National Lottery funding secured for a major Chilterns hillforts project!

Thursday 12 October 2017

We are delighted to announce that National Lottery funding has been secured for a major new project to discover more about Iron Age hillforts and prehistoric chalk landscapes! The Beacons of the Past – Hillforts in the Chilterns Landscape, has just been given the go-ahead thanks to £695,600 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

People have been living in the Chilterns area for thousands of years, raising their families, trading and protecting their wildlife across this chalky landscape.  Human habitation across the centuries has left its mark, and the Chilterns has one of the densest concentrations of ancient hillforts in the country, with 22 scattered across the hills and valleys.  Some, such as Ivinghoe Beacon, near Tring, are well-known and visible, many others are hidden in woodland or perhaps, excitingly, remain to be discovered. 

For the first time ever, we will be able to survey the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology which will uncover hidden archaeological features using aircraft-mounted lasers.  Together with traditional ground-based surveys, this will allow us to discover much more about the hillforts in the area and reveal more about the history of the Chilterns and our ancestors, including the two distinct tribes that might have lived here.

Following the receipt of a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in June 2016, we have been working with a wide range of partners to develop proposals to inspire people to discover, enjoy and conserve our Chilterns hillforts heritage.  Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and players of the National Lottery, these proposals will now be put in to action.

Several of the Chilterns hillforts lie at the heart of urban populations and we will be developing specific urban projects to engage local people around these sites such as Desborough Castle in High Wycombe and Waulud’s Bank in Luton.  Working with a wide range of partners and volunteers, the project will carry out practical conservation work and will bring the Iron Age to life through a programme of events, educational activities and interpretation.  People will be encouraged to visit and discover more about this fascinating period in our history. 

The four-year project will be launched in 2018 and there will be plenty of opportunity to get involved. Those interested in being added to the newsletter or in volunteering should email office@chilternsaonb.org



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