- Vale of Pewsey
The Vale of Pewsey is an area in the Kennet district of
Wiltshire, Englandto the west of Devizes, centred on the town of Pewsey.
The vale is an extent of lower lying ground separating the chalk downs of
Salisbury Plainto the south from the Marlborough Downsto the north. It is around convert|30|km|mi long and around convert|5|km|mi wide. At the western end is the town of Devizes. Larger settlements in the vale include Pewseyand Burbage with many smaller villages, the larger ones including Bishops Cannings, Etchilhampton, Urchfont, Chirton, Alton Priors, Woodborough, Milton Lilbourne, Easton Royaland Wootton Rivers.
The vale is a major east-west feature opening to the west towards the
Bristol Channel, but is drained by the headwaters of the Salisbury Avon, rather than the westward-flowing Bristol Avon. The river cuts through the chalk scarp to the south at Upavonand crosses Salisbury Plain towards the south coast. The higher part of the eastern vale south of Burbage is drained by the River Bourne, which cuts the scarp at Collingbourne Kingston, joining the Avon at Salisbury. Since the area is not believed to have been glaciated, this probably indicates that the course of the rivers pre-dates the modern topography.
The vale is not used by any major roads, but is followed by a railway and canal as a route between the
London Basinand the west. To the north of Burbage the head of the Avon valley, draining west into the vale, meets the head of the River Dun, draining east to the Kennetand the Thames. The valley floor at around convert|150|m|ft above sea level provides a route through the downs which locally reach 200 to 300 metres. The Kennet and Avon Canaland the main line railway from London to the south-west make use of this route, the canal using the Bruce Tunnel. Formerly another rail route between Andoverand Marlboroughalso followed this gap. Another line branched off towards Bath via Devizes at the western end of the vale.
The vale lies along the eroded core of an
anticline, a westward extension of the MendipAxis, with a relatively thin covering of Mesozoicsediments folded upwards over an up-faulted horst of Palaeozoicrocks.Melville, R.V. & Freshney E.C. (4th Ed 1982), "The Hampshire Basin and adjoining areas", British Regional Geology series, Institute of Geological Sciences, London: HMSO, ISBN 0-11-884203-X p115] The floor of the vale is floored by Albian(Lower Cretaceous) beds of the Upper Greensand, exposed by removal of the overlying chalk. It is surrounded to the north and south by chalkscarps which close to the east near Burbage. There is also a small inlierof Greensand to the east at Shalbourne; ["Chilterns: Sheet 51N 02W Solid Geology", 1:250,000 Geological map series, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, 1991] this area drains northwards to the Kennet.
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