Gallows Down

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Gallows Down
Berkshire, Hampshire
Gallows Down, Inkpen - - 1014656.jpg
Summit: 915 feet SU360620
51°21’21"N, 1°29’4"W

Gallows Down is a hill on the border of Berkshire (to the north with Hampshire to the south, on the long, thin ridge of hills forming the boundary here. The hill has Inkpen Hill to the west and Walbury Hill to the east and all are joined by a long footpath along the ridgeway. On neighbouring Walbury Hill are the highest points of both Hampshire and Berkshire.

The Combe Gibbet stands gruesomely on the hill.

Combe Gibbet

The Combe Gibbet

Combe Gibbet is a gibbet at the top of Gallows Down, near the village of Combe, Hampshire. It stands on the footpath, at the boundary of parishes and counties, and is named after the village of Combe. Over the ridge is the Berkshire village and parish of Inkpen. It is built on top of a long barrow known as the Inkpen long barrow. The long barrow is 200 feet long and 70 feet wide. This is close to the massive hill fort on Walbury Hill.

The gibbet was erected in 1676 for the purpose of gibbeting the bodies of George Broomham and Dorothy Newman and has only ever been used for them. The gibbet was placed in such a prominent location as a warning, to deter others from committing crimes. George and Dorothy, in an adulterous relationship, were hanged for murdering George's wife Martha, and their son Robert after they discovered them together on the downs. The lovers' crime was witnessed by Mad Thomas, who managed to convey what he had seen to the authorities.

A replica gibbet marks the site. The original was destroyed many years ago and subsequent replicas have been replaced several times.

Tourism and leisure

Nowadays the hill and its gibbet it is a popular local tourist attraction with good views of the surrounding area. It is also popular with hang gliders and paragliders.

The Combe Gibbet is also the start of a scenic 16 mile off-road race to Overton organised by the Overton Harriers and Athletic Club. The race, which is typically in late March / early April of each year, is one of the few true off-road point to point running races in Britain, coaches taking competitors to the start.

The "Combe Gibbet" Race takes in Walbury Hill, Pilot Hill beyond it and Ladle Hill and the edge of Watership Down before entering Overton, the source of the River Test.