An engineered road thought to have connected the Wrekin and Old Oswestry hillforts pre-dates R*man construction by several hundred years according to a summation of excavation newspaper reports (regarding Bayston Hill quarry) in the new Fortean Times, FT279
Park Hall Countryside Experience, located near Oswestry, is undertaking a major new project for 2009 with the reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse built using traditional methods by local crafts men and women... continues...
Probably not worth adding as a site, but perhaps worth recording for past attitudes towards prehistoric remains. If any of it's true of course.
It appears that up to the end of the twelfth century, the site of the present churchyard of Ludlow, the most elevated part of the hill, was occupied by a very large tumulus, or barrow. In the year 1199, the townsmen found it necessary to enlarge their church, which seems to have been of small dimensions, and for this purpose they were obliged to clear away the mound. In doing this, they discoveredi n the interior of the mound three sepulchral deposits, which were probably included in square chests, as at Bartlow, and the narrator perhaps exaggerates a little in calling them 'mausolea of stone'. But the clergy of Ludlow, in the twelfth century, were by no means profound antiquaries; they determined in their own minds that the bones they had found were the relics of three Irish saints, the father, mother and uncle of the famous St. Brandan, and they buried them devoutly in their church, with the confidence that their holiness would be soon evinced in numerous miracles. It was to this tumulus alone that the name Leode-hlaew belonged.
The account of this event was preserved in the monastery of Cleobury Motimer, in what Leland calls a 'schedula,' and was copied for that antiquary by a monk of the house. It is printed in Leland's Collectanea viii, p407...
Is it cynical to think the amazing discovery might have been made with making a bit of money out of pilgrims and tourists in mind? From p14 of 'A history of Ludlow and its neighbourhood' by Thomas Wright, 1852.
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Caer Din Ring (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes
Following on from a morning spent at the excellent Fron Camp, early afternoon is characterised by a series of very heavy showers. Nevertheless, with an hour or so available before I must push on to Pumlumon for the night, the Caer-din Ring, sited immediately west of a high level moorland road penetrating the Clun Forest uplands, appears to fit the bill nicely, thank you very much.
Heading east(ish) past St John's Church (below Fron Camp) I take the very steep first left (Mardu Lane) subsequently veering left again soon after. The road climbs toward the summit, providing some excellent panoramic views as it does so, the ancient enclosure eventually seen crowning the rise to the left. After a bit of customary indecision I park at the entrance to the access track for Foxhole farm, more or less opposite the site. Another torrential deluge hammers upon the car roof.... but unfortunately I've no time to lose. A couple of farm workers career by on quad bikes flashing each other a smile as if to say 'what a nutter!' Hey, the thought had crossed my mind as well, to be fair. Mindful that barbed-wire fences and expensive waterproofs are mutually exclusive, I head down the road a short distance to use the gate before making the short ascent to the enclosure (as it happens there is another gate near the cattle grid to north-west).
The initial bank encountered is not part of the main enclosure defences, appearing to have been erected to provide additional screening protection to the most vulnerable eastern flank of the site, therefore suggesting that the Caer-din Ring was indeed a serious defended settlement... and not a fortified animal pound as I tentatively surmised from earlier conjecture. Always nice to be proven incorrect in such a manner. The main bank rises to approx 6ft and encloses a significant area (see TSC's misc note). However it is the location, not the archaeology, which is surely this settlement's primary asset? The downpour having taken an appropriate rain-check, the sun takes the opportunity to break through the cloud mantle to periodically illuminate the landscape. In such light the views to be had from the Caer-din Ring are found to be truly wondrous indeed, particularly looking toward the southern and western arcs. Hey, I'm even able to pick out Castle Idris, a visit there having been abandoned earlier in the day. Looks well worth another attempt, to be honest. As I walk around the circumference, breathing in the oxygenated goodness, all manner of land rovers, 4x4s and quad bikes pass by on the road returning from somewhere or other. Clearly something's been going down in the locality. Nothing to do with me, of course. But then why would any decent person have an issue? Exactly. It would appear the people of Clun Forest are just that. Decent.
