Hill fort damaged as felling plans delayed
- Credit: Archant
An Iron Age hill fort has been damaged by campfires, off-road motorbikes and ground being dug up.
The damage caused to Worlebury Hill Fort is a criminal offence under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and has been reported to the police.
North Somerset Council owns the hill fort and has put up temporary signs reminding visitors that any damage to the monument is prohibited.
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, the council’s heritage and regeneration champion, said: “It’s really disappointing to hear of this damage, especially as such incredible work has been undertaken by the volunteers in opening up new areas of the hill fort for residents and visitors to appreciate.
“It’s important we cherish and enjoy our local heritage, and council staff work in partnership with local groups to ensure the site is safe and looked after.
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“Hopefully, by reminding people these actions are a criminal offence, there will be no further damage.”
Plans to uncover the hill fort for the first time in 200 years have been delayed by the coronavirus crisis. The plans include removing vegetation and trees to prevent further damage to the hill fort, which has been on Historic England’s ‘heritage at risk’ register since 2016.
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The council has applied to the Forestry Commission for a felling licence to remove around six hectares of woodland and carry out thinning of the northern cliff by 30 per cent, returning the area to limestone grassland.
If this licence is approved, the council will then apply to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant to carry out the necessary work.
However, both the Forestry Commission and the National Lottery have told the council their usual timetables for processing these applications have changed due to the pandemic.
It means the Forestry Commission might not be able to inform the council about the outcome of its licence application until July, and the Lottery is not accepting any new applications until October.
With tree felling only being able to take place during the winter, the earliest start date will now be the winter of 2021/22, subject to the approval of the felling licence and Lottery funding.