Dunedin's seven hills mystery

Until a colleague raised the subject with me recently, I lived in blissful ignorance of the historic claim Dunedin was ''built on seven hills''.

Rome yes, Dunners, umm, sorry, news to me.

In fact I'd have said, off the top of my head, there were a lot more than seven.

But I was pointed in the direction of Dunedin's extensive page on the Wikipedia online site and found this entry:''The Dunedin skyline is dominated by a ring of (traditionally seven) hills which form the remnants of a volcanic crater. Notable among them are Mount Cargill (700m), Flagstaff (680m), Saddle Hill (480m), Signal Hill (390m), and Harbour Cone (320m).

Well, I make that five names and only two called ''hills'' , so I continued searching the internet and found two other websites (plumdeluxe.com and pinterest.com) but they mentioned the same five.

However, I did find Dunedin included on a list of more than 50 towns and cities world-wide which laid claim to the ''seven hills'' tag, including Rome, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Edinburgh, Moscow, Athens, Bath, Lisbon, Istanbul ... the list goes on.

When I turned to my trusty Wises Guide, things got more confusing.

There I found Maori Hill, Calton Hill, Clyde Hill, Maryhill, Pine Hill, Shiel Hill and Chain Hills.

That's an extra seven and doesn't include the long-since decapitated Bell Hill. Have I missed any others?

Hopefully someone can explain the mystery of Dunedin's seven hills - fact or fiction; myth or misnomers? You tell me.

 •A couple of recent words of the day have created much reader interest. Yesterday's offering - ''plootering'' - drew several suggestions, mainly that it may have been misspelt.

Kareen said she pronounced it ''ploutering'' as in ''ploutering through the mud'', which means ''just making your way quite happily if rather aimlessly through the mire!''

This was backed up by a colleague who showed me the 2007 edition of the Scots Dictionary (''a fun guide'') which listed ''plouter'' (rhymes with doubter) as meaning to splash about in water or mud and traces to the Scots word plowt and also the Dutch ploeteren.

Leon Olivier had a different theory, wondering if ''plootering'' came from the Afrikaans ''ploeter'', which comes from the Dutch ''ploeteren'' which means drudge, grub, peg away at, plod, toil. Alasdair Morrison, of Waikouaiti, suggested plootering might be a mispronunciation of ''plittering''.

He says: ''This word was often heard in our house when I was young - `what are you plittering about for?' - meaning doing something aimlessly.''

Denis McCombe emailed to say ''plootering'' was the second word of the day in a row to come from Ulster (''and I suspect Scotland too''), following ''hames'' on Tuesday. ''We would have pronounced it [plootering] with a little kind of `th' sound in the middle,'' he said.

Len Grimwood, of Belleknowes, said ''hames'' brought back memories from 73 years ago of a ''swingletree'', a wooden beam with steel collars at each end and a shackle in the middle which was connected to the vehicle that was being drawn by the horse.

''From the steel collars two chains were attached to the hinged hooks on the hames. This balanced the load on the horse's shoulders when walking. During winter months I harnessed our horse to a trolley (a converted car chassis) to cart feed to our cows. Thanks for the reminder.''

 •The search for the best cheese roll yesterday attracted two more votes for Sue Harvey, from Marilyn Swinbourn in Naseby and Heather in Newcastle, England, while Rose Hill, from Queenstown, voted for the Ploughmans Cafe in Waikouaiti.

Gwenda and Colin Cathro, of Alexandra, lodged three votes, including one from their grandson Max Gaffaney, for Jim and Glenda Butler, of the Mornington Coffee House.

 •Finally, and by no means least, I'm hearing rumbles that there might be some good news coming for Jethro Tull fans after all.

After lamenting the fact Ian Anderson and his band were going to bypass Dunedin (The Wash, 13.6.14) in favour of Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland next December, the word is Dunedin might be added to the band's schedule after all.

Is anybody else excited about this?

Let me know.

I suspect the more noise we make about the possibility, the better.

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