Yeah, pity I've not more time, but there you are. 'Take what you can get' would appear sound advice. Now, however, Pumlumon beckons.... and I can not resist the siren's call.
As appears to have become custom, my annual October wanderings in North Wales are again subject to a prelibation further south, exploring a little more of the Marches and Mid Wales. Now the allure of the latter for an upland antiquarian is perhaps obvious, the wild landscape, dominated by the legendary Pumlumon, an idiosyncratic synthesis of the stark, grassy beauty of South Wales' great escarpment with the uncompromising rock of Gwynedd. But what of the borderlands, the rolling hills presenting a softer, arguably more classical vision of natural beauty to the passing traveller? Well, appearances can be deceptive, of course. Just as the sublime, scarlet poppy fields of France mask so much past human turmoil, punters looking a little more closely here will notice the shapely green hills of the Marches are crowned by a preponderance of hill forts and lesser fortified enclosures, the valleys dominated by the crumbling stone castles of the Norman Marcher Barons... literally a law unto themselves. Yeah, things clearly weren't always as serene as they now appear.
One such hill fort occupies the south-eastern extremity of Fron, overlooking the small village of Newcastle, the site but one of a trio (as far as I'm aware) of defended enclosures in the southern locale of the Clun Forest. I approach from Clun itself, the town dominated by the gaunt ruins of its Norman castle, heading west along the B4368. At Newcastle, the name no doubt a reference to the motte sited beside the River Clun a little to the south-west, I follow 'Church Road' to park beneath, appropriately enough, St John's Church. Nowadays churches make me very uneasy with their oppressive death cult vibe... so, without further ado, I ascend the bridleway to the edifice's immediate right and, veering steeply uphill to the south-west as later directed, arrive at the nicely compact Fron Camp.
According to EH (see link) the univallate defences are (externally) c10ft high to north-west, facing the path of least resistance, and c9ft elsewhere, enclosing an area c269ft (SW-NE) by 344ft (NW-SE). So, not bad at all. Unfortunately the southern/south-western arc is very overgrown. That aside, there are excellent, far reaching views south-east toward the Clun Valley, not to mention a particularly fine section of Offa's Dyke upon Graig Hill to the north-east. Ah... Offa's Dyke, that great 8th century earthwork which, to me, represents the physical embodiment of the fault line between the 'tectonic plates' of opposing cultures that were integral to shaping the past of this area. Violent times.
Such historic strife seems an almost unfathomable impossibility as I relax upon the northern bank, drink my coffee, get soaked by rain and then bathed in sunshine.... all the while pondering the serenity which reigns supreme here this morning. Yeah, surely human kind, in general terms, has advanced since those days? C'mon, even just a tad? As I wander to the north-west and view the enclosure's defences from without... I reckon so. The bank is impressive for such a small site. But what a sad reflection upon us as a species that such-like were ever needed. Needless to say still are in many places. However, having - just - survived blowing ourselves and the planet to nuclear oblivion perhaps we have a fragile launch pad available to us now. Not for Minutemen ICBMs, but perhaps an allegorical one to build a better future?
Fron Camp is 'mirrored' by another settlement, Castle Idris (I assume name-checking... very unusually for the area... the giant of lore), to the approx west, although forestry negates intervisibility. However I find parking below the site to be an issue so, with time at a premium if I wish to reach Pumlumon by nightfall, decide to pay a visit to the Caer-din Ring instead. Hey, you can take your pick in these parts.
Iron age hill fort threatened by plans to build 200 luxury homes
Protesters in Shropshire say housing for 'affluent commuters and rich retirees' will ruin a site of national importance and set back archaeological research.
Old Oswestry is one of Europe's best preserved iron age hill forts, a site that has existed for more than 3,000 years and can be seen for miles around.
