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Beacons of the Past: Hillforts in the Chilterns Landscape

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What's New?

We met more than 120 of you at the four 'Meet & Greet' events July 14-15. Thanks for coming out and sharing your enthusiasm and skills with us! If you didn't get a chance to make one of the events, you can still get involved!

A pdf of the powerpoint we gave is available here.

We will be starting our workshops and practical training sessions in Late September onwards, so if you are on the list, you will be the first to hear about it, and you will receive our quarterly Beacons of the Past e-newsletter.  You will can also find out about these events through the website here, and through Social Media #Chilforts




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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