Ad Montem

Tuesday 19th September 2023

The majestic Neolithic Mound stands at the centre of our campus and has long been a special place for this community. As well as casting its inspirational shadow over our daily lives, the Mound plays a ceremonial role at the College and on Thursday 14th September, the Shell continued the College’s tradition of ad Montem, which translates as “to the Hill”.

In a ceremony of welcome to mark the start of their time at the College, the Shell processed in their Houses, dressed in House colours, from the Memorial Hall’s paved forecourt to the bottom of the Mound and then began the ascent around the gently inclining half-mile spiral path. When all the year group were on the Mound, a formal photograph was taken by drone from the Chapel side.

The Mound has had a varied and prestigious history: it was the site of an important Norman Royal Castle, beloved by King John and Henry the third; then the visual focus of a formal garden belonging to the prominent noble family, the Seymours. Local folklore records it as the burial place of Merlin.

Since our site became a school in 1843, it is believed that the Mound has played a role in occasions of investiture and celebration throughout the early part of the College’s history. Indeed, there is a fascinating painting from the mid nineteenth century hanging in the Master’s Lodge showing pupils processing around the Mound in what is thought to be the appointment of scholars.

Over the last 15 years, thanks to the remarkable legacy of Eric Elstob (C2 1956-60), the Mound is being carefully restored to its former glory with the support of the Mound Trust and Historic England. This restoration work is allowing the College to reconnect with the history and significance of the Mound and is facilitating more safe access for this type of milestone event.

It was a beautiful autumnal day and the ceremony was a real spectacle which we hope will form a treasured memory for the Shell of 2023.

To keep as a lasting memento, Shell parents might like to have the photograph made into a print. Either use an online photo printing service or take it to a shop. It can be printed at any size but we suggest A4 as the optimum size or it will also print well at 8” x 6”.

Download the photo HERE.

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