PERCHED atop the Valley of the River Bride stands a tiny coastguard’s cottage.
Visible from the coast road far below, its empty eyes still seem to watch over Lyme Bay, the swoop of Chesil Beach and the gleaming treachery of the Fleet lagoon.
Known as The Knoll, this ancient barrow slopes down cornfields and on towards Puncknowle, (pronounced ‘Punnel’).
This village is crammed with character: there are thatched cottages, an elegant manor-house and the ghost of a landlady is said to still haunt the 16th century Crown Inn.
A Millennium project has restored a footpath leading from from a windswept place called Knackers Hole to the Knoll.
It is name checked by Sir Frederick Treves in Highways and Byways In Dorset (1906): “Those who are imaginative have here a favourable spot for a story of hidden treasure.
“The story would be based upon the fact that in 1791 a farm labourer turned up with his plough a jar which contained no fewer than 1,200 coins.
“They are described as being ‘almost entirely decayed by time.’
“The money can hardly have represented the hoard of a miser, and if it had been buried in troublous times by the great family of the village [Napiers or Nappers], it is scarcely to be believed that the place of hiding was not known to some.
“There would at least have been some legend of hidden gold to be handed down from father to son.
“It is probable therefore that this was the booty of some sea rover who beached his boat at Swyre, and, going off to seek further adventure, was either murdered for the secret or was wrecked on the Chesil Beach on a less fortunate venture.”
(Thanks to Mum for photos!)