The brown hares have started sunning themselves in the morning on a steep, east-facing slice of hillside just above the two great Bronze Age barrows by the side of the A272. This laidback prelude to the mating season will change as the days edge longer. Soon, they will be dashing around in all their mad March glory.

Hares, which were introduced to Britain by the Romans, are relative newcomers to this bit of Hampshire. The high downs around Privett and Froxfield hold traces of Stone Age dwellings-there is a large sarsen stone weighing many tons that lies near-buried in a field.

The stone has a hole straight through it at one end, the purpose of which has never been established. A few years ago, a large find of Saxon gold was discovered in the vicinity that was eventually declared treasure trove-some of the pieces are now in the British Museum.

Now, I often come across whatever the collective noun is for metal detectorists (perhaps a horde?) scanning the fields around our house and, in last week’s cruel weather, a tiny Roman coin was found in the field next to our garden. It certainly makes digging the flowerbeds a bit more exciting than before.

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