Hill fort brambles to be removed to reveal archaeology for the first time since 1824
- Credit: Archant
Some of the important work needed to preserve an Iron Age hill fort in Weston is being carried out by volunteers this winter.
The fort, in Worlebury Woods, suffered from vandalism and was classified as being ‘at risk’ by Historic England at the end of 2016.
North Somerset Council has received a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for surveys at the site to see what work needs to be done to preserve it.
The volunteers of Worlebury Hill Fort Group have started to introduce limestone grassland to the area known as the glade.
Chairman William Fraher said: “Our group has become more knowledgeable with our constant work on the fort and we have become a stronger team.
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“We have made a great deal of progress but we do not underestimate the great deal of work which remains.
“We intend the glade should be cleared of undergrowth, mainly brambles, which have stopped appreciation in summer of the important archaeological features.
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“The glade will then take its proper place as the cultural and recreational centre of this internationally important feature of Weston.
“Not since the Smyth-Pigott plantation in 1824 has it been possible to see this part of the Iron Age fort in the way it was seen for the previous 2,000 years.”
The group hopes the council will apply for a £200,000 grant later in the year and create a new management plan to ensure the fort is looked after.
The name hill fort is given to a certain type of settlement in use for 700 years or more before the Romans came to Britain.
The camp was first described by the Reverend A Catcott in 1758, but the first major excavations were not carried out until the 1800s.
Mr Fraher added: “We are asking for tree removal where archaeological features are under threat.
“There are 4,000 or so hill forts in Britain but this period in our pre-history is substantially undervalued.
“We believe raising the profile of our internationally important example will increase awareness of hill forts in general so providing food for the imagination of old and young.”
The Hill Fort Group works on Mondays and Fridays from 10am to noon, weather permitting.
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, whose ward covers the hill fort, said: “Weston needs to have a calm and serious discussion about hilltop priorities: archaeology vs trees.
“Given that only a small proportion of the delightful Weston Wood covers the hill fort surely time has come to re-evaluate the importance of the fort.
“With an ever-increasing hunger for history, are we any longer satisfied to see this superb example of a coastal hilltop fort hidden from view and left to the ravages of unintentional vandalism and constant root deterioration?
“There’s tremendous visitor potential at this site, but we don’t have even the most rudimentary display panels telling its story.
“Hopefully the work of the civic society and Hill Fort Group along with renewed council interest and Historic England support will lead to the full revelation of this ancient Weston gem.”
Cllr Peter Bryant, executive member responsible for parks and green spaces thanked the Hill Fort Group for its hard work.
He added: “We are keen to build on this community involvement and, working with local interest groups, volunteers and local schools, aim to improve understanding and enjoyment of the hill fort by developing better access, signage and interpretation.
“As the owners of a Scheduled Ancient Monument we have a statutory duty to protect it from harm and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
“We want to take the site off the at risk register by implementing a long term plan which will involve the local community in managing the site and safeguarding the future of this outstanding monument.”