Looking for Planning FAQ’s? Click here.
1. What does AONB stand for and what does this designation mean?
For full details of what Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation means please go to our Caring page.
2. What is the meaning of “Mendip”, and is it Mendip or Mendips? – there is no definitive answer but – courtesy of Wikipedia, and further research below;
The earliest known form is Mendepe in 1185 – possibly medieval term “Myne-deepes”.
Or could be from Celtic monith, meaning mountain or hill.
Or perhaps Old English yppe in the sense of upland, or plateau.
Or Mened (Welshmynydd), a Brythonic term for upland moorland.
Or ‘the stone pit’ from the Celtic meyn and dyppa in reference to the collapsed cave systems of Cheddar.
Or Basque word ‘mendi’ meaning mountain.
2.1 Mendip or Mendips?
The earliest recorded mention of “Mendip “ is in a survey of the Knights Templar. This was a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 A.D. by papal bull. A survey of their estates was undertaken in 1185 A.D. where the following passage occurs as part of their review of property in Somerset:
“Apud Menedepe. Ex dono Roberti filli, Martini una terre que reddit dimidiam”
that is “In the neighbourhood of Mendip. By the gift of Robert son of Martin land which renders half a mark”
A later reference of A.D.1234 in their records talks of “common pasture of Menedep for one thousand sheep”  (note the loss of the final “e”).
Various suggestions have been made in the past as to the earlier origins of Menedepe or Menedep. This might have come from the Celtic “monith”, meaning mountain or hill, or the Old English “yppe” meaning upland, or plateau. Either would explain why locally Mendip is known by many as “ the hill”.
Hunting in the Royal Mendip Forest had gone on since at least the time of King Edgar, son of Alfred the Great, which is why the name “Mendip Forest” still persists on early maps.
From the Middle Ages until recent times all published accounts talk of “Mendip” or “ the Mendip Hills”, for example, Billingsley (1797) and Acklund and Sturge (1851). The contraction of this to “the Mendips” seems to have been first used by geologists notably Reynolds ,  soon followed by Welch .
Of the standard Mendip textbooks past and present six use the term “Mendip”, (Compton (1893), Gough (1930) Balch (1941) Atthill (1971) Atthill et al (1976). Reid (1979) while that by Coyshe et al (1954), uses “Mendips”. Two books are inconsistent, being compilations from various authors, those published by the Bristol Natural History Society  and the Mendip Society .
1 – Faith J. The Knights Templar in Somerset. The History Press 2009
2 – Records of Templars in Engl. ed. B. A. Lees (Brit. Acad.), 206; Sandford Cartulary, ed. A. M. Leys
(Oxford. Record. Society.), no. 247.
3 – Billingsley, J .General view of the Agriculture of the County of Somersetshire. Cruttwell, Bath
4 – Ackland, TD and Sturge W. The Farming of Somersetshire. John Murray, London, 1851. Pp 74
5 – Reynolds, SH.A Silurian inlier in the Eastern Mendips. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society
6 – Reynolds, SH ,The Mendips Geography 1927:14: 79?? 187-192
7 – Welch FBA .The geological structure of the central Mendips. Quarterly Journal of the Geological
Society 1929; 85: 45-46
8 – Compton ,T, A Mendip Valley. Edward Stanford, London, 1893
9 – Gough, GW. The Mines of Mendip, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1930
10 – Balch HE. Mendip – its caves and swallets. (2 nd Ed) John Wright Bristol,1948
11 – Atthill, R. Old Mendip. (2 nd Ed) David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1971
12 – Atthill, R. Mendip – a New Study. David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1976
13 – Reid RD, Some buildings of Mendip. Redcliffe Press, Ltd, Bristol, 1979
14 – Coyshe, AW, Mason, EJ, Waite, V. The Mendips. Robert Hale, London, 1954
Thanks to Chris Stephens, for the research.
3. Why were the Mendip Hills designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
Please go to Special Qualities.
4. How is the AONB funded?
DEFRA funds up to 75% of core costs (salaries, accommodation etc) and our five partner local authorities pay a proportion of the rest. The local authorities also contribute to the AONB budget for projects. Then we bid for other money to carry out more projects. More detail can be found in the Annual Review.
5. How much of the AONB falls in each local authority area?
Mendip District Council – 87.67 sq km and
Sedgemoor District Council – 34.03 sq km
Bath and North East Somerset Council – 36.95 sq km
North Somerset Council – 39.35 sq km
Total 198 sq km
Somerset County Council encompasses Mendip and Sedgemoor Councils.
6. What powers does the Mendip Hills AONB Partnership have?
None, it is an advisory committee. Individually the local authorities and government agencies such as Natural England and English Heritage have powers through planning and other legislation to protect the AONB landscape and aspects of designated features within it. Go to AONB Partnership pages and find out more.
7. Is my house within the AONB Boundary?
Have a look at this Magic Website
8. Where can I get information about projects funded by the AONB?
If you want to read about recent and current projects go to our Mendip Hills Fund page and Our Work page or contact us on 01761 462338 or via email Mendip Hills AONB.