The war poet Wilfred Owen completed his army training on the grassy mounds of Old Oswestry, which is also said to be the birthplace of King Arthur's wife, Guinevere. It is likely that the Shropshire lad himself, AE Housman, would have spent time admiring the views from the fort's majestic summit on the Shropshire-Wales border.
Now, in what critics say is a result of the government's new planning policy, proposals have been drawn up to build almost 200 luxury homes next to the ancient site, angering local residents and heritage groups. Some 6,000 people have signed a petition opposing the development, part of the county council's plan to build 2,600 homes by 2026 to comply with government targets.
One of 25 hill forts in Shropshire, Old Oswestry has a series of perimeter ditches, formed between ramparts, that were designed to slow down attackers. An archaeological survey in 2010 found man-made structures in fields to the north-east of the fort. Two years ago the discovery of an iron age road, thought to connect The Wrekin, near Telford, with fields near the site, indicated that there was likely to be important evidence of past cultures buried under the soil.
"If houses go up, access to important archaeology and further understanding of iron age culture will be lost indefinitely under bricks and concrete," said Neil Phillips of Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (Hoooh). "The sprawling infrastructure of the housing masterplan, with houses, roads, gardens, link paths and car parking, will severely erode a large part of the green farmstead setting which is an integral part of Old Oswestry's appeal."
English Heritage, which describes Old Oswestry as "a site of great national importance, one that helps to define our national story and identity", has joined Oswestry town council in opposing the scheme, which locals say will do little to ease housing problems. They claim that the 188 homes planned for up to three sites around the fort will be expensive, low-risk developments "for affluent commuters, rich retirees, country retreat investors and holiday cottage landlords". The development will be studied closely by the likes of the National Trust, which has warned that the government's new "pro-development" planning framework will result in a glut of upmarket homes being built on greenfield sites because these offer the best returns for construction firms.
Campaigners have questioned the basis for the council's new homes target. "Shropshire council has acknowledged that the 2,600 figure is both arbitrary and inexact," said John Waine from Hoooh. "This is the sand on which they seem willing to allocate new homes, setting a precedent for future build around this and other Shropshire heritage sites."
Local people have pressed their MP, environment secretary Owen Paterson, to raise their concerns. A spokeswoman for Paterson said: "He never becomes involved in planning decisions, which are entirely the responsibility of Shropshire council. However, he always passes on the concerns of any constituents who contact him to the leader of Shropshire council."
A council spokesman said it was awaiting a response from local groups before commenting further: "We understand that the town council is to meet with representatives of English Heritage in early December and we expect a formal view from them shortly afterwards
North of Ratlinghope, is a not even a hamlet called Stitt, there are just two farms, walk east on the road that is prohibited to motorists, pass two lakes, At the big trees ascend gently sloping hill passing the large spread out barrow en route, carry on up the hill, jump one fence and the fort is before you.
I've been to many hill forts, but this one was a bit weird, some say that not all forts are forts but rather defensible enclosures, this could be one of them.
I've heard it said that it's a mere cattle enclosure, but if that were true why would it be on the top of a hill, surely it would make more sense to have it lower down, hidden in a low valley or something instead of advertising your big herd on top of the hill. Or was cattle rustling a big thing in the iron age, i'm guessing it might be. Perhaps it is an unfinished fort ?
Anyway, what ever its use, it is there, it is old, and you can go and have a look. The incomplete ring is as i've said at the top of a hill, the very big
gap faces south, out over the edge of the steepest ascent up to the enclosure, it isn't an entrance it's just a huge wide weird gap. The best possible entrance is on the other side, facing the barrow, north east, but it's not a very convincing entrance.
On the south side is what looks like a hut circle, or more precisely a double hut square, shepherds quarters ? in fact the more i've thought about it the more it cant be a fort, but where did the people live, inside the enclosure with the animals, or elsewhere ? Why show off your animal wealth up there for all to see, or is that point.
No views today, no Stiperstone ridge, no nothing, visibility only goes as far as Cothercott hill and it's barrow, if time permits a quick look could be in order, and it is, was.