by Yolande Watson
If you’re wondering how to escape the heat of the day this summer, make your way up to St Mary’s church, Ross-on-Wye and explore the Hedgehog Trail.
Spike – an eight foot high hedgehog – is currently taking shelter in the church. He made his debut at this year’s Ross Carnival and joins many other hedgehogs that can be seen as part of the church’s ‘Archie’s Hedgehog Trail’.
The hedgehog is an ancient emblem of Ross-on-Wye, which dates back to 450 AD and links to an ancient kingdom called ‘Archenfield’ (Land of Urchins). Hedgehogs were called ‘urchins’ before the sixteenth century. The residents of Archenfield were excellent archers who were employed as mercenaries in various royal armies from the ninth century up to and including King Henry VIII’s reign.
In St Mary’s church, there are hedgehog icons that date back to the seventeenth century on old family crests (Kyrle and Abrahall) up to more recent memorials including the Boar War and WWII. The Hedgehog Trail offers a fascinating glimpse into Ross-on-Wye’s social history.
An annual Hedgehog Festival is held in September each year. This year, the Festival will be held on Sunday sixteenth September from 11am – 4pm down by the Hope & Anchor pub next to the River Wye. It is Ross-on-Wye’s ‘green’ festival – providing an opportunity to learn more about hedgehogs, buy plants, arts and crafts made from natural materials, find out how to entice bees, butterflies and hedgehogs into your garden as well as participate in lots of nature-based activities and for all age groups (including the grown-ups).