English is so confusing ….. I always have to make sure I explain myself when I’m talking about the South Downs with foreign visitors who come on my guided walks. They must wonder what on earth I mean! I must sound really silly! How can a range of ‘Ups’ be called ‘Downs’ ?
There is a very simple explanation: A down is derived from the Old English word dun which either means fort or hill – The word synonymous with both, probably because the ancient forts would usually have been built on the top of hills.