On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop, which began to be harvested at Lammastide. The loaf was blessed, and in Anglo-Saxon England it might be employed afterwards to work magic: a book of Anglo-Saxon charms directed that the lammas bread be broken into four bits, which were to be placed at the four corners of the barn, to protect the garnered grain. In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before the first day of August. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it is referred to regularly, it is called "the feast of first fruits". The blessing of first fruits was performed annually in both the Eastern and Western Churches on the first or the sixth of August (the latter being the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ).
William Hone speaks in The Every-Day Book (1838) of a later festive Lammas day sport common among Scottish farmers near Edinburgh. He says that they "build towers...leaving a hole for a flag-pole in the centre so that they may raise their colours." When the flags over the many peat-constructed towers were raised, farmers would go to others' towers and attempt to "level them to the ground." A successful attempt would bring great praise. However, people were allowed to defend their towers, and so everyone was provided with a "tooting-horn" to alert nearby country folk of the impending attack and the battle would turn into a "brawl." According to Hone, more than four people had died at this festival and many more were injured. At the day's end, races were held, with prizes given to the townspeople.
The most detailed ever satellite maps of England’s light pollution and dark skies have been released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) ... The maps are testament to the success of more than 40 years of protecting our countryside from harmful development. It is possible to pick out the shape of the North Wessex Downs AONB with the areas of darker more tranquil skies in contrast to the more developed areas outside the boundary.
However, there are some shocking exceptions clearly visible within the area, notably Harwell Enterprise Centre and Chieveley Services which cause more light pollution than the largest settlements of Marlborough and Hungerford, and prominent light pollution from larger towns just outside the AONB, such as Swindon and Reading, spills far out into the North Wessex Downs ... we are calling on local authorities, local businesses, land owners and developers to use these maps to identify areas with severe light pollution and target action to reduce it, as well as identifying existing dark skies that need protecting.
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