Location Analysis: Clothall and Therfield Heath, Hertfordshire Part Two

Therfield Heath reveals the fabric of high society. Fri 21 July 2023

A fabric that looks like distressed leather. Source: Oilcloth Hood

From The 7 Best Waxed Jackets for Functionality and Style:

Eighteenth-century mariners were the first to use waxed cotton, treating their ship sails with grease and fish oil because it helped repel water and wind.

the tightly woven cotton or duck canvas is saturated in wax, resulting in a fabric that looks like distressed leather

And like a monk's cowl.

The English called oilcloth 'oilskin'. Today, 'oilcloth' is called 'waxed cotton'.

From Sloane Ranger Style Guide to Nail the Wealthy British Look:

The Sloane Ranger style is a way of dressing characteristic of upper-class Londoners residing in Chelsea’s Sloane Square, with aesthetic roots in British aristocracy and their countryside activities.

With origins in naval British culture, wax jackets evolved from apparel for fishing and hunting to Sloane Ranger dressing staples.

Now Britain exports oilskins to potential Sloane Rangers around the world:

Clip-on class. Source: Clip-on waxed cotton hood

And back in Britain, oilskin hoods help identify hot spots for 'hunting'. For man-hunting.

Starting with the peculiar similiarities between Therfield Heath and Lincoln Heath.

Therfield Heath's history of tournaments, hunting and military training is similar to Lincoln Heath's history of racing and knights Templar military training.

But although the Boycott lozenge is a candidate location for the tournaments that used to be held on Therfield Heath, no similar feature remains on Lincoln Heath.

However, its former location is easy to to guess. Histories of Lincolnshire's Knights Templar puts their training area south of Temple Bruer.

From A Haunted History of Lincolnshire:

the location of Temple Bruer was perfectly suited for their own needs. Having no trees surrounding the building made it a great place for them to practise military techniques and train.

That sounds like the 10km2 (2,500 acres) of land immediately south of Temple Bruer that were once Cranwell Lodge Farm. However, just like the Marquess of Salisbury's Quickswood estate on Therfield Heath, Cranwell Lodge Farm has also disappeared.

The former Marquess of Bristol's-owned land has been repurposed as the air training college at RAF Cranwell:

Antiquitech at College Hall, RAF Cranwell. Source: Royal Air Force College Cranwell

Its cupola used to house a navigation beacon - described as an aerial lighthouse visible 30 miles away:

Military training sites of Lincolnshire's Knights Templar. And the RAF.


Before becoming an RAF base, Royal Naval Air Service Cranwell handled airships flying maritime missions:

Three SS class airships return from patrol. Source: SS class airship - Wikipedia

Hence the requirement for a long-distance navigation beacon.

Allegedly, these floated on helium. However, the gas from one of these contributed to a four-airship conflagration in August 1918.

Whatever it was, the gas was - presumably - stratified in Cranwell College's dome. Lack of public documentation stymies attempts to understand how the float gas was produced and managed. However, as with the Fordham mausoleum at Therfield's Odsey Corner, we appear to have a gas production station from the past.

An anaerobic gas production structure sited in a location with a fearsome reputation for highwaymen and human distress.

That the navy was willing to buy human carcasses is evidenced at Mystery of the Missing Castles. Press-ganging - the act of kidnapping people to sell on to ships - makes more sense in this context.

Slightly more technical information is available about Cranwell blimps' and their 'cars':

The SSZ - WWI successor to the SS. Source: SSZ - Submarine Scout Class Airship

The SSZ could carry three people (presumably heavily dressed against the cold), an engine, its fuel, two bombs, a Lewis machine gun and its ammunition.

Yet ten years earlier, blimp technology was at this level:

Either technology evolved very quickly or Britain's naval airmen were on a different technology track.

As at Therfield Heath, early 19th century accounts of Lincoln Heath also talk of destroyed inns and demolished manor houses.

From History of the Holy Trinity Guild Church at Sleaford, Rev George Oliver, p15:

[During the 1400s,] fortified castles and manor houses frowned in every part of the country ; and towers and battlements bristled up their warlike heads for the protection, alike of noble and churchman ; to which they retreated in times of danger, and whence they dictated their arbitrary edicts to trembling tenants and retainers. These fortresses of terror are no more...

If 19th century locals or their ancestors had cleared and ploughed the land, they should have had stories of ruins and rubble. But in some cases, 19th century locals didn't know these ruins existed, suggesting they were a replacement population.

From History of the Holy Trinity Guild Church at Sleaford, Rev George Oliver, p20, footnote 44:

Gibson... mentions a hall at Dunsby, "three miles north of Sleaford;" but all tradition of such a building is lost among the inhabitants of this district

The village of Dunsby is totally demolished, its church destroyed, and for all purposes ecclesiastical and civil, the lordship is united with the adjacent parish of Branswell (now Brauncewell).

"Destroyed" villages and manors rather than "deserted" villages and manors also suggests Oliver knew a wide-scale event had removed whole communities.

And back on Therfield Heath, Hertfordshire...

After James I's 17th century Royston hunting project ended, his court retainers apparently continued preying on its locals.

Presumably it was their descendants who lived on as Odsey's highway robbers.

