Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon, (1886–1967), lived at Heytesbury House, and wrote this poem in 1942 about Scratchbury Hill which lies just to the north of Norton Bavant and Sutton Veny in the Wylye Valley. In the photograph above it is the hill just above the spire of St Johns Church, Sutton Veny.

(Scratchbury - the name is probably from the old west country word for the devil and burh - meaning ancient camp). Interesting details on Scratchbury Hill from the Wikipedia Site is here - Scratchbury Hill

On Scratchbury Camp


Along the grave green downs, this idle afternoon,

Shadows of loitering silver clouds, becalmed in blue,

Bring, like unfoldment of a flower, the best of June.


Shadows outspread in spacious movement, always you

Have dappled the downs and valleys at this time of year,

While larks, ascending shrill, praised freedom as they flew.

Now, through that song, a fighter squadron's drone I hear

From Scratchbury Camp, whose turfed and cowslip'd rampart seems

More hill than history, ageless and oblivion - blurred.


I walk the fosse, once manned by bronze and flint head spear;

On war's imperious wing the shafted sun ray gleams:

One with the warm sweet air of summer stoops the bird.

Cloud shadows, drifting slow like heedless daylight dreams,

Dwell and dissolve; uncircumstanced they pause and pass.

I watch them go. My horse, contented, crops the grass