A stroll around St Catherine's Hill - David Haith
When I took a stroll up St Catherine's Hill at Christchurch today it was a timeslip into history.
For it seems the hill is riddled with mystery and legend about the origins of its name and past.
Too much to cover here but the stories include a now missing chapel devoted to St Catherine at the summit, a legend that for two nights the foundation stones hauled up there ended up back down the hill - so they used them to build the Priory.
There are suggestions that the Christian saint was used to help blur the original hill dedication to a pagan Celtric goddess with a similar name "Keridwen" into "Katharine".
Personally I also hadn't realised that St Catherine was tortured for heresy and finally killed in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius.
Apparently Max was upset because Catherine even persuaded his wife to accept Christianity so he ordered her to be mutilated to death on a twirling wheel lashed with spikes and knives on which she was eventually raised to be pecked clean by birds - hence the Catherine Wheel.
Fortunately I didn't know most of this while I wandered on the hill - my thoughts thankfully were more peaceful.
Amid the trees and sandy heathland there are circular and rectagonal monstrosity buildings - I'm told which are water reservoirs - now daubed with graffiti at least making them more interesting.
But the views, towards the Isle of Wight and its Needles, are wonderful - making my climb well worthwhile.