‘Major victory’ for Beacons of the Past

‘Major victory’ for Beacons of the Past

The hillfort at Cholesbury Camp, near Tring, has been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register after successful restoration and maintenance work.

Historic sites are considered ‘at risk’ if threatened by decay, neglect, natural processes – like tree growth and burrowing animals – or pressure from human activities. Cholesbury Camp was added to the register in 2021 due to threats from increased tree and scrub growth, and animal burrows.

Condition of the site has improved after work carried out in 2021/22 as part of the Chilterns Conservation Board’s Beacons of the Past project. The four-year project, which ended in October 2022, focussed on conserving Iron Age hillforts and prehistoric chalk landscapes in the Chilterns.

“This is a major victory for the project’s legacy,” says Dr Wendy Morrison, Heritage and Archaeology Manager at the Chilterns Conservation Board.

With generous support from National Lottery and Historic England’s Monument Management Scheme, the project carried out a comprehensive tree health survey, followed by strategic tree removal and canopy reduction to reduce damage to the monument. 

With input from landowners and the Chiltern Society, a management plan was created to ensure the long-term preservation of the archaeological features. Chiltern Society volunteers continue to keep the monument cleared of damaging vegetation, while maintaining good habitat for local wildlife. 

“It has been a delight to deliver the Beacons of the Past project thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players,” says Morrison. “Although the project is over, it is a testament to the benefits of partnership working with conscientious landowners and groups like the Chiltern Society and Historic England, that this site should now have a safer, brighter future.”

 

Historic England will continue to monitor the Cholesbury Camp site and update the Heritage at Risk register every year. 

 

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Hillforts of the Chilterns

The Chilterns has one of the largest concentrations of hillforts in the UK. Created for a variety of reasons - from keeping livestock, to showing off status - these mounds, ditches and remnants include a whole range of prehistoric enclosures that were an important part of Iron Age life. Many have left a mark that can still be seen on the landscape today.