From Fragments of Two Centuries - Glimpses of Country Life when George III. was King, Alfred Kingston, 1893, p12:

a few years back before George III. came to the throne. For some years before and after that time, the noted old Posting House of the Red Lion, in the High Street, Royston, was kept by a Mrs. Gatward. This good lady, who managed the inn with credit to herself and satisfaction to her patrons, unfortunately had a son, who, while attending apparently to the posting branch of the business, could not resist the fascination of the life of the highwaymen, who no doubt visited his mother's inn under the guise of well-spoken gentlemen.

and from p15:

... Royston Heath and the road across it - for the Heath was then on both sides of the Baldock Road - and especially that part of the road along what was then known as Odsey Heath, near the present Ashwell Railway Station, was at that time (and also later) infested by highwaymen, whom the old Chronicle describes as "wearing oil-skin hoods over their faces, and well-mounted and well-spoken."

The Odsey Heath hang-out of 18th century highwaymen.


When Alfred Kingston says:

"That part of the road along what was then known as Odsey Heath, near the present Ashwell Railway Station"

he means this:

Odsey Corner carcass processing site. Source: The Megalithic Portal

Odsey Heath's landscape is littered with artifacts of human carcass processing: multiple burial mounds, a 'Roman' cemetery, a mausoleum, a junction with Deadman's Hill, and a length of the 'Chain Walk' slave path which passes over Gallows Hill on its way to Kelshall. 1

At its centre is Fordham Mausoleum. The mausoleum's location at the centre of three hills (Highley Hill left, Gallows Hill right and Penny Loaf Plantation top), suggests the mausoleum was situated to process carcass parts produced on the hills.

'Over there' means 'over here'. Source: Apocalypto (2014)

England's fabricated 'ancient' custom of rolling eggs down hills at Easter - and of witches using 'eggs shells' as 'boats' - suggests the maus-oleum's preferred feedstock was fatty brain matter.

The highwayman's infamous phrase:

Your money or your life.

presented the full range of options but not the full range of implications.

James I is not recorded as setting up court in south Lincolnshire. But Lincoln Heath - between Lincoln and Sleaford - was once littered with mounds and market crosses. And - like Odsey - its Knights Templar centre had a reputation for well-spoken highwaymen.

From History of the Holy Trinity Guild Church at Sleaford, Rev. George Oliver, 1837, p8, footnote 11:

Tradition says that Leasingham mill house was formerly the rendevous of a desperate gang of robbers who were connected with the celebrated Turpin ; and it is also asserted that their trade of rapine and robbery was aided by several young men, the sons of respectable farmers in the neighbourhood. The situation, about the middle of the last century (18th), was admirably adapted to their purpose ; the wild heaths of Rauceby, and the extended field of Holdingham, immediately adjacent, being uninclosed and without an inhabitant. But the great post of terror was Dunsby hill. Here the brigand took his station ; and the unfortunate traveller who passed after a certain hour of the night had no chance to escape. So notorious did this place become, that, in effecting insurances from Edinburgh to London, as was the custom of those times, the accidents of Dunsby hill were always specially-excepted. The spot was infested by highwaymen down to a very recent period ;

'A very recent period' means 'very recent' in relation to the book's publication date: 1837.

Here are those locations and their locations compared to Temple Bruer and RAF Cranwell:

Hang-outs of Lincoln Heath's 18th century highwaymen.


  • Yellow marker: Rev George Oliver's list of locations favoured by Lincolnshire's high-class highwaymen
  • Red marker: Temple Bruer and RAF Cranwell military training centres

Why do so many human processing sites appear on Therfield Heath and Lincoln Heath?

Because both sites were on high ground near tidal fenland. Into the 19th century, fenland to the north of Therfield Heath and fenland to the east of Lincoln Heath were wet enough to fill fen canals. They offered freight-ship access far inland of England's modern coasts.

Therfield Heath and Lincoln Heath were shore-side processing and transhipment facilities - the Merseysides of their day.

As for the Knights Templar...

From A Haunted History of Lincolnshire:

Although the Knights Templar sounds impressive and mysterious, it was in fact made up of Lincolns wealthy land owners.

The activities and affiliations of these 'well-spoken highwaymen' may be derived from another intersection of road, river and heath. At Chalvey in Slough, Berkshire.

From Montem Mound, Salt Hill, Slough:

Between the 16th and mid-19th centuries the mound... was the focus of a unique ceremony associated with the nearby Eton College. The ceremony consisted of a procession of Eton scholars in fancy dress or military uniform to the mound. The schoolboys then extracted money (known as “salt”, sometimes received in exchange for actual salt) from passers-by.

The upper class robbed from on high. Source: King George III at the 'Montem'

Chalvey residents are traditionally known as 'stab-monks'.

Montem Mound/Salt Hill, Slough.

Montem Hill/Salt Hill is nicely positioned to 'tax' traffic in and out of west London.

We can presume well-spoken scholars looking for meat, materials and money haunted many of England's other mounds in the 18th century.

In England, these events have been forgotten.

But not across the Atlantic. There, resistance to George III's taxes gave England's "well-mounted and well-spoken" aristocrats another chance to leave their mark:

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton... was dubbed "Bloody Ban." Source: Patriot


Victoria County History links for Therfield and Odsey heaths:

Hundred of Broadwater:

Hundred of Odsey:

© All rights reserved. The original author retains ownership and rights.

  1. Although each of the hills is specifically associated with death, human remains were strewn beyond the borders of this map. The area is called The Morderns - as in 'right to murder'. 

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