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Beacons of the Past: Hillforts in the Chilterns Landscape

About the project

The Chilterns Conservation Board is developing 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 conserved, 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 practical excavation work, technological and survey research and a programme of events and educational activities. Recruitment for two project staff is underway and the project will begin in earnest in April 2018 when the new staff are in post. For further information about the project contact Annette Venters at the Chilterns Conservation Board tel 01844 355508  aweiss@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. Particularly exciting is the LiDAR survey – this will be the first time the entire Chilterns will be the subject of such innovative technological exploration. 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 require the following help:

  • 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 Annette Venters tel 01844 355508, or email aweiss@chilternsaonb.org 

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