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Case Study: Helping Hillforts and Earthwork Castles

Title: Helping Hillforts and Earthwork Castles

Category: Landscapes for Culture (history)
AONB: Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership

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The ‘Helping hillforts & earthwork castles’ project is about improving access, interpretation and conservation management at a number of key hillfort and castle sites within the Landscape Partnership Scheme area using both expert and volunteer help. The project has been ongoing since 2013 as part of the Stiperstones & Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme. The focus in 2015/16 has been on finalising negotiation on access improvements at a number of sites, completing access improvements, continuing conservation task days with volunteers to bring the sites back into active management and to make a start on planning for improved interpretation of these sites.

What was done

Negotiations on improving access to two castle sites have been completed with the relevant landowners and access improvements have been completed during 2015/16 including improvements to car parking and gates/stiles. Desk-based archaeological survey has been completed by professionals and Management Plans for the key sites have been produced.

Community volunteers have been involved in completing archaeological fieldwork surveys at two sites supporting by a local Archaeological Trust, including measured surveys using both a Total Station as well as measuring with tapes/poles, and producing hasher plans of the sites.

Community volunteers have been involved in a number of practical conservation task days aimed at bringing the sites back into active management and reducing the level of risk associated with these monuments. The project has facilitated the preparation of a Historic England Management Agreement at one castle site which is funding important ongoing maintenance work. The project has delivered a number of public engagement events and activities to raise the profile of these monuments and to encourage public involvement in their conservation.


  • 3 archaeological survey days completed across two sites involving 11 different people
  • Access improvements agreed and completed at three castle sites
  • Management Agreement with Historic England facilitated at one site to include stabilisation of outer bailey and cutting of meadow grassland
  • 5 practical conservation task days completed with volunteers, at two sites, involving 21 different people and totalling 31 man person days
  • Mini Medieval fair held in September 2015 including practical tasks, guided walks and children’s activities.


Harnessing both professional and community support has been vital to the success of this project. Working in partnership with organisations which have supported this project including Shropshire Council Historic Environment Team, Historic England, Cadw, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, TARMAC LafeFarge and local groups such as Friends of Castle Pulverbatch and /Friends of Pontesford Hill, as well as local people.

Further information                  

Joe Penfold
Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership
01938 561741


Quote from the project manager:

“Hillforts and castles are one of the defining features of the LPS area and are a key part of our special heritage. This project has helped to reconnect people with ancient monuments and has helped to safeguard some of the most threatened into the future”. – Joe Penfold, Project Officer

Quote from a participant:

“Getting involved with the volunteers for the Castle site has really helped me to meet people and develop a sense of belonging having recently moved to the village. The work has been great exercise and really enjoyable, and we are planning a number of new projects for the future”. – Volunteer

Key search words: Hillforts, castles, community, archaeology

Photo Credits: Shropshire Hills AONB