History of Butt's Green, Midsummer Common
This was the location where in medieval times archery was practised. A B Gray in ‘Cambridge Revisited’ notes that:
Here in ancient times, when archery was an important branch of military service, our ancestors used to practise the art of shooting with the bow. Cooper, in his Annals, tells us that in 1351:
The County of Cambridge was required to raise 100 archers for the King’s passage to France. Of this number the town was to furnish twenty.
In 1469, the use of the bow by undergraduates in their frequent brawls with the townsfolk was so often attended by serious consequences that the University authorities were compelled to forbid scholars or their servants to carry bows without a permit.
He goes on to describe:
On the red brick wall skirting the western end of Butt’s Green, can still be seen (1920) sundry white numerals; and, on each of the buttresses signs of iron staples, formed of old horseshoes, having been torn away. Here, during the fateful winter of 1914-15, were the horse-lines of a regiment of the gallant 68th Welsh Division, who were billeted, it will be remembered, in the immediate neighbourhood pending orders for overseas. The dates and initials, many entwined with Cupid’s symbol, crudely scratched on this battered wall, inspire the hop that this impromptu war shrine may long claim respect from the passer-by.
Following the line of the boundary-fence, to within a few feet of the meadow corner, we may see, on looking through the railings, a lonely grave beneath a chestnut tree, with a headstone inscribed: “Sam, Newfoundland Dog, 1912-1918, a Perfect Friend.” An officer, whose name is unknown to us, is said to have erected this tribute of affection, creditable alike to poor Sam and his master.