on the A5/M54, the sight of the Wrekin reminds many that they are almost home.

So what do we know about the Wrekin?

It's formed from some of the oldest rock in the area (Cambrian period, 545-510 million years ago), including lava and volcanic ash. However, it isn't an extinct volcano, as popular belief would have it.

The Cornovii tribes established a hill-fort on the Wrekin in the 1st Century AD, before the Romans arrived and drove the Celts from their stronghold.

After the demise of Viroconium (now Wroxeter) as the Romans' capital of the area, Saxons established a new administrative capital at Wrockwardine and a spiritual capital at Wellington. Historians suggest that Wellington was originally called Weoleahington, meaning 'the settlement by the temple'. Although nobody knows the exact location of the temple, it is often suggested that the Wrekin itself bore a spiritual significance to Saxons.

Later on, the hill was part of a huge Norman hunting forest, which originally stretched as far Newport and Shrewsbury. Today, ancient woodland on the Wrekin and the Ercall are all that remains of a forest once inhabited by wild pigs and other quarry.

The Normans referred to the hill as Mount Gilbert, after a local Hermit.

During the 19th Century and the Industrial Revolution, wood from the Wrekin was converted into charcoal for use in the glass industry.

More recently, JRR Tolkein, author of The Lord of the Rings, used to enjoy walking on the hill when he lived in nearby Penkridge.

It is claimed that the Wrekin provided the inspiration for Middle Earth - the view certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to The Shire. Who knows you might even spot a Hobbit or two from the summit!

Unsurprisingly, legends and folklore abound. One of the most popular is the tale of the Wrekin giant, who set out to flood Shrewsbury but was foiled by a cunning cobbler.

last updated: 30/04/2008 at 13:37
created: 13/02/2007

Have Your Say

What does the Wrekin mean to you?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

mr t
its the best place in the world to me. i go to the top every weekend.

Joan Eikre
I was born in Shropshire.I could see the Wrekin from my bedroom window---providing it was a clear day,of course.I left Shropshire in 1957 excited about a new life in Canada.Eventually I married and made my way to the USA.I have made many return trips home with my husband and children.The sight of the Wrekin was always a signal that I was indeed home.There is something mystical about it's shape,something solid about it's stature,and always a hint of 'welcome home,traveler'.

Dan Turner
I have lived here all my life but will soon be moving away. The Wrekin for me is always going to be the Cosmic Hill. It lies on a line of energy known as a 'layline' and is the place I always go, to be at peace and search for insperation. From the stories of giants and volcanoes to UFOs and secret military movements, the insperation for Hobbiton, Rivindell or even Mount Doom. This is my home. The wrekin people are some how spiritualy connected to it's energy and in this way to each other. If you go up there at night and lie flat on the summit it is said that you can swallow the universe.

marie ritari nee hoggins
Born in Shropshire 81 years ago but have lived in the U.S.A for over 50 years but I'm still a Shropshire Lass with frequent visits "home" my memories of the Wrekin would fill a book but when my Grand mother came to help my mother on washday before she hung out the wash she told us to check if there was a "cap" on the Wrekin!

pat urey
It means HOME

i think it is wonderful that you can go to the top of the wrekin because you can feel wat a exstinct volcano is like and to see all the natural habitats and what place shropshire is [Editor: The Wrekin was never a volcano]

David Blain
I left Wellington 42 years ago but the Wrekin still means home. Pity the red light was not retained as a memorial to Churchill

Julian Smart
when I see The Wrekin it means that I am back in my true home, even though I might live in London. When I am back in Shropshire I always make sure that I drive past the Wrekin evem if I have to travel the extra 20 miles or so! and if I have enough time I climb to the top, remembering my School days when I went up to the top with my school & with my parents.

It means just one thing,'our home'wherever we roam we always return to the sight of our favourite landmark.

Andreas Käsling
The Wrekin ist not only a landmark for people coming home. For me it has always been a most welcome proof that I nearly reached my holiday destination in Shropshire. The first sight means that the long journey from Germany to Shropshire ist once again to end safely.

Pete the Punk
Tracey I was at the hands around the Wrekin and I'm sure it was 1981. I remember Roy Castle flying overhead in a helicopter. I do remember that due to logistics they didn't succeed in a simultaneous hand grasp so we never got on record breakers!

Tracey Kyle
It means home to me! I know live in scotland and came across this page, and felt i had to say what it meant to me. It brough back loads of memories of me and my family walking up their on Boxing day, and when i did Hands around the Wrekin with the schools in Telford.I think that was 1981/2 i think? It would be intesting to see if any one else remenbers the date, or doing the event?

Alan Davies
Happy mermories really, even to the memory of my father driving up the wrekin with me in the car, i was about 6 yrs old, he had an Austin. Do not know what model because everybody just seeme to call them Austin of England. People were stopping and shouting yo will never make it, the type of comments that made my father even more determined and yes he got to the top. Year about 1950 Also remember every time we wentt up the wrekin the one comment often made was "remember your fern Ticket" I used to work at O.D. Murph'ys Pop company and on nice days we would waljk up towards the wrekin, it seemed to inspire us for the afternoon work ahead. Regards alan(Wolverhampton) but still a shropshire lad at heart, all my family still there.

Jemma downes
An ex Wellingtonian living in Canada the Wrekin is forever in my memory as home. I have so many beautiful memories, as a kid, of climbing to the top, struggling through the needles eye, having a picnic at Eastertime, and much more. Yes the army firing range, the blasting in the quarry, the aeroplane beacon flashing it's warning light saying carefull the Wrekin is here - don't bash into me. And whenever I go back the Wrekin tells me I'm home. Incidentally can anyone recall the story and location of "the Burnt Cottage" at the foot of the Wrekin

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