The Dinosaurs of the Surrey Hills

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There are places mentioned in this story that are well worth a visit: –

The River Wey. If you join the towpath at Godalming, you can walk all the way to Weybridge where the Wey meets the Thames.

Stoke Park is in the middle of Guildford. It’s a beautiful green space with many attractions, including a wonderful outdoor Lido.

Newlands Corner gives great views over the Hills. You can walk to the mystical Silent Pool, and the classic English villages of Shere and Albury.

Painshill Park is a landscaped area of great beauty near Cobham. Look out for a giant cedar tree they say is the largest in Europe.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a huge park near Hindhead. Great walking.

I hope you explore some of these. Wherever you go, look out for things that could be the work of dinosaurs!

There are a huge number of books about dinosaurs, and masses of information on the web.

There’s an interesting folk tale called How the Devil’s Jumps and the Devil’s Punch Bowl came to be. You can find it in Surrey Folk Tales by Janet Dowling. 2013.

There are lots of stories about the Devil’s Punchbowl. One relates to an argument between the devil and the god Thor, in which rocks are thrown. Find out more at

The Dinosaurs of the Surrey Hills

Long, long ago, dinosaurs ruled the whole world, and in this story, we meet a family of them who lived in the beautiful place we now call the Surrey Hills. You will also learn interesting things about the Hills which you can still explore today.

Meet the mother dinosaur, Gertrude, and the father dinosaur, Montmorency the First, and their two boys. The older brother is called Montmorency the Second, and the younger Montmorency the Third. You see, their parents both liked the name Montmorency very much, and long ago there weren’t as many names as we have today, so they decided to stick with a name they liked.

The family was happy. They loved exploring the area around their home. There was only one problem for Gertrude and Montmorency the First. Their two sons kept arguing and squabbling. About absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything. They argued about which part of a log they should sit on. They argued about what they wanted to eat for lunch. They argued about how deep a river was, how cold it might be, and how many fish were in the water.

They didn’t take things seriously. They needed to grow up. They drove Gertrude and Montmorency the First stark, staring bonkers!

Then Gertrude came up with a brilliant idea. “Listen dear Montmorency the First,” she said, “we need to turn this arguing and squabbling into something they can enjoy, something that gets them excited, and most importantly, something that tires them both out!”

So, Montmorency the First put together a big competition for his sons. A sort of World Cup or Olympics for young dinosaurs.

His sons needed to compete against each other in four big events; wrestling, wading in the river, football, and rock throwing.

The boys loved it.

They started with the wrestling. With all their energy they grappled and shoved, tripped each other up and fell on each other. After three days of exhausting wrestling, Montmorency the First declared the result a draw.

The next competition was the wading. They jumped into the River Wey and began the race towards what we now call the River Thames. For hours, Montmorency the Second led the race, and it looked like he was going to win, but then the more energetic Montmorency the Third put on a last-minute burst of speed and again… it was a draw.

The football match was played on the vast open grasslands where Stoke Park in Guildford is today. Dinosaurs from all over Surrey came to watch. It was a fearsome game, with huge kicks and tough tackles. Montmorency the Second scored first. Then Montmorency the Third used his speed to score three goals in a row. After 8 hours of play, it was getting dark, and Montmorency the Second was leading five goals to four. In the last minute, a penalty to Montmorency the Third. GOALLLLLLL!!!

Once again, a draw. It was now all down to rock throwing.

The rules were simple. The brothers had to stand at least fifteen miles apart. The first to hit the other with a rock was the winner. For safety, Gertrude made both sons wear huge helmets and padded clothing.

Montmorency the Second stood near where Hindhead is today. Montmorency the Third near Albury.

Montmorency the Second threw first. He missed his brother by miles. His rock landed in Painshill Park, near where the lake is today.

Montmorency the Third threw next. His rock landed far away from where his brother was standing. It crashed into the ground where the Devil’s Punchbowl is today.

Montmorency the Second’s next throw smashed into the ground between Newlands Corner and Shere. It made a very big dent in the ground, about where Silent Pool is today.

Just as Montmorency the Third was about to throw again, his brother called out in a very loud voice.

“Stop” he shouted, “did you see where that last rock landed? That hole is enormous! We’re breaking up the hills!”. Montmorency the Third looked around, and saw that a lot of the other dinosaurs who had been watching them were looking nervous, almost scared, wondering where the next rock would land. “You’re right” he replied, “maybe this has gone too far; we should be looking after our beautiful home and making sure there is still a beautiful home here for everyone”.

So, the two brothers put down their rocks and went home. And from then on they treated the Surrey Hills more as a home than an arena. And they worked hard to make sure it was protected. And they made Gertrude and Montmorency the First the happiest, proudest parents, in all the dinosaur world.

SuperHeroes of the Surrey Hills
Steve Markwell and Cathy Coleman.

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