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Beacons of the Past: Hillforts in the Chilterns Landscape

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What's New?

We have divided the Chilterns Hillforts into 4 zones, and in early-mid July, we will be holding a 'Meet & Greet' session in each zone where you can meet us and we can tell you a bit more about the project and how you can get involved. Also, this is your chance to tell us what you're most interested in doing with the project. Maybe you want to help with scrub clearance, or you'd like to help us trawl through the archives of past hillfort excavations. You might want to attend some of the training workshops we will be holding over the next 3 years and learn how to use Geographic Infomation Systems (GIS), interpret LiDAR results, or conduct field surveys and geophysics techniques. Come along and have a cuppa and a biscuit and and we will talk hillforts! We very much look forward to meeting you.

Dates and venues are being confirmed, so watch this space, or follow us on Twitter #ChilForts

If you have joined our volunteer mailist, we will let you know ASAP, and if you have yet to be added to that list but would like to, email Ed Peveler at epeveler@chilternsaonb.org

 

 

About the project

The Chilterns Conservation Board is delivering an exciting project which will engage and inspire communities to discover, conserve, and enjoy the Chilterns' Iron Age hillforts and their prehistoric chalk landscapes.

The Chilterns has one of the largest collections of hillforts in the UK, yet many are poorly preserved, and little is known about them. Supported and part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this 4 year project will provide a real focus for community and public involvement through remote sensing and survey, practical excavation, and  research as well as a programme of events and educational activities.  For further information about the project, contact Project Manager Dr Wendy Morrison at the Chilterns Conservation Board tel 01844 355525  wmorrison@chilternsaonb.org

Why is this project important?

Ancient hillforts have fascinated historians and archaeologists for centuries. Enduring and prominently situated, they have sparked the imaginations of generations through the glimpse they give us into our history.

Iron Age hillforts were constructed in the United Kingdom from around 1000 BC until the Romans arrived. Steeped in mythology and folklore, they offer an intriguing insight into how communities might have lived together over two-thousand years ago.

Some think hillforts may have been built to mark a boundary between two distinct tribal areas. They might have been centres of ritual and ceremony. Some have evidence of roundhouses, which would point to their function as community dwellings and livestock enclosures. But who were these people? What did they do, and how did they live?

What will the project do?

The project will help people connect with the prehistory of the Chilterns, and encourage them to visit and enjoy the hillforts and their landscapes through practical research and conservation skills. As a result, Chilterns hillforts will be better understood, in better condition and more accessible. An exciting first step is a LiDAR survey of the Chilterns this winter – the first of its kind in this area. A light aircraft will be flown over the area, using a rapid-pulse laser to ‘see’ through the vegetation and produce a digital model of both the trees and what lies beneath them. When the trees are ‘erased’ from the digital model, the bumps and depressions of the ancient landscape will be seen for the first time. It is hoped that perhaps even unknown hillforts may be added to the map!  We don’t know what the survey will reveal – but the results might support future projects as we continue to seek to understand this ancient landscape.

 

How can you support us?

We would be delighted to hear from individuals, organisations and potential partners and welcome the following assistance:

  • Corporate sponsorship. Demonstrate your company’s commitment to local heritage conservation and your commitment to preserving and enhancing the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty through a one-off donation or sponsorship
  • Volunteer programmes and in-kind help: supporting the project doesn’t have to be limited to money. Practical support, either through corporate volunteering activities or in-kind sponsorship, could make all the difference

If you’re inspired by this important heritage project, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with Dr Wendy Morrison (Project Manager) tel 01844 355525,  wmorrison@chilternsaonb.org or Dr Ed Peveler, (Landscape Heritage Officer) epeveler@chilternsaonb.org

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