Importance of 'at risk' hill fort promoted to ensure it can be preserved

PUBLISHED: 08:35 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:35 17 May 2017

Pupils from St Martin's School learning living pre-history from an iron age Mark Routledge.

Pupils from St Martin's School learning living pre-history from an iron age Mark Routledge.

Archant

Preserving an 'at risk' ancient monument in Weston-super-Mare is a priority for Historic England and a volunteer group, who hope teaching schoolchildren about its importance will ensure it is looked after for generations to come.

Year 3/4 pupils from Worle Village Primary learning about iron age building from Beth Roper, Tir Na Nog Heritage Education.Year 3/4 pupils from Worle Village Primary learning about iron age building from Beth Roper, Tir Na Nog Heritage Education.

The Iron Age Worlebury hill fort, in Weston Woods, is thought to have been created as a 
form of defence some 700 years before the Romans arrived in Britain.

Historic England says it is an ‘outstanding example’ of its type as so few of these forts were created along the coast.

However, the fort has suffered from repeated vandalism, prompting its listing to be changed from being in a ‘vulnerable’ condition to ‘at risk’ earlier in the year.

Pupils from St Martin's School learning about native food plants from Clare McLoughlin's Traveling Kitchen.Pupils from St Martin's School learning about native food plants from Clare McLoughlin's Traveling Kitchen.

Since the change in status, Historic England and the volunteer Worlebury Hill Fort Group have been trying to raise the profile of the site in the hope it will protect if from further vandalism in the future.

As part of this, Worle Village Primary School and St Martin’s Primary School were invited to camp last week to explore the site, learn about its archaeology and take part in workshops on Iron Age life.

William Fraher, one of the volunteers, said: “My main aim is to promote the cultural importance of the hill fort.

Alessandra Perrone Heritage @ Risk Officer for Historic England, and John Martel from Worlebury Hill Fort Group with some of the iron age stone work that has been disturbed.Alessandra Perrone Heritage @ Risk Officer for Historic England, and John Martel from Worlebury Hill Fort Group with some of the iron age stone work that has been disturbed.

“The children seemed interested and asked questions.

“My hope is they will come back with their parents to look around it at a later date.”

Weston Civic Society has also republished a leaflet about the fort’s history, with the aim of educating more people in the town about the important site on their doorstep.

William Fraher from Worlebury Hill Fort Group with some of the iron age grain pits now at risk from tree growth and fallen trees.William Fraher from Worlebury Hill Fort Group with some of the iron age grain pits now at risk from tree growth and fallen trees.

The volunteers are working on several projects around the hill fort, including clearing the brambles to make it a nicer place to visit.

Volunteers also aim to protect the important archaeology after vandals moved a number of the rocks, and the group has permission to gradually return them to their rightful place. Scheduled monuments such as the hill fort are protected by law which make it an offence to damage, remove, or alter any part of it without consent.

Mr Fraher said: “What we said to the children is the hill fort is like a back garden, in that it sometimes gets neglected. We are trying to bring it back.”

Some of the iron age stone work that has been disturbed.Some of the iron age stone work that has been disturbed.

North Somerset Council, which owns the structure, is working with Historic England to protect it and has cleared away some of the trees which were damaging the stones.

A Historic England spokesman said: “This has revealed the glorious earthworks of the ramparts at the eastern entrance.

“So for locals and visitors in general this is a great moment to enjoy some of the most distinctive features of this hill fort, before the vegetation takes over again in summer.

Some of the iron age stone work that has been disturbed.Some of the iron age stone work that has been disturbed.

“We are still talking to the council on various options available to them to address the major issues on site.”

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