well, well, well. The server has spiked up twice. Each time, checking server-status has shown hundreds of links to the same two pages.
Once I got the server calmed down, I tried opening up one of those pages and within a minute the server was at the maximum connections and alerting it's little heart out.
Bad news is, this database is a monster so I can't figure out what's actually in those pages. I'll have to see if I can wrestle it from the developer.
In the meantime I suppose I could write a script to count the number of apache processes and then restart when it reaches the max, but that's a nasty way to go about it.
Any better suggestions? If not, thanks for your help anyway, I wouldn't have got this far without it.