UE1.2 Watling Street

This page features annotations for  Watling Street, the 2nd chapter of Unearthing. Watling Street is on (unnumbered) pages 18-40 of the 2012 Unearthing book. (Note that some sources – including Spotify – misspell Watling Street as “Wappling Street“)

Words by Alan Moore and images by Mitch Jenkins.

Page 18 (no text)

Page 19 (Across its crown…)

  • Watling Street” was/is an ancient road from Dover through London into central England.
Map of historic Watling Street with Shooters Hill. Watling Street map via Wikipedia

Page 20-21 (no text)

Page 22-23 (The three great woods…)

Page 24 (rolling up the hill…)

  • Eltham, Charleton, Plumstead, Woolwich, and Welling are place names surrounding Shooters Hill.
  • “Sheters Hill” is an early name (spelling?) for Shooters Hill.
  • Henry the Eighth was the king of England from 1509 to 1547. “His Catherines” were his wives: Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr.
  • Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet were among Robin Hood‘s Merry Men.
  • Bashful and Goofy were among Snow White’s seven dwarfs.

    Anne of Cleves portrait by Hans Holbein, via Wikipedia
  • Anne of Cleves was Henry the Eighth’s fourth wife and very briefly queen of England.
  • Hans Holbein [the Younger] was a painter, who did a famous portrait of Anne of Cleves.

Page 25 (no text)

  • The photograph is a homage to Holbein’s portrait of Anne of Cleves.

Page 26 (no text)

Page 27 (at the ragged edges)

  • Elizabethan era (1558–1603) London “murderers blossom up on the steep road’s wooded margins” apparently refers to “a horrible murder committed at Shooter’s Hill in 1573, by George Brown, who, being enamoured of the wife of Master Sanders, a merchant of London, waylaid and murdered Sanders (with the connivance of his wife) on Shooter’s Hill.”
  • Elizabethan “armada beacon raised in 1588” refers to the mountaintop warning beacons utilized to send warnings quickly across large distances, including warning England of the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Page 28 (hill of blood…)

  • “Hill of Blood” apparently referred to the 1573 murder noted above.
  • Herschell Gordon Lewis” was an American filmmaker, known for making gore films. ‘Hill of Blood’ sounds like the title of a Lewis film. (Nitpick: his first name is spelled with two Ls: Herschell)
  • William Castle” was a prolific American filmmaker, whose output includes many movies similar to Lewis’ gore films.
  • Agent Orange” is a chemical defoliant used by the U.S. in Vietnam. “Thinning the bandit cover” means removing a lot of the woods on Shooters Hill.
  • Roundhead[s]” were 1600s British monarchists who wore their hair closely cropped.

Page 29 (scalp, the coronet materializing…)

Page 30 (Fanny On The Hill…)

Page 31 (and then in 1749…)

  • The Bull (pictured on pages 30-31) is a historic and current Shooters Hill pub.

Page 32 (no text)

  • The image apparently represents highwayman Dick Turpin.

Page 33 (Sumptuous hostelries…)

  • “Toff” is derogatory British slang for a rich person.
  • Princess Charlotte [of Wales]” (1796–1817)” was an heir to the British throne who died young. She spent her summers at the Shrewsbury Lodge (now the Shrewsbury House Community Centre) on Shooters Hill.
  • Sir William James was a naval officer and politician. Alan Moore recounts the history of Severndroog Castle, built starting in 1784. Read about the pirate Conagee Angria.
  • Sir John Lidgbird built Broom Hall in 1737. It was demolished in 1937 to make way for the housing that S. Moore would live in.
  • Gibbet-fields” are public execution sites.
  • The Royal Arsenal and Royal Artillery [Barracks] are both Wollwich military sites.
  • Dick Turpin was a real-life highwayman, whose exploits became legendary. One Turpin adventure story was titled “The Tragedy of Shooters Hill.” Turpin was apparently rumored to be the “shooter” or Shooters Hill, though this is inaccurate, as the site was known as Sheters Hill preceding Turpin’s life.
  • Sydney Carton is one of the main characters in the Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities. (This annotation has not yet tracked down the novel’s account of that character’s coach foundering in mud on Shooters Hill – suggest??)
  • British poet “[William] Wordsworth” lived briefly in Woolwich (according to A Spark in Your Veins) at No. 3, Nightingale Place (at Brook Hill Road). The building has since been demolished and redeveloped.
  • Algernon Blackwood, born on Shooters Hill in 1869,  was a writer of journalism and fiction, known for ghost stories.
  • Starlight Express” is a 1984 musical (by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stillgoe) performed on roller skates (which A. Moore describes as “a train of neon rollergirls”). The musical is about an obsolete steam engine who races against modern engines.
  • Shooters Hill as site of “a colossal pyramid” or “titanic mausoleum for the nation’s Titan dead” – suggest??

Page 34 (no text)

Page 35 (Steve Moore sleeps…)

  • The Silurian period is a geologic prehistoric time, more than 400 million years ago. At that time, the area that is Shooters Hill (and all of Britain) was beneath the ocean.

Page 36 (he sleeps, a dim encycsted mass…)

One example of “a Gauguin buttock” – via Wikipedia

Page 37 (Mumbling, he rolls over…)

  • Shooter Hill’s historic Broom Hall (mentioned page 33 above) was demolished (“the walls dissolve”) in 1737.
  • [Paul] Gauguin” was a French painter, who painted lots of nudes, especially of Tahitians.
  • Fenians” are supporters of Irish independence.
  • Arthur James (Jim) Moore is Steve Moore’s grandfather, who worked much of his life for the chemical company Frederick Boehm (confirmed in this interview.)
  • Beledere is a town (then in the county of Kent, now London) is on the River Thames, east of Welling and Plumstead – just northeast of Shooters Hill.
  • Winnifred Mary Moore (nee Deeks) is S. Moore’s grandmother.
  • New Cross and Lewisham are London suburbs located west of Shooters Hill.
  • Foyles” is a London bookseller.
  • Their “des. res.” is British slang for desired residence.
  • Memorial Hospital” (now NHS Oxleas) – located on Shooters Hill Road at Donaldson Road. It’s not clear to this annotator exactly which nearby cul-de-sac was S. Moore’s street (might be Hill End – based on this blog post). “The forest just across Dover Road” appears to be Oxleas Wood (or Eltham Common).
  • Mrs. Dale’s Diary” was a British radio drama (1940s-60s) about the comings and goings of the British middle class.
  • Ronald Colman is a British actor who became a popular Hollywood movie star. (Nitpick: there’s no e in this Colman’s name.) His movies span several genres, so it’s not clear to this annotator what sort of Colman film this references.
  • Darby and Joan” is British slang for a happily married elderly couple.
  • Jack and Jill” is, of course, a nursery rhyme. They famously went up a hill, then and tumbled down it.
  • Luftwaffe” are the WWII German air force.

Page 39-40 (no text)

>Go to Chapter 3 Roman Observation Point
>Go to Annotations Index



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