Sharpenhoe Clappers occupies a steep spur on the northern Chilterns escarpment in southern Bedfordshire. It comprises the earthwork remains of two terraces on the northern slope and two banks which run across the spur to the south. It was believed to be an Iron Age promontory fort however a small archaeological excavation carried out in 1979 suggested that the site has a more complicated history.
The excavation showed that bank was in fact of medieval date and had been built as a rabbit warren. The existence of warrens in the Sharpenhoe area is suggested by the 'Clappers' name, which means 'rabbit warren' or 'land with rabbit burrows'. Despite the later than expected date for the bank the investigations found that it was overlying earlier features, including a ditch and a palisade trench which would once have held timber posts. These features date to the Iron Age and artefacts from both this and the Roman period have also been found at the site.
The geography of the area certainly makes it a suitable location for a promontory fort. The natural steep slopes to the north, west and east would have been easy to defend, whilst anyone approaching from the south would have been seen well before they arrived.
Sharpenhoe Clappers has been covered in trees since the middle of the 19th Century and the woodland and monument are owned and managed by the National Trust. It is recognised as a nationally important site and is protected as such as a Scheduled Monument.
The Clappers inspired artist Beth Hardwicke to create this painting which she entered in the Special Woods Art Competition 2008. Beth has an special painting style - the top left part is Chinese brush work, the top right Watercolour and the bottom Oil paint. Beth said:
"I call it MULTI Media because each area retains its quality as an individual medium. Technically it is quite difficult to produce a painting this way and not many artists actually paint in these